Thursday, July 4, 2013

Thrifty Thursday: Staycations and Summer Activities to do with the Kids

It is summer time and the time for vacation for most families.  Since my husband works in the summer, we usually end up vacationing in October (It also happens to be our wedding anniversary so two birds with one stone) but this year is going to be different.  My husband's school is under renovation so he is going to have more time off without any summer programs being held in the school. 

First trip, we are meeting up with the grandparents and going to the beach.  This is actually going to be a traveling vacation because we are going to have a three hour drive to get there.  My son doesn't remember going to the beach because he was too little when we went to SC to remember so hopefully this will be one of those to remember.  I am sure there are a lot of people out there that are closer to the beach but it fun to have a family trip to the beach but this one will be a little more money then the normal staycation so we have a thrifty rest of the summer planned out.

We are super lucky to live outside the DC area and we barely ever take advantage of it.  This summer, I hope to make it to some of the fun things we have available for free in the city.

-  National Zoo
- Smithsonian Museums (Natural History, Air and Space, and American History)
- Washington Monument and other monuments

There are other general ideas that any family can do in their area including the following (some of which we hope to do this summer).

1.  Go to library and other programs:  I know that I am a broken record when it comes to the library but it is free and wonderful.  In the summer, most libraries go out of their way to have programs for the kids that aren't just storytime.  We have already been to a puppet show, music group, singing to learn Spanish, playing with Legos and so much more.  They are all free and super great to expose your kid to.  If you think that they don't play with Legos at home so why would you take them out to do it, I was amazed at what my son did and how well it teaches them to interact in a big group of people.  There are other places that have programs including Pottery Barn Kids and Barnes and Noble.  Check them all out and see what your kid likes the best!  Mine loves them all!!  Make sure you sign up for the summer reading program.  We have already read all the books on the Pottery Barn list and all the ones for our public library.  We love reading programs!

2. Sprinkler or slip and slide:  Turn on the sprinkler to run through (I remember lots of my childhood spend like that).  Get a slip and slide... my mom got one at Aldi's for $7 and we hope that it will add lots of fun for our son and the neighbors in the yard.  I know that a $7 slide isn't going to last forever but if they have a few days of fun on it then it is worth the cost especially since it is less than one person at the movies.  If you want to make there day even more memorable, get mom and dad out there to do it too (obviously age dependant because we don't want to embarrass them in front of their friends when parents are uncool)!

3. Go on a nature walk:  If you have a local garden or other large wooded park, get out the guide books and take a walk.  Don't have guide books, get them at the library.  If your kid is into leaves, make sure you get the leaf book.  If they are into flowers, bugs, birds or others, try to find the book to help.  We went to the local garden and had a hike around.  I identified a few things but my son wasn't real interested in the specifics but more the general following the paths and seeing everything.  Before we went, we made binoculars out of toilet paper rolls.  A fun preparation activity.

4.  Have evening picnic in front of the TV:  We are really specific about eating as a family at the table so it would be fun to have pizza or other finger foods and eat while watching a movie.  It would be a fun special event where I could make a big bowl of popcorn too!  A family movie night is always fun and adding in the dinner in front of the TV is always a hit.  My mom and I used to do that when I was in high school and I would make the dinner- we either did breakfast like french toast or just appetizers like chicken fingers and cheese sticks.  This is when the neighbor kids were over to visit...everyone really enjoyed their popcorn.

5.  Camp in your backyard:  If the kids are old enough to sleep alone in a tent then do it...if not, then pass unless you are braver then I am because I don't have any want to sleep in a tent.  There are tons of ways to camp so do the campfire, smores and other camping things in the backyard.  Set up the tent during the day and pretend to camp while all the other activities are going on.  You can always add a BBQ to that to have dinner outside.  Remember the bug spray :)  Get super cheap fireworks after the 4th of July to add some more excitement.  I suggest just sparklers but that was just my family because my husband's family did a lot more adventurous fireworks.  This is our tent so we might have a daytime camping adventure one of these weekends and this will be the tent you see in our backyard!

6.  Bake or Cook something together in the kitchen:  If your children are little, it is easy to make cookies or a cake together and have them put in the measurements.  If your children are older, do something more challenging like making pretzels or making a special dinner.  Working together in the kitchen is always a fun time even if a little messy.  He loves to help with the mixer and even more when we are making rice krispy treats.

7.  Read a book:  This is my favorite way to pass the time but I mean doing it together as a family.  Pick out something that everyone can enjoy like Charlotte's Web or Harry Potter.  The great thing is that when you are done with either of them, you can watch the movie as a family.  If the kids are older, you can talk about which one you liked better.  My father always read us books at night that were super fun and always memorable like the Hobbit.  We looked forward to jumping into my parents bed and listening to the story before it was bedtime.

8.  Get creative and crafty:  Get out the paper and make paper airplanes and see who's flies the farthest.  If you have an old picture frame around the house, get out the paints and let the kids paint it whatever color they like.  It can be used as a gift to grandparents or to display kids art work that they make.  Cut a picture into pieces and have them glue it back together and color it (see below).  Make homemade paints with sweetened condensed milk like below (see below).

There are also kits that you can get super cheap to make foam things.  A trip to the craft store to get any necessary items that aren't at home is always a fun way to spend the day (and change your mind a few times).  Paint pictures, glue together collage, make birthday cards for family and friends, and do any other crafts you think would be fun. 

9.  Do some science activities:  There are book and books on the subject (found for free at the library) and the great wide world of the internet to search.  There are some fun and easy things like building a volcano.  I found one site that made a bowl out of ice and then did the volcano in the hole in the middle.  There are lots of fun to be had and learning at the same time (without them even knowing it).

10. Go to parks and other free play areas:  We have a local spray park that is free and there are two new splash fountains that were put in so the kids get to play in the water and still have fun.  There are tons of playgrounds around with different fun features.  There is one with a train that costs a little bit of money but drives them through the woods and makes a cool train whistle.  There is also a merry go round at that park and another one.  If this is something you save for special occasions, make sure you make it a special occasion and go to enjoy the fun parts of the part.  Have lots of fun running around and then stop for ice cream after a picnic lunch.

Do you have some ideas of what you can do with your family?  I hope that you enjoy your fun family summer with just a little bit of planning and very little money, you can have lots of fun.  Make sure you leave a message of what your family wants to do so that others can use the great ideas too!

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