I began to comment on one of my favorite blogs (does this sound somewhat familiar to my regular readers), Hip2Save (definitely check it out), and found that I was really writing a complete essay rather than a blog comment, so I'm creating a blog post instead filled with ideas of great, fun things you can do with your kids this summer. We do not do all of these ideas as that would be overwhelming, but these are some excellent ideas if you're looking for occasional, free or inexpensive family fun. The following is a little bit run-on and little bit random, but I think you'll find something that you can do with your kiddos!
Check the local library. Ours (Columbus Municipal)does a free summer reading program for preschoolers-adults, free story hours, free educational activities and more throughout the summer (and the rest of the year as well).
Check out local festival schedules. There are many festivals which are free or inexpensive to attend, and there is so much your child can experience while you are there!
We have an outdoor shopping area (Easton Town Centre) that has a fountain area where kids can play. There are locations with free water play all over the place (Try Ballantrae Park too if you're local). We take our kids suits and towels and pack a picnic for an afternoon of free fun.
Our metroparks system (Click here to go to their site) also offers summer workshops and/or camps. Hiking, fishing (Kids often don't need a license) and enjoying the playground at your local parks is free. This is a great opportunity for nature study.
Check a local arboretum to see if they have free admission or summer workshops for kids (Dawes Arboretum near Newark, OH has free admission).
Sometimes local zoos or museums have free or reduced evenings or a free day of admission. Google the zoos and museums in your area to see if they offer such things.
Barnes and Noble bookstores host free weekly story times as well as a free summer reading program.
We have a book called Kids Love Ohio. The company has one for every state, and it lists hundreds of places you can go in your local area (it divides each state into regions) as well as the rest of the state that are often free or inexpensive including details like cost and why kids like it.
Go berry picking if you don't have a patch (we do). Visit a local farmer's market or international market where your kids can experience the world around them while you get some local, fresh produce.
Invest in a sprinkler or slip-n-slide. Invite some friends over. Chat with a friend all day while your kids happily splash away in the back yard.
It's also important to remember that kids don't need to be entertained 24/7 (see my previous rant about that). They need "down time" for their brains to properly develop, and they need to learn to entertain themselves. Stay home and garden together. Let them grow their favorite veggie. Read lots of books. Find great, easy crafts by going to sites like www.dltk-kids.com. Make ice cream together or learn about a new cuisine and make a whole meal together. Play games under the shade of a back yard tree. Just be together. You don't need to go somewhere in order to make special memories with your kids. Summer is a great time to make memories. The most important thing you can do is to simply be with your kids and let them know that you love them. What you do matters less than who you do it with.