Now that the countdown to summer break has officially begun (48 hours and some change according to my kids’ latest update!), I’ve started planning a bucket list for our family’s summer.
Like most parents, I’d like to avoid those two dreaded words….I’m bored! At the same time, I’d also like to limit the amount of screen time during the summer and find a variety of things to do that won’t break the bank.
So, I’ve decided to compile a list of activities and events that are both family friendly as well as budget friendly! Some of the items on this list will be universal in regards to location, while others are more region-specific (because let’s face it….there are so many awesome things to do in Cincinnati!).
If you have any family favorites that you’d like to add to the list, please leave a comment or feel free to shoot me an e-mail. Without further ado, here’s the first installment of 101 Cheap or Free Things To Do This Summer……
1. Make Flubber
What is it about goo that is universally appealing to kids?! Whether it’s Play-Doh, clay, Silly Putty, or flubber, my kids are drawn to these compounds like a moth to a flame.
Making flubber is a relatively simple process, and it only requires a few ingredients. The key to the whole process is making sure you mix the appropriate ingredients in two separate bowls before combining everything together into one container.
In order to set up this project, you’ll need to combine the following ingredients into the first bowl:
1 cup all-purpose school glue
¾ cup water
4-5 drops of food coloring
Mix these ingredients until they are well combined, and the food coloring is evenly distributed. In the second bowl, combine the following:
½ cup warm water
2 teaspoons borax
Stir until the borax is completely dissolved into the water (the water will look cloudy once it’s all dissolved). Pour the borax and water solution into the first bowl. The solution will bubble a little when it’s first combined. Continue stirring or mixing with your hands until the ingredients have combined completely and the flubber is no longer watery.
The possibilities for flubber are endless. It bounces, it can be blown into a very large bubble, and it can be cut out into a variety of different shapes. Without a doubt, it’s one of the oddest feeling substance that we’ve ever worked with. It’s slimy and very pliable, and it can be stretched incredibly thin. In fact, the kids stretched it over a cup, and made a small bongo drum that worked for quite a while until it finally ripped apart.
The flubber should be stored in an airtight plastic container in between uses.
2. Play Capture the Flag
One of the best ways to engage your kids in any activity is to simply join them! On Mother’s Day, the kids had the idea of playing capture the flag, a game that I hadn’t played in more years than I care to admit.
We set up a system of rules regarding bases, flag location, and appropriate nerf gun usage! Then we divided into teams and let the darts start flying!
We played in the yard until it was almost too dark to see. I lost track of how many times I ran back and forth between the two forts, and at times, I laughed so hard that it was physically impossible to keep running! And yet, I still have no idea which side won!
3. Family Game Day
Our family LOVES playing games. If we have an overly hot day or an especially rainy day, I love pulling out a stack of games and meandering through a lazy afternoon of family time.
If we devote an entire day or afternoon to games, we typically go in rotation, letting each of the kids pick their favorite game to play. We have several overall family favorites such as Bounce Off, Blokus, Titanic, Monopoly, Telestrations, and Wits & Wagers.
We’ve accumulated quite a stash of games throughout the 17 years we’ve been married. We (as well as the kids) often ask for games as gifts, since they’re something that we use quite often. We also look for great deals on games on Amazon as well as on Black Friday (it’s only 6 months away…..just sayin’!).
4. $1 Summer Movies at Cinemark
The kids love going to the movies, but if it’s a new release, it costs us $50 just to get in the door! Needless to say, we don’t catch many new movies until they hit Redbox.
Cinemark is making it affordable for families this summer by featuring their summer movies for just $1 per show. You can also purchase a 10-pack of movie tickets in advance at the box office or on the Cinemark site for $5 – or just $0.50 per show.
All movies featured during the summer series will be rated G or PG, and you can find the listing of participating theaters here.
5. Free Firsts Appreciation Days at Hamilton County Parks
We are sooo lucky to have a phenomenal park system in Hamilton County. A $10 annual park pass fee grants you admission to a multitude of park settings in a variety of locations throughout the county.
The Hamilton County Parks are once again celebrating their Free Firsts Appreciation Days this year. On Free Firsts Appreciation Days, county residents can enjoy free entry into any Hamilton County park without the need for a Motor Vehicle Permit.
Special appreciation day activities will also be available:
- Fre Tourboat rides at Winton Woods
- Free Fishing tickets at Lake Isabella
- Free Wet playground entry at MW, WW, WM (limit 2)
- Free Fishing tickets at Campbell Lakes
- 10% discount at Nature’s Niche stores
- Buy a daily adult Highfield Discovery Garden admission and receive one kid’s admission for free
- Free medium basket of range balls with the purchase of a medium or large basket at Miami Whitewater Forest
- Free round on the Miniature Golf Course with the purchase of a Miniature Golf Course round at Little Miami
- Free regular basket with the purchase of a regular basket at Meadow Links
You can find a Hamilton County Park location near you here.
Stay tuned for more fun ideas later this week!