Monday, June 2, 2014

Free Summer Activities

Do you feel like no matter what you do, it costs money? Summer has arrived, the kids are home from school for the season, and keeping them busy and having fun might feel like an expensive endeavor. Well, take heart my thrifty friends; for families trying to stick to a budget, there are a whole host of fun, free - or highly affordable - ways to fully enjoy all that summer has to offer.

1. Plant a Garden

Even for those with the least experienced green thumb, potting your own flowers, herbs and veggies - or creating a small raised bed - is a great way to celebrate the arrival of summer. Start from seeds or buy a few developed plants at a garden center. With a little TLC, your summer plants will add a lovely touch.

2. Lemonade Stand / Car Wash 

Many of us can look back on childhood and remember at least one entrepreneurial summertime endeavor. For this writer, it was definitely a lemonade stand. The great thing? Projects like lemonade stands and car washes become a source of great pride for kids. Plus, they don’t really require a whole lot of initial investment, and often end up being a great way for members of your neighborhood to get to know one another! And obviously, a little extra pocket cash is never a bad thing!

3. Backyard Art Projects / Show

Help the kids stay creative over summer break with group art projects. One cool idea we bumped into? Painting on plain, white sheets for “display” on a clothesline. Once the art has been completed, kids can invite friends over for a “gallery opening.”

4. Handmade Bird Houses / Feeders

This one’s a classic, and thanks to the wonders of Pinterest, there are more variations on the craft than ever before!

5. Backyard Scrabble

Here’s a really cool idea we found while trolling the web. Make words and spelling fun outdoorsy with your own homemade letter tiles...because, on a beautiful day, Words with Friends is much better in person!

6. Dollar Store Spray Bottles = DIY Squirt Guns

Think cheap squirt guns, only more durable in the long run. (Those cheap discount squirt guns tend to break on a dime). Added bonus: add washable paint to the bottles and spray them at bed sheets, pieces of poster board or big sheets of paper to create original outdoor abstract art for your “art show.”

7. Host a Neighborhood Baseball / Kickball / Wiffleball Game

You don’t need a ton of backyard space for a scaled-down version of baseball-diamond style activities. Gather the neighborhood together for a little physical fitness fun...just make sure you get plenty of water!

8. Visit The Library 

Air-conditioning is always a plus on the hottest of summer days, and lots of public libraries host a ton of free activities for kids all summer long!

9. Volunteer

Summertime is a great season to plot out a few days of the month to roll up your sleeves and help out the community. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity, for example, are ultra-busy during the warmer months, and are always looking for a helping hand. Check out your library for fliers from area organizations who could use a little manpower!

10. Bug / Amphibian / Other Critter Hunt

This is just always fun for kids. Find a nature preserve or park near your neighborhood, get out the jars and nets and see what you can find!

These are only a few of the many, many ideas for inexpensive summer fun. Have one of your own? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!