Oh my goodness, spring break is quickly sneaking up on us! I don’t know about you all, but I LOVE spring break! Since my boys are all in school now I miss the times that they are home and I want to enjoy that time with them. I always want to make spring break special for them. Thankfully, special spring break activities do not have to break the bank.
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Small and Easy
Most of the time, what they request are small activities that are easily done. One of the favorite spring break activities is going to a neighboring town where their favorite park is and going for a hike. Sometimes I think that we get so wound up in wanting to make things special and go “all out” that we forget to ask them what THEY want. What my kids really love more than very expensive things is TIME.
Time: The Best Gift of All.
I try to remember that I only have so much TIME with my kids. They will not always want to hang out with me. They will not always want to tell me everything that is on their little minds (even if currently the topics are mostly pretend stories, transformers and video games.)
This is the time to make memories with them. I want to share with you some of my best ideas for spring break activities. Many of them are easily done and cost nothing. Others have a small cost, but all of them are TIME with your kids and opportunities to make good memories.
Small Cost Activities:
- Local day trip – I love a good day trip! Check out your area’s attractions. There may be something fairly close that you have not gotten around to seeing!
- Roller skating – My boys love this! Even if you have smaller kids, some skating rinks now have little “walkers” made from PVC pipe that your little one can hold on to while they skate. This is a great and fairly inexpensive way to burn off extra energy! Many skating rinks have a lower cost time to come, like $2 Tuesdays.
- Bowling – this is another activity that is fun for the whole family. Many places also have modifications in place for the younger ones, like bumpers that come up in the gutters and ramps to roll the heavy balls off of. Many also have discounted times to go!
- Indoor Pool – We recently got one of these in our area and I am looking forward to exploring it!
- Museum – some have entry fees, others do not. Look around in your area and see what’s available. You can have a fun time that is educational as well, especially if it is a hands-on kids discovery museum.
- Camping – I love camping, but we usually go in the summertime. I have a friend that loves going in spring weather because it’s better for fishing and hiking. Just make sure you bring all the appropriate gear for cooler nights!
- Go out to eat and let the kids pick the place – It can be a fast food place, or perhaps a place that has a play area. Kids love getting to make “grown-up decisions!”
- Ice Cream – I will use this term loosely to include frozen yogurt as well. That makes it healthy, right? 😛
- Local Festival or attraction – Check your area’s website for any fun activities going on over spring break! Some areas also have some pretty neat attractions. Ours has a pioneer village that you can go walk around in that has buildings from the 1800s. Educational and fun!
- Local Zoo – I love the zoo perhaps more than my kids do. I love walking around, seeing all the animals and taking pictures! This might be a good chance to let the kids take some pictures as well for future scrapbooking or art project. (or just for fun!)
- Horseback Riding – Ok, so this one is not available in all areas, and may not be all that low cost, depending on the place. However, I had to include it since it IS one of my favorite ways to go contentment questing. This is one of my favorite family-friendly activities, as long as it is closely supervised by a knowledgeable adult. (The younger child’s horse is on a lead rope)
No Cost Outings
- Park – classic spring break activity, but it’s usually on the top of my kid’s list every spring break of things they want to do.
- Picnic – because it makes the park (or just