It’s summer break so you may start hearing those maddening words – “I’m bored.” Here are ten fun and fulfilling ways to entertain the kids without breaking the bank.
- Visit your local library. Skip Redbox and choose from the myriad of books and DVDs at your local library instead. While you’re there, check out the children’s department. You will likely find free programs, games, toys, or opportunities to connect with local kids. Moreover, many libraries offer free or reduced passes to local museums and cultural destinations. Check if yours is one!
- Explore nature. Research easy, low-incline trails and parks that can accommodate your child’s skill level. Bring along a few mason jars or plastic containers to gather interesting specimens along the way. If there is a creek nearby, try making one of these 2 dollar bait traps and see what fun creatures you can discover. Make it a day and bring a picnic!
- Create a scavenger hunt. There are loads of fun scavenger hunts online, but creating one yourself can be just as simple. Compile a short list of visual clues that lead your little one to their favorite toy or a healthy snack.
- Make play dough. DIY crafts can be a bit intimidating and even expensive. But, homemade play dough is a failsafe alternative to the store bought one. Combine pantry staples (flour, oil, and salt) and a few squirts of liquid food coloring. For extra fun, let your kids use real kitchen tools, like rollers, spatulas, and plastic utensils.
- DIY “Don’t Break the Ice.” There is no need to buy expensive board games when they are easily recreated. Fill a plastic cup halfway with water, cover the opening with a paper towel, and secure with an elastic band. Simply place a coin on top and take turns poking holes with a pencil till the penny drops. Discard paper and repeat!
- Teach innovation. Rummage through your recycling bin for a few clean safe objects, add some string, tape, and scissors, and voila, you have yourself an ‘invention kit.’ Should frustration set in, tissue box banjos and oatmeal container tom-toms are always a hit.
- Create a workshop. Kids love tinkering. For older kids, supervise as they practice hammering nails into a stump or piece of scrap wood. For younger kiddos, place Styrofoam inside a cardboard box and replace nails with golf tees. Then, check your local Home Depot for free children’s DIY workshops.
- Send a letter. Let your little one exercise their independence by sending a letter of their very own. Cut a slit in a cardboard box and make them their very own mailbox. Or, for the full experience, take a trip to your post office and properly send it off.
- Visit the dump. Sounds strange and maybe even a bit messy, but teaching your children about waste is important and can even be fun. Bring a tote full of recyclables and let your child discard them themselves. Make observations about your surroundings. Some towns and cities may even offer citizens a swap shack, where your child may be able to donate old toys or obtain something ‘new.’
- Meet some animals. Search your local directory for a nearby farm. Try and set up a time to see the cows being milked or to pick up a dozen of fresh eggs. Or, check out your local humane society to meet some animals in need.
Jillian Burkett is a journalist meandering her way through the wild world of parenthood. An insatiable wanderlust, library enthusiast, and record collector, Jillian lives in New Hampshire with her partner Alex, and their two boys, Porter & Desmond. When not writing, Jillian enjoys photographing urban landscapes, cooking anything vegetarian, and cultivating her small but lovable community garden. Send her some love at Twitter, or Instagram.