As the summer stretches on, Circle of Moms members say their grade-school and tween-aged kids are moaning a collective, “Mom, there’s nothing to do.” As Terise, who is mom to a 10- and 12-year-old shares, "I'm desperate for some good ideas for kid activities this summer that are inexpensive.” Katie, mom to an eight-year-old, adds: “It’s going to be a long summer, and I find the older she gets, the more bored she gets (now she tells me ‘this is major boring.”) How am I supposed to keep her amused this summer?”
Here are five great ideas for summer adventure that will keep kids busy, without breaking the bank.
1. Create and Post a Bucket List
Lilian M. suggests creating a list of fun “to do’s,” a bucket list for the summer. “Every summer we create a large chart on poster board with twenty or more activities,” she says. "It helps [my daughter] keep track of upcoming events and what she can look forward to. As we complete the activities she adds a sticker beside [them]. It also makes a great Show and Tell when she gets back to school. Activities might include: trip to the zoo, ride public bus, visit downtown, dress-up dinner, swimming, getting wet outside or making ice cream."
2. Find an Inexpensive Community Day Camp
A member named Violet sends her "very active" nine-year-old son to day camp for at least part of the summer by sticking with camps like Cub Scouts, "that aren't too expensive." Rebekah recommends checking out your local church, as "many church camps are very inexpensive." And Vicki turns to her local parks and recreation department for three-day-per-week programs for her six and 12-year-old kids. "They play games, do crafts, put on puppet shows or just socialize with other kids," she says. "The fee is minimal and on Fridays they go swimming."
3. Join Forces with Another Family
Violet also works with a friend to plan "camp adventures" for their sons at one another's houses. "We make sleepovers into camp adventures and then plan an outing for the next day."
4. Assign Your Kids Projects
The secret to keeping the kids entertained all summer is creativity, says a mom named Carol. She suggests coming up with learning activities that you can do with them, like "your own cooking school," for instance. "Last year my eight- and 10-year-olds helped create the dinner menus and fix them for the entire week. They loved it and keep asking to do it again this year. You just have to have patience and teach them to clean up afterward too."
In a similar stroke of genius, a member named Alisa created a dog school at her house, enlisting her son to work with the family's pet. "He had his own obedience school and performance class for our dog," she shares.
5. Sign Up for Service Projects
Like adults, kids too feel good when they are helping others, says Madeline. She suggests planning a trip to a food pantry or some other kind of volunteer project. "I like bringing my kids to soup kitchens or having them help at an old folks home as they always need a hand," she says.
Alisa also has found that enlisting your kids in volunteer projects not only keeps them busy, but also teaches them invaluable life lessons. "Is there a nursing home nearby [where your child] can create cards or craft gifts?....Local volunteer sites may have great ideas too. For example, even a young child can assist in making PB&J sandwiches for the local homeless shelter."
What are some inexpensive activities your kids do during summer and school breaks?
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