It’s been a few weeks since I last posted on some of the fun (and free!) activities we have done with our children. We have visited our local fire station and stood just yards away from a plane taking off at a local private airport. Both of those activities were fun for our entire family and left our children with such an interest and excitement that we have checked out books on fire engines and planes to read from the library. And, we have read them over and over again 😉
It’s July and the heat has been seriously turned up in our neck of the woods. Seriously. So, while we do still make early trips to the playground and hop into the little kiddie pool in the backyard, we also look for indoor (air conditioned) activities. So, we visited our local pet store.
We saw dogs getting groomed. We enjoyed looking at all the fish in the multiple very pretty aquariums. And, hamsters. Oh, did they enjoy those hamsters spinning round and round and round again. It was cute for the first spin or two for mom and dad. But, I’m sure our children could have watched those hamsters all day long.
The children had a blast. And, before we left, we purchased a few crickets. It turns out that my husband and the children discovered a frog in the backyard the night before we went to the pet store. So, the bag of crickets was “food” for “Froggy.”
And, yes, they fed Froggy that night. It was such an exciting day for them! What a wonderful reminder of how easy and inexpensive it can be to participate in fun (and maybe even educational) activities with young children during these hot summer months.
It wasn’t like going to the zoo. But, we had fun, stayed cool and were still back home before lunch.
What fun, free activities have you discovered this summer?
I wrote last week about a fun trip our family took to the local fire station with our three year old son and five year old daughter. It was free, so much fun–even memorable–and free! You can’t say that about most activities for children in the summer. But, we are having fun finding more fun and free or really cheap things to do with the children this summer.
So, this is another edition of “Free Summer Fun” as a public service to you! 😉
My son, like most other boys his age, is crazy about cars, airplanes and big machines of any kind. He was already fascinated by all these vehicles before he saw his now-favorite movie ever: Planes. He can usually hear an airplane at such a distance that it’ll be a minute before any of the rest of us hear or see it.
It just so happens that we live near a very small private airport. My husband decided we would simply drive over there and ask if we could look at an airplane. (Note: I would NEVER have thought of driving into a private airport!) As it turns out, they were thrilled for us to visit. And, we got there just as a plane was about to take off.
So, we got to stand just outside of the runway to watch the plane take off.
We were SO CLOSE! It was just as excited for me and my husband as it was for the children. And, it was yet another very happy day for one three year old boy. What’s great is that five year old girls can be amazed by watching a plane take off too!
What free unexpected adventures have you taken your children on?
This is the first summer that I feel like my children are now both old enough that we can get out and do some fun things. The only problem is that a lot of the lists I see for free or inexpensive things to do with children in our city are not very close to where we live.
So, we are looking more locally for things to do with the children. I hope to post throughout the summer about the various activities and events we participate in. But, for now, I thought I’d share something we did this week that was a big hit.
Visiting A Fire Station
The children are still talking about this. I’m convinced it was the happiest day of my three year old son’s life. Who needs Disney World when you can get into a fire engine?!
We were actually headed elsewhere when my son spotted the fire engine (because it’s what he does). And, because we had already talked about taking a tour of a local fire station this summer, we stopped over.
The firefighters there were very friendly and welcoming. They were happy to show us around and let the kids get into the truck. They talked to us about all the different parts of the fire engine.
They showed us around the station.
Did I mention that it was my son’s happiest day ever? 😉
Before we left, one of the firefighters gave the children two hats – a pink one for my daughter and a red one for my son.
And, he gave them a bag full of cool stuff for them. It included a coloring book, a craft book, a sticker, a tattoo, a pencil, and a fire-engine shaped eraser. Needless to say, they are still playing with all of these things.
Check out the tattoo!
What a fun and even meaningful time to see and connect with our local firefighters.
What fun and free trips have you taken this summer?
Stormy Days at our home are fun and don’t cost a thing. We don’t go to movies or out on those slick roads at all, if we can help it. Instead we stay home and with the help of our imaginations have great adventures.
This idea works best with a two man tent.We set the tent up in the living room with the door or window of the tent facing the outdoors. We pretend that we are stuck in the woods and eat from 72 hour kits. Consider it an emergency drill. This is also a great way to go over first aid. I can pretend I am injured and teach my little one what to do to help me.
Have a Power Outage
We turn off all the lights and cover the windows. Then we turn on the flashlights. We can play blackout hide and seek, though if you have little ones who are afraid of the dark it’s best to hide with them. We also play flashlight tag. Another idea is a flashlight scavenger hunt. Write clues on mirrors or tape them to the bed frame. Then use the flashlights to find the clues. Let them lead to a treat at the end of the hunt.
