Budget-Friendly, Outside-the-Box Summer Fun for Your Kids


Picture yourself poolside, sipping a bellini with cucumbers resting on your eyes. For most moms, this is a fantasy long gone. Summer is for frantically figuring out what to do with your little ones and still being semi-productive yourself. It doesn’t have to be this way. With a little creativity and inspiration, you can maximize your “me time” and your kid’s fun time.


Extreme Sensory Buckets

You’re never too old or young for sensory buckets, plus they look so darn cool. Setting up sensory buckets for your kids only requires a few dollars and some imagination. You can use old ice cream buckets or pick some up at your local hardware store, then all you need is a little ingenuity. Sensory buckets can help improve motor skills, counting, classifying, matching and specific skill reinforcement. Some brain-building ideas include:

  • Prehistoric Sensory Bin: Fill your bucket with sand and bury toy dinosaurs, bones and shark’s teeth inside. Let the little ones dig them out as they learn about dinosaur fossils. 
  • Ice Cream Play Bin: Wash and store your ice cream pints, then go to your local craft store and stock up on pom poms and puffy-balls of all different sizes. Throw in some foam cones and ice cream scoops and you’ve got yourself a pretend ice cream shop.  

Life Sized Board Games

Board games bring families together and help make some of our best memories, so why not super-size them? You can create some life-sized versions of your favorite board games with simple tools. These behemoth fun stations can keep your little ones busy for hours. Bonus: they’re fun for grown ups too.

  • Life sized Jenga: All you need is a saw and some 2X4s and you’re good to go. Simply     cut the wood pieces into 54  10 ½-inch sections, sand lightly, and your little ones can stack them and play to their heart’s content. 
  • Mammoth Ker-Plunk: The construction of the giant Ker-plunk game is rather complicated, and you will need quite a few supplies, but it’s worth it in the end. This Old House has detailed instructions.  

Online Scavenger Hunts

Traditional scavenger hunts, as fun as they are, can be dangerous in the real world, especially if you live in an urban area. Enter online scavenger hunts. Your children will probably know more about the Internet at five than you did the first 20 years of your life, so teach them how to use it responsibly and educationally while still having a little fun. Make sure to set your network’s parental settings accordingly, and follow these tips to make your kids’ next rainy day learn-tastic.

  • Choose a theme (history, animals, toys, movies, etc ) and build your scavenger hunt using simple questions and fun, interactive clues. You can link to your favorite Netflix children’s video or funny pictures to make the process more engaging. 
  • Set up the hunt so your children must visit multiple websites and explore pages within them.  This will teach them to look for reliable resources, not just the first result that pops up in a search engine.  
  • Get ideas from educational resources like Mrsoshouse.com for more specific hunts and educator’s tips for scavenger hunts.
  • Set a time limit so your kids can also learn time and task management.
  • Provide prizes or rewards for completing the scavenger hunt and having fun along the way.

 Blog authored by Cindy Driscoll. Cindy adores being a mom and writing about how to raise environmentally conscious kids.