Spring is coming soon and that inevitably means your kids will have some time off from school. If you aren’t planning a family vacation, you might be expecting a lot of down time at home with kids constantly reminding you they’re “bored.”
This year, don’t be daunted by the need to entertain – go into your kids’ spring break with a plan! Below is a bunch of budget-friendly ways to entertain your kids while they’re home for spring break.
Local parks are a great place to start, and you’ll find that there are so many things to do beyond the monkey bars and the hiking trails. Create a scavenger hunt, like finding something that begins with each letter of the alphabet. The person who collects the most – or all 26! – wins.
Try geocaching, a new kind of real life treasure hunting. Get coordinates for a “cache” – a special object or landmark – and go find it. Once you’ve made your discovery, share your experience online. Rather than buying an expensive handheld GPS, use your smart-phone; you can download an app to assist you in your hunt.
Learn About Your City
How well do you know your city or town’s history? Your city likely has a “historical area” filled with old homes and early-American cultural heritage. Many historical and/or visitor centers operate on a donation basis, so while you might want to leave a small donation, it certainly won’t break the bank.
The library is another great place to start learning more about your city. If you decide your town or city isn’t that interesting, while you’re at the library you can indulge in other free activities, such as joining a reading group or browsing their collection of books and DVDs.
Even though Ohio had little to do with World War II, my son and I visited a local museum that he found fascinating. Smaller museums can be much cheaper than admissions at more prestigious museums, sometimes even free. A quick Internet search for museums in your area should clue you in to what’s nearby.
Larger museums are great, but they can get expensive. To find coupons, deals, or special museum events, be sure to sign up for the museum’s newsletter. Oftentimes there will be family or children’s events with largely discounted ticket prices.
You might be surprised to hear volunteering described as “entertainment,” but if you find the right activity then fun will be had. You could volunteer with the Parks and Recreation Department in your area working to help keep the parks clean and have a celebratory picnic once you’ve finished your hard work. As a family you could volunteer at the local humane society and spend a few hours washing and walking dogs. Your kids – and you, I bet – will likely have a ball.
Arts and Crafts
In my house, we love making dioramas. Usually the kids pick a theme, and we try to incorporate as much from the house as we can. Every now and then we have to buy things, but never more than $5 for each project. You can also tie-dye shirts, decorate old picture frames, or try your hand at paper maché. Since crafting can get expensive, encourage savings by making a scavenger hunt around the house – to find items for the project – part of the game.
Family Game Night!
Hosting a game night is an old tradition, but it remains a great way to entertain your entire family. What’s better than watching dad act out a silly cartoon character during a spirited game of charades? You could even use the time to teach your kids a lesson about money by playing a game such as Monopoly, Pay Day, or The Game of Life. If you’ve worn out all of your board games, ask family, friends, or neighbors to swap supplies every now and then and save the expense of buying new games yourself.
If you are fresh out of ideas, leave it up to the kids. Offer them a small budget of $10 or $20 and free reign to decide what you do. This is a great way to see what may have been your child’s favorite activity and a reminder for you to repeat it in the future.
When In Doubt…
Find area newspapers, blogs, or websites that post various activities and events that are going on throughout the community. You can often find music or theater events for – and by – kids in your area. This is also a great place to find deals, coupons and giveaways for events in the area.
Of course, these ideas aren’t just for spring break. You can do these throughout the year. Between the great outdoors, the wonders of your town or city, and, of course, the entertainment of one another, neither you nor your kids should find reason to be bored.
What do you do to keep the kids entertained during their spring breaks? Let us know in the comments below!
Jessica Streit is a single mom, former educator turned freelancewriter and student working on her Masters Degree in Education. She is the author of The Debt Princess, a blog about making better choices after landing in debt. She uses the mistakes she has made to teach others “what NOT to do.”