Friday, April 11, 2014

10 free ideas for a fun summer

This summer, we plan to visit a certain famous mouse in Florida, so the rest of our summer needs to include cheap or free fun. Preferably free.  I started bookmarking and pinning potential summer activities and hopefully these help you as you plan your summer too. Last summer I was in Ghana for over 5 weeks so I feel like I missed our usual activities. This summer, I have some catching up to do.

I start by printing blank calendar pages like this and as I find fun events, they are all marked in one place. The goal is not to do something every day, but to have ideas for those days that swimming isn't an option or we just want to break the routine a little.

1. Free Zoo and Museum days

Our Zoo is free every Monday and several museums are free on designated days. We usually visit our zoo from opening for 2-3 hours and pick an area to explore with detail. It makes our visit more relaxed, less walking for the kids and we want to return week after week.   Here is a tool to locate a Zoo nearby.

2. Swimming

Do you have a local beach, lake or community pool? We have free places within 30 min drive where we can enjoy a day of swimming and a picnic. We also buy a family membership to a local pool because it has a nice shallow end for the little ones and they offer swimming lessons. I once calculated how much the membership cost us per visit and it was 75 cents per trip (for 5 people swimming usually). We plan to get a season pass again this year and also visit local free swimming spots. This option isn't free but for 15 cents per person, it's worth mentioning.

3. Library/reading programs

Our library has a fun reading program and children can earn free stuff for reading books. We sign up in May and keep a record of why we read and for how long. While at the library, see what other programs they may have. We have attended magic shows, crafts and other in activities while checking out books. Bookstores such a Barnes and Noble have programs also, check out their websites each year for free programs. We write the events into our summer calendar and go especially on rainy days.

4. Concerts

Does your community offer free outdoor concerts in the summer time? We go to many concerts each summer, take a blanket and listen to music under the stars. Not only is it a fun family outing, our kids get out of their usual music rut. We pick anything from classical to jazz to African beats and pack a picnic dinner along. An since it's outdoors, kids can dance and clap along.

5. Movies

For rainy days, we keep a list of $1 movies handy (written into the calendar). These are usually played early in the morning and they are older movies, but since we don't go to movies that often, it feels like a special treat to my kids. We also look for outdoor movies in our community which are super fun and free. Sometimes an ice cream social is included which my kids look forward to.

6. Parades and Fireworks

Another fun summertime tradition is to attend parades and fireworks. These are around 4th of July of course, but many communities around here choose a different weekend so for a couple of weekends we can enjoy beautiful fireworks shows. Parades are super fun and my kids love seeing matching bands, fire trucks and of course they are hopeful for some free candy.

7. Playgrounds

This may be not be revolutionary but we do utilize various playgrounds for summertime fun. Pick a different playground, invite a friend or two to join you and it is a fun day for sure. Some parks have a splash pad as well which can help kids cool off while moms relax (hopefully) or join the playtime.

8. Geocaching

This is a new activity for our family. But one we will be doing this summer. I found many geocaches nearby from this website

9. Local sporting events

Do you have a minor league team within driving distance? Check out their kids club or family games for low cost or even free tickets. Last summer we scored tickets for our entire family for $12 to a local minor league baseball game. Kids were excited to watch the game, visit a kids bounce area and there were no parking fees, long walks from the parking lot or $8 hot dogs. It was great. Some even offer fireworks after the game, kids can run bases or meet the players.

10. Organize a neighborhood summer camp

The best moments of summer are often spontaneous and happen at the last minute. It could be as simple as bringing out the slip n slide and inviting a few friends to join. Or a few moms can organize a day of summer camp activities to change the routine of summer a bit. I find that inviting a few friends over changes the dynamics between siblings and we tent to have less squabbles.

Pinterest has tons of ideas on summer time backyard activities with easy to find supplies. We plan to add many of these ideas to our summer bucket list.

We are gearing up for a fun summer! 

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