Summer is officially here, which means one thing to parents: bored kids at home.
Keeping children occupied during the summer can take a lot of work and even more money. However, there are plenty of free and inexpensive activities for kids and families of all ages if you know where to look.
Doing craft projects at home is a great way to spend rainy summer afternoons when you’re forced to stay indoors, and many can be done with things you may have lying around the house. There are tons of online resources to check out for crafting ideas; Martha Stewart, Better Homes and Gardens, and Pinterest are all filled with creative craft projects for kids and adults. Also, look for books at your local library or discount book store to get even more project ideas.
In addition to crafting, cooking is a fun activity that can be done indoors and on a budget. Recipes geared toward budding young chefs can be found on websites like Parenting.com and ArtfulParent.com.
Many recipes for kids feature simple steps and turn out fun and creative looking dishes, a great combination for getting young ones interested in learning a lifelong skill. Perhaps the kids can even be responsible for dinner one night of the week, putting their newly learned cooking skills to the test.
When you’re ready to get out of the house, but still want to stay close to home, gardening can be a great option. Seedlings can be started in small paper cups indoors and transplanted outside once they grow large enough.
There are many types of gardens kids can work on, including flowers, vegetables, herbs. All of these are inexpensive to start, and just require some water and labor to keep alive. Gardening is a great teaching activity that gets your family into the sunshine without breaking the bank.
Another way to get out of the house without spending any money is to volunteer. Is yours a family of animal lovers? Check out your local animal shelter or Humane Society. These places run on very tight budgets and can always use some free assistance. If you prefer to connect with people instead of animals, inquire with nearby nursing homes and assisted living facilities. They may offer opportunities for volunteers of all ages to visit with or read to their residents.
Last, visit the library. During the summer, the Kansas City, Kan., Public Library offers the Summer Reading Program and a variety of events for kids of all ages: storytimes, craft classes, movie presentations, and more. Check the library’s calendar at KCKPL.org for more information on upcoming events throughout the summer.
Emma Claudius is the business librarian at the Main Kansas City, Kan., Public Library.