Sunday, June 15, 2014

How to Have Fun in the Summer for Cheap (Or Free!)

Summer is coming and if you’re like me, you want to go out and play in the sunshine! I’d LOVE to take my little guy to the water park every day, but lets face it - I’m too cheap. (Not like I could afford it anyway). If you’re anything like me, you want to find the cheapest (if not free) way to have fun. I’m here to help you! Here’s a few free ideas to keep your summer fun and don’t forget to bring your camera!

I’ve noticed a lot of “splash pads” popping up around my area. If you have one of these near you - check it out. If your kid loves water as much as mine does, you’ll have a blast. Just remember that you need to pack all the necessities you’d take to the pool - i.e. towel, sunscreen, change of clothes, little swimmer diaper (if your little is still in diapers), etc. and don’t forget the snacks! Your little one will work up an appetite running through the water and playing.
The library is also another good place to go. Our local library has summer activities and story time for the kids. I know it’s not outdoor, but I live in Washington state, so I know we’re going to have some rainy days this summer and those are the perfect days to hang out at the library.
Go exploring! Whether it’s a hike you’ve never been on or maybe a new park you’ve never been to, going new places is exciting for everyone. I’m planning on taking my little guy on a scavenger hunt the next time we go hiking. The list won’t be anything extravagant because I’d like to be able to find the things on my list. It will be things like a rock shaped like a heart, moss that looks like spiderwebs, 3 different colored mushrooms, etc. It’s fun brainstorming items to put on your list.
Visit your local fire department. They love to give tours to kids and show them how everything works in the fire station. Not only is it free - it’s fun and informative. I bet you’ll even learn a bunch yourself.
Make kites and then fly them! I remember making a kite out of some sticks and brown paper bags when we were little and they did better than the fancy, expensive kites. Plus, your little one will be proud to show off their beautiful piece of flying art. If you need some inspiration, Google it. I know it sounds silly, but I turn to Google every time I don’t know the answer to something.
Spend the day at the beach! Plan to have a picnic lunch and bring all of your favorite beach toys. Have a mini sandcastle building competition or have a mini scavenger hunt. There are so many things to do at the beach besides just playing in the water. If you’re anywhere near the ocean like we are, looking through the tide pools is a lot of fun too. Be sure to check out the tide tables before you go so that the tide pools will be accessible. Here’s a link to NOAA’s tide tables: If you don’t have access to the beach, bring the water to you! Fill up a wading pool or some large pots with water and play. When I was little, we kept breaking the wading pool, so my parents took the biggest pots they could find and would fill them up with water so we could each have our own mini wading pool.
Have a dance party. My son and I LOVE to boogie down at every opportunity. AND it’s a great way to burn calories and get those wiggles out of you little one. Make sure your playlist is full of fun and upbeat songs to keep the fun going.
If your little one is into cars like mine is and you’re stuck inside on a rainy day, make a masking/painter’s tape racetrack. The tape is gentle so you shouldn’t have a hard time peeling it up when you’re finished and it won’t ruin your floors. The best part is that you can make the track as big or as small as you’d like. Have your little one help you “design” your track. It keeps them interested and lets them feel proud that they created this fun map on the floor.

Make a bird feeder. It doesn’t have to be complicated. If you spread some peanut butter on a pine cone and then roll it in birdseed, you’ve got a cheap and easy bird feeder. You can always search DIY bird feeder on Google and see what you come up with.

Check out your local Boys & Girls Club. They always have fun things going on during the summer for kids of all ages. Some of my fondest memories are at the B&GC - playing pool, taking tumbling classes, playing basketball, playing BINGO, etc. It’s also a great place for your little ones to interact and make friends with kids they might not go to school with. Think of it as kind of a free daytime summer camp.

If I ever run out of ideas of fun things to do, I turn to Google. I usually search for things like “Free things to do at home with your toddler” or “fun summer activities to do with your child”. You could even make it specific to your area if you want to go out and have an adventure. It doesn’t matter where you go, or if you stay home, as long as you’re having fun. With an almost -year old, I find myself always having to come up with new ways to keep this smart little boy entertained. Don’t be afraid to be creative and use your imagination. Break out of your shell and find new ways to have fun with the kiddos.

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