- 3 mins
Free Summer Activities for Kids
There is a beautiful village in Portugal called Obidos. A massive wall surrounds it, and you can walk on the wall around the village. We did this with my partner’s children during the holiday last year when they were here with us. We were incredibly proud of ourselves for thinking of free activities that were fun. Imagine our disbelief when we realized we spent more than our budget on that free outing. It all adds up – the quick snack here, the expensive entry to a “child-friendly” market where we bought souvenirs and other “one-off” entertainment. So, we thought about this strategy again, and I am excited to present you with a new plan for summer break with your kids to include actual free activities.
Free Summer Activities for Kids
Arts and crafts – with a twist
Kids of today are acutely aware of social media platforms. They will share funny stickers and create Snapchat accounts from a young age. We have created TikTok videos with the children in our home. They choose the art and craft activity (from a list of age-appropriate ideas I present). Then, they help me get the items or ingredients, take the videos and photos, create the art activity, and even edit the videos. They love seeing the videos at the end, and we can always keep this account private for family and friends to see the adventures we get up to. It also creates visual memories that we can always reflect on later in life.
Most kids these days love playing with Legos, and who can blame them? The designs are impressive with impeccable detail. If you have ever searched for a specific piece of Lego for hours, this suggestion might be significant.
Ask your children if they think it’s a good idea to create a “Lego World” or “Lego Museum” in your home. This can be a dedicated room if you have the space or a cabinet where Lego designs are stored. The rules are that they can only play in that section of the house with Lego, and then it needs to be presented in their specific spot. It will make sense to your children if you explain that you don’t want the dog or perhaps the vacuum to eat a piece. According to LeGoff (2004), Lego is also an excellent therapeutic tool to encourage children to initiate play with others and sustain attention.
Technology has come a long way and could help parents during long drives or when we need a moment to ourselves. But we don’t want our children on their devices all the time. I remember as a child playing outside for hours, probably because there wasn’t that great entertainment indoors like today. How do we create opportunities for our children to play outside again? We have to be creative here. If your child is interested in bugs, they can find some outdoor and do some research later on what they have discovered and documented. You can even let them use a polaroid camera here to record their findings in a “bug book.”
Or perhaps they like water. They can snorkel and find some fascinating sea creatures, without touching, of course. The important thing is to create some excitement around the activities. An idea that is not free is to give your child a budgeted amount and let them choose the outdoor gear to play with – they can choose between a kite, snorkeling equipment, fishing gear, or anything that fits their budget. If we can teach our children that they are in control of their decisions from a young age, it will help with their development as independent adults taking accountability for their actions. We also include these activities on a visual schedule – where it clearly states “outside time” for a specific amount of time. This always helps prepare our children to transition from indoors to outdoor, possibly on their devices.
There are more free activities to incorporate, but I’m sure these will keep your whole family busy for parts of the holiday break. I wish you all a happy, free holiday time!
LeGoff DB. Use of LEGO as a Therapeutic Medium for Improving Social Competence. J Autism Dev Disord. 2004 Oct;34(5):557-71. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-004-2550-0. PMID: 15628609.