School will be out any day. The kids will be looking for fun things to do. Take a few minutes to read these suggestions. Then get out a box, gather the cheap and easily obtained supplies necessary for some of these activities, and voila! You have a summer activity box, full of cheap, fun activities to rely on as needed. And of course some of these activities don’t require any special supplies.
Use these suggestions to get your summer off to a fun start:
Let the kids set up a tent in the backyard and each invite a friend to come to a campout. Throw some burgers and hotdogs on the grill for dinner, then let them roast marshmallows or make s’mores for dessert. In the evening, the kids can chase fireflies for fun. When dusk arrives, give them each a flashlight and send them out to their tent. Let them have even more fun telling spooky stories or girly secrets until it’s time for sleep.
Summer is a wonderful time for kids to experiment. Use these links for surefire summer science fun. Click on the highlighted word to find directions to make an antacid-fueled rocket, face paint, bubbles, sculpture sand, or homemade play dough. Another fun project is making an erupting volcano. To do this, provide the kids with clay to construct a volcano. The top of the volcano needs to either fit a small paper cup (2 oz.) inside or be designed so that it can hold liquid inside near the top of the volcano. The volcano can be painted or natural. When it is ready, fill the cup half full of baking soda, add some food coloring (this is for the lava), and then fill the cup with plain white vinegar. The volcano will then “erupt.” These fun science activities are all cheap; they use simple ingredients, many of which you are likely to have on hand.
Never underestimate the power of water when looking for summer fun. No time to take the kids to the pool? Set them free with the hose, a sprinkler, super soakers or other water toys. When they’re sick of spraying water on themselves, let them spray it in the sandbox so they can make sand sculptures. Or spray it on the car and wash it with sponges. This is good cheap summer fun that can stand in for a trip to the pool.
A cheap magnifying glass, a cheap pair of binoculars, a cheap butterfly net and a bag to collect specimens can turn your child into a backyard explorer. What interesting leaves, rocks, feathers, seeds, and other items can they find? If you have a lot of trees or flowers, you can provide them with a reference book from the library and see if they can “catalog” your herbiage and flora. If you have a lot of birds coming to your yard, give them a bird book and see if they can identify the different birds coming into the yard. You can even let them create a simple bird feeder to attract birds. One simple way to make a bird feeder is to clean a milk container otherwise destined for the recycling bin (keep the cap!) and cut a hole in the side for birds to perch. Fill the portion below the opening with birdseed. Another quick birdfeeder can be made by smearing a pine cone with birdseed and hanging it from a tree.
There are many great ideas to inspire children with gardening. They could plant their own butterfly garden with flowers that attract butterflies, or they could make a pizza garden (click on the highlighted words for instructions). Other ideas include rainbow gardens, rock gardens, and sculpture gardens. For garden sculpture, they can decorate rocks, pour quick dry cement in molds (with adult help), or use household odds and ends that can withstand the elements.
Anyone who has let their kids do artwork indoors knows that the outdoors is the perfect place for art. Set up an outdoor easel and let your child use tempera, finger paint or water color. They can also experiment with plants, using them to dye colors on paper or to press into place as part of their design. As summer is waning, let them collect various plant seeds (magnolia are a gorgeous bright red) and string them together to make jewelry.