Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thrifty Thursday: It's Chic to Be Cheap (Summertime Kid Activities)

Um, it's July. Already.

Has the summer flown by for anyone else? I do my best to keep Natalie and Michaela Byrd occupied, but I end some days feeling like I need a straight jacket and a padded room.

Last summer, I wrote a post about Summer Activities to keep families busy. A lot of those activities kept me from locking myself in the laundry room and chanting "Serenity Now" over and over to myself. I thought it would be fun to update that list with some new ideas today.

1. Take advantage of free stuff!!

  • Story time: our library and local Border's offer great story sessions with books, crafts, songs, and sometimes even a short movie. We attended a Toy Story 3 party at Border's a few weeks ago, and the girls enjoyed a craft, snacks, games, and prizes. For free.

  • Vacation Bible School: many churches offer a free, weeklong "day camp" of sorts. Our church treats around 800 children to Bible stories, songs, crafts, recess, skits, games, and snacks. My girls got to enjoy the church nursery while I worked in the "Snack Shack" last week, and they had just as much fun as the big kids!
  • Free movies: Several of the theaters in The 'Burg offer free kids' movies twice a week in the mornings. We have to get there early to beat the daycare buses, and I sneak in candy. Start your own Mini Chick Flick Club!
  • Summer Play Group: It's easy to grab a couple of girlfriends one morning each week for coffee and a chat while the kids run wild in the playroom. Rotate houses and sign a contract in blood promise to do a toy clean up at the end for the hostess.
  • Craft demos for kids at local craft stores.
  • Our gym advertised a member party for Tuesday night and I took my girls down to meet a few friends. Free hotdogs, snowcones, and face painting rounded out a full day. You just have to be on the lookout  for stuff like this and then remember to attend!
2. Low-cost:

  • Make it easy on yourself; pick up a couple of Happy Meals, meet some friends at the park, and let the kids play. Once the trash from the meal has been discarded, take the kids on a quick nature walk if you're in an area that has trails. 
  • Join a summer Bible study! It'll cost you the price of a workbook and maybe some childcare money, but it will be well worth it. Hire a teen to keep the kids busy.
  • Paula had a great post about Geocaching. Great for older kids!
  • Are there any workshops or short summer classes through your Parks and Rec system?
3. It'll Cost You, But It Will Be Worth It:
  • Join a pool: best money we spend all summer. period.

  • Save up and spend a day at the closest amusement park. I reaaaallly want to take the girls to Kings Dominion near Richmond. They have great kiddie stuff, and we haven't been since Natalie was 2!

I'm all ears if you have any more suggestions! If you have a post to share with summer kid/family activities, please feel free to link them up here. All I ask is that you include a link to me somewhere in your post and link to the specific url of your post (not just your blog's homepage). Be sure to check and see if your link posted. If it didn't, let me know and I will add it for you!

I'd stay to chat, but we have a little coffee playgroup this morning to get to! Back later today!

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  1. These are GREAT ideas, Amanda! You're absolutely right--summer activities don't have to be costly. When my boys were the age of your girls, we had almost no extra money. I think those days are the ones my guys remember most fondly. They like to play with friends. Really, that's the thing they really want to do--not fancy-schmancy activities. Most of the cost is just a little time to arrange playdates and clean up after playtimes. And maybe the cost of a few kids' meals and batches of cookies. Pretty cheap for really sweet memories. Not to mention sanity. :)

  2. Great ideas! You've found so many cheap or free things to do that will keep your kids busy for hours. I know that if I had kids, I'd want lots and lots of activities to do to get out of the house for a few hours each day. I hope you get to go to Kings Dominion. Your girls would love it!

  3. great ideas (many we've done) We have an annual pass to the Orlando Science Center (price was reasonable for us) so we go at least once a week. We also rotate playing at the local parks (my mom friend and I make sure to find the shadiest ones).
    We also spend time making cookies, cupcakes and brownies - it takes time, it's indoors and we end up with yummy snacks!

  4. Great ideas! There are SO many free activities if you just take a little time to search for them. We've lived a few differnt places now and done research on a few other areas. I have always found lots of free or low cost activities for kids!

  5. Great ideas!

    Some of the toy stores might have free programs. I could be wrong, but I think I've seen them advertised for Learning Express and maybe TRU. (That one was called Camp Geoffrey, but it now links to the TRU website. Maybe they don't do it anymore. And I can't find anything for Learning Express, either, so it might vary by location.)

    Along the lines of your playgroup idea, Kerri (Kerri's Klutter) has started a reading group in her home. They'll read a story, sing a song, play games, etc., much like a library storytime.

    Wow, 800 kids at VBS! We're expecting about 150.

  6. Those are fantastic tips. I remember Living Word's VBS so well, htat was always the highlight of the summer, when our was over, I'd go to another friend's vbs camp & take advantage of it for weeks :-) Can't wait to be able to plan fun summer activities for my kiddies once we start having them ;-P

  7. Great ideas! Maybe, now, I can venture out of my laundry room....

  8. Wow you have really found some great inexpensive things to do this summer. I think by far the pool pass has been our lifesaver!

  9. You know what? Thank you for this! I needed to hear all of these great ideas for some inspiration. I am reaaally tired of the park! Lol. My little babe and I CAN have new fun together and it doesn't mean it has to cost a bunch of money either. Loved this post : )

    Blessings to you, Amanda!
    Love, Laura

  10. Great list! Craig and the kids enjoy geocaching from time to time.

  11. Great list of suggestions! We're huge fans of Busch Gardens. My boys LOVE going! Pricey, but worth an annual trip.

  12. I started "Backyard Thursdays" with my kids about four years ago and I, originally, invited moms with no yard to come over for the morning at my house but have since extended to all the moms I can ask! It's a blast - we have a huge yard (for So.Cal.) and playhouse, scooter space, large driveway, a garage of air hockey and foosball, swing set and climbing tree. kids have made it our ministry to do this each week (we have rules the kids have to follow) but also have friends who offer their pools once a week to do the same thing! It's a great way to hang out with other moms and have a free activity!!

  13. Great ideas Amanda! I need to check into more stuff at our local library. I always forget about storytime. I wish we had a Borders.

  14. Can I be honest? I wanna come hang out with your crew this summer. Looks awesome and much more exciting than what I do every day. ;)

  15. Seriously, where does the time go? Half the year over already! And I think I need to find a coffee playgroup:)

  16. I thought of you several times today. I must have said Serenity Now at least 10 times. BBC was a chatty Cathy! My head was spinning!

    Great ideas! I've talked to a couple of friends about swapping child care a couple of times this summer. We also plan a tour of the local fire department and go to the airport to watch planes. I found a small flying service for private jets. We can go on the top deck outside - very cool! Anywho, that's some of our freebie tips.

  17. My mom was a big fan of the summer activity, too. We joined a pool and she somehow found computer classes at the local high school and a class at the local museum where we learned how to make little pots and figures out of clay. When she was desperate, she would send us to our Grandparents' house in the country for a week, we thought we were getting a break from her, but it was really a break from us. ;)

    p.s. If you can't figure out how to get the doors of the playhouse off, you could tape around it and use spray paint for plastic.


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