Feeling uneasy about the hours your kids are spending sleeping or playing video games now that school’s out? Summer can be a hands-on, inexpensive, and delightful learning time for kids as they enjoy their time away from desks and worksheets. Whether you try these ideas, or suggest them to your sitter, your children will benefit as they remain actively engaged.
1. Investigate nearby farms or orchards for pick-your-own produce. Compare prices for U-pick verses already picked. Sample your selections fresh from the vine and prepare recipes using your goodies.
2. Grow plants. If you don’t have much room for a garden, try containers. Seeds are really cheap at the dollar stores. Neighbors might pay your kids to weed their gardens, which can be educational and can give them a little extra pocket change.
3. Volunteer. Could your child play the piano, dance or sing, or just chat at a nursing home? Could your kids groom dogs and cats at the humane society? Could they serve meals at a soup kitchen? Learn to be greeters or tour guides at the museum? These experiences can be rewarding, teach life lessons and may even help your child start building a bit of a resume for college and beyond.
4. Start a neighborhood newspaper. Reporters can spread the news about yard sales, new families, car pools, new babies, wanted items, etc.
5. Subscribe to the local paper and have your kids circle upcoming family-friendly events. Mark the calendar when a circus, parade, concert, art show, rodeo, or exhibit is scheduled. Calculate the cost for the number of people who want to attend. You would be surprised how many events are going around you.
6. Find the nearest biking/hiking trail to explore and pack a picnic. This is a perfect opportunity to get some exercise with your kids and teach them a little about the great outdoors.
7. Camp out in the backyard. No fancy equipment needed. Just toss a blanket over a clothesline and take a flashlight and sleeping bag. Check out the constellations before lights out.
8. Check with arts and crafts stores such as Michael’s and Jo Ann Fabrics for kids’ classes. They offer cool projects, like decorated flip flops, that are easy, creative and fun.
9. Set up a classic bake sale or lemonade stand but with a twist. Sit down with your kids and calculate the cost of all the supplies and their own labor. Help them put together a mini business plan and then seed their enterprise. The’ll learn a valuable lesson about business and have fun doing it.
10. Take a walk or drive through your town to photograph interesting architecture, favorite spots, scenic vistas, statues, landmarks, pretty gardens, etc. Publish your best shots into a book with your own captions. **Bonus** Have a dozen of these books printed out online and save them as gifts for family and friends this holiday season.
You can keep kids entertained and active without spending a fortune or parking them in front of the TV. It just takes a little planning and some conversation about what they’d like to try. Remember, school will be starting soon!