Free summer activities for kids are the holy grail of summer planning. You don’t have to break the bank to keep the kids entertained this summer. There are many free summer activities you can do as a family that don’t require an extra summer job to finance. Below are ten free things to do with your kids that are both fun and in some cases even educational (shhh…I won’t tell).
1. Check out your local libary
Many local libraries offer FREE summer programs for kids! A quick browse on my local Calgary library page highlights the Summer Reading Challenge for kids to read at least 30 hours and/or spend 15 hours in their local library over the course of the summer. If you register online you are also entered to win fun prizes! The libarary also offers many programs for both creative minds and budding engineers. Kids can learn to code, create artwork and paintings, and get to know more about a variety of animals just to name a few! These programs are available in partnership with several local sponsors. What an amazing way to infuse some STEM learning and offer a creative outlet for the little ones, especially during rainy days!
Even if your local library doesn’t offer free programs, explore and peruse the shelves anyway! Some of my favourite memories as a kid was picking out new summer reads. It is part of what has made me a literary lover still to this day.
2. Create a city scavenger hunt
This might take a bit of prep work to make on your own, but luckily there are several already made printables available free for download. I especially like the ones from Wondermom Wannabe and CBS Parents. Go ahead and explore parts of the city you’ve never been before even if it means just hitting up a new park in a neightborhood that’s new to you. The novelty of ‘new’ never gets old for kids. They will certainly appreciate the adventure. Be sure to pack a lunch and some healthy snacks and make a day of it with a few friends!
3. Institute family game night
As my son gets older, his love for board games continues to grow. As an avid game-lover myself, I love his newfound hobby. Board games are a great way not only to engage the entire family in some quality time, but they are a chance to practice foundational educational skills as well. Many games offer a chance to practice computation, develop strategy, and problem solve. Children learn life skills as well such as good sportsmanship, honesty, integrity, and patience.
Some of our favourite family games are: Life, Monopoly Jr., Trouble, Crib, and Go Fish. Leave me a comment below with your favorites!
4. Instigate a few playdates
Summer is a great time to catch up with friends you haven’t had a chance to see very much during the school year. Between after school activities, sporting commitments, and homework, it’s easy to lose touch. Try to resist the urge to overschedule the kids this summer. Instead purposefully carve out some downtime, invite the neighbourhood kids over and kick back and relax while they tear up the yard. Besides, kids often play better when they have some company aside from the usual suspects (their immediate family).
5. Learn a new skill
Sit the kids down and set some reasonable goals for the summer. What do they hope to accomplish? What goals would they like to achieve before the summer is out? Perhaps it’s time to ditch the training wheels and learn to ride a two-wheeler. Maybe you have a budding artist that would like to brush up on their painting skills. Perhaps a goal is to give back to others and your kids have a passion for volunteering somewhere new. Whatever it is, nurture their interests while developing their passions. This investment will last far beyond the summer months.
6. Host a backyard BBQ
Similar to tip #4, the more the merrier when it comes to fighting summer boredom. Why not invite some friends over with kids of similar ages for some hot dogs and burgers? The kids can rip around the backyard and the adults can kick back with some summer bevvies. Add to the fun by breaking out some backyard games such as ladder ball, bocce, or croquet.
7. Outdoor movies
Some of my favourite nostalgic memories are of piling into the family van for a drive in movie. Though these are hard to find nowaways, many major cities do host outdoor movie nights throughout the summer. All you need is a blanket or a lawn chair and some homemade popcorn. If you happen to be in Calgary you can find a list of them here. Alternatively, host your own outdoor movie night by draping a white sheet over the fence and renting a projector for the night. Either way the kids will remember the experience for a long time to come.
8. Camp out
Keep the fun going by setting up a tent and camping out in the backyard for the night. Grab a few flashlights and tell some ghost stories. Roast some marshmallows over the stovetop and bring them outside to assemble some s’mores.
If you live close to a campground like we are lucky to in Alberta, hit the road on the long weekend and see where it takes you. There are lots of places to pitch a tent. The sense of adventure in sometimes having no plan keeps things interesting for the whole family.
9. Craft it up
Don’t take in the recyclables just yet! The recycling bin is the perfect place to dig through and find some awesome treasures for crafts! Hold a friendly competition with your kids for who can make the tallest tower or the most beautiful doll dress. Challenge them to create something that can move by itself at least 5 feet or that you can drop from the height of the stairs without breaking. The sky is the limit for your imagination here. And building things is great for encouraging creativity, innovation, and problem-solving.
10. Explore nature
Nothing feeds my seven year old’s spirit like exploring the great outdoors. We are lucky that in Alberta there are so many places nearby to hike with the whole family. I love this list of family friendly hiking places in and around Alberta from Today’s Parent. Any hike that is around 2-5K seems to be the perfect trail. Do a quick google search for some new places to explore in your area. And don’t forget to pack lots of water and some healthy snacks to make a day out of it!
What are your favourite free summer activities to do with your kids in the summer? Leave a comment below – I would love to hear from you!