When the summer months roll in and school is out, parents around the country may start to have mixed feelings about what they’re in for over the next couple months. As much as you may love having your kids at home more often, two months can be a lot of time for you to fill up to keep them occupied. You might even fall into the trap of scheduling too many activities for them, tiring them out, as well as yourself, in the process. If you’re a parent who works from home, you might have an even harder time keeping your kids busy while making sure you still get all your usual tasks done.
Sure, you could send them to a summer camp and call it a day, but summer camps can get expensive, and if you’re living on a tight budget, you may not be able to afford it. That’s why it’s important to have a list of budget-friendly summer activities for kids at the ready.
While some of the things on this list will require more supervision than others, they’re all intended to cut down on the amount of time your kids spend in front of a screen while still helping them to have a fun summer experience!
Summer is a great time of year to go fruit picking, and it can be a great way to spend an afternoon with your kids. While the availability of certain fruit will vary by location, you should still have plenty of options at your disposal. Once you’re finished with your afternoon of fruit picking, keep your kids engaged by having them help you bake a pie with the fruit you’ve just picked! Check out LocalHarvest.org to find farms in your area to pick fruit.
Camping can be one of the most rewarding summer activities for kids and parents alike, but even a budget camping trip might cost more time and money than you can afford. But you don’t need to trek to a camping site to sleep under the stars. If you have a tent – or can borrow one from a friend – pitch it out back and have a little camping trip with your kids in the comfort of your own backyard. You can play games with them, toss a ball around, tell campfire stories, and do whatever other camping activities you can think of. You can even let them play in and around the tent during the day to get the full experience.
Do you have any old bed sheets lying around the house that never get any use? If you do, pull one out to the backyard and lay it out over the grass. Take out your paint supplies – or go to the dollar store to pick some up if you don’t have any – and let your kids spend the afternoon creating their masterpiece. If you don’t have any sheets that you’re willing to let them use, go to a thrift store, dollar store, or garage sale and grab some cheap ones.
Speaking of having fun with paint, there’s more things to paint on than just your old bed sheets. Find a bunch of small or medium-sized rocks and give them to your kids to paint or draw on with markers. Getting slightly better fine-tipped markers like Sharpies will make this a little easier for your kids. There are plenty of ways for you and your kids to get creative with your rock painting project.
One thing you could do would be to paint a different facial feature on every rock. Draw different types of mouths, noses, and eyes on the rocks you’ve gathered, then let your kids mix and match their creations to make silly faces. They could also paint their rocks like little animals, bugs, or their favorite movie characters. Give them license to be creative and explore their imagination.
If you want to make this project slightly more intricate, you could focus all of their rock paintings on a specific theme, like a winter theme, the jungle, or the forest. For example, if you choose a winter theme, you could draw various winter-related things on your rocks, like a snowman, an elf, a pine tree, or whatever else you can think of.
This summer activity for kids is great because you can do it outside or indoors, and if you choose to do it in the house, you likely won’t need to worry too much about your kids breaking anything because of the harmless nature of the balloon. Just make sure to keep a close eye on them so they don’t accidentally run into anything.
To play this game, you’ll need two popsicle sticks or something similar, two paper plates, duct tape, and a balloon. To make your ping pong “paddles”, tape the sticks to your paper plates. Blow up your balloon and then all your kids have to do is hit it back and forth. If you want to customize it to make it a little more fun, create your own rules, like having your kids only hit the balloon underhand or backwards. Or better yet, let them decide what rules they think would be fun to follow!
Your local library may be more than just a place to take out books. A lot of libraries will have fun summer activities for kids planned throughout the summer like author visits, themed parties, and reading contests. See if any nearby libraries have a schedule of the free activities for kids they plan on hosting, and decide which ones you think your kids would enjoy.
Your local library may also be a great place to take out children’s toys, so you won’t have to keep buying new toys to keep them entertained. You might be able to find things like puzzles, dolls, music makers, and more. You obviously won’t be able to hang on to the toys permanently, these can be a great free library resource that’ll keep your kids having fun for a few weeks until you can head back to get them something new. And if you’re worried about your kids picking up germs from other children, don’t be. These toys will generally be disinfected before they’re put back on the shelves. Worst case, you can disinfect them yourself.
Summer is a special time for kids when they don’t have to worry about school and can just focus on having fun, making memories, and building skills they’ll use later in life. It’s unlikely that they’ll ever experience another period in their life where they have as much free time and energy as they do at this stage, so it’s important that they take advantage of it. This period is a great opportunity for you strengthen your connection with them, help them build character, and provide them with some summer activities for kids that you know they’ll treasure.
We hope the list we’ve provided has given you some ideas to have some budget-friendly fun with your kids so you can focus more on them and less on your wallet!
Do you have any favorite summer activities for kids that are easy on your budget?