Summer is in full swing! And as fun as it is to have more quality time with the kids, at times, it can feel a little daunting trying to figure out how to fill some of that time together with new experiences, especially if you're on a budget. So I thought that today, I'd share some of fun activities we love to do, that are easy, fun, and affordable, and will keep them occupied for a good chunk of time.
1. Set up a "messy art" station on the driveway. Lay out a tarp, tablecloth, or old newspapers (a great use for the random local ad mailers!). Grab some paint, some brushes, and let the kids go to town. You can use cardboard boxes as your pallet if you don't have a traditional one. We've painted old vases, miniatures, canvases, or you can paint on Amazon boxes, cardstock, or just plain paper! Even rocks! They look especially good with the sparkly Crayola paint.
2. Create an obstacle course in the backyard. Use outdoor toys to create various stations that your kids can progress through. Lay out hula hoops in a row to hop in. Build a wall with boxes that the kiddos need to knock down. Add a station with a basketball hoop or tee ball stand. If you have a mini trampoline, take that outside as well. Get creative, and create simple instructions for each station to make it even more interesting. And if you want to make it even more fun, create a "map" for them to follow that maps out the course!
3. Create "train tracks" or a "road" outside with chalk or painter's tape. Believe it or not, this can keep toddlers occupied for hours. They love going back and forth over and over again, fast, slow, on their feet, or on their walkers, bikes, scooters, or cars. And it comes right off afterwards!
4. Make popsicles! Make healthy popsicles using fun popsicle makers like Zoku, Nuby, or even just your old school Dixie cup versions! Just pour the juice mixture into the Dixie cup, cover with a piece of foil, and stick your popsicle stick through the foil (which holds it in place while the popsicle sets).
5. Have a dance party! Ask Alexa for kids pop music or tune in to Spotify. Your kids will love it if you join in and boogie with them! Amazon has a couple of pop/dance playlists that are tailored for kids, like Kids Birthday Party, Kidz Bop Party and 50 Great Kidz Bop Songs are great - just ask Alexa to play them and she'll get the party started.
6. Cook a fun, easy, and interactive meal together. Prepare ahead of time an ingredient station for easy, "buildable" recipes, like pizza, baked potatoes, or tacos. These types of meals are visual and tactile in assembling them, and they keep the kids engaged because they can easily see the results of their work and look forward to what's coming.
To make it extra fun, you can read a book right before the cooking that's related. These are two that I love, for pizza and tacos respectively.
7. Create your own "splash pad". You can set up a splash pad right in your own backyard! These days, there are plenty of affordable kiddie pools that also sprinkle water out. Or, you can just turn on the sprinkler or hose - it's all same to little ones!
8. Make your own play-doh. Some great recipes exist online and they all use ingredients you likely have in your pantry already, or that are easily found at your local grocery store. It's extra fun to make different colors.
9. Go on a hike and picnic. This could be at an actual trail, or as simple as a walk around a more local trail or even the local park or neighborhood. I've found that framing the activity is great for little ones, as they are so imaginative at this age that they will soak up your excitement and wonder! Take a route you usually don't go on, and make it fun by pointing out different objects in nature you see along the way. Then plop right down wherever they want and have a picnic lunch!
10. And finally, host a juice bar or infused water stand - a modern twist I like on the traditional lemonade stand! Some easy drinks we like to make are fruit-infused water and fill it up in our drink dispensers. Help the kids make a sign, and set it up as a stand next to the park. You'll be sure to attract even more visitors who will not only think the kids are adorable but really want a refreshing drink!
Hope these activities help create some fun memories for you and your kids! I'd love to know how it turned out or see them in action if so, so feel free to comment or shoot me an email! Happy Summer!