With summer looming, here are 10 free, kids tested activities I used to keep my kids occupied. It’s not an exhaustive list by any means, they worked for me.
HINT: I outlawed TV and the computer during summer daylight hours. I found my kids to be more content when they didn’t have a screen competing for their attention. They were “totally bored” for a few days, but boredom breeds creativity. Try it!
1. Frisbee Golf. Stick up a bunch of numbered paper plates around the yard and you’ve got a course. Make sure you’ve included a couple of “around the tree and under the picnic table” type shots to make it challenging.
2. Make Butter. Put some whipping cream and a marble in a clean jar and let them shake it. Eventually, the cream will separate and there will be a small quantity of butter. This is a good time to talk about the “olden days”.
3. Bug Safari. I saved peanut butter jars for bugs and other critters. They are light weight and don’t break when dropped. To put air holes in the lid – heat a length of wire (clothes hangers work well, make it long enough so you don’t burn yourself) over the stove burner and melt it through the lid.
4. Public Library. I pay kids to read. OK, so this one is not free, but it’s money well spent. Bribery has it’s place, people.
5. Timed Races. Get out the stop watch and time your kids running around the house. This can be accomplished while sitting in a lawn chair. Write down their baseline time and challenge them to break it. Occasionally, I let them time me so they could marvel (laugh) at my athleticism (lack of).
6. Twig Furniture. I bought a book, Making Twig Garden Furniture, by Abby Ruoff, and put my thirteen-year old son on the task. If you don’t have access to twigs, you probably know someone who would be thrilled for your kid to come cut and haul some from their yard. My son got so good at furniture making, he actually sold a few pieces to neighbors and local garden shops. The book, or one like it is probably available at the public library.
7. Corn Starch. Mix a very small amount of water into 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, just until it liquifies and let the kids play with it. Is it a liquid or is it a solid? I did this outside so I didn’t have to clean up.
8. Car Wash. Great fun on a hot summer day. Get out the hose, some sponges and bucket of soapy water and call the neighbors. Who knows, maybe they’ll make some tip money!
9. Four Square. The concrete on our driveway is conveniently divided into squares, but chalk or some string will make lines. All you need is a bouncy ball and lot’s of rules. The more rules the better. Does a liner count? Ankle shots? Back stops? We sometimes played word four-square. Say a different state, fruit, boy’s name etc. each time you hit the ball. If you repeat, your out.
10. Paper Mache. Another outside activity. Here’ a link for home made Paper Mache paste. We used balloons and painted them when they dried out. If you’re really nice and want to buy a bag of candy, you can make a pinata, giving you yet another day’s fun.