Summer holidays are here and I have the joy and the challenge of entertaining my 3 kiddos for 6 weeks. Spending quality time together is awesome and with hubby working as a teacher, I know we are luckier than some parents to have this luxury.
When I was a kid, our family would go away every year camping and we had some great holidays together, but there was always those few weeks in mid-January where we had more time at home and needed some ideas! A lack of activities would sometimes mean that we began causing a little trouble and bickering … and that was non-quality family time!
So this summer holidays we will be looking for some fun to keep our kids active and engaged. The bonus will be that we will get to be together enjoying life and growing together. Since we don’t have unlimited cash, I thought that we would put together a great list of 10 free summer holiday activities for you to consider … and please suggest some of your own.
Before I get into the ideas let me share some wisdom with you J … You can make any boring activity awesome by doing the following:
- Give it a cool name – hype it up
- Promote it a few days in advance – again hype it up and make them look forward to it
- Invite a friend – obviously adding other kids makes it automatically better
- Make it dress up – have some fun with costumes, colours, PJs etc
- Add food – Instead of a movie marathon, make it with lolly bags, popcorn etc
- Add music – some happy tunes make any average activity awesome
So that aside, let’s list some starting points:
- Throw A Sprinkler Party
This is an oldie but a goodie. Simply setup a sprinkler on the grass, add some music, buckets and maybe some coloured water (mix in food dye if you are game). Water bombs work well though they aren’t free and be sure to pick-up all that rubber as its not animal friendly.
Try playing some games in the water spray … long jump, musical chairs or hoops, hopscotch etc. Obviously watch the sun dangers in the day and it can get very slippery.
Geocaching is a treasure hunt with something for everyone. Using map coordinates and a GPS enabled device (your mobile phone), you can find a geocache near your home, in the city, in the bush or in Antarctica. A geocache is a container, normally plastic and water tight, which come in all shapes and sizes. You can find a tiny little one as small as your fingernail, or a huge geocache with exciting ‘treasures’ inside. It can be as easy or as hard as you like to make it. Our kids love it and we even made our own and looked after it in our local area.
We came to know about geocaching when some good friends of ours invited us on a cache hunt in our local area during school holidays. They had an app on their phone which showed up at least 15 geocaches hidden in our local area with the exact GPS coordinates to take us to each one. We jumped in the car and off we went. All geocaches are in public areas but are hidden very well so you can only find it if you know where it is. There are always small treasures on the inside of the container when you find it and the idea is you take something out and you put something in. You can even log on the app that you found it for other people to see that it was recently found.
You can download the free app for iPhone here: http://apple.co/1XZwiHy
You can download the free app for Android here: http://bit.ly/1ZHDtWa
- Library and Museum Visits and Workshops
Our local council art gallery, library and museum have some great activities for kids to do on school holidays. We live in a regional city and I am amazed at some of the awesome stuff that is available on school holidays and it is mostly free. It ranges from coding to craft to claymation to free skateboard and BMX clinics and more.
It is worth spending 5 minutes googling your local area activities for kids as you will be surprised by some of the awesome activities you will find.
- Nature Day
Get out into nature for a day. Most cities have their close nature reserves and large parks which can be a great change of scenery or try the beach or a river if that is close. In our house we call them ‘green days’ and we try to have a few spaced out as they invariably produce a lot of fun.
The best way to find them is to head to some local tourist sites or your local council. Look for bushwalks, wetlands, environmental centres, waterfalls etc … there are stacks of ideas. Since it is hot, we love going to a waterhole or creek at this time of year where the kids make their own screen-free fun.
- Paper Plane Challenge
Watch a few YouTube videos to learn and then teach you kids how to make a few paper planes. After an hour of free making and flying, tell them to ready their champion planes for a championship. Events can include the longest flight in distance, longest flight time, best design (colouring).
If you want to get fancy you can put a hula hoop on the ground and play a golf like game counting the number of throws to get from a starting point to the plane landing in the hoop. Genius!
- Re-discovering Old Toys
This simple idea works every time. Kids forget about old toys stacked in the cupboard or under beds but if you go and get them out they will almost always enjoy it. We sometimes put toys away on purpose and then bring them out when we need some time filled. It can be great to play with the kids too or repurpose the toys a little.
Sometimes just giving the kids some direction helps … ask them to make a story up about a villain and a hero … or to act out a scene from a movie with their figurines.
- Board Game Bonanza
Many of us lament the huge amounts of screen time that our kids have these days and board games can be sometimes forgotten. On a recent holiday, I entertained my 3 for hours showing them a few simple card games and the next days were filled with them playing between themselves too … awesome win!
Bigger board games are great too if you have them, but you may need to set some ground rules or even better, play along for some quality family time.
- Shopping Centre Scavenger Hunt
My husband made up this idea one day. It was super simple and the kids loved it. The idea was that we went to our local shopping centre together with a list of things we had to find and do. Each of our girls had an old iPhone camera with them. They had to photograph everything they found as proof that they found it plus had to write prices of things if they were requested on the list. My husband made up the list himself and printed it off.
It really was a simple and fun idea that the kids loved!!
- Scooter Safari
This is an example of my first point where giving something a name makes it more attractive. If you tell the kids you are going out scootering, they might groan but if you build up to a ‘Scooter Safari’ on Tuesday … that might work. The idea is simple enough and could work for bikes too with older kids, but map out somewhere to go which is completely new and head off to see what you can find.
Make it fun by packing some treats, or give the kids a list of things to see on the way; a white bird, the longest stick, biggest leaf … whatever makes it a game.
While not technically FREE, it is something that we need to do anyway. Why not make a plan with you kids and involve them in cooking holiday dinner … they can choose what they love and then work together to list the ingredients, maybe even shop together for them and then make the meal.
You could choose something standard and simple like a great roast chicken dinner or kebabs, or go whacky like a Nutella pizza! That’s probably a dessert but who knows! If you do this a few times you may train a private cook J
Planning out your quality time together makes the stress levels much lower, and your ideas are more likely to succeed if they aren’t all decided at the last minute. I recommend making a weekly holiday schedule and planning it out with your family so that everyone can fit in things they love as well as some novel ideas.
Steggles are keen to encourage families to spend some quality time together these holidays so they are running a competition where 10 people will each win 10 Hoyts movie tickets.