Ways to have Fun with your Kids for Free

Considering that family activities are often very expensive, parents and grandparents may wonder how to keep kids entertained, especially during holiday and summer breaks. There are many ways to have fun with kids for free. You just have to be the savvy parent to find or create these fun, free activities.

Picnic in the park for free fun

Do not just go to the park for an hour. Make a day of it by packing a picnic lunch. Include the kids in making the lunch and gathering necessary supplies such as water bottles, napkins, paper plates and plastic utensils. Sandwiches, fresh fruit, healthy snack bars and juice boxes will delight kids of all ages. Take along a cheap vinyl tablecloth to place over the picnic table at the park.

Adults should not just sit on a bench, supervising while kids are playing. Not only will the kids have much more fun, but it will teach children to stay active when they become adults if their parents or grandparents play right along with them. Play tag, a ball game or make up a game to keep adults and kids active. One game that should not be played in the park is hide-and-seek. Unfortunately, even in the safest-looking parks, it may not be as safe as it once. Kids may stray too far away, which can lead to safety issues of the kids becoming separated or the potential for someone to hurt the child or even snatch them. So choose free games and activities where the kids can have fun but will be close-by at all times.

Volunteer wherever help is needed

Many individuals volunteer at homeless shelters at holiday time, but not at other times of the year. There are several things that adults should know in order to properly plan for the kids to be a part of such an activity.

Look in the phone book or on-line for social service agencies or shelters in your community. Call before you go. There may be restrictions. For instance, some facilities or agencies may require a volunteer to be 18 years old if there is an age restriction. You do not want to show up out of the blue with your children to serve a meal or help the elderly only to find that children are not allowed to participate. Have the kids help make dessert to serve at the shelter, which is an item not often on shelter menus. Most often, the food is something that can be made in large batches, such as soup, spaghetti or stew. Call the shelter the day before your scheduled visit and ask how many residents there are, as it changes daily. Then make sure you have a few extra cookies or brownies in case new residents have come in.

Consider taking a family pet to visit a nursing home. Many nursing home residents never have visitors. They would love to share their stories about their pets when they were growing up or the farm animals they had when they helped their own parents long ago…if only there was someone to share the stories with. Make sure your pet will take kindly to strangers such as elderly nursing home residents who may wish to hold or pet Fido or Princess Kitty. It would be a nice gesture to talk with nursing home staff to find out which residents do not have visitors, who may be especially lonely. Another idea is to have the kids take flowers from your own home garden and give each of the ladies a nice rose, carnation or daisy. You must talk to the kids and explain who the residents typically are at nursing homes before you go. This will be a nice free activity that will also teach your children the value of volunteering and to have compassion for others.

Walk or ride a bike

If family members all have a bicycle, go for a nice bike ride. Stop and take breaks to replenish with electrolyte-infused water and to have a small snack such as an energy bar or granola bar. If everyone does not have a bike, go on a family walk. Many communities have nature trails with beautiful views along the way. Consider taking a camera as it will be a real delight for the kids to have pictures of the beautiful-colored birds or the bunny that went hopping by when the family was on their nature walk.

Make a kite

Kids love crafts and there are many options for making something with materials that can be found around the house. Consider making a kite. Kids will get a real thrill out of seeing their own kite soaring in the air. As explained by National Geographic Kids, for each kite you will need a 13 gallon white trash bag, two wood dowels or sticks, one 24” and the other 20,” fishing line or string. You also need clear packing tape, scissors, a ruler and markers and ribbon to decorate the kite. Have the kids help assemble materials, but adults will do the cutting. Cut the trash bag open lengthwise and open to form a flat sheet. Measure 6” down on the longest stick and make a mark and lay the smaller stick at the mark to form a “T” shape. Tie the sticks together tightly and use tape to strengthen, if necessary. Next, put the sticks on the trash bag. Have the kids help with all the rest of the instructions and they will be flying their own kite in no time!

Plant a garden

Kids love being outside and gardening teaches them to appreciate nature. It is also good exercise. Gardening will show children that healthy foods do not have to be purchased at a grocery store. They will learn to appreciate the beauty of flowers that they planted themselves. Kids Gardening says gardening with kids also grows family memories and strong relationships.

Allow them to do some of the digging, placing the seeds and watering their new garden after the seeds are planted. Taking the impatience of kids into consideration, plant something that will germinate quickly, such as some sort of greens or a fast-growing flower rather than something that can take weeks before the first indication of growth appears.

Make bird treats

Kids will love watching from a nearby window as birds of all kinds enjoy their homemade bird treats. You will need wild bird seed, creamy peanut butter, string or twine, dull knives, newspaper and pinecones. Help the kids gather a few pinecones. Spread newspaper out on the bird treat work area. Use a dull knife, a plastic picnic-style knife may be best for kids to use for the next step. Working all the way around the pinecone, generously fill in all the spaces with the creamy peanut butter. Pour birdseed onto the newspaper into piles, one pile for each child and adult making the bird treats. Roll each peanut-butter-filled pinecone in the birdseed. If necessary, push birdseed into the crevices with fingers. The pinecones should be very well coated, as shown in the National Geographic Kids picture. Finally, tie the string or twine securely through the top of the pinecone, making at least a six-inch loop. Hang each treat on a tree branch. After the work area is properly cleaned up, the entire family can enjoy watching birds flock to the trees to enjoy the special pinecone treats.

Play “Once Upon a Time”

“Once Upon a Time” encourages imagination, communication and thinking skills. Someone starts the story with “Once upon a time…” The next person finishes the sentence. Each person adds a new sentence. For example, the first person completes “Once upon a time” with “something strange was going on in the neighborhood.” The next person says “Someone was stealing from our garden.” The next person may say, “Our neighbors also had vegetables stolen from their garden.” Someone continues with “We decided to set a trap to catch the thief.” Then “We decided to take turns watching the garden with binoculars to catch the thief in the act.” The next line may be, “So that night we watched and waited.” Then “Finally, something moved, but we did not see anyone.” The next person says, “That is because the thief was not big enough to see.” Then the next story-telling family member may say “It was a mother rabbit and her babies that she was showing how to search for food.” Then the story is concluded with the final person saying something like “we watched with amazement as the bunny family ate their dinner and could not even be mad. The end”

With “Once Upon a Time,” kids learn how to finish sentences, which is a regular requirement in many language arts or writing skills assignments and classes. “Once Upon a Time” can also boost confidence for when kids are required to read aloud in class or to tell a story.

There are many ways to have fun with your kids for free. They do not have to be sent off to expensive summer camps or day classes at recreation facilities. An expensive vacation that is out of the budget does not mean that families cannot have fun. Spending time together, learning new things and helping others gives families new ways to have fun, all for free.