In fits of summertime budgeting, parents have resorted to desperate measures, aiming hoses at children in sandboxes to replicate beachside fun, without the expensive road trip. If your children have access to the internet, they’ll be hard to convince to “use their imagination.”
Don’t resort to cheap tricks. Try some activities that are actually fun and naturally inexpensive.
Amateur Zoology & Botany
Get your children a small net. In the daytime, chase around some butterflies or other insects (bees not recommended). Let your children get an up-close look at the patterns on their wings. In the evening, get a jar and use fireflies to make temporary lanterns. Help your kids learn to treat their captives gently, and return them to the wild in good condition.
Create an art project using pencil rubbings of the plant life near your house. Simply place a piece of paper on top of a leaf, or against a piece of bark, and gently rub a pencil back and forth to capture the shape and texture of the specimens. Make it a challenge to see who can collect the most samples.
Professional Water Warriors
Their uniforms are swim trunks, and their tactics are ruthless. They are the water balloon brigade. If you have a hose, you have a battlefield. Instead of a pricey (and breakable) armory of water guns, you can get balloons at the dollar store for next to nothing.
In case your children are more peace-loving, forego the water balloon battle and create a whole new species of squishy friends, using markers to draw faces on the balloons. Extend the lifespans of your inflatable pets by filling up the kiddie pool to create a watery habitat.
Easy Freezy, Lemon Squeez-y
It’s always a valuable lesson to show kids how easy it is to make normally store-bought goods at home. For way less expense than a visit to the ice cream truck, stick some Popsicle sticks in ice-cube trays filled with lemonade and pop them in the freezer. In about an hour you’ll have healthy, frozen snacks.
If you live in a hot climate, some days are too scorching for young children to play outside, no matter how many layers of sunblock you apply and re-apply. Instead of plopping them in front of the TV or a video game, ask them to help you run some virtual errands. Wedding season is upon us, so make sure your children have plenty of formal wear. Your girls will ooh and aah over the collections of pretty summer dresses, and your boys can help you pick out their favorite color for a spiffy new tie or a new set of boys dress shirts.