School’s out, the kids are home and you’re not sure how to fill the days? Been there! We are here to help with 8 budget friendly ideas to squelch boredom and increase quality family time.
Busy busting your hump at work while your kids are in daycare or summer camp? Been there too! All these activities can be used in your free time as well.
Invite the neighborhood kids over to have a planting party. Don’t live in a neighborhood full of kids that stay home in the summer? Use this as bonding time for you and your little(s). You can take this as big or as small as you like with either a full on vegetable garden or just a simple potted plant. Remember (if you’re a renter) to get approval for any changes you make in the yard!!
Bonus: This project will continue giving all summer as your kids work to keep the plant healthy and thriving.
This activity has tons to offer. It promotes a healthy lifestyle, family bonding AND provides oodles of “gramming” opportunities! Your IG page has never looked so good. A great alternative to Great Falls Park in McLean, Virginia is Riverbend Park which is located in Great Falls, Virginia (confusing, we know!). Riverbend Park offers FREE parking and is just a short hike (less than two miles) over to Great Falls Park so you won’t have to forgo the beautiful view for the parking change.
Bonus: You can launch a canoe or kayak from here for short money.
Visit a Museum
The Smithsonian has 11 museums and galleries in Washington, DC and as us “locals” know…they are all FREE! Right now The National Museum of America History has two great exhibitions for children spanning the ages of birth – 12 years old. Start off in the Wegmans Wonderplace which is ideal for children birth – 6 years old.
It is equipped with all the sensory and imaginative play your kids could dream of. Then, head on over to The Spark Lab which was created with the 6-12 year old child in mind. Here your kids can explore a hands on look at robotics, electricity and other wonders of science & technology. Both places are open daily 10 am – 4 pm but CLOSED on Tuesdays.
Bonus: Moved quickly through both Wegmans Wonderplace AND The Spark Lab? There is still a whole museum to explore! Those are just two exciting exhibitions within the museum itself. Brush up on your American History and explore all this gem has to offer! PLUS…you have 10 other nearby museums/galleries to choose from as well.
Gravelly Point Park, Arlington
Have an aviation fan? Take the little one over to Gravelly Point Park in Arlington where they will love being up close and personal with the planes as they land at Reagan National Airport. Do your homework ahead of time and help your kiddo identify the types of planes as they land.
Bonus: Pack a picnic lunch and a Frisbee and make a day out of it! Bring Fido along too (but keep him on his leash); Gravelly Point Park is dog friendly!! Make note that it can get loud here so this is not ideal for little ones who get agitated by loud noises (that’s what headphones are for, right!?).
Create an Obstacle Course out of Pool Noodles
…In your backyard! It doesn’t take much to do this and your kids will love you for it. Make your way to the dollar store and pick up a bunch of pool noodles. These versatile flotation devices can be used in a number of ways to elevate your obstacle course experience. Use them to create hurdles, crawling rings, agility rings, etc.
Check out this link on pbs.org for more details and instructions on how to get set up. Don’t have (or want to buy) pool noodles? Get creative! There are countless items in your home that you can use to set up a great back yard obstacle course (think pop up tunnels, old tires, hula hoops, balance beams, bouncy balls…let your imagination run wild).
Bonus: This can be done quickly for an afternoon of fun on the fly!
Keep a craft box on hand for a quick set up when you’re hearing echoes of boredom this summer. You don’t have to be crafty yourself to set this up; let free play take over here. Your kids will know what to do!
A great starter kit would include some (or all) of the following: 1. Construction Paper 2. Paint 3. Paint Brushes 4. Glue Stick 5. Craft Scissors (depending on age) 6. Pom Poms 7. Felt 8. Googly Eyes 9. Pipe Cleaners 10. Crayons.
Some extra items to include might be: dowels, craft paper, beads, sharpies, hot glue gun (again, depending on age), egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, colored pencils, paper plates, feathers, etc… If you prefer a more organized approach, print off some ideas from Easy Peasy Fun to keep handy in your craft box for guided play!
Bonus: This can be used all summer!
This activity is a gift that keeps on giving. It’s super low cost and kids love to help. Not only will they be grateful for the quality time with you but they will be learning too!
Take the time to explain measurements to them as you go. The key to making this a fun time is not worrying about the mess. Let your kids spill the flour and overfill the measuring cup! Once your labor of love is in the oven, you can guide your kiddo on the art of cleaning up after yourself…see, the gift that keeps on giving
Bonus: Encourage older kids to consider a bake sale for added fun! Baking with tiny tots? Enjoy your treat, warm out of the oven, together.
Start a Book Club
This can be done a couple of ways depending on the age of your child(ren). The littlest ones will love having a set time each day to cuddle up together and read special books. Include a trip to your local public library to give this activity a boost.
The 3-6 year old group would also enjoy the one on one reading time with you but elevate this activity for them by drawing a picture together after you finish. Each of you draw a picture of the book you just read and share your pictures with each other to spark a conversation.
Older kids can use this as independent reading time but you can join in on the fun by reading the book yourself. You can set up times through out the week to sit and chat about what you’ve read so far and how you’re interpreting it.
Bonus: Set up a cozy reading space in your home with loads of blankets and pillows to make this even more fun for everyone.
Whatever you choose to do with your kids this summer just remember the most important part is that they are doing it with YOU. Enjoy!
-Nicole Campana for Peake Management