Do you and your family have any plans this weekend? Want to get out of the house and do something different, but don’t want to break the bank doing it? There are tons of things a family can do locally that are fun and free (three of my favorite words!) – Check them out and have a wonderful weekend!
The Public Library • We hit the library every week to check out books, DVDs, books on tape, and even magazines. Have a child who is crazy about dinosaurs or looking for a good chick-flick for the night your husband is out of town? Use the library’s online database to search for things in libraries across your state. Ours delivers them right to our local library. • We also use the library for more than just checking out media. There are weekly storytimes for the little ones and different fun activities throughout the year such as concerts, animal and planetarium presentations, arts and crafts. Ours even has a BIG TRUCK DAY! • On rainy days we often go to the children’s section and cuddle up on the couch with some good books or the kids play with the train table while I page through a new magazine.
Nursing Homes • When my husband’s grandfather was in a local nursing home, we used to visit him daily. We often would look at their activity schedule and plan our visits around their calendar – seniors and kids have a lot of the same interests! We’d join in BINGO, make macaroni necklaces, have a blast playing balloon volleyball and devour strawberry shortcake while listening to an accordion player. The activity director loved us participating in the events because the residents enjoyed seeing the children having so much fun. My family actually felt like stars the moment we walked in because the residents would flock over to us. It continues to be a great volunteer experience for our family that is a whole lot of fun.
Geocaching or Letterboxing • Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment. Check out www.Geocaching.com for more information. • Letterboxing is a low-tech treasure hunting game played through the world by adventure seekers equipped with their own stamp and a letterboxing journal. The idea is to locate the hidden containers through a clue found online. Then simply stamp the log book within the container with your own stamp and use the stamp in the container to stamp your journal. Find out more at www.Letterboxing.com or www. atlasquest.com.
Visit the Humane Society • Do your kids love animals? Try spending some time at your local animal shelter to fill their need to enjoy their favorite furry friends. Our family spends countless hours in the “kitten room” in our local humane society.
Kids’ Building Workshops • Saturday mornings are a fun place to spend at places like Home Depot and Lowe’s. Both store offer free workshops for kids. Kids put on safety goggles and aprons and hammer away at wooden creations such as birdhouses, cars and pencil boxes (that they get to take home). Great for any future carpenter!
Check out your local university • Universities can be a great, free place for families to enjoy. Roam one of the free museums on campus. Watch marching band practice. Run through the grassy quad.
Book Stores • Bookstores are great places for families. Pick a topic and peruse the aisles. Many bookstores often have story hours and themed events (my kids are still talking about the ice cream sundaes they got a free Fancy Nancy party we went to at Borders last year).
Flea Markets and Yard Sales • Pour some coffee and hot chocolate into thermal cups and head out early to wander around a local flea market or yard sale. We often make a scavenger hunt to look for things during our wanderings. If I am feeling particularly generous, I may give each kid a quarter to spend. (I am amazed at the things a quarter has bought us!) But most of our fun at these things just comes from just looking around.
Plan a meal and take a trip to the grocery store • Yes, it’s not free, but it can be a fun family activity and you have to eat anyway, right? • Have the family pour through cookbooks and plan an interesting family meal. Take a trip to the grocery store together and then come home and get cooking together!
Go on a family hike or bike ride • Research some local family friendly trails and get moving!
Camp-out • Whether it is at a local campground or in your backyard, many family memories can be made with a tent, some sleeping bags, a campfire, and some marshmallows. • Not too crazy about sleeping outside? Have an inside camp-out in the living room or basement!
Hit new playgrounds • Kids love playgrounds, especially when mom and dad are joining in on the fun. Check out your town’s website to find out where different playgrounds are located. We also check out different school playgrounds when school is out of session.
What are some fun and free activities that your family likes to do?