for free · For the kids · Free Fun · Frugal Life · Good Ideas · Parenting

50 FREE activities to do with your kids over the Summer Break

Summer break is just around the corner.  I have been looking forward to summer for weeks!  I love having my school aged kids home with me and I always look forward to a more relaxed schedule full of fun family activities.  I talked a little more about summer in my post:  Our Summer Plans: Keeping the kids Entertained and Mom Sane, this post includes how I plan on managing screen time and a couple of our favorite traditions.

Today I am sharing 50 ideas for a FREE and fun summer with your kids.  There are so many free activities to take part of during the summer months.  I love taking advantage of all of them!

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Outside

  1.  Picnic at Park
  2. Play Frisbee
  3. Run through the Sprinkler
  4. “Paint” with Water
  5. Go on a Walk
  6. Picnic in Backyard
  7. Play hopscotch/Sidewalk Chalk
  8. Draw on Sidewalk with ice cubes
  9. Go on a Bike ride
  10. Nature Scavenger Hunt
  11. Go on a hike
  12. Plant a garden
  13. Jump on the Trampoline with water balloons
  14. Play Catch
  15. Blow Bubbles
  16. Go Geocaching
  17. Play night games with flashlights
  18. Catch bugs
  19. Go Stargazing
  20. Make a Fairy Garden
  21. Wash the Car
  22. Learn to jump rope
  23. Make an obstacle course
  24. Set up a Lemonade Stand
  25. Make a Nature Journal

Indoors

  1.  Make Play dough
  2. Do a science experiment
  3. Bake cookies
  4. Make up a play
  5. Build a fort
  6. Make a dream catcher
  7. Make Slime
  8. Play Hide-and-Seek or Sardines
  9. Paint Rocks
  10. Write letters to friends or family
  11. Play board games or card games
  12. Make a summer scrapbook
  13. Play charades
  14. Make an indoor treasure hunt
  15. Go to the library
  16. Sing Karaoke (find free songs on you tube)
  17. Fold Origami
  18. Put on a puppet show
  19. Play Dress-Up
  20. Have a dance party
  21. Put together a puzzle
  22. Make homemade ice cream
  23. Dress Fancy and have a DIY photo shoot
  24. Learn a few magic tricks and put on a show
  25. Make paper airplanes

 

What are some of your favorite free activities for summer time with your kids?

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Finances · For the kids · Frugal Life · Money Educatioin · Parenting

Money Lessons for Kids: The night we taught our kids the TRUTH about money

I have been wanting to give our kids a really good object lesson about how to handle money.  We talk about this topic constantly, and we give them chores to help them learn how to save and spend wisely, you can read all about that here:  Teaching Kids Smart Money Habits; but I just kept wanting to find something that would make a big impact on them and the real adult world.  I began brainstorming ideas and came up with a game plan that ended up having a greater impact than I ever could have imagined.

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We told the kids that we were having a family meeting and that they all needed to come join us.  We excitedly announced to the kids that we would be having a money lesson (cue groans.)  I ignored these sour face expressions and got started with our plan.

Phase 1:  The Marshmallow Bank

First, I gave each of the kids 5 marshmallows.  I told them that those marshmallows were theirs to do whatever they wanted with.    But, if they wanted to put the marshmallows in the marshmallow bank the marshmallows might grow.  My 12 year old and 9 year old decided to put all of their five marshmallows into the marshmallow bank.  My 5 year old decided to eat three of his marshmallows and put the other two into the bank.  I took the marshmallows away and put them into the “bank” (aka my closet).  We left those marshmallows alone to sit in the bank for a while and we moved onto Phase 2!

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Phase 2:    Real Life

For Phase 2 I really wanted to give my kids an understanding of exactly where mom and dad’s money goes each month and WHY we just can’t give them every.single.thing. they want all the time!  I also wanted to give them an understanding of what responsibilities they will need to expect when they become adults.

