It is no lie- I am BROKE these days. And when I say broke, I mean we are scraping together money for bills, gas and food. So the budget to do fun things this summer is nonexistent. BUT- I am DETERMINED to have a fun summer with my kids. So far, my son has been out of school for 3? weeks and we have done a lot fun things already and I have a whole summer worth of MORE fun to be had. Here are just a few things we will be doing to give you some ideas!
1. Visit local parks. There are tons of parks in our area and every one of them is different. My goal is to visit two different parks every month.
2. Check out Splash Pads. The weather is heating up and sometimes all the kids want is a day in the water. Splash pads are either free or cheap. In my area (Youngstown, OH) I know of 3 splash pads:
1. Austintown Park — Small splash pad and small dry playground
2. Pearl Park in Cortland — Located at 140 Pearl Street in Cortland Ohio. This is BRAND NEW and we are hoping to check it out soon!
3. Eagle Park in Middle Field– This one has 2 nice sized splash pads and two playgrounds, one is designed for older kids and one for the younger children. I love this one, but it is a little bit of a drive for us. They have pavilions and we normally pack a lunch and make a full day out of it.
3. Join a Reading Program at the Library. Our library is pretty awesome. First- they have really cool programs every week, like Oh Wow!, The Akron Zoo, and even a Magician are all coming to perform for the kiddos. My son is SUPER excited about the reading program. Not only that but MY library had a prize for the first 100 to sign up, so he was excited to get a free book and when we signed up he got a bag of coupons and goodies and as he reads throughout the summer he will earn other prizes. I personally am excited for library night at the Scrappers, both boys are signed up for the reading program so we got two free tickets to go to a game– all just for signing up for the summer reading program!
4. Go Strawberry Picking If you follow my Instagram, you will see we have already done this twice. What I have learned is the berries, experience and prices are different at every farm. We have gone picking at Pete’s Berry Farm in Sharpesville, PA and at White House Fruit Farm in Ohio. Both were a lot of fun- oh and not only is pick your own fun, it is CHEAPER than buying berries already picked. White House was only $3/Quart if you pick your own.
5. Go Blueberry Picking Blueberry season starts in July and we will definitely be going blue berry picking they had signs up at White House and Pete’s for this as well.
6. Go Apple Picking We have done this a few years ago at an orchard in Hartford, OH but we will be doing this again of course!
7. Enjoy the fruits of your labor While picking is fun, finding different things to MAKE with what you just picked is just as fun! When we went apple picking we made home made pies and applesauce. And when we went strawberry picking we had fresh strawberry smoothies when we got home and I made topping for strawberry shortcake that we ate today. And we shared our snacks with friends (twice) so that just added onto the fun. I definitely want to go again and find some other cool recipes to make with strawberries (maybe jam!!), but we ran out of strawberries today so we will have to go picking again if we want to make jam!
8. Find FREE things to do in your area. I can’t tell every person every free thing to do in your area, but when I say there are cool free things to do, I am not lying because we are ALWAYS busy with activities and honestly, most are free activities that are put on by community organizations.
Example: Saturday, we went to River Fest at B&O Station in Youngstown. It was FREE to get in. The Boy Scouts were there manning the Bounce House and Slide- both FREE and they had a free craft table where kids could make their own bugs. Oh and they were making dessert camp fire style and passing it out for free. There were about 10-15 tents set up, some were selling things, but many were organizations that were giving out free things to kids, or had an activity for the kids. Oh Wow! was there and had an elector magnetic wand on demo, K9s for compassion was there, there was a tent that had 4 different types of birds. There were also clowns walking around passing out balloons for the kids. I fed my kids lunch before we went and packed snacks, juice, and bottled water in my backpack so this activity (other than the $.75 I put in the parking meter- that I am not even sure worked) was 100% free.
