Summer vacation is disappearing faster than an ice cube on a hot sidewalk. And chances are, any extra spending money you had has been lost to back-to-school supplies and new clothes for the kids.
Fortunately, there are plenty of fun (and cheap!) activities for you to do with your kids before they go back to school.
Create a summer scrapbook. Use photos and memorabilia from your summer activities to create a summer memory book. Encourage your kids to draw pictures and write down their stories. You can find scrapbook paper and embellishments at many dollar stores, or you can use paper and craft supplies you already have. If you’re more of a digital-type, look for photo book deals or free digital scrapbooking supplies.
Camp out in the backyard. Set up a tent in your backyard and sleep outside. Create a small bonfire (if your community allows it) and toast marshmallows. If you don’t have a tent, borrow one from a friend. No backyard? Build a blanket fort in your living room and let the kids sleep there. Telling ghost stories is optional!
Stay up late. On those long summer days, it can be tempting as a parent to want to put the kids to bed as soon as possible. But there’s a lot of fun for kids after dark that won’t cost you a cent. Count the stars, play flashlight tag, catch fire flies, or watch a fireworks display. One of my favorite childhood memories is taking a walk in the country with family and friends on a moonlit night.
Make homemade ice cream. Nothing says summer like ice cream, and your kids will have fun making their own homemade ice cream in a bag.
Put on a puppet show. Make puppets from paper lunch sacks, worn-out socks, or scraps of felt. Create a doorway puppet theater and let your kids’ imagination take over.
Pack a picnic lunch. Pack a cooler with sandwiches, drinks and treats and head to a favorite park for lunch.
Be a tourist in your own town. You don’t have to take a road trip to enjoy summer vacation. Explore places you’ve never been within your own community. Many cultural attractions offer free admission nights. Target and Bank of America also sponsor free admission to cultural events. You should also check with your public library – they often offer free passes to local museums.
If you can’t find a free activity to your liking, you can find deep discounts on local attractions through local deal sites like Valpak.
Host a neighborhood Summer Olympics. Gather up your neighbors and host your own version of the Olympics. Activities could include 3-legged races, water balloon toss, hula hoop contest, watermelon seed-spitting contests and more. Make sure you have a medal ceremony for the winners. You’ll find inexpensive medals and ribbons at the Dollar Store or in the party favor section of your local discount store.
Make giant bubbles. You can make your own homemade bubbles using products you have in your cupboard. There are all kinds of ways to blow bubbles – use an old wire hanger, old socks, some rope, or a can (opened on both ends). We love using our Bubble Thing, and you can even make your own homemade version.
Explore nature. Make sure to involve all the senses. Listen to the birds. Go berry picking. Make little critters out of pine cones and googley-eyes. Press some flowers. Make crayon rubbings of leaves. Capture frogs, caterpillars, crickets or butterfles and study them for an afternoon before setting them free. Talk about how we treat living creatures and care for the environment while having fun learning about the natural world around us.
Engage your kids’ minds and move their bodies in the sunshine before they head back to the classroom. The best way to enjoy the last few weeks of summer is to find fun, simple outdoor activities your kids will love. Let them guide you to some fun memories!
Your turn: What fun (and frugal) things do you like to do with your kids before they head back to school?