If you are looking for ways to entertain your family that won’t bust your budget, look no further than your own backyard and neighborhood. All you need is your imagination and a willingness to think and play like a kid again. Whether you are looking for something to do on a rainy day, a quiet weekend or on a long school vacation, these ideas can help you create family experiences that you’ll remember for a long time.
Write your own Song, Play or Movie – Engage your kids in a creative process by helping them to create a performance piece, whatever their preference is. If you have access to a video camera, record it for future enjoyment or send copies to grandparents.
Camp or Picnic in your Backyard – Pretend that you are somewhere else entirely to enhance the experience of the backyard outdoor fun. For a picnic, pack food, utensils, drinks and blanket. For camping, bring everything you’d take if you were actually going away. Consider packing everything in the car, driving around the block, then drive back home to “arrive” at your destination spot.
Plan a Scavenger Hunt – A wonderful activity that can be done outside or inside, a scavenger hunt can take many forms and cover many themes. Consider a nature hunt, a book hunt, or even a dollar store hunt. Older children may appreciate a list of objects to search for, while younger kids can join in the fun by finding items of all one color or that begin with a certain letter.
Create a Time Capsule – Have each member gather special mementos, photographs, letters, and artwork. Interview each member and compile a list of everyone’s favorites. Children may enjoy also tracing their hands and feet to compare later. For added protection, consider copying photographs onto acid-free paper and storing objects in plastic bags before placing into the capsule. Your capsule itself can be anything your choose, from an old show box to a plastic waterproof tub. Choose a date to open the capsule, whether it be 1 year, 5 years or 10, and prepare to enjoy great memories when that day arrives.
Create an Obstacle Course – Set up a backyard obstacle course with cardboard boxes, planters or outdoor furniture. if you have a large enough team, you could turn the course into a relay race. Add a level of challenge by having kids also kick a ball through the course. Use a stopwatch to time each members as they run through.
Investigate the Backyard or Nearby park – Pretend you are geologists, archaeologists or even aliens visiting earth for the first time. Use small magnifying glasses to look closely at plants, bugs, rocks, and dirt. Get children to write or draw what they find in a field notebook. Gather everyone together for a snack afterwards to share what each child found.
Celebrate Nature with Crafts – Nature is full of ideas for making kid-friendly crafts. Use crayons to create leaf or bark rubbings. If you have a sunny day available, make sun prints. Have children place sticks, leaves or other objects on top of dark or brightly colored construction paper and put in a dry sunny spot. In a few hours, they’ll have their very own sun print. Press some leaves of flowers or make a rock garden.
As you can see from these family activities, a budget doesn’t have to mean boring. Adventures can be found anywhere as long as you remember to look at things with a creative and playful attitude. Take a cue from your kids – relax and have some fun!