Summer time is coming and gas prices are sky high. Here is advice from the ThriftyFun community to keep boredom at bay without spending much money. Do you have any tips for saving money on summer fun? Feel free to post them below.
Take Advantage Of Your Local Free Resources
Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio emailed me about a summer saver special with reduced rates on admission. http://www.cedarpoint.com. Michigan residents can enjoy a free (No fishing license required) fishing weekend, I believe it is June 6, 7, 8. Check local papers for listings of community events, many times there are listings for free concerts-in-the park, vacation bible schools, and free matinées. Also try your local department of parks and recreation. Many have programs for children at nominal or no fee.
Check Out Your Local Library
When you go to the library to get those books, videos, and craft ideas, don't forget to check out their summer reading programs. Our county library always has some great programs. Kids (and adults) sign up for the program and set their own reading goals, so it is reasonable for all levels of readers. They give prizes when goals are reached -- stickers, coupons for free ice cream, free books, all kinds of great stuff! Also, they usually have weekly programs for children.
They usually have a story time for pre-schoolers, followed by a program for school-aged children. They have guest speakers, sometimes they do crafts, it's something different every week. And, Mom can either stay and watch with the kids, or can have her hour to browse on her own while the kids are "otherwise occupied", and then Mom is available to help the kids find their own books after the program ends. The kids then know what day every week is "library day" and really look forward to the programs and to getting a new supply of books and videos. Also, this makes it more exciting for reluctant readers.
After you get home with the new books, if it's a nice day, take a quilt out side and let them lay in the sun to read -- a joy from my childhood that I shared with my kids. Have fun!
Visit State Parks or Seniors in the Summer
With a firm grasp of the obvious, I would like to suggest the State Parks. You can go online and check out where they are in your state and also what each one has to offer. While you are online you may want to check out," 100freethingstodoin-----" . Insert the name of a city in the blank at the end of the sentence and see what comes up. You could also go to visit an older relative or the folks at a local rest home. They have wonderful stories to tell about their childhood and ALWAYS treasure having company. Each day and each child is a treasure -- embrace it.
Schedule Your Summer Fun
Every year, I feel like I miss out on free local stuff because I had already made alternate plans for that time. This year, I took my calendar and wrote the dates of all the local events we might want to do: the county fair, an annual city celebration.
I also signed my boys up for some classes through the parks and rec center so I wrote those down there as well. This way I am not missing out on something and can fill in the blank weeks with spontaneous trips to the park or the beach. I am planning on going to the library once a week and will have to check out their programs and fit it into my schedule. We can also check out "passes" for local museums or zoos at the library too!
Another great free option for those of you who have a Regal theater in your area are the free children's movies. In my area, they are Tuesday mornings and they show second run kids movies for free. Of course, they want you to buy concessions, but you certainly don't have to. Even if it is one they have seen before, kids love to go to the movies.
A Summer Full Of Fun
- Go to a farmers market.
- Community outdoor concerts or plays
- Local mall promotional classes or demos.
- Library for fun books, tapes, movies, or craft ideas.
- Water balloon fight.
- Volunteer to help a local charity.
- Have a garage sale.
- Take a class at local community center.
- Set up a lemonade stand. Make unusual flavors like apple lemonade and pineapple lemonade along with the traditional favorite.
- Stare at clouds. Make up stories about what you see.
- Catch frogs.
- Make one super-duper ice-cream sundae - don't forget the whipped cream, cherries, and two spoons.
- Scope out populated parking lots for state license plates. Keep a list and try to find all 50.
- Go on a nature walk, pointing out bugs, trees, birds, and butterflies. Bring binoculars.
- Play catch until it's too dark to see the ball.
- Take the dogs outside and play a long game of fetch. Using the ground to scratch an itch is fun for dogs and kids!
- Build a birdhouse.
- Paint watercolor portraits of each other, the sillier the better.
- Ride bicycles to someplace new or show your children or grandchildren around your neighborhood.
- Spend an hour in a hammock.
- Borrow mysteries from the library, and take turns reading chapters out loud under the stars.
- Do karaoke together. Sing "My Generation" and "When I'm Sixty-Four."
- Go on a picnic, even if you travel no farther than your backyard. Set out a blanket, and bring portable music and a Frisbee.
- Play Ring Around the Rosie and London Bridge barefoot in the grass or on sand.
- Decorate T-shirts. You'll need two plain white 50/50 polyester-cotton tees, fabric paint, brushes, and shake-on glitter, rhinestones, buttons, or other embellishments.
- Teach your kids or grandchild a hobby you love: crocheting, guitar, woodworking, cooking, etc.
- Go swimming in a body of water that your kids or grandchild has never experienced.
- Take photos of each other posing at local landmarks and even just places you like.
- Build an outdoor tepee from old sheets and a few poles.
- Go to a museum exhibit you've never seen. The more unknown to both of you, the better.
- Take a walk around your neighborhood, picking up interesting stones and leaves as you go. Then make a natural sculpture in the backyard. If you don't have a backyard, make the sculpture in a park's grassy area.
- Tour your local firehouse. Call ahead to make arrangements; ask if your child or grandchild will be allowed to climb on a fire truck or sit inside and steer.
- Collect seashells at the beach. Later, paint them using watercolors and give them out as favors at the next family dinner.
- Ride a roller coaster. See who can scream the loudest.
- Make up a story, taking turns one sentence at a time. You start the story, then your grandchild continues it, you take over again, then he does, until you have an ending.
- Let your child or grandchild bury you in the sand.
- Make puppets with socks and markers, and put on an outdoor show.
