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Does anyone else hate the Back to School Countdown?!?! My oldest will be starting kindergarten this year, and I cringe every time I see a Back to School sale or when someone talks about Summer winding down. (Summer winding down?!?!? It’s only July people!!) Anyways, here is a Guest Post with ideas on Summer Activities from Meghan at Savvy Spending.

Meghan is the blogger at Savvy Spending, where she posts Drug Store Matchups, Meijer matchups, and daily freebies and deals! She is a part time teacher and stay at home mom to 2 little girls. She works as hard to stretch their money as she and her husband work to make the money!

Go to the Park: I am fortunate to live in a city with dozens of public parks that are fun and safe for my kids. Pack a picnic lunch or go early in the morning and have a picnic breakfast before the weather (and playground equipment) gets too hot. I have fond memories of going to a park as a child, eating Dunkin Donuts on a blanket with my mom and sisters, and making up games of tag and pirates.

Go on a treasure hunt: This could be one that you’ve pre-arranged with clues and prizes, or just go for a walk and see what you can find. My 5 year old has the sharpest eyes and will find a “treasure” no matter where we go. It may be a feather, a seed, a shell, or something that looks to you like garbage, but to a young child, it’s exciting to find something! For older kids, create clues to lead them around your house, neighborhood, or back yard and have the final prize be a coupon for a ice cream cone or something fun!

Put up a tent: Even if you aren’t a camper, try putting a tent in your backyard and just watch your kids enjoy it! You could borrow one from a friend if you don’t have one.

Wash the car: Kids LOVE to play with water, so why not surprise Daddy with a clean car? You wash the inside and have the kids clean the outside. If there is still time, wash the bikes, or your neighbor’s car (if it’s okay with them). Water+ soap bubbles + kids is always a winning combination!

Visit a local farmer’s market: Make a list of things your kids have to find while there. If they are able to find all the fruits and veggies on their list, let them pick out some treat to take home!

Pick your own fruit: This is a great family activity! For some reason, my girls love to pick fruit and “berries” (anything small they find on a tree is a “berry”). It’s great to support local farmers, learn how the fruit is grown, and take home a yummy treat. You can go here to find u-pick locations near you.

Visit your local police or fire station: Call ahead and see if you can take your kids to see their local “heros”. Bring a plate of cookies as a thank you to these men and women who serve your community.

Set up an obstacle course: You can do this inside on a rainy day or outside anytime. Get your kids moving by creating obstacles for them to hop, skip, run, jump, crawl through. You can use things like hula-hoops, small chairs, brooms, trampolines, balloons, etc. to create the course. Time the kids to see who can do it the fastest give everyone a Popsicle as a treat when they’re done.

Do some volunteer work: Ask an elderly neighbor if they need any summer chores done- like washing windows, picking weeds, etc. They may not see this as fun, but I bet they’ll feel good when they are done and you explain the importance of helping others. Give each of your kids a small award (money, extra video game time, ice cream treat) to thank them.

Sell some old toys and have Christmas in July: Take old toys and clothes to a thrift store or have a garage sale. Then, with the money you make, buy gifts for each other and have Christmas in July! You could even make cookies, sing Christmas carols, and read the story of Christ’s birth!

Go to the zoo or petting farm: Look for discounted tickets in entertainment books or call and see if they have discounted rates on certain days. If you have a friend with a membership, can you go with them on certain days when they can bring a guest? We don’t have a membership to the zoo, but we usually splurge for this a few times a year because the kids love it. Again, pack a lunch/dinner to avoid the high prices at the snack bars.

Make a pen pal: Encourage kids to learn something about someone in another country. The website epals lets kids form pen pels with kids around the world. If you don’t want your kids emailing, you can send letters to family friends or relatives who live far away.

Kids make dinner: Put your kids in charge of dinner (if they are old enough) or help younger ones decide whats on the menu for tonight- even if it’s pancakes with macaroni and cheese, let them eat it for one night! Adding candlelight will make it extra special.

Family Game Night: Have kids pick out game for the whole family to play! If your kids are old enough, have them make up their own game with cardboard and notecards.

Try something new! Find something you’ve never done before and learn how to do it! It could be making your own ice cream, learning to play chess, creating a puzzle, making a bird feeder, making your own silly putty or bubble solution, tie-dying a shirt, or planting a garden. Involve your kids and watch them learn! You can find instructions how to make most of these things online!

Learn about astronomy: Find some websites or books on stars and then find someplace to go to look at the stars some night (you may have to get out of the city). Bring a blanket and some dessert and star gaze!

Go Go-carting or mini golfing: You can usually find B1G1 free coupons in the Entertainment book or on the website of the business you are going.

Make your own design: Have kids create a work of art, then take a picture of it and upload to it VistaPrint to turn it into a magnet, canvas bag, tee shirt, etc. You can get most of these for free at VistaPrint- just pay shipping!

Go Bowling! Join the Kids Bowl Free program and go bowling any day! You’ll have to pay for shoe rental unless you have your own!

Redo your kids bedroom: Find free or cheap accessories and furniture on Craigslist.org or Freecycle.com or at thrift stores. It’s amazing what a little paint and re arranging can do to a room!

Visit an animal shelter: Using coupons, get some pet food or treats for free or cheap and go volunteer at the local animal shelter (call ahead first). Your kids may enjoy petting some cute little animals and the shelter will appreciate your help. Take this opportunity to talk about animal shelters and pet adoption.

Some of my favorite summer activities include Day trips to Mountain Towns for nature walks and more, finding a beach (even a beach with sand at the lake) to build a crazy big sand castle, lemonade stands for the young entrepreneurs & overnighters at a hotel close by (my kids LOVE this, they think it’s so fun to stay at a hotel, especially one with a pool!)

What are you doing this summer to stay busy with your kiddos? If you need even more ideas, check out Savvy Spending for her complete list!