Thursday, May 29, 2014

Summer Activities for Kids: 25 free or cheap fun ideas

Our grandson, Tyler (bottom second photo), playing at the park with friends


          By Ada Brownell

We raised five children on a skinny budget, but our lives were fat with fun. All it took was time and a joyful attitude. Fun just happens.
While you’re doing all these things, don’t forget the good times offered without cost by the church: Sunday school, children’s Church, Bible and training clubs, children’s and youth choir, Bible quiz, Vacation Bible School, youth services, parties, recreation trips, retreats, youth camp and other fun and fellowship.
Also, don’t forget to entertain friends, especially Christian friends who have children your kids’ ages, and share your fun!
Try these free or inexpensive activities.
1. Kick-the-Can and Hide-and-seek. (Find Kick-the-Can rules online).
2. Puppet shows and talent night. If no puppets are available, use socks. On talent night, children can sing with or without a CD. Use pretend or play mikes.
3. Visit a music store. Children view instruments to determine what they might want to play.
4. Story Building. One person starts a story, then another person takes it up and says, “But then….” The story continues for as long as the players want to continue. This is a great game in the car.
5. Tent creations inside or out using blankets and sheets over a table. That was one of our Jeanette’s favorites. Kids love it when a parent comes inside.
6. Office. Instead of throwing away old phones and laptops set up an office. My grandchildren got so excited when they “called” me and I answered with the name of a business. Kirk “called” me so much I gave the answering machine speech and the “beep.”
7. Cooking lessons or Pretend Restaurant. The children make place cards, set the table, and become waitresses.
8. A family bicycle trip.
9. Nature hike. Children can collect insects, rocks and pick wild flowers.
10.    Road building in a sand box or open ground.
11.    A trip to the park. Swings, slides and other playthings on the park playground are great but there's more. Take picnic and games such as badminton, basketball, football, baseball, Frisbee, croquet, tennis (use old balls and they won’t go to infinity and beyond). Find outdoor toys at garage sales.
12.    Trips to a lake that has boat docks. Kids love to walk on them, but you need to supervise closely.
13.    Trips to nearby free or inexpensive sights. Admission to national parks per car range from $4 up to $20 for Yellowstone and Yosemite. Carlsbad Caverns costs $6 for adults; no charge for age 15 and under. Many museums are free or almost free, as are visits to a model train store and Bass Pro, if you have one in your town.
14.    Gardening. Children always enjoy planting and seeing things grow.
15.    Projects around the house. Children enjoy rearranging furniture, helping to finish a basement, and painting.
16.    A trip to the library’s storytelling events, playing the library’s computer games, and checking out books and DVDs.
17.    Fishing. Children don’t need a license in most states.  All you need is a stick, string, a hook and bobbler, worms and you’re set.
18.    Water Games. Use clean spray bottles for a water fight at home, or let them run through the sprinkler.
19.    Winter games such as sledding and ice skating on well-frozen ponds.
20.    Beauty Salon. Get all the hair gadgets in the house, along with brushes and combs, and allow the children to give you a “hair-do.”
21.    Garage Sailing: A great place for children to buy a pile of stuff with their own money, even if it’s just change.
22.    Aerobics. Children stuck inside on a rainy day often need to do something with their energy. Move the furniture out of the way and lead them in exercises.
23.    Follow the Leader. This is a great game inside and out. My children always loved it, especially when I led them, backward and forward, into walking on a narrow edge, or around a curvy path where you jump things.
24.    Field trips to charities or a ministry. Invite other families to join you and make an appointment. Children never forget visiting a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen.
25.    Tour the local newspaper. Again, you’ll need to join with some friends and make an appointment. Children especially enjoy seeing the press run.

©Ada Brownell May 30, 2014