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Free Activities for Kids: Beyond Summer

December 15, 2011

With older kids in school, the little ones are left behind without the company of big brother or sister, and looking to you for some action!  It can be difficult to cope without the structure of school, and without scheduled activities for kids.  However, just because you want to stay busy and active does not mean your wallet has to stay empty.  There are plenty of activities with kids in mind that won’t cost you a dime.

Books and More Books

The local library is always a good place to start when looking for things to do in summer and afterwards.  Not only are there plenty of books and movies to keep you and your children entertained (and keep your children’s mind’s active, engaged, and reading!) but most libraries offer many programs, from summer reading, to movie nights, story time, arts and crafts, and much more.

Our library even had a Lego evening, where we were able to build cities together with a Lego Master Builder!  You can also gauge your child’s interest, and see what kind of activities to pursue from there.  Books are always a great jumping off point for exploring new interests!

Play Outside with a Purpose

Nature walks are fantastic, fun, and free!  Reconnect with nature, unplug for a while, and spend the day in the sun or among the autumn leaves.  Remember to keep hydrated, of course, and don’t forget the sun protection.  There is so much for a child to discover – trees, plants, animals, and never underestimate the power of bugs!  Bring along a magnifying glass, binoculars, whatever will help your little explorer feel more adventurous.

My son loves to bring along his special canteen, and his bug magnifying jar to check out the little critters before setting them back where he found them.  Take along one of the library books you found on bugs, nature, trees – whatever is your child’s preference.  You can spark your junior biologist’s imagination by identifying and classifying the local flora and fauna (shh!  don’t tell them they are learning while they are having fun and getting some exercise!).

Create Art from Family Life

Make a collage of found objects from your nature walk, or if you are more of a city walker, a collage of objects from your home and magazines.  What did you see on your walk?  Cut, paste, color, glitter- whatever your heart desires!  You can always do some pencil or crayon rubbings on leaves, as well, and talk about the differences you can see.  If you are making a collage from magazines and household objects, the same ideas apply.  Have fun with it!  Maybe you can make artwork to show off your last vacation, or the one you are soon to take.  Document your child’s last school year or birthday party – anything you like.  Get creative and have fun.

Channel Julia Child

Cooking shows are as varied and available as are food choices; we all have our favorites.  Create your own show, right in your own kitchen!  Find a recipe you like, and can reproduce with your child.  Keep it safe, and keep your child’s age and any limitations (height, dexterity, etc.) in mind.  Then, roll film!  You can either record it or not – either way, your child will have great fun “playing chef” with you.   Make sure you serve the dish to everyone when they return home that night, and let the little cook bask in his or her glow of praise for a job well done.  Read on for more ideas for bringing your kids into the kitchen!

Challenge Yourself: Spend Nothing for One Week

See if you can come up with four or five days’ worth of activities for your preschooler that don’t require any additional outlay of cash.  Need more ideas?  Most areas have local magazines and websites where they will list a calendar of events, and you can see what is offered in your vicinity.  Don’t limit yourself due to budget constraints, or feel the need to spend a fortune to have a good time.  Make the most out of your free time – the deepest part of winter will be here before you know it, and your little ones won’t be little for long.

Enjoy what really matters – your family!

For more ideas and some great tips, subscribe to our email newsletter, and tell us how you’re keeping your preschoolers busy on Facebook!

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