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fun children’s activities

8 Fun Children’s Activities That Cost Little to Nothing

Now that summer’s in full swing, you may be finding it challenging to keep your children constantly entertained and out of trouble—I know I am!

Unfortunately, taking your kids out for fun activities all the time can get pretty pricey, especially if you have more than one. But, seeing their disappointed faces when you tell them, “Maybe next time,” can sting a little. And finding fun children’s activities that cost little to nothing can be a little overwhelming at times.

Instead of focusing on the expensive activities that you can’t afford to do every day, use these inexpensive activity suggestions to plan fun, cost-free days to keep your kids occupied this summer—without straining your wallet.

1. A Day at the Beach, Lake, or Park

It’s summertime, so get outside!

If you’re lucky enough to live near the beach, take advantage of it! If you’re not near the ocean, scope out the nearest lake or big park and plan a special outing.

You’ll only have to pay for fuel to get there and snacks—or pack a picnic and spend even less!

Don’t forget to bring along a few items to keep the kids occupied. If you’re headed to the beach or lake, pack a beach ball, a volleyball, or buckets and shovels for building sandcastles. If you’re headed to a lovely nearby park, bring a Frisbee, baseball and glove, or kites… whatever you like!

A day outside isn’t just fun for the kids, it’s fun for the whole family—and inexpensive!

2. Visit the Public Library

Even if your kids aren’t super excited about reading, the public library is a great place to go this summer.

Public libraries usually offer a variety of free activities for kids such as storytime readings, puppet shows, workshops, children’s theater, and other group activities. This is a great way to ensure that your kids are not only entertained, but also learn something in the process.

Check out your local public library’s website for their list of activities this summer. Who knows, maybe your children will even discover that they love reading!

3. Visit a Museum

Museums are both fun and educational—a great combination for bored kiddos.

Whether it’s history, art, or science, local museums are a wonderful source of activities and entertainment for your kids. Museums offer less expensive tickets for children, and some may even offer free entrance once a month—so be sure to check their calendars.

In addition to the normal museum exhibits, many also offer specials events or freebies for children during the summer. These are great opportunities for your kids to have a unique educational experience at little to no cost.

4. Neighborhood Olympics

Your kids aren’t the only ones who are bored this summer, so get the neighborhood together for a full day of friendly competition!

Sports like touch football, capture the flag, and potato sack races are fun group activities for all ages. This is another great way to include the whole family as well as neighborhood friends.

With so many people involved, there’ll be more than enough adults to referee games and allow for a change of teams at every event. Try setting up competitions between even-numbered homes versus odd-numbered homes or mothers and sons versus fathers and daughters. The options are endless, so have fun with it.

And be sure to close out the day’s events with a neighborhood potluck and barbeque!

5. Play Board Games

Your kids may be all about video games, but now board games are considered retro and cool! So dust off those old board games and teach your kids how to play.

A great thing about board games is that you can play them anywhere. On warm summer days, grab a board game and head to the park for hours of fun. Is a summer thunderstorm rolling in? Stay indoors and play.

There are loads of games for all ages, so there’s something for everyone. If your family is competitive, set up a friendly family tournament where the winner gets a small prize—like picking what movie to watch that evening.

6. Play Tourist

How well do your kids know their city? You might be surprised!

Perhaps you’ve taken them to the popular tourist spots, but what about other historic, lesser-known sites? Maybe there are some great parks or hikes on the other side of town that you never get to visit, so go check them out!

The summer is the perfect time to play hometown tourist and discover some spots you didn’t know about either.

7. Do Some Volunteering

If your kids have spare time on their hands, volunteering this summer is a perfect way to teach them the importance of giving back to their community.

There are so many organizations trying to make a difference, and because there are so many, you can pick the ones most appropriate for your kids. Opportunities like volunteering at a local food bank sorting food, gardening at the local public school or library, and even delivering meals to seniors are all wonderful, safe ways for your kids to learn the value of volunteering.

Volunteering not only keeps the kids busy, but also teaches them to be selfless and do something for others. Talk about a fun activity that also teaches important life lessons!

8. Enjoy an Outdoor Movie Night

Warm summer nights plus outdoor movies equals loads of fun.

Many parks offer free, outdoor family-friendly movie nights. Check your local parks to see if there are any near you. If not, ask your neighbors if they have a projector and screen so you can organize a neighborhood movie night for the kids in someone’s backyard.

It’s a great—and inexpensive—way to end the day!

Fun Children’s Activities Don’t Have to Break the Bank

Keeping kids entertained with healthy activities during the summer doesn’t have to mean going broke in the process.

