My little one has her first day off of school this week. Summer is officially here. Unfortunately, we are not able to join our local pool this year due to finances being a little tighter this year. She stays with my mother in the summer and she doesn't have a ton of cash to blow either so we are always on the look out for free or close to free (or cheap) things to do in the summer. Here is what I have come up with so far...
1. Library Fun - Our library has lots of great programs in the summer. In fact, our library has a group from Newport Aquarium coming with some reptiles this summer. They seem to have all kinds of fun things planned and it's all FREE!! But hurry and sign up now because many public library programs fill up quick!
2. Local lakes and parks - We have Caesar's Creek and Cowan Lake parks very close by. They are free to swim and take hikes for the day. Camping is not terribly expensive especially if you pitch a tent. It's generally about $15-20 a night depending on where you camp.
3. YMCA - This one isn't exactly free, but they offer scholarships to those who cannot entirely afford to pay for their programs. The Clinton County YMCA is working on improving all of it's programs for kids and will roll out a fun children's fitness program this summer. It will start on Wednesday nights at 5:45-6:45 so parents can drop their kids off while they go workout themselves.
4. Flea Markets - My kid is a huge bargain hunter. Although she usually only goes to the local flea market with a couple of bucks in her pocket, she manages to have a great time and always comes back with a fun item.
5. Parks and Playgrounds - Parks again! Your local park most likely has playground equipment to play on. Take your kids and let them run out all of their pent up energy and then take them home for homemade popsicles and if your lucky, a nap!
6. Theater Groups - Look for programs offered by your local theater or college. Our college has a program called Kids & Company. It's free for kids and every kid gets to be in the play. They only audition for the part. It keeps them busy for a couple of weeks in the afternoons and then you have a really fun play to go to in the end. The play costs money, but it's not very much. It's also a great way for kids to make friends.
7. Crafts and Home Fun - My little one loves to paint, sew and do just about any craft imaginable. I have tons of fabric that I picked up at yard sales and thrift stores and I have a giant roll of paper I picked up at our local newspaper. She is allowed to use any of this stuff at any time. Find some fun craft ideas on-line and let them have at it. This is especially great on a rainy or extremely hot day when going outside just doesn't sound too appealing unless you are going swimming.
8. Homemade Slip-N-Slide - My husband bought an inexpensive Slip-N-Slide a week or so ago. Our daughter slid down that thing so many times (okay, we may have tried it too) that it busted (that might have been our fault). My husband has been looking all over and has found that inexpensive plastic rolls found at Wal-Mart and other retailers would make a great homemade Slip-N-Slide. All he needs to do now is figure out to put at the bottom so she (we) can end up in a nice little pool of water at the end. We have two acres and a lot of it is one long hill which is perfect for this contraption. I can't wait to try it out ;).
9. Gardening - We started a garden this year and our daughter has been helping us with it. I can't wait to start harvesting and preparing our bounty. This will be a great lesson for our child and we will healthy fresh and healthy meals because of it. Gardening is not expensive and you don't need a lot of room to create one. Our local college even offers small plots for anyone that is interested. They provide all of the equipment. Look for community gardens in your area if you don't have the room or the funds to start your own.
10. Festivals - We joke that Clinton County is the festival capital of Ohio. We have festivals all the time. Most of them are free or really cheap to get into. Most communities have at least one or two in the summer so be on the look out for festivals in your area.
11. Host Friends - Invite your child's friend/s over for a sleep over or for play dates. This is a very inexpensive way for you little one to enjoy summer. That's really all my kid wants all summer long. She just wants to play and have fun with other kids. Mine doesn't have any siblings and her triplet cousins aren't big enough to play just yet, so we invite friends over to play. Find activities for them to do outside or crafts when they come in to keep them busy. You can also do a fun movie night and pop corn and act like your really at a movie theater. Check a movie out at your local library and enjoy!
This list isn't as long as it could be. Keep an eye out, check your local paper, Google the information, ask around, call the local college and parks. There is a lot to do for free if you just look for it. Hope you have a safe and healthy summer!