My son is out of school for the year, and soon my oldest daughter will be too. It’s time to start thinking about how I’m going to keep them busy, ideally without spending a lot of money or wasting a lot of resources. Here are some of the ideas I’ve come up with.
1. Grow a garden.
This is already started, of course. We have more tomatoes than I think we’ll manage to eat, but my husband always wants to grow a big variety of tomatoes. If they go well, I’ll either have to figure out how to preserve them or start giving the excess away to family, friends and neighbors. Not a bad deal.
We also have zucchini, basil, pumpkins growing from the seeds of last year’s Halloween pumpkin, strawberries and beans. Not a big garden, but we’re pretty limited in this house we’re renting to what we can do to the yard. We also have a few flowers planted just for attracting bees and for pretty. My favorite so far are the native larkspur that grew on their own.
The kids are learning to weed and are responsible to help keep the garden watered. They love knowing that they can snack freely on what grows and is edible.
Kids love looking at the stars, and my son picked a small telescope out for his birthday earlier this year. Stargazing is a great way to make those summer nights special for your family.
Take a little time and go camping with your family. Most areas have decent local campgrounds, or you could camp in your own backyard. Older children may even enjoy camping out in the backyard on their own. This was a favorite when I was growing up.
4. Playing with friends.
Don’t get so into doing activities with your kids that they don’t get a ton of time to just play with friends, whether it’s at your house, the friend’s house or on their own at the park once they’re old enough and responsible enough. Let them have fun doing their own things.
5. Visit the library.
Our library has a summer reading program that allows kids in grades 1-5 to earn prizes for the number of pages they read. Prizes shouldn’t be needed to get kids reading if you’ve encouraged it all along, but make sure they keep the habit of reading books that interest them all summer long. The library is a great resource that will allow them to read more books than you could probably afford to buy.
Don’t forget to check out any special activities your local library may have over the summer. Many have activities for all age ranges, which is great when your kids have a range of interests and abilities.
6. Do recycled crafts.
I covered a few good books to help you get ideas for recycled crafts just the other day. Summer is a great time for trying some of these ideas out.
7. Visit museums.
While museums bring a picture of boredom to some minds, they don’t have to. Most kids love a good, hands-on science museum, and many other museums have come to recognize that having a hands-on component makes it more interesting for children.
Check with your local museums to see if they have any free or reduced price days to keep the expense down. These days are usually more crowded, but may put this activity into a more budget friendly category.
8. Go to the zoo.
Most children love the zoo. Annual passes may be quite affordable, or you can suggest that family give passes as a gift. Children will be impressed by the range of animals, and it’s a great opportunity to discuss why we need to protect the habitat of various animals.
9. Go hiking.
Yet another thing you can do fairly locally in most places. Find out where the hiking trails are in your area and you have a great family activity that will help to keep you fit while seeing nature in action.
Fantastic ideas, and I think you are so right to point out that sometimes kids just have to get on with amusing themselves rather than insisting they are engaged in organised activity – my Mum always referred to this as ‘benign neglect’!
I wish I could grow an excess of tomatoes here, I’m a little jealous. On the up side all our museums are free!