Keep these suggestions in mind, and next time your kids complain about being bored, you’ll be ready head out the door—plus, you might just have some fun too!

Kid's Electronics Social Media Summer

How to Keep Your Kids Off Social Media This Summer

Remember the good old days when summer meant running through the sprinklers, playing hopscotch, and riding your bicycle through the neighborhood? I certainly miss that!

These days, summertime for kids often means more time on their computer, phone, or tablet. Chances are high that your kids are probably on a device right now—and if you have teenagers, they’re probably on social media instead of spending time outdoors enjoying the warm weather.

Yes, social media has its benefits and it’s great for kids to be able to stay in touch with distant friends over the summer. But, you know what they say: too much of anything is not good—and that includes social media! Here are a few statistics to put things in perspective:

  • The Huffington Post reports that 71% of teens admit to using more than one social network, including Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Snapchat.
  • The same study found that 56% of teens say they are online several times a day.
  • Another Huffington Post article found that 32% of teens have experienced threatening advances from others when online.

These data are pretty concerning! Other negative effects of too much social media include less sleep, higher rates of cyber-bullying, obesity, disrespect, numbness to violence, and changes in brain structure—the statistics are plentiful.

With that in mind, what better time to start a social media detox than this summer? We mean going cold-turkey. No social media for your kids—or you (because you have to lead by example)—this summer.

Already imagining your kids having a panic attack or staging an outright rebellion? Don’t worry, I have some tips to help keep your kids off social media this summer while still keeping them occupied.

Talk to Them First

Before taking any drastic measures, it’s important to let your kids know why social media will be off the table this summer.

Educate them on the effects of social media and point out how they’re spending too much time on social networks. Highlight the benefits of a social media detox and let them know it’s not forever.

Let’s be real—they will probably resist. Explaining why you’re enforcing a ban on social media is a better route than simply leaving them in the dark, and it may help get them on board with the plan. Make it clear that it’s not up for discussion and there will be no compromises.

Get Rid of Temptation 

Now comes the hard part—enforcement.

Simply uninstalling social media apps will not be effective if you want to stop all social media contact. Try switching out your kids’ smartphones for basic ones so that you can still keep in touch this summer while still limiting their access to the internet.

Put away your other household devices like tablets, desktops, or laptops, and stick to one communal computer in a busy location like the kitchen or living room so that everyone’s activity can be monitored.

Swap Outside Time for Social Media Time

That said, it may be nearly impossible to actually enforce a ban on social media, especially for older, technologically-savvy children.

In that case, give your kids an opportunity to have limited, semi-monitored time on social media a couple days a week. That way they can still check in with their friends, and they’ll be more willing to stick to the social media ban on other days.

For example, institute a swapping system where 2 hours spent doing outdoor activities earns 30 minutes of social media time. You could even make coupons to keep track of the system.

In time, your kids will (hopefully) stop missing social media and will choose to spend more time outdoors doing fun summer activities.

Institute Family Activities

Getting the kids off social media is a big step, but the next is spending more time with them as a family. Instead of sending the kids outdoors by themselves, get yourself and the whole family outside and moving!

Hiking, cycling, camping, fishing, or simply going for a swim are examples of fun activities for the whole family. This is a great opportunity to talk and bond with your kids while they’re not distracted and staring at their phones.

But, make it a rule that no social media is allowed by anyone—even parents—while spending time with the family.

Keeping Your Kids Off Social Media: Lead by Example

Let’s face it, we’re often just as bad about social media as parents—if not worse—than our kids.

Particularly as working moms, it’s easy to become slaves to our devices. Whether we’re checking social networks or work emails, we can set bad examples by over-using our electronics.

To help keep your kids off social media, set a good example by not being so tied to your phone. Don’t distract your kids with the iPad all the time—although I admit it can be a lifesaver at times—and spend more time engaging in outdoor activities with your family this summer.

Not only will your kids benefit, but so will you!

Family family outdoor activities happiness

11 Fun Outdoor Activities to Entertain Your Kids

Now that summer’s almost here, it’s time to put away the iPad and enjoy the great outdoors with our kids!

I’m not saying that you and your family need to partake in extreme sports; I am saying that you need to get outdoors. From a simple game in the backyard to a family camping trip, there are quite a few fun outside activities that will not only keep the kids entertained and active, but you too!

You don’t always need to spend a fortune on family fun, but you do need a good imagination and some energy (hello coffee—or sports drink!) to keep up with the kids! Here are 11 fun outdoor activities to enjoy the summer months with your favorite little people:

1. Backyard Camping

No need to go to the woods for a campout—just have one in your backyard! Don’t have a tent? Build a fort outside with old bed sheets and a few cushions.

