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9 Fun and Frugal Summertime Activities for Families During the Pandemic

Having a hard time entertaining the kids without summer camp? Here are some ideas.

Summertime is typically full of fun, sunny days… but, also, a lot of boredom gripes from kiddos. This year, with much of the world still isolating during the pandemic, it’s likely to yield even more complaints. But parents don’t have a lot of options. We’re trying to not go out too much, and—because our economy has taken a hard hit—we might be hesitant to spend too much money. (By the way, now would be a great time to learn and prioritize financial literacy.)

We’ve collected our best ideas for families to beat boredom this summer—without coronavirus exposure, and without breaking the bank. 

DIY water park

DIY water parks can be just as much fun as professional ones.

Don’t want to risk going to a water park? Create one in your backyard! Blow up a kiddie pool, break out the hose, turn on the sprinklers, fill up some water balloons, and you’re set. Make things even more exciting with a home splash pad, a makeshift slip ‘n’ slide (spread out some big black trash bags and run the hose over them), or some blasters for an epic water fight! (Hint: Check out Wikibuy to determine what you can save before you make an online purchase. You’re welcome.)

Make artsy messes

Mom smiling at her kids doing art.
Art is a fun and creative boredom buster.

You may want to take these ideas outside for easier cleanup. Pull out the paints and paintbrushes (or just use your hands) and create a masterpiece! Try dipping some marbles in paint, throw them into a paper-lined shoebox, close the lid and shake and roll. Enjoy the surprise final product when you open it up. Use this recipe for homemade chalk art—or add a little more water and pour into water balloons for splash art. You could also play with homemade Play-doh or anti-stress lavender putty (and we could all use less stress right now!).

Enjoy storytime

Parents reading to kids
Storytelling in any form is great for kids–and parents!

Of course, reading is always an option. Read a book together, or have a contest each reading your own (look into this Barnes & Noble contest offering a free book as the winner’s prize). If you’d rather listen to stories than read, these five podcasts are especially great for navigating these unique times of isolation, with two of them created just for kids. Alternatively, you can challenge the kids to write their own stories. In fact, Book Creator offers a great, easy way for children to create their own digital books.

Have fun with food

Dad cooking with kids.
Encourage your kids to cook and who knows? Maybe they’ll become the next Top Chef Junior!

Not only a great life skill, cooking also helps teach nutrition, math and planning skills. Enlist some help with dinner, or make cookies, popsicles, or ice cream. Take some frozen PB&Js or other creations out for a picnic. If you have a baby, bring their formula along (try these clean, organic options from Little Bundle). Spending time at home tends to produce frequent snack requests, so use this tip to help your kids learn healthy snacking habits

Get crafty

Girl doing crafts
Encourage kids to use their imaginations instead of their devices for a while.

Gather up your stickers, pipe cleaners, pom poms, fabric scraps, toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, glue—whatever you have on hand—and let your kids be creative. They could make people, animals, paper bag or sock puppets, or other abstractions. The possibilities are endless.  

Head to the park (or your backyard)

Boy playing with bubbles
This is the time to enjoy the outdoors. And bubbles, of course.

Staying away from crowds renders a lot of places off-limits. And playground equipment probably isn’t safe right now. But you can still enjoy the great outdoors. Take to the park (or your backyard) with a kickball, bike, kite, or bubbles. Search for free or cheap trails near you. Help your kids be observant and notice the varieties of plants and animals around. You could even take up bird watching with this DIY bird feeder

Camp out

Mom and kids in tent.
Heck, the tent can be right outside your door–the kids will still love it.

Find a local campground that’s inexpensive, or simply pitch a tent in your backyard. You don’t always have to go somewhere for an adventure—your kids will appreciate any experience that switches up the normal routine. While you’re at it, roast marshmallows and spot a few constellations. 

Build a fortress

Kids in fort
Some kids love hiding out from their parents in the fort. Others love a good spot of tea in there.

A classic indoor activity—break out blankets, chairs, cardboard boxes, and pillows to build a fort (or castle, or spaceship, or whatever). It’s a pretty open-ended idea. Use some imagination and run with it!

Play games

Dad playing video games with daughter

Playing games as a family is another great option for a rainy (or any) day. Board games, card games, puzzles, video games, you name it! You could even have a dance- or sing- off. (Pro tip: you can do this without a Wii. Search YouTube for segments of dance or karaoke games, and you’re good-to-go.) For more unique ideas, check out these Minute To Win It games. 

 

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