Oh, hey! Sooo…not to freak you out or anything, but KIDS ARE ALMOST DONE SCHOOL! There’s a whole other conversation to be had about how I’m going to navigate summer with the addition of a new from-home job, but in the meantime, let’s talk how to entertain the kiddos with free (or next-to-free or won’t-break-the-bank) summer fun!
Outdoor Summer Fun
It’s summer. The whole point is to GET OUTDOORS. While some of these activities are a no-brainer, sometimes we ALL need a reminder to go outside and play.
- Go for a family bike ride. Yes, you, too, Mom and Dad. Of course, if your kids are old enough to bike along the sidewalk on their own, or under the supervision of an older sibling, while you get some work done, then it’s a win-win. Cost: free or the cost of keeping a steady supply of Band-aids for scraped knees.
- Have fun little contests. Whether it’s bubble blowing, hula-hooping, skipping rope or tossing a basketball, turn an ordinary activity into a little friendly competition. Freezies or popsicles make a great treat afterwards. Cost: free.
- Sidewalk chalk games. If you’ve got a driveway, you’ve got a playground at your fingertips. Map out a Four Square grid, draw Hopscotch or outline a scooter obstacle course. Or have the kids just let their imaginations run wild. Keep wipes handy for chalky fingers and knees. Cost: free.
- Movies in the park. I’ve always thought it would be so much fun to set up a projector and a big sheet in the backyard and have a movie night al fresco. If that’s not an option then consider the local movies in the park. SO much fun. If you’re in York Region, check out the line-up in Stouffville. In Aurora, the movies run during the month of August. Past faves have included The Lorax (which is coming to Netflix in July, by the way), The Croods and Back to the Future. Just add popcorn. Cost: free.
- Nature walk scavenger hunt. So easy. Find yourself a printable or make your own or have your kids write in a notebook a list of 10 things they’d like to find in nature and go! Or turn your kids into Nature Ninjas by turning the hunt into active participation. If you’re in a more urban area, try a city-themed scavenger hunt. There are any number of variations you could do with this. Cost: free.
- Picnic in the park or splash pad. It’s amazing how the simplest things can bring the most joy. Kids love eating out. But eating on a blanket? In the park? With all the cool picnicky foods? Throw in a splash pad and you’re Mom of the Year!
- Mini golf at Timber Creek. Located in Stouffville, this is our go-to mini golf spot. Watch kids’ math skills go out the window as their 8-putt is suddenly “I got it in 3 strokes!” Uh, sure. Cost: varies according to age.
Indoor Summer Fun
- Apple Camp. Apple stores are once again offering free 3-day youth camps for kids all summer! Choose from Coding Games and Programming Robots, Stories in Motion With iMovie or Interactive Storytelling with iBooks. Advance registration is required to reserve your preferred time slot. Gotta act fast on this one as there are very limited spaces left and there are already waiting lists. Cost: free.
- Local library activities. Local libraries offer great summer programs which are available for all age groups. While some are free, others have a nominal fee and require pre-registration. One thing we do every summer is register for the TD Summer Reading Club at our local library. Our weekly outing generates a lot of excitement with our kiddos and the younger ones feel so proud to check out books on their own. Cost: free.
- Michael’s Camp Creativity. These summer creativity camps require pre-registration as space is limited but provide children with a variety of themed craft days from which to choose. Cost: $5/session or $12/3 sessions.
- Kids Bowl Free. This is another fabulous activity and my kids are big fans. Perfect for rainy days but still gets kids moving. The coupons are emailed out to you weekly and the kids can play up to two free games per day. ALL SUMMER! Cost: bowling is free; shoe rental is extra + one-time family pass fee of USD26.95 for up to 4 accompanying adults.
- Netflix. We’re kinda hung up on Netflix. This is our standby when the kids just need to chill out for a bit or you need them out of your hair while you get some work done or prep dinner and can’t keep an eye on them outdoors. Netflix is constantly updating its programming and great new kids original content all summer long, including this little gem: Julie’s Greenroom.
It’s Julie Andrews, you guys! Featuring an original song and new guest in each episode, the show will bring the performing arts to a new generation of kids known as the “Greenies,” a diverse group of kids who are mesmerized by all that the arts and creativity has to offer. Oh, and for you, Mom & Dad, don’t worry, Netflix has you covered.
C’mon, it’s Voltron! Oh, did you think we were talking OITNB? Cost: varies according to monthly subscription.
- Cineplex Family Favourites. Saturday mornings at 11am Cineplex screens a family favourite film each week with a portion of the proceeds going towards supporting Free The Children. Win-win! Cost: $2.99.
- Science Experiment. Got a budding scientist on your hands? Kids love to learn in fun, messy, hands-on ways. Borrow a book from the library or look online for age-appropriate experiments that you can do in the kitchen or backyard. Cost: free.
- Mail Order Mystery*. Ok. Consider this your summer “splurge” item but it’s so worth it and you’re supporting a Canadian company. In this age of digital everything, when is the last time your kids got a surprise in the actual mail? Let alone a mystery requiring cracking codes and deciphering clues? Plus with the addition of a second mystery and more coming soon, the possibilities are endless! Cost: $99.
Time to dish: what activities do you have planned with your kiddos this summer?
*Please note: Mail Order Mystery has issued an update related to the potential labour disruption at Canada Post. I would encourage you to support the company and consider the options available because this truly is a fun and unique experience for kids.
*In the interest of full disclosure: I would like to point out that I have been a hardcore Netflix fan — and written about it — since before it was considered cool. The only difference now is, as a member of Netflix Canada’s #StreamTeam, I receive some fun, free goodies in exchange for my candid monthly posts. Cool, eh?