To prepare I got out enough cash to resemble how much money my husband earns in one month (I did this during the first of the month when I had a bunch of cash on hand from my cash envelopes).  We pretended that a quarter was $25, $1 was $100, $5 was $500, $10 was $1,000 and $20 was $2,000.  I then got three bowls filled with snacks.  The first bowl had cheerios in it and a $50 sign, the next bowl had fruit snacks with a $100 sign on it and the last bowl had a few mini candy bars in it with a $500 sign.

I gave the kids all of the “money” that our family has to live off of for one month.  I explained that after they paid all of their monthly bills than they could use whatever money is left to go shopping at our “store.”  At this point the kids were SO excited about their money.  All of those bills looked like a gigantic wad of sum to those three young kids.  They could not wait to buy out the entire store!

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Then the bills began…

We listed off every bill that we have to pay each month and how much that cost.  As we listed it off the kids had to pay us their “money” for those bills.  We included everything!  They had to pay for life insurance, car insurance, retirement savings, college savings, sports and piano lessons.  They paid for electricity, groceries, car repairs, and a few date nights.  We had them put money into their emergency savings account.  If it was on our real budget, the kids saved for it.  As the huge wad of cash slowly dwindled the looks on the kids faces kept dropping and dropping.

Once the bills were all done being paid my daughter exclaimed, “But where did all of our money go?!?!”  The kids had about $10 leftover, an equivalent of $1000.  Not enough to buy each of them one of the coveted candy bars.  They had to settle for a few fruits snacks and cheerios.

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Phase 3:  The Lesson

At first the kids were a little upset.  They were asking questions like, “So does this mean we don’t have any money?!?!”  and “I don’t understand where the money went.”  We then explained to them that we do have money.  We have enough to pay for everything in our budget, everything that they had to pay for.  We have enough for the soccer camp, the piano lessons, food on our tables, the necessary clothing and occasional fun family activity.  We talked about how we have enough money for those things.  But, we do not have enough money for ALL the things.  We talked about why and how we make a budget each month, how some months we might budget for a fun family activity and another month we will budget for new school clothes.

As the conversation continued I could see the understanding start to set in their eyes.  They began to realize the importance of a budget and why they are told no to some of the things they ask for.  They learned the importance of saving money each month and budgeting for the many bills that come with being an adult.

Phase 4:  Investments

Now it was time to check how our investments were doing in the “marshmallow bank.”  When I went to go get the marshmallows I tripled the amount of marshmallows each of the kids had in their bowl.  My 12 and 9 year old ended up with 15 marshmallows and my 5 year old had 6 marshmallows.  My 5 year old was a little disappointed when he saw how little marshmallows he had compared to his two older sisters.

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We then explained to the kids the importance of investing your money and how if you do it wisely your money will grow.  We demonstrated how the more money you invest, the more money you will earn in return.

I was so very happy with how this money lesson turned out.  My kids really seemed to understand and grasp what we were teaching them.  The conversations we had throughout the lesson were very real and mature and I am hoping this is something my kids will remember as they grow up and begin making their own personal money choices.  And once we were all done we totally let them have a few of the mini candy bars…..just because I try to be a nice mom.  Sometimes.  😉

 

 

 

Easter · For the kids · Holidays · Parenting

How we are going to help our kids remember the TRUE meaning of Easter

I love Easter!  I love remembering Christ’s resurrection and what that means for me everyday.  It is a beautiful time to celebrate new life and new beginnings.  Although I love Easter I have actually never really been a huge fan of the Easter bunny and the materialism that comes with Easter.  The whole idea of a giant rabbit giving my kids presents just has never really resonated with me.  Because of this we are constantly looking for new ways to help our kids focus less on a rabbit and more on Christ.  We have tried a few different things in the past and nothing has really seemed to feel right to me.  I came up with a new idea this year that I am really looking forward to implementing with my kids.  Hopefully it can become our new Easter tradition!

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I found 7 scriptures from the Bible that discussed the different events that led up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I typed these scriptures up, printed them out and cut them into strips.

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I then numbered 7 Easter eggs and put the corresponding scripture in the right number of egg.  Starting on the Monday before Easter I will let my kids open up an egg each day and we will read the scripture that goes with it and talk about what was happening in that scripture.  On Sunday we will read about Christ appearing again and talk about what that means and how it blesses our lives each day.

