Free fun things to do with kids

Having fun with your kids doesn’t have to cost anything. Check out this list of free fun activities for your family.
Our commercial culture targets vulnerable children in many ways: through food labels, department store displays, and media ads on television, radio, and the Internet. Kids are bombarded with solicitations to buy fun games and activities that can cost a pretty penny. Parents thus worry not only about how to afford such toys, they also are concerned about the materialistic impact on children’s developing character.

Instead of plying your children with fun items from this plethora of choices, introduce them to some good old-fashioned fun that your family can enjoy for free. Here are several possibilities to consider:

1. Visit a nature preserve. As part of your state’s public park system, a wild life preserve can feature native birds, amphibians, mammals, and plant life, all in their native habitat. Look up favorite species on the Web or in a book, then find them at the preserve, with or without the help of binoculars.

Free fun things to do with kids

2. Plan a picnic. Pack up a basket or stop for fast food on your way to a metropolitan or suburban park. Take a hike to work up an appetite or simply enjoy the view. Many parks feature ponds, ducks, blossoming trees and shrubs, and a host of visitors. Stretch out a blanket or dust off a picnic table as you enjoy the taste of lunch out in the open.

3. Stop at the school playground. Many schools leave swings, slides, and other outdoor play equipment available during the summer for neighborhood kids. Bring your camera for photos of the kids scrambling on the monkey bars. Since there are fewer kids around than during the school year, parents may want to climb onto a swing to relive a few moments of glorious childhood.

4. Make a run to the library. Not just books anymore, community libraries offer commercial and educational videos and DVD’s, audio music and foreign language cassettes, audio books, magazines, computer use, and occasional art displays. Some libraries feature special programs like read-aloud times for preschoolers and reading contests for school-age children and even adults. Learn French, borrow a relatively recent release, or pick up a past best seller.

5. Camp out in your backyard. If not overnight, then a few hours may be all you need for a great time. Pitch a tent or throw an old blanket over the clothesline, anchoring it with clothespins. Set up folding chairs, serve lemonade with cookies, and you and the kids will enjoy your very own secret hideaway.

6. Organize a family drama. Like the girls in Louisa May Alcott’s book LITTLE WOMEN, use a short version of a famous play or write your own. Invite neighbors or family members for a fun production on the back deck or front lawn. The living room will work in case of rain. Use old clothes for costumes and play background music from your favorite collection of songs.

7. Using ingredients from the refrigerator or cupboard, cook an exotic or exciting recipe. Try something new and different, planning a theme around a Hawaiian, German, or African dish. Make placemats to accent your concoction.

8. Go fishing. Unless fishing licenses are required (check your state’s laws), you can use makeshift poles and twine to hit the local fishing hole. While you probably won’t want to eat your catch, you can have fun throwing them back and bragging to friends about the “one that got away.”

9. Lay out under the evening clouds or night-time stars and trace the images, describing what you see. Enjoy the beautiful universe in a natural setting, taking time to marvel at its infinite glory.

10. Read aloud to each other. If you can’t agree on a book, take turns with short stories or poems. Enjoy iced tea or muffins during your routinely scheduled “family time” each evening or a couple times a week.

Without spending a cent, you can find many ways to enjoy surroundings and possessions by viewing them in creative new arrangements.

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