An easier activity is to watch the lightning. I explain that lightning is electricity and can be different colors. If thunder or lightning is something my little guy is afraid of, I go over the ways we can be safe from lightning during a storm and that thunder is like an alarm for lightning. That helps him feel more secure. It also teaches him how to avoid danger when he’s older.
A Family History Day
My father would begin most storms by telling us how he would watch storms on the porch with his grandmother when he was a kid. This would snowball into the telling of many of the family stories. My parents would talk about their newlywed days. We would sing favorite family songs and remember past pets. It is a great tradition that I now share with my little boy.
How is it that no matter your age, blowing bubbles just doesn’t get old?!
Well, recently my daughter received one of those bottles of bubble fun as a gift and we got hooked–all over again! The one thing that bothered me most was the smell of the stuff! It smelled like Febreeze! We still used it to play outside. But, every time I took that little bottle out, I told myself (and my family) that I HAD to find out how to make our own so that I could get rid of what we had…and, thanks to the vast resources available on the internet, I did it!
I needed a “recipe” that didn’t require me to go buy anything. We were just playing around and I wanted to make it happen quickly without any big production. Many of the recipes I found required two things I didn’t have: glycerin and corn syrup. Seriously, how many people have glycerin sitting on a shelf somewhere in their home? I could be wrong. What matters is that I don’t. And, we do not buy corn syrup. Uh, we will save the explanation for that in a post on The Bad News About Corn Syrup 😉
That said, I finally found one that worked for us!
1/2 cup of Eco-friendly dish detergent (if your detergent is concentrate cut the amount in half)
5 cups of soft water or distilled water
2 tablespoons of vegetable glycerin or light corn syrup or honey (*corn syrup or honey can attract bees and wasps)
I just used our dish detergent, which isn’t eco-friendly right now. It’s just Palmolive. And, I used water. I cut this recipe in half because I simply didn’t need so much of this stuff. Quite honestly, after making it, I realized I should have quartered the recipe.
In any case, it worked! We have bubbles without the Febreeze smell. Here’s on tip though. After mixing it all up, let it sit for a while. I thought shaking it would help make the bubbles. But, it didn’t take long to realize that I was wrong about that. Mix it or shake it. Then, let it sit. When it’s time to blow the bubbles, don’t shake or mix anymore, just blow bubbles! And, have fun! 🙂
Who doesn’t love blowing bubbles, especially when you can know exactly what’s in it?
With two kids under three, I am always looking for activities to do with them. But activities even twice a week with two kids can get spendy so I am always looking for inexpensive activities. Here are some things we do to keep busy.
1. Hit up your local library.
Our library has tons of free activities for the little ones. Even for the really little ones, our library has Book and Babies which is a story and play time. Some of the events even have craft time for FREE!
2. Go to a park.
My son would spend all day at a park if I let him. It’s fun, it’s free and the kid enjoy it. Grab a couple of other moms or dads and make an event out of it. It’s good for the soul to get out and in the elements.
3. Play board games.
The is harder for the younger ones, but family game night can be enjoyed by adults and slightly older children.
4. Go on a walk or build a snowman.
However it really does depend on where you live and what the weather is doing of course! We can totally build a snowman at our house.
5. Check out your local Lowes for kid workshops.
Most have them every Saturday and they are totally free. Get more information HERE.
6. Plan a scavenger hunt in your home.
Make a list of 20 things that your kids have to find in your house and have them find it. Make it a game by offering a prize to whomever finds everything on their list.
7. Have a family movie night.
Break out the popcorn, blankets and make your living room a home theater.
8. 5-Minute Make-Your-Own- Ice Cream.
In a quart ziplock bag, put in a cup of milk, a teaspoon of vanilla and 1 tablespoon sugar. In a gallon ziplock bag, put in a 1/3 of a cup of salt and fill the bag ¾ of the way full with ice cubes. Place the smaller bag inside the larger bag, and shake for 5 minutes. Open and serve!
9. Plan a play date.
I love play dates! I try at least to take part in one or two a week. Have it at your house or suggest a rotation with other parents. My children love play dates almost as much as the park. It’s like all new toys.
10. Go sledding or ice skating.
It is winter right? In my town there are awesome sledding hills and several ponds that are turned into ice skating rinks. If you have your own equipment it’s free. If not, they usually charge a small fee for renting.
What are some free activities you do with your children?