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This post is Day One of a 5-Day series in conjunction with the wonderful bloggers of the iHomeschool Network. Come back each day this week for more Frugal Summer Fun. Subscribe so you don’t miss out!

Here we go! Today is all about having fun outside in the summer – without water. There are lots of great ideas that involve staying cool by getting wet, and we’ll talk about those tomorrow. I decided to split them up into two separate posts because sometimes I just don’t want to deal with wet clothes and muddy kids. So, today we’ll talk frugal & free fun that doesn’t involve getting wet.

 

Frugal Summer Fun via www.RaisingLifelongLearners.com_thumb[4]

 

Have you read the book, 15 Minutes Outside by Rebecca P. Cohen? It’s one of my favorites, and a wonderful resource for inspiration when you know you need to get the kids outside, but really don’t want to.

 

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Try some of these fun outside activities inspired by the book:

 

Go to a park

There are so many great parks across the country, no matter where you live, chances are there is a great {and free} place to take your kids. Some parks are simply wide, open fields – perfect for letting the kids loose to run, throw a ball, or play Frisbee. Some have wonderful playgrounds with slides, monkey bars, and other climbing gear.

Jump rope

I’m actually embarrassed to admit this, but my kids are just learning to how to jump rope. I bought them jump ropes and put them in their Easter baskets a few years ago, but honestly, I haven’t given them much thought past that. Molly asked a few weeks ago if I’d buy her a jumping rope and teach her how to do it like Mary Lennox did in The Secret Garden. Sheepishly, I told her that she had a jump rope in the garage, and I dug it out for her. She’s happily {though not very adroitly} skipping her afternoons away. Don’t forget the simple things like this. Kids don’t need crazy and detailed {or Pinterest-worthy} things to keep them busy. I jumped rope for hours in the summertime when I was little. Let’s reintroduce the little things.

 

Hold a backyard show

Molly and her sweet friend from across the street love performing. They get their little {almost identical and sister-like} heads together, pull out the Broadway Musical soundtrack to Wicked, grab ribbon wands, and sing and dance, while twirling away for our families and our next door neighbors. We pull lawn chairs out, and they perform under the pear tree while Trevor sprinkles leaves and blossoms down on them from the branch he’s perched in {up in the pear tree}. It’s super-cute, and all the kids love watching and putting on shows.

 

Catch lightning bugs

Grab some bug jars, nets, or mason jars and head to the backyard at dusk. Go out with your kids and scoop up some lightning bugs with your net or grab them by hand. Be careful not to harm them; they’re really gentle and will crawl up and down your arm or signal to each other from inside your jars until you let them go. {And please let them go…they should be allowed to live once you’re done checking them out.}

 

Hike in the woods

Check out a county, state, or national park nearby. Strap on some cross-trainer athletic shoes or hiking boots, get your kids geared up with small backpacks that hold water bottles and granola bars, and head out on a hike. Practice – and teach your kids – outdoor safety by bringing along a first aid kit, snacks, plenty of water, a cell phone, and whatever else you may need. Encourage them to walk quietly and to observe the sights and sounds of nature in the woods.

 

Bike on a trail

We have an amazing towpath trail near us that we rarely take advantage of. I’m promising myself to pull my bike down, set up a baby seat and my saddlebags {so I can load them up with water and a picnic}, and throw all of our bikes in the van. I want the kids to bike the trails and learn that there is more to see than the neighborhood they usually bike in. 

 

Read under a tree

Did you do this as a child? I did it all the time. I’d grab a blanket and whatever book I was reading, and head to the backyard and my favorite crabapple tree, spread a blanket out, and read – for hours. I intend to make this a regular part of our summer.

 

Go on a scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts are one of my go-to tasks to set the kids up with if they need a distraction. I write out a list of things for them to look for, and let them loose. If we’re outside, the items are all nature-related. No matter where we are I can come up with a list of things to find whether they are required to find things and bring them back to me, or play an eye-spy like scavenger hunt and just identify the things in their environment, it can head off boredom easily.

 

Have a lemonade stand

My kids really want to hold their own lemonade stand. I think they’re convinced they’ll become rich selling in our front-yard, but I intend to let them have as many of these summer-time stands as they want. We’ll put out the old puppet theater we have in the garage, make signs to post around the neighborhood, and mix up some sugary-sweet lemonade. Anyone want to come and support some young entrepreneurs? 

 

Build a volcano in the sandbox

We have a Little Tikes turtle sandbox in the backyard. That thing is old, the lid doesn’t keep out the rain water anymore, the toys are broken and mismatched, but the kids play in it almost everyday. There’s just something about digging in the sand that kids love. I thought it would be fun to take our baking soda volcanoes out into the sand box and erupt them. I’ll have the kids make a mountain of sand, hollow out a section, and we’ll mix up some baking soda and vinegar. I think it just might be a regular afternoon activity once I let them know it’s okay to use those kitchen staples outside.

 

Sit on the porch and eat popsicles

Simple and sweet…pull out a box of fruit-juice popsicles or grab ones you made yourself, and sit outside with the kids. Better yet, invite any other kids that are outside to join in. Some of the greatest conversations I’ve ever had with my kids have happened when I’ve put work and housework away, and shared a snack with them outside. Connections build relationships.

 

Go geocaching

We love geocaching, though we haven’t gone as many times as I wish we have. Have you tried this yet? You check out geocaching.com, choose a cache near you, and plug the coordinates into your GPS unit {or phone} and head out with a pocketful of trinkets. Once you reach the coordinates, you search for the cache {a small box filled with little toys}. When you find it, your kids can exchange some of the trinkets they brought with trinkets that are inside the cache. It’s like a combination hike and treasure hunt.

 

Raise insects

Each year we buy or find insect larvae to raise. Insectlore is one of our favorite companies to buy from. We’ve purchased and raise painted lady butterflies, praying mantises, and ladybugs, and my kids have learned a lot about life cycles while enjoying the beauty of God’s creatures.

 

What are some of your ideas for frugal and free outdoor family fun this summer. I hope you’ll share them in the comments. Make sure you come back tomorrow for more frugal family summertime fun – better yet, subscribe by email so you don’t miss a post.

 

 

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Colleen Kessler

Colleen is an explorer, tinkerer, educator, writer, creator, and a passionate advocate for the needs of gifted and twice-exceptional children. She has a B.S. in elementary education, a M.Ed. in gifted studies, is a sought-after national speaker and educational consultant, and is the founder of the popular blog and podcast Raising Lifelong Learners, as well as Raising Poppies, a community of support for parents of gifted children. She lives in northeast Ohio with her four bright and quirky kiddos, patient husband, and ever-changing collection of small reptiles, mammals, and insects.

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