If building a small fire isn’t an option, heat up some marshmallows in the kitchen—for s’mores of course! Throw in some more camping-type snacks (beef jerky, trail mix, etc.), some ghost stories, and a ball or frisbee to throw around, and you’re good to go!

2. Green Thumbs

This is for all you gardeners out there—get your kids involved in the garden too! It’s not only a fun activity for you and the kids, but it’s also a chance to combine fun and learning.

Give each child some seeds of their own to plant. Teach them how to water and tend to the plant as it grows. This fun activity helps teach kids a sense of responsibility for taking care of other living things (a great first step for that puppy they keep demanding!).

3. Kid-Friendly Paintball

If water balloons and paintball had a baby, this would be it! Fill the balloons with non-toxic, water-soluble paint, wear some old white t-shirts, and let the fun begin! Run around the grass and try to hit each other with as many balloons as possible, all while avoiding getting hit yourself.

Whoever has the least amount of paint on their t-shirt wins! This is the perfect game for some backyard fun or to play at a local park (just be sure to wash down the grass after the game is over).

4. Go Fish!

Fishing is not only fun, it’s an important survival skill. Plus, it teaches your kids to work for their food, helps them learn patience, and allows them to get hands-on with nature (and a little dirty!): putting worms on the hook, taking the fish off the hook, cleaning and filleting their catch—or throwing it back, depending on your own comfort level.

Find a local lake or river where fishing is allowed, and look up the rules for getting a fishing license—usually a simple process. Or if you live seaside and your budget permits, you might even consider taking the family deep sea fishing!

5. Take a Hike

Instead of relying on the tablet to keep your kids occupied, let nature take the lead. If you’re lucky, there should be a nature reserve nearby; if not, you may have to take a drive out of town. Either way, it’s worth it.

You’ll find that there’s plenty along the trail to keep them entertained, and a little physical activity never hurt anybody! Look up the trails ahead of time and choose a hike that meets your family’s comfort level—from a one-mile loop to a mountain hike, there are options for all activity levels! Just remember to stick to the marked trail and allow for plenty of daylight to finish the hike.

6. Slip ‘n Slide—Without Water

Say what?! Water is a precious thing and we shouldn’t waste it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun. Use shaving cream instead! Slipping down the slide will be just as fun (create a simple slip ‘n slide by spreading some plastic sheeting over the grass in your yard).

But don’t just watch—unleash your inner child and join your kids!

7. Play a Sport

Soccer, touch football, tennis, swimming—the list is endless. You and the kids can get some fun exercise (and it’ll tire them out for an early bedtime, fingers crossed!).

8. Have an Archery Tournament

All you need is some paint, a bull’s eye, and the kids’ toy bow and arrows. This activity is great for children’s hand-eye coordination, and hey—parents can show off their archery skills too!

9. Host a Family Olympics

Get the whole family involved and be creative with the sports and activities you include. Pair up with your kids so that each team has an adult and a kid (or three!)—or do kids vs. parents for the ultimate face-off!

10. Arts and Crafts

We could all do with some useful DIY projects now and then. Why not get the kids involved? They could help paint or assemble their playhouse, or even make some useful things for your home. Head out to the arts and crafts supply store for some kid-friendly home decor ideas.

11. Family Cookout

Family barbeques are always fun. Teach the kids some of your favorite family recipes and incorporate some of these outdoor activities into the day—whether it’s in your backyard or on a fun family vacation.

Imagination and Creativity is Where It’s At!

The sky’s the limit when it comes to outdoor activities. With some imagination and creativity, fun can be had by the whole family. Now that the weather is nice, get out there and enjoy some sunshine.

Don’t forget to snap some pictures to capture the moment!

Family

21 Affordable Summer Activities for Kids

Some of us Mom’s have a love/hate relationship with Summer Break. We love the first week, no rushing out the door, no packing lunches, no homework stress, the list goes on and on. Then a few weeks in we begin to feel the stress of having kids around 24/7 or we hear the dreaded “I’m bored.” Finding a balance can be tough, especially for us work-from-home moms. I try to plan 2-3 out of the norm activities/outings each week to keep summer fun and make sure we get in some much needed quality time. The summer doesn’t have to cost a fortune! Consider some of these free or very inexpensive activities:

National or State Parks

Check out your local state parks or national parks, you can usually find some great hiking and scenery.

http://www.stateparks.com/
https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/fee-free-parks.htm

