Here it is: summer time, and the kids are ancy, not to mention the parents. Even if you homeschool year-round, summer is a perfect time to do some things a little different. Incorporating summer activities on a budget is a great way to add in some great learning opportunities that don't seem like they're educational -- even on a budget. Just a word of encouragement though--not every single activity needs to be educational--sometimes, fun is the word of the day.
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Visiting farm stands, especially those on farms that allow pick-your-own, is a fun way to get some really good, fresh fruits and veggies. You're going to buy them at the store anyway, so why not visit a farmer or even a farmer's market and get some good, fresh foods (and support a local farmer in the process)?
Speaking of food, growing your own vegetables and fruits in whatever way you can (pots on a balcony, in the yard, in raised beds) teaches kids where their food comes from and enables them to help grow it (maybe then they'd be more willing to try different vegetables). A bag of potting soil, a large pot, and a tomato plant and boom! You have home-grown tomatoes for your salad.
If you're blessed enough to own a pool, that's amazing. Add in some fun floats like this fun sea turtle ride-on, or these water squirters for epic pool battles, and you have a staycation in the making. If you don't have a pool, I'm right there with you. But we can still have amazing water play with this 60" inflatable unicorn sprinkler.
For little kids, buckets of water, measuring cups, and a little inflatable kiddie pool will get them cooled off in no time -- and help parents stay cool by dipping their feet in the pool, too (or joining them in the pool if it's big enough!).
Nature walks in the woods (be careful of snakes!) can be relaxing and fun, and they don't cost anything. Find leaves that are interesting or explore creeks and look for turtles. There's a lot to be said about getting kids in nature and letting them explore.
Often we will visit different touristy sites on vacations, but we don't visit similar places in our own city or county. Take a week or a couple days off work, grab the family, and explore touristy sites in your hometown. Museums, attractions, theaters--even bowling alleys or theme parks at our own back door can be a fun and inexpensive way to vacation at home. Plus, you're sleeping in your same bed!
To up the ante on staycations, why not check into a hotel in a nearby city for a weekend? When I was growing up, we didn't have a pool or the money to go on full-fledged vacations, so my parents would pack overnight bags and we'd go to a city about 20 miles away for a change of scenery, and to utilize the hotel pool.
Subscription boxes are a great way to fight the boredoms of summer and get the kids interested in what comes in the mail. Kiwico has tinker crates for ages 9-16 that gives a new, surprising theme each month. It's a good way for kids to use those STEM skills and fight off boredom.
This website, Homeschooling One Child, also has subscription boxes. Each box is curated just for your child with fun things to get their minds engaged but also have fun at the same time. Check out our sub boxes here.
Have each member of the family choose a movie once a week to watch as a family, complete with popcorn. Bring in mattresses off a bed, and pile on the floor to watch the movie. Little changes like that can make it so much more interesting and enjoyable as a family.
Check out local churches' Vacation Bible Schools for your kids--there's usually one going on every week in the summertime. It's a good way to get your children engaged and around other kids while learning about Jesus (win-win!).
There are a lot of summer activities you can do (making your own popscicles, for one!), like grilling out with family or friends, just relaxing outdoors, or going to a local park for a picnic and playtime. You don't have to spend a lot of money to have good, wholesome family activities. The most important thing is to be together.
(C) 2023 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
In a summer of rising fuel costs, beating boredom while you either take a break from homeschooling or have a lighter homeschooling load can become a very expensive proposition. Here are some fun, budget-friendly summer activities for homeschoolers.
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Gather your tent, bedding, snacks, flashlights, fire pit, s'more making materials, and pitch your tent in your own back yard for a campout. Share stories from your childhood with your kids, eat s'mores, sit around a campfire, and either sleep outside or stay out really late and sleep inside. Either way, you're making memories with your children--memories they will always remember.
Arm all your kiddos with mason jars, with holes punctured in the lids, or this cute bug jar, and let them catch fireflies outside. Encourage your kids' innate thirst for learning with this free science lesson about fireflies from Rabbit Trails Homeschool. This free lesson on fireflies is a favorite among Rabbit Trails users. Learn all about fireflies with amazing books, create your very own firefly that glows, and have some amazing summer fun learning together! Be sure to check out other incredible lessons Rabbit Trails Homeschool has to offer--my daughter loves them!