I’m really excited for this activity.  I’m hoping it will help us keep our focus in the right place, yet also be a little fun for the kids as they open a new egg each day.

What traditions do you have for Easter?  Comment below with the ways you try to remember Christ during the Easter season?

For a fun Easter Egg Craft idea see this post:  Easter Egg Sun Catcher.

Crafts · For the kids · Parenting

5 FREE activities to do with Kids using items you already have at home

I’m all about finding easy ways to entertain kids at home.  ESPECIALLY with items I most often have around the house.  Where I live the winters can get LONG and we all tend to get a little stir crazy.  If I can keep the kids entertained and happy without needing to spend money, I am feeling pretty good!

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1.  A Box and a few markers and scissors

That’s it.  Whenever you get a box–SAVE IT!  Large boxes are best, these can be a little hard to come by, so if you ever get one make sure to hold on to it!  We turn large boxes into secret hideouts, spaceships and cars.  We have used our “box car” to make our very own drive-in movie.  Decorate the box to look like a car and put some pillows in it and sit in it to watch a movie.  My kids love this!  Save your small boxes too, shoe boxes are really fun.  We like to turn the inside of a shoe box into a scene, it could be a mountain scene, a castle, a race track anything your kids are interested in will work!  Make your scene using construction paper, markers, glue and then your kids can use their toys to play inside of the box.  Once you’re done put the lid on it and save it for another day.  We love this!

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2.  Magazines and scissors

My kids love to cut out pictures in my magazines.  We store them in a container and my kids will get them out and make stories using the pictures.  We will glue these onto papers and make a story book out of it, or other times my kids will just play with the pictures like paper dolls.  Either way, this is something they really enjoy doing.

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3.  Play dough

There is no need to buy play dough.  It is so easy to make and kids love to help!  I posted the instructions for my favorite recipe here:  Our Favorite Play dough Recipe.  We get out cookie cutters, butter knives and rolling pins to use for even more play dough fun.

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4.  A piece of wood and paint

My husband is a wood worker, so we always have extra junk wood around.  Sometimes I will pull out a junk piece of wood and a few of my craft paints for my preschooler to paint on.  He loves when I do this!  He likes painting a picture on paper, but the wood and craft paints entertains him for a long time and he is always so proud of it when he’s done.

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5.   Science Experiment

My kids love when we do science experiments.  I have a few favorites that we do quite often.  I shared one of these here:  Magic toothpick science experiment.  This experiment is so fun for the kids because the toothpick almost really does seem like magic.  The designs it makes are always different and so pretty and fun.

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What are your completely FREE activities to keep your kids entertained at home??  Share them with me in the comments!

Crafts · For the kids · Holidays · Parenting

Easy St.Patrick’s Day Craft for Kids

This St.Patrick’s Day craft for kids is so easy, so simple, and oh so fun for preschoolers and toddlers.  I love finding fun crafts for kids that are actually helping their little bodies develop.  I am a fan of multi tasking BTW!  This craft is fantastic for helping the little ones develop their fine motor skills.  It requires a lot of tearing, or cutting, which will strengthen those little finger muscles….all while having a little fun!

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I gathered up all of my random green paper I could find around the house, most of it came from the scrap pile I keep from other other projects.  I printed out a shamrock by finding a clip art shamrock on Microsoft Word.  (yes, I am so fancy  🙂 )

Now let your sweet little get to work.  Encourage them to rip the papers into small pieces.  My son got a little tired of ripping and decided to get his scissors out and cut pieces.  Do whichever works for you and your littles.

Once you have a nice pile of green shredded paper have your child glue the pieces onto the shamrock.  We decided to turn this into a group effort, I glued and he stuck  the papers on.  It was fun to spend some time together crafting and discussing St.Patrick’s.

This was such a fun activity.  I love doing things these simple craft projects, especially when I already have all the supplies on hand.  How are you prepping for St.Patricks day with your kids?

For the kids · Parenting

Magic toothpick science experiment

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This science experiment is a really fun way to entertain kids at home.  I always have the ingredients on hand and my kids love that it is hands on.  It only takes a few minutes to have the experiment ready.  Kids love to help get it all out and choose the colors.

