Unconventional DIY Outings for Free Summer Fun

If a vacation is not in the cards—for whatever reason—this summer, cabin fever likely is inevitable, especially if you have little ones at home. Take heart, though, and squash the sometimes seemingly unendless moans “But I’m bored…” by planning a few DIY field trips around your area. They can be fun, educational, easy and completely free! So the next time you or your little ones want out of the house, consider trying one of the following:

Visit your local fire department. While you can just drop in, you’ll have much better luck if you phone ahead a bit. Explain that you’d like to bring your children down to learn more about the local fire department and how they work to keep your community safe. More often than not, such personnel are eager to accommodate and appreciate the fact that parents and their kids actually care enough to want to come down. Make the excursion even more meaningful by encouraging your children to create “Thank you” cards in advance to present to the fire fighters for their service to the community. Better yet, work together as a family to bake a yummy batch of cookies or some other homemade treat to surprise them with.

Fire station

Plan a trip to a local pet store. This can be infinitely more convenient than visiting a zoo or an aquarium and always less expensive. If you want to make the fun and novelty last even longer, plan to make the experience educational, too. Create a scavenger hunt list of adjectives to look for while at the pet store and print a list for each child (or keep track for them yourself). The list can include adjectives such as smooth, spikey, rough, blue, big, small, furry, etc. Challenge the children to find an animal for each of the adjectives.

Go to a local fabric shop. Yes, you read that correctly: a fabric shop. While you may ordinarily think to only visit such a store when you actually have business to conduct there, a trip there another purpose in mind can be even more fun. Again, arm yourself with a list of adjectives, shapes and colors. These can include words such as shiny, smooth, cushy, rough, thick, thin, transparent, etc. And like the suggestion given above, challenge the children to find a bolt of fabric (without actually removing the bolt) that fits each descriptive word.

Visit a plain old grocery or department store. Believe it or not, there are a number of fun games you can play with kids right in the store. My own children’s personal favorite is the one they call the “smelling game.” I take my children over to either the shampoo aisle or the candle aisle. The children are then instructed to close their eyes and I place a candle or shampoo bottle under their noses and they have to guess the scent. It’s simple, fun and quickly breathes a bit of novelty into what can be a boringly familiar place. Another fun idea is to take a trip to the greeting card section without the need to actually look for a card. Specifically look for the humorous cards to read aloud and share with your kids. Encourage them to (carefully) select and read aloud cards too. (It doesn’t hurt, either, that this is  a super sneaky, but fun way to help them practice their reading skills, too!)

Photo credit: R~P~M

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Author Info

This post was written by Shannon M. Medisky. Shannon is an educator turned parent turned writer and focuses on sharing new and innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive on empty. Visit ThrivingOnEmpty.com to learn more. Her newest book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stretching Your Dollar is available in bookstores now.

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