Kids are exhausting little bundles of energy and want that never seem to run out of steam. Usually they’re someone else’s problem for much of the day as we ship them off to be taught the three R’s by the underpaid, underappreciated teachers who make our lives bearable. During the summer this isn’t the case, and the shiftless little monsters are haunting your house at all hours, unless you’re smart enough to send them off to camp or drop them in the wilderness to fight for their survival.
Well, we feel your pain and also know how tough it is to manage your lovely little beasts while also sticking to a budget. So, here’s a set of 11 free, fun, easy activities you can use to keep your kids entertained and let them wear themselves out, often while you enjoy a nice glass of wine.
This is actually a two-hander, as you can start off by having the kids get crafty by designing their own kites, using the magical, mystical internet as a guide. Materials are easy to come by and can be cut into any number of shapes, with a whole palette of color choices that allows the sprouts to fly their colors. Then, it’s as simple as taking them to a park and letting them try to get their new creations aloft. Ongoing tweaking and changes, with resultant testy flights, makes for a recurring project that can last for months.
Children inherently love screens, but rather than merely parking them in front of the latest console or tablet for hours, break out the GPS – or just use one of the geocaching apps – to track down geocaching locations around your town or nearby forest. Getting these hidden wonders is good exercise for you and the little ones, and helps teach them how to use technology to interact with, rather than avoid the real world. Plus, they’ll soon want to set up their own caches for others to find, which will allow them to later look at the log books or comments about their hidden wonders.
Helping to feed a kid’s imagination is important, and plays to their natural strengths. Teaching them about costuming, makeup, acting, script-writing, storytelling, singing, dancing, and putting on a production of any size gives them an appreciation for the arts by making it all seem like collective play. It will also help them overcome stage fright, which has an endless set of benefits that will last their entire life.
YouTube Puppet Show
The internet is a vast ocean of information, which can be dangerous for kids to navigate alone. It can also be a deeply satisfying creative space for making art that is consumed by the entire world. As with acting, this can help them learn production skills, such as writing and voice performance, but also helps them with video editing and basic interfacing abilities that can provide boons as they get older. Just don’t let them read the comment section, unless you think they should get a lot of information on racism in action.
Adopt an Elder
Nursing homes and elder care facilities have loads of residents who would delight in being around children, their own having often abandoned them like selfish mongrels. Kids are sponges of information, and can glean a lot of real-life experience far beyond what you can teach them, learn to give to the community, and help someone who might otherwise have few delights in their day.
Go To All Churches
Diversity is the path to the future, and helping kids understand their own spiritual pursuits can lead them down a more fulfilling trail, offering purpose as they grow to adulthood. By taking them to Zen temples, synagogues, mosques, unitarian churches, and more traditional Christian ones you allow them to comprehend all the ways there are to find inner peace, plus teach them that people are all basically the same, no matter what faith or creed they subscribe to.
You can go to the trouble of taking a full camping trip, but that’s often a drain on you. Instead, arrange to stay close to home, where there’s running water, a fully stocked larder, and bathrooms. Not only is plunking them outside for the night a good introduction to sleeping out of doors, it also gives them a sense of autonomy when you go in for the night, leaving them to natter into the wee hours without disturbing your precious rest.
Shakespeare in the Park
Going to plays is fine, but kids can quickly get restless trying to sit through a complex story, particularly when they’ve been conditioned by big, loud screens. Conversely, going to a production in a park, with all the fun costumes and oddness that goes with these plays is a chance to get them outside and provide them with bite-sized culture. When they begin to lose interest, you can simply walk away.
Learn Something With Them
Most of us get bogged down in our jobs and our own lifestyle, rarely branching out of our comfort zone, so this is as important for parents as for children. By building something with a Raspberry Pi, making a basic piece of furniture from a YouTube tutorial, learning a language, or following one of the delicious recipes offered by the forty million cooking shows out there, you can get some easy learning done and add to your child’s array of abilities.
A blanket and a basket of food is all that’s needed here. Have the youngsters prepare a meal with you that includes a lot of simple sandwiches and fresh fruit, then go out where you can people watch with a frisbee or a football should eating in the great outdoors prove boring after a time. Fewer and fewer families share meals together, so making this a weekly ritual can help you stay connected with the lives of your kids.
Make a Podcast
Kids have life issues just like the rest of us, and only other kids understand them. Doing a simple recording where you offer your children a platform to talk is not only cathartic for them and allows you to learn what’s happening in their world, but can help foment online community by giving other children who are being raised by the internet an understanding and guiding voice in you that goes far beyond helping the young people in the room.