Kids love swimming, but it can be fun on dry land too!
Entertaining little kids on a tight budget takes creativity, but it can be done!
Kids generally don't require as much as we think they do, to be happy. A little free time to explore their surroundings, and the freedom to do so without worrying about getting dirty, is all most kids want on a warm, sunny afternoon.
And while there are plenty of activities to engage in that cost money, I wanted to focus on ideas that are free...or pretty darn close.
These ideas may have been around for a while, but sometimes our memories just need a little nudge to get the good times rolling again.
We have found that the follow activities can generate big grins, belly laughs and wonderful summer memories:
- Give kids a pail of water and a large paint brush to 'Paint' anything they want outside the house.
- Fill buckets or large pots with soapy water, and give the kids rags and sponges so they can 'Wash' all their outside toys, bikes, etc. This little car wash activity works well when using baby shampoo or bubble bath that won't sting little eyes.
- Section off an area of dirt that the kids can dig in to their heart's content. I recommend marking off an area to avoid having Every area in your yard dug up. Give the kids little shovels, spoons or kitchen utensils to dig with and containers to fill up. Kids love to pretend they're cooking with dirt and 'real' kitchen stuff goes over big!
- Set up a tent outside and have a camp out. It can be a real tent or one created out of bed sheets. Let the kids bring out some dolls or toys to join them on their adventure. Hint...some outside snacks are always popular at a camp out!
- Never underestimate sidewalk chalk and your basic bubbles. Both can be purchased at your local dollar store and have endless entertainment value. My only rule with the chalk was that no one was to color on the house-other than that, have fun. In addition to 'drawing' with the chalk, games can be played and adapted as needed. For example, hopscotch can be simplified to empty squares aligned in paths for younger children to hop along.
- Have a picnic. Let the kids help make the food, gather what is needed and head outside!
- Treasure hunts are always fun and easy to set up. You take small items and hide them around the yard. Draw a simple map-making note of a few key items in your yard and mark where the first item is hidden. With each hidden item, include a simple drawing of where the next item is hidden. For example, draw a tree for an item hidden near a tree. Be sure to have a 'treasure' waiting for your little adventurers at the end of their search.
- Our kids, boys and girls, love to take their dolls for a walk. Doll strollers make it easy to take a stroll through the neighborhood, but kids also love to carry their dolls, so try not to let the lack of a stroller be a deal breaker.
- Creating collages out of items found in the yard can result in some pretty interesting pieces of art. These items can be glued onto paper, placed inside shoeboxes to create a 'scene', or even used to decorate the house by clustering an interesting array of objects together to be enjoyed by all.
- And finally, if you are very brave, let the kids play with the hose. Whether or not you have a sprinkler to attach, the kids will have a blast. Yes, they will get wet and probably muddy, but you know what I have discovered over the years...they clean up pretty good at the end of the day with just a little soap and water-who knew?