- Spread out an old sheet on the grass and paint your hearts out.
- Pick strawberries, peaches, and raspberries from a pick-your-own farm. Bake a pie with your purchases.
- Fold homemade paper airplanes and see whose goes the farthest.
- Put on your bathing suits and run through a sprinkler in the backyard.
- Set up a scavenger hunt in your neighborhood. Give your kids or grandchild a list of clues to items, such as a coin, a rubber band, and a cell phone.
- Break out the sidewalk chalk to play hopscotch and draw each other's portrait.
- Get the schedule for local outdoor concerts and Shakespeare in the Park and make a day, and night, of it.
- Bet on bug races.
- Make a craft with glue, cardboard, and found objects from around the neighborhood.
- Plant flowers or vegetables in your garden or in a window box. Get kid-size tools and let the kids or grandchildren get dirty.
- Build sand castles and mud pies at the beach.
- Watch fireworks and light your own sparklers.
- Wash your car; wear swimsuits.
- Fire up the barbecue grill and do a family cookout. Don't forget the chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows for s'mores.
- Fly a kite.
- Hit a water park. Without complaining.
- Go to a drive-in movie.
- Make your own ice cream with a coffee can and ice cubes.
- Ride a bus.
- Climb a tree. Bring a camera.
- Play "volleyball" with a balloon.
- Pick wild flowers and practice arranging them in vases around the
- Make jewelry. Even boys like to make bracelets and necklaces with wooden beads; go for sparkly details for girls. Then wear the bling to your next outing.
- Go camping in your local woods, a scenic campsite, or your backyard.
- Water ski. We know gas prices are ridiculously high this summer but nothing beats hitting the water and slaloming the wake. Get out there.
- Grab an inner tube and head to a fast-moving body of water near you.
- The longest days of the year are a great time to teach preschoolers how to tell time. Better yet, make a sundial.
- Repaint a fence. If Tom Sawyer could do it...
- Play miniature golf. Once again: Play miniature golf.
- Blow bubbles. When you run out of liquid that comes with the wands, use dishwashing soap and water.
- Go for a scenic drive, pointing out the highlights.
- Make a pitcher of iced tea. Sit under a shady tree, and talk. And listen.
- Teach your child or grandchild to play marbles.
- Ride a carousel.
- Hit a round of pitches at the batting cage.
- Make a hanging mobile with string, old magazine pages, straws, paper clips, and ribbon. Hang it on the porch or out the window.
- Watch horse racing in person.
- Go to the park and feed the ducks some day-old bread. Check beforehand to make sure that feeding is allowed.
- Visit the newest baby animals at the zoo. Buy ice cream to celebrate the births.
- Taste a honeysuckle.
- Go fishing.
- Get pedicures and go sandal shopping.
- Skim pebbles, or really perfect flat rocks, across a pond or lake.
- Close your eyes, spin a globe, and stick your finger on a spot. When it stops, talk about the destination and what it would be like to live there.
- Go rowboating or canoeing.
- Pluck a thin, flat blade of grass. Stick one end between the tips of your thumbs and the other between your thumb heels. Straighten your thumbs out gradually until the grass is taut, pucker up and blow so that the air makes the grass vibrate, producing that high-pitched, piercing whistle. If that doesn't work, try two blades.
- Have a board-game tournament on the lawn.
- Name the constellations visible in the night sky or look up and view the next lunar eclipse or meteorite shower. For extra points, borrow a reference book from your local library to guide you along.
- Go bowling. If you don't have a bowling alley near your home, set one up in your backyard, using household items, such as empty soda cans and thin paperbacks, anything that you can easily knock over with an inflatable ball.
- Collect fireflies in a jar.
- Play make-believe - young child or grandchild can be the mommy or daddy and you are the baby. Let her or him take care of you.
- Browse a garage sale, giving your kids or grandchild a few dollars to spend.
- Get yourselves to a county fair and do as much as you can. Enter a pie-eating contest, strong-man challenge, and go on the bumper cars. Forget the cholesterol and don't forget the funnel cake.
- Learn chess together. Once you get good, find a pickup game at the park but keep your hand on your wallet!
- And speaking of pickup games, find one of any sport and join in.
- Have a sing-along. Youngsters all know and love "The Wheels on the Bus," "Mary Had a Little Lamb," and "If You're Happy and You Know It." If they're not familiar with the songs, here's your opportunity to teach them.
- Spend a day at the beach digging for sand crabs.
- Go to a farmer's market, making a game out of finding one item for each letter of the alphabet (apples, broccoli, carrots, etc.)
- Got inline skates? Pull them on and go for it.
- Play 20 Questions on your next car ride. Consider movie and book titles, famous sports and historical figures, foreign countries, or another family member!
- Show your kids or grandchildren how fun it is to whistle
- Find volunteer opportunities either helping people out of the heat or something outdoors. It's a great season for turning the kids on to helping others less fortunate.
- Learn a foreign language together. Then find a community that speaks that language and go practice.
- Have a porch-side tea party with your good china, aromatic tea like raspberry or mint, and muffins or scones.
- Watch a sunset and a sunrise.
- Eat all that corn you shucked. Typewriter style. Chomp chomp chomp. Ding!
- Find a year-round ice-skating rink and take a cooling-off glide.
- Go to a petting zoo. This is not only a great experience but an excellent photo-op.
- Get on a boat. Whether you're paddling, rowing, skiing, swimming, fishing, or best of all, sailing, this is a summer imperative.
- Keep a scrapbook so you'll both remember all the special things you did together.
Do you have any ideas to share? Feel free to post them below.