Ahh, the lazy hazy days of summer. Warm breezes wafting through the air. Carefree trips to the park. Endless ice cream cones. Late laughter filled nights catching fireflies. Memorable family vacations. “Mom, I’m booooored!” blares in your ears on a daily basis, waking you up from summer day dreaming.
Now that the kids have been off for a few weeks, and 4th of July has come and gone, do you find the doldrums of summer break settling in? Kids aren’t quite ready to head back to school yet the excitement of summer has worn off a little. What to do? Keep reading for some fun and creative ideas that can be free or cheap to help you beat summer boredom.
Freebie Ideas to Beat Summer Boredom At Home
Set-up a Backyard Splash Pad
Create a backyard oasis with your own water features like sprinklers, pools, and hoses. If you only have a few on hand invite friends their wet implements and have a pool potluck. Kids have fun splashing back and forth between a variety of wading pools, water sprays and slip and slides.
You can arrange everything to mimic a splash pad, depending on your space, so youngsters can run through one type of sprinkler on one side of the yard, go through a hose in another, and jump into a pool in a different area. If there are little ones around you can also have a kiddie section with a water table, or simply fill up some plastic toy bins and bring out bath toys.
If you want more than one hose going at the same time you can pick up a hose spigot adaptor that allows for more than one hose hookup.
Some other fun ideas to beat summer boredom include putting a pool at the end of a slide, punching holes into a spare hose to have a long sprayer to run through, and having water balloons or squirters on hand.
Looking for an alternative to water play but still need to stay cool while playing outside? Have a dinosaur lover and little dinosaur toys on hand? Put the toys in a bowl of water and freeze them. When everything is frozen take out the chunk of ice and let your archaeologist chip away at the ice until he or she gets his or her treasure. You can use spoons, a dull screw driver and hammer to help with the excavation process. If your kiddos aren’t into dinosaurs you can freeze anything from action figures, animals, My Little Ponies, or Happy Meal Toys.
Homemade Ice Cream
If there are two things kids love it’s science projects and eating yummy treats. You can easily do both by making your own ice cream with things you may have on hand. Here is an easy recipe to follow:
½ Cup Milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar, ¼ tsp of vanilla extract, 1 cup of rock salt
- Put milk, sugar and vanilla in pint or quart-sized Ziplock bag and seal well.
- Fill a gallon sized Ziplock bag with ice and add the 8 tablespoons rock salt.
- Add the small milk-Ziplock bag to the larger bag.
- Seal well and squish.
Let the kids help with the churning process and watch as the ice chills the liquid and turns everything into ice cream. When the treat is completely made, dig in and enjoy! To add an educational part this has a great explanation of the scientific process.
Run a Lemonade Stand
Why not monetize boredom and set-up a lemonade stand. Kids can help with creating signs, setting up a table, making the lemonade and any other treat. This can be a great lesson in entrepreneurship, money handling skills, and customer service too.
To help bring in customers my kids like to have their lemonade stand set-up on a scorching weekend day when a lot of people are out biking and running. We also set up a garage sale type sign advertising the stand.
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Cattle Ranch Picnic
Giddy-up for a hoedown ya’ll have fun at. Put on your cowboy hats and neckerchiefs. Light up the fire or grill and roast weenies, a pot of beans, and any other grub your lads and lasses like. Serve it all up on tin pie plates and ya’ll got yourself a feast fit for a hootenanny.
Rainy Day Activities
Rain is an inevitable part of summer. Here is a list of ideas to beat summer boredom and keep the little ones active when they can’t get out and play:
- Bike and Trike indoors–Pull out the cars or bring things into the basement and let the kids run wild. Play some music so it’s like a roller rink
- Indoor Obstacle Course– Set up fun things for your little Ninja Warrior like pillows to hop over, tables to crawl under, tape lines balance on
- Good ‘ol games of hide and seek, duck duck goose, or Simon Says
- Christmas in July Cookies: bring out the rolling pins, cookie cutters, frosting and sprinkles and have an afternoon of baking and decorating
Freebie Ideas Out and About
Most local libraries offer special programs in the summer that are free and fun. Our library has things like movies, kid oriented performances, story times, Lego day, cooking classes and open arts studio. Check your library’s schedule and see what they offer
Free Zoo Outing
We are fortunate to have a free zoo in our hometown that we typically go to a few times throughout the summer. When my kids and I visit we don’t always see everything there so that we have something “new” to look at for the next visit.
If you have a free zoo that is a bit away you can make it into a fun road trip day and pack a picnic lunch.
If you don’t have a zoo near-by don’t fret. Visit a local nature trail, woods, or park. There is usually a lot wildlife to look for in the summer. Create a list of creatures and plants and go on a nature scavenger hunt.
New To You Park
Kids love anything that is new and different. Look up a playground that you have not been to before and make a trip to check it out.
Concerts in the Park
For a night-time activity check out your local events calendar to see what’s playing in a town near you. Free music offerings come alive in the warmer months and there are usually a lot of performances. There is something about music outdoors that gets kids, and grown-ups, smiling, clapping, and having a great time.
Little League Baseball Game
Want to check-out a baseball game without the hefty price of a ticket. Take them out to a little league or hometown ball game at your local ball diamond. These are usually free and can be just as exciting to watch for little ones. Plus if your kids are like mine, they are usually ready to go home before the 7th inning stretch, so no money wasted if you need to leave the game early.
Cheapie Ideas to Beat Summer Boredom
You know that money your kids earned at their lemonade stand? Let them treat themselves with a portion of their earnings at a garage sale. There are always great toys or trinkets to be found. Even though it’s used, it is new to them. Plus a new toy is a great way to keep kids occupied at home.
Check your local movie theater to see if they offer a cheap movie day. We have $5.00 Movie Tuesdays in our area. Movie theaters are always cold and perfect way to pass time on a scorching afternoon.
Ice Cream and McDonald’s Play Land
Ice cream and iced coffee are cheap at McDonald’s. My kids love to go out for ice cream and we do treat from time to time at a local joint, but sometimes it’s nice to take them out without breaking the bank. I must admit I’m not a fan of public indoor playgrounds either, but if there is a time to go it’s summer rather than cold and flu season. An air-conditioned playground with ice cream is a great way to beat the heat.
Summer is a time for fairs and festivals. It can be easy to drop a big chunk of change at these events, but it is also possible to frugally attend the festivities. Pack a picnic or eat ahead of time to save on eating fair food. Pick one fair treat like snow cones to help pacify kid’s cravings.
Try to pick a day that offers a special deal for rides. There are times when we go but tell the kids they can pick 2-3 rides to go one. While rides are fun it’s okay not go on every one.
Look for a free kids area that offers fun little games, face painting and balloon animals.
To piggyback off of a local fair check the schedule to see if there is a parade. Watching bands, floats, old timely cars and sports team and getting tons of candy offers great entertainment. A lot of businesses hand out coupons for their services so it’s a great time to stock-up on savings. The last parade I attended I got free swim passes to a private pool, BOGO for a trampoline park, and discounts on pizza.
Municipal Pools or Beaches
When the backyard wading pond just isn’t cutting it look for a public pool or beach in your area. Residents typically get in for a cheap rate, but non-residents are not that expensive either, especially compared to private venues. Again you can save money by packing a picnic or going between lunch and dinner.
I hope these ideas help you and your kids cure the summertime blues. With a little creativity and simple planning it is possible to beat summer boredom with freebie and cheapie ideas.