In the hot days of summer, nothing is more refreshing than water play. If you have access to your own pool, add a bunch of pool noodles and floats to have a great time (keep all those toys corralled when you're not using them with this pool toy storage and equipment holder. This holder can also be used to keep pool and outside toys organized when not in use if you go to a neighborhood pool, too. If you're like me, and don't have access to a neighborhood pool, most cities and towns have community pools that, for a small fee,
Pools are not a requirement for water play, though. You can get an elaborate sprinkler like thisginormous, inflatable dinosaur one that stands six feet tall (!!!) or hook up a simple garden sprinkler to a water hose like this one, and let your kids jump through the water. If you live in an apartment with a patio or balcony, set out a pot of water on a towel on the patio or balcony, add measuring cups or plastic bowls, and let your child pour and splash to his or her heart's content.
On days when it's really hot outside, and you just don't want to spend the gas money going to the library, grab some books that haven't been read yet, or in a while, from your own book shelves. Encourage your child to turn off the screens and explore other places using the magic of books. Use this fun, summer-themed log to keep track of reading times, and when all the popsicles are colored in, let your child pick out a movie or a board game to play--or another book to read!
Family Game Nights
One of our family's favorite activities is playing board or card games together. The cool thing about games is that they're great learning tools--and the child doesn't even know he or she is learning! Our favorite board game, "Empire Builder," is incredibly hard to find, these days, sadly, but the closest thing to it is called "Empire Express." In this game, for 12 years old and up, players create competing railroad empires by drawing railroad tracks with crayons upon an erasable board. A player wins by utilizing a network of rail lines to acquire and deliver goods efficiently to accumulate the largest personal fortune. We've found, though, that wet erase markers instead of crayons work best. Other games that are favorites in our house are "Clue," "Settlers of Catan," and playing gin rummy with a standard deck of cards. There are so manyversions of "Clue" that there's something for everyone. Other favorites are "Hi Ho! Cherry-O," "Candy Land," and "Twister." Any games you have in your house are good games to play--the important thing is to play them and enjoy each other's company.
Neighborhood or Nature Walks
It's often too hot in the heat of the day to go for walks, but in the early morning, it's a great time to simply go for family walks either in the neighborhood or for nature walks in the woods (stay on paths so you can be careful of snakes). Later in the evening is also a good time to go for walks. Don't just walk, though--use the time to talk, catch fireflies, pick up interesting rocks, and chat with neighbors.
If you take your dog on a walk during the afternoon or early evening, please be aware that the pavement can be blistering hot to a dog's paws. If the temperature outside is 85 degrees, asphalt in the sun can reach over 140 degrees! Protect your pup's feet with these dog boots for hot pavement.
Family walks cost nothing, but they often encourage the best talks, and have incredible learning opportunities.
Sandboxes are easy to make: buy a simple kiddie pool and add play sand. Cover it with a small tarp, held down with boards, bricks, or even logs from the firepit stash at night to prevent rain from dampening it or cats from using it as a litter box. Using various sizes of plastic food containers from either the cabinet or the recycling bin, and a small container of water, your child can create the most incredible sandcastles. Yes, you can purchase more elaborate sandcastle forms that kids (and adults!) alike would get a lot of enjoyment from as they build turrets, bricks, towers, and other castle structures, but you really don't need to.
You can also make a sandbox by using a small tent add play sand on the inside of it. With the rain fly attached and it zipped up, there's very little chance of the sand being spoiled by rain, insects, or cats.
My daughter loves building indoor forts. Utilizing sheets or blankets, cover a dining room table with them and drape it over the side. Let the child design it to his or her heart's content. Add a thick quilt on the floor and a pillow, a flashlight, and some books, you may even catch your child reading in the fort--or even taking a nap. Forts can be as simple or as elaborate as your home or sanity will allow.
Catch a Game
Many communities have either church or neighborhood baseball or softball leagues that play in parks. You don't have to spend money to see a good game with pro baseball when you have games happening in nearby parks. Some parks even have concession stands; if they don't, make sure you pack a cooler with drinks and snacks.
There are many fun, budget-friendly activities you can do in the summer and continue to learn, as learning doesn't just happen at a desk or in a book. Explore your own county and check out places that you don't normally visit, like off-the-beaten path antique stores, county museums that may not have websites (so you wouldn't know about them in your field trip planning), or use the time to tackle some projects around the house as a family. Most of all, have fun!
(C) 2022 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Terrie Bentley McKee is an author and speaker who homeschools her youngest daughter. Married to her husband Greg, they have four children, all of whom have special needs of varying degrees. Terrie is a follower of Jesus Christ and tries to glorify God in all she does. To read more about her testimony, click here.
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