Pour some milk in a bowl.  I like to use a wide shallow container.  A pie tin would work great or anything you happen to have on hand.  Pour enough milk in to cover the bottom.

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Now choose a few colors of food coloring.  Today my son chose red green and blue.  My kids love this neon food coloring.  The bright colors are really fun.  Drop a few drops of food coloring into the milk.

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Now comes the fun “magic toothpick” part!  Pour a small amount of dish soap into a small bowl.  Get out a toothpick and dip it into the dish soap.  With the dish soap on the toothpick the science experiment is ready!

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Lightly touch the toothpick to the drops of food coloring.  The colors will spread and make beautiful designs.  Your children will be sure it’s magic happening right before their eyes!

 

For the kids · Free Fun · Good Ideas · Parenting · Recipes

Our Favorite Play dough Recipe

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Making a batch of play dough with my kids is one of my favorite things.  It is a quick, and easy activity and the kids love getting to help make it.

I have tried a lot of play dough recipes over the years, and I mean A LOT!  My friend shared a recipe with me a few years ago and it instantly became my favorite.  I haven’t looked back since.  This recipe is so easy!  You probably already have all of the ingredients on hand and will be able to whip it together in 15 minutes.

First, mix 1 cup water, 2 TBSP oil and a few drops of food coloring together in a pot over medium heat.  My preschooler always gets to choose the color and today he chose green.  Picking the color is probably his favorite part!  🙂

 

Next, add 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt and 1 tsp cream of tartar.  Stir this continually while heating.

 

Keep stirring until the play dough begins to form a ball.

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It doesn’t look pretty right now, but I promise, it will!  Take it out of the pan and begin kneading with your hands.  It might be hot right at first, it cools down fairly fast.

 

It only takes a few minutes of kneading until it is ready for your kids to cut into!

 

All that’s left to do is pull out all your cookie cutters and silverware and enjoy a fun frugal afternoon playing with your sweet kids!

I usually store this in my fridge for a few weeks and it keeps great!

 

For the kids · Frugal Life · Good Ideas · Parenting

How we begin saving in January to be Secret Santa in December.

Ahhhh January.  The month of new beginnings.  Fresh starts.  Resolution’s and goals.  A month where we clear out the clutter in our life, figuratively and literally, and decide what we can do to make our life a little better than it was before.

Which brings me to December.  The month of giving and sharing.  Where we try to focus more on others than ourselves and look for those who may be in need of charity and service. My family has a favorite family tradition in December.  We choose a family in need.  Either from the neighborhood, a local giving tree, or any other we may hear about who is down on their luck.  We then play the part of Secret Santa.  We go to the store, buy the gifts on this families want and need list.  We wrap the presents up in beautiful wrappings and bows and secretly deliver them to where they need to go.  We look forward to this tradition every year.  I love teaching my kids to serve others.  I love that through service they are humbled and learn how lucky (maybe even a little spoiled!) they are in comparison to others.  And I love the thought of bringing a smile to someones face come Christmas morning.  Did I mention I LOVE this tradition!?!

December also just so happens to be the month that is hard for us (maybe you too???) to stick to our monthly budget.  We try to plan ahead for it.  We try to cut down costs.  But, we still found ourselves struggling to afford all the fun festive activities and gift giving we wanted to participate in. As we discussed what we would cut out I refused to limit our Secret Santa tradition.

And so we came up with the beautiful idea of The Giving Jar.  I grabbed an old junky used mason jar from our basement, cut a small hole in the top and named it The Giving Jar.

As the fresh new month of January begins, our Giving Jar sits empty.  As the year goes on we as a family puts every single coin we receive into the jar. And when December comes a long our jar is full.  This is the money we use for our Secret Santa tradition.

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I love that old junky mason jar.  I love watching it fill up throughout the year.  I love when one of my kids tries to stuff some newly earned dollar bills inside.  And I love watching my kids as they proudly carry it into the store as we purchase gifts for others.

It’s pretty cool how something old and used could become something so beautiful and special and can do so much good for others…..including me.