Hiking

Find a local trail

http://www.traillink.com/

Geocaching

If your kids love a good treasure hunt then go Geocaching. All you need is a GPS enabled device such as your smart phone and you can play a real-world treasure hunting outdoor game called Geocaching. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using their smart phones and then share their experiences online

https://www.geocaching.com/play

Museums

Local Museums can offer educational opportunities and usually have special deals during the summer.

http://www.museumsusa.org/

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program

Have your kids (grades 1st-6th) read books and answer the questions in the Summer Reading Triathlon Reading Journal. Bring the completed journal to any Barnes & Noble bookstore between May 17th and September 6th, and your child can choose a FREE book from their selection on the Reading Journal list.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/b/summer-reading/_/N-rs9

Scholastic Summer Challenge

May 9 – September 9, kids can log their reading minutes to earn virtual prizes.

http://www.scholastic.com/ups/campaigns/src-2016

LEGO Fans

Is your little reader a LEGO fan? Go ahead and grab this freebie for kids, a free membership to the LEGO Club including (for kids 4-12) a subscription to Lego Club Magazine.

http://www.lego.com/en-us/club/member/articles/details/magazine-sign-up-2-e344dd7a1961497187adf5352ff87e53

Regal’s Summer Movie Express

Regal’s summer movie program is on Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10 a.m. and runs for nine weeks. Admission is $1, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Will Rogers Institute.

http://www.regmovies.com/Movies/Summer-Movie-Express

Bowling

Register your kids for Summer Games at AMF so they can enjoy free bowling. They can bowl three free games every weekday from open till 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sundays from open till 4 pm. Valid May 23 through September 5.

https://bowlsummergames.com/

Roller Skating

Kids 12 and under can skate for FREE this summer at participating Kids Skate FREE Rinks. Use the link below to find a location near you and sign your kids up to snag their FREE skating passes. Hours and additional fees (including skate rental fees) vary based on location.

http://kidsskatefree.com/locations.php

Home Depot Kids Workshops

Home Depot offers FREE workshops for do-it-yourselfers of all ages and experience levels.

http://workshops.homedepot.com/workshops/kids-workshops

Lowe’s

Bring the kids to a Lowe’s Build and Grow workshop where they’ll get to tackle all sorts of DIY projects.

https://lowesbuildandgrow.com/

Michael’s

Have your kids join the Michael’s Kids Club and let them explore their creativity while you shop. Only $2 per child reserves 30 minutes for your creative kid. Sessions start every half hour from 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

https://classes.michaels.com/OnlineClasses/control/main?firstVisit=firstVisit

Lakeshore Learning Crafts

FREE Crafts for Kids for kids ages 3 and up every Saturday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/general_content/store_locations/storeCrafts.jsp?ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1369103498148

Tech Savvy Kids – Apple

Apple Camp! For your tech savvy kids, have them attend a FREE Apple Camp at a participating Apple Store. At Apple Camp, kids ages 8-12 will have the opportunity to learn to make their own movie including a soundtrack or an interactive book.

http://www.apple.com/retail/learn/youth/

Bass Pro Shops Family Summer Camp

Bass Pro Shops host FREE activities and crafts for the family. These FREE camps are every Tuesday and Thursday starting at noon and Saturday and Sunday starting at noon. Your family can enjoy FREE crafts, FREE shooting gallery, FREE casting pond, FREE family workshops, FREE make campfire s’mores, FREE photo, and FREE merit badge workshops. Please note that not all activities are available at all Bass Pro Shops.

http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CFPageC?storeId=10151&catalogId=-1&lf=&pageID=4766&cm_Sp=Sur

Whole Foods Kids Cooking Classes

Do you have a little chef in your family? If so, then check out the Whole Foods Kids Cooking Classes for kids 5-12 years old. At most locations, you have to purchase a membership but it is just $10. Pre-registration is required for all cooking classes.

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/service/just-kids

Volunteer in your Community

Teach ‘em young! Kids can participate as volunteers in your local community. While volunteer activities are inspiring FREE summer activities for kids, the rewards usually tend to be a touching experience.

http://www.volunteermatch.org/

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation

If your kids want to have a lemonade stand, encourage them to donate the proceeds to charity such as Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation which helps children with cancer.

http://www.alexslemonade.org/

Staycations and nearby Amusement Parks

Local Deals

You can also check out Groupon or Living Social for some affordable staycation hotel options or local amusement parks

https://www.groupon.com/
https://www.livingsocial.com/

For more summer fun, click here for our FREE downloadable summer bucket list