The following article is a guest post by Alban, a personal finance writer at Home Loan Finder, where he offers tips and advice on how to choose and manage refinancing a home loan.
The summer vacation can stretch out before you and your family like an oasis and dotted amongst that expanse are activities which have become old favorites – the park, the beach and the swimming centre, but even these ideas can run dry over a long summer. Plus, you want to give your kids activities they will enjoy, as well as which will stimulate them, get them out of the house and get them moving and it is all too easy just to plonk them in front of the TV.
Instead, consider these 10 easy, inexpensive and exciting activities you can enjoy with your kids this summer.
1 Cardboard boxes
You can find large cardboard boxes at your local appliance or hardware store and you can often taken the boxes off their hands for free. Once you get them home, you can let your children’s imaginations run wild as they build castles, stores, a whole town or a cubby house.
Get out the craft box and your children can decorate their ‘homes’ with stickers or old wrapping paper. This is also a great opportunity for dress ups so you can meet each unique occupant of your cardboard box town.
2 Courses or workshops
Think about your child’s skills and strengths, and what they are interested in and look for courses or workshops being run in your area which may be right for them. Often the local hardware stores run workshops especially for kids where they can learn to build a birdhouse or a wooden planter box.
Alternatively you could visit the local library where there is often a story time and a craft workshop during the holidays. Or your community centre may also run affordable holiday courses which interest your child.
3 A backyard water park
The lawn needs a good soaking in the summer anyway so why not send the kids out in their swimsuits to enjoy the water too? Try and have your water park fun in the backyard in the evenings as this will be more effective for the lawn, plus your children can cool off before bedtime and you won’t need to leave the air conditioner on, saving you more money.
Whether your child has made a planter box in a hardware shop course, or you already have a thriving garden, getting out into the dirt is always fun for them. As well as helping you with the weeding you could help your child plant a tree or start a vegetable garden as this will maintain their interest as the plant needs to be watered everyday and can then be harvested.
Also, if your children resist eating their vegetables, when they grow their own vegetables they are much more interested. Some easy to grow, quick harvest vegetables include radishes, rhubarb, tomatoes, lettuce and beans.
You can make just about anything with paper and you can find the instructions for origami online, or you can pick up a cheap origami book at the book shop. There are many different skills levels which will suit all children in your family and you can have hours of fun making paper planes, water bombs or noise makers.
Paper is very cheap and your kids are learning concentration and coordination skills, as well as learning how to follow instructions. You can even add some cardboard and create some paper sailboats to have races in the bath or in your children’s wading pool.
6 Communication and science
A string and cup phone is an affordable toy to create for your children and you don’t need to use a tin can as a Styrofoam cup will work just as well. At the same time you are encouraging siblings to work and play together as well as teaching them about physics and soundwaves – your kids will be amazed that no matter the distance, around corners and under doors the cup phone will still work as long as the strong is taught.
7 In the kitchen
There are numerous recipes for no-bake cakes and cookies, which won’t heat up your house as your kids get to work in the kitchen. You could even make ice cream or popsicles and this can be as simple as mixing up some juice or yogurt, sticking in a paddle pop stick and waiting for it to set.
You can also have your children help you with the makings of a picnic basket by buttering bread and putting together salads for a picnic in the backyard.
8 Outdoor cinema at home
You already have the picnic basket ready so head outside for a family picnic and movie night on the lawn. If you have a projector or can borrow one from work you can screen movies on the side of your house, or use a white sheet as a backdrop. If you don’t simply move the TV near the window or if you have the power, bring the whole TV outside for a movie night with a difference.
To make it really feel like a special adventure for your kids, invite friends or neighbors to ‘the movies’ as well.
9 Target practice
If you want to encourage development of your children’s coordination and concentration, set up rows of plastic cups partially filled with water and get out the water pistols. You can have different distances for different age groups or have each child move back a step when they knock down each target. Or you can run a tournament before the children inevitably turn the water pistols on each other.
10 Shop your house
You don’t need to go out and spend a lot of money on new toys to entertain your children over the summer because chances are you have a whole houseful of activities already. Therefore, make it an activity to pull things out of the cupboards at home and see what you find. You may come across a tent and can then plan a sleep out in the backyard with marshmallows and fireside stories – even if it’s a little too warm for the fire.
Or you may find a net which you can string up for games of volleyball or badminton, or a cricket set which can get all of the neighborhood children involved to make up team numbers. Plus, there are probably any number of board games and activity sets which have been stowed away and forgotten about, so there is no need to spend a fortune to entertain your family.