If you've got kids at home this summer, you're likely already hearing the phrase every parent fears: "I'm bored!"
If you're also on a tight budget, how do you keep the kids entertained. Here are some low-cost or no cost suggestions.
• Put water in a plastic kiddie pool, make your own sailboats and race them. You could also race them in a nearby creek or other moving water source.
• Puddle jumping. When it rains, it pours – and you should get outside and enjoy those summer showers. Put on your swimsuits and stomp in those puddles.
• Take the TV outside and create your own drive-in movie. The kids could spend the day making their own cars out of cardboard boxes, and then you can all enjoy the movie with some popcorn that evening.
• Do some target practice. Set up a couple of targets, or a row of cups on a fence or bench, and turn the kids loose with some squirt guns or water bottles. Make it a competition for even more fun.
• Have a water balloon fight or competition, and see how many games you can play with the balloons without breaking them.
• Add a few drops of food coloring to bubble solution and let the kids blow bubbles onto white paper. The end result is a masterpiece.
• Have a wet and wild scavenger hunt. Set up sprinklers, a kiddie pool, buckets of water and maybe someone manning the water hose, and let the kids loose with clues to find items hidden all over the yard – but make sure they have to pass through the wet obstacles along the way.
• Go fishing. Take your poles, dig up some bait, and go to the nearest river, lake or pond.
• Go to a local farm. Many of them allow you to pick your own fruits and veggies.
• Let the kids stay up late and spread a blanket out so the whole family can lie down and check out the stars. You can do the same thing in the daytime to discover what shapes the clouds are.
• Spread a blanket on the floor indoors and have a picnic. Let the kids plan the menu and prepare the food.
• Put on a talent show. The kids can spend the day planning, making sets and costumes, and then invite the neighbors or grandparents over in the evening to watch the show.
• Let your kids redesign their bedrooms. They can map out on paper how they want it to look, and you can spend days with them working on the project.
• Create your own indoor treasure hunt. The kids could read about pirates, then create a treasure map to their hidden treasure.
• Make your own music video. Let the kids do their own makeup, hair and costumes, and even make their own instruments. Then, after they choose a song, record them performing. Enjoy watching the video after dinner.
• Be a tourist in your own backyard. Get a map of your area, and a list of local attractions, landmarks and parks, and explore.
As you can see, you can find lots of ways to entertain kids without spending a lot of money. Do it up right, and you may never hear, "I'm bored!" again.