9. Send your kids to VBS I am not all about sending the kids away while we are on Summer Vacation because lets face it, they spend 9 months of the year away at school all day. Summer is my time to enjoy with my kids. BUT- VBS is another fun, free thing for your kids to enjoy. From my experience, Colton has always had a lot of fun, been in a positive environment, and learned some new and really cool songs. Last year he participated in two VBS programs, and both were different but he had fun and made friends at both. And it was only a couple of hours that he was gone– so that is like running to the store and going grocery shopping without the kids lol.
10. Have a Water Balloon Fight Water Balloons are cheap ($1/100 for the ones at walmart or Bunch O Balloons, which are a little more expensive, but are WAY faster to fill) and it was awesome to see how much fun the kids had with them after school.
11. Host a playdate!! This doesn’t have to be expensive or cost you anything. Invite your kid’s friends (and their parents) over for a playdate. Your kids will enjoy seeing their school friends over the summer, I promise! We hosted a playdate after the last day of school and my son still says it was the best day ever (and his friends kept thanking me for having them over because it was SO MUCH fun- in their words). All I did… Filled a bunch of water balloons and water guns, made chicken tenders, hot dogs and fries and asked the parents to each bring something else for the kids to enjoy (juice boxes, water, chips, snacks, fruit). The kids pretty much self entertained for the most part
12. Do a Science Experiment I know it sounds silly, but Colton LOVES it when we do science experiments, I have a bunch lined up for the next rainy day.
Some examples of ones we have already done:
What’s the temperature?
Show how Colors Blend
Make your own Ice Cream in a Bag
How to Make Slime
13. Check out what things your local sports teams offer for FREE. We live about an hour from Cleveland, which is not far at all and if you follow the Cavs, you know they are in the NBA Finals. WELL… Colton is a huge fan of the Cavs and outside the arena, at The Q they have this thing called Fan Fest where you can go up and watch the game FOR FREE and they have a TON of activities for kids, and they give out free stuff to the kids. Now- I can’t say it was 100% free, because I had to pay for gas to get up there and it was $25 to park (and that was a block away, if we parked right there it was $50… so save some money and walk a bit), but other than that, a $5 hot dog and a $6 foam finger… Everything else that was there was 100% free. And when you are watching the game it is the same game that they show on the jumbotron inside the arena.
The Browns also have FREE activities too. We went up to training camp last year and Colton had SO MUCH FUN. (We are trying to get tickets to training camp again, but I am not sure how to get them without being a season ticket holder)
14. Check out the happenings at your local community center. We have a Multi-Generational Center right here in Girard and they are hosting a free week long sports camp that Colton is going to. I know they do other things as well, and a lot of free things for the seniors, but I am excited for him to go to the sports camp.
15. Go Fishing If you have the poles and hooks… this is very cheap. From what I know- kids do not need a license to fish and if you want to fish too, check out Free Fishing Weekends which is when you are allowed to fish without a license. Also many private lakes do not require a license either. We went and Colton had a ball
16. Visit Farmer’s Markets This is something free- if you choose because no one is making you buy, but it is cool for the kids to see what is grown or made right here locally. We have a shop on the Square in Warren and they have a Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays from 3-6. This was our first one, but it was really cool to see what everyone sold.
17. Plant seeds and watch them grow. We planted peas and carrots last week. Colton will get to watch these grown and log their progress. So far, he is enjoying watering them every day (which is also teaching him responsibility).
18. Have Breakfast for Lunch or Dinner. This is something fun I like to do once a month (at least LOL) Colton gets a kick out of it and I just love eating breakfast any time of day.
19. Make a craft. I know it sounds SO simple. But if it is raining, have some stuff ready and plan a craft day. If you keep them busy, the summer will go much smoother.
20. Check out Regal Movie Express. They have Movies (at our theatre) Tuesdays and Wednesday mornings at 10 for $1 per person. And- I noticed last year if you attend during these times they let you bring snacks in. We went last year a lot and Colton really enjoyed it. Plus it got us up and moving a bit earlier since we had to be at the theatre at 10 AM.
MORE TO COME. I will keep adding to this list as I come up with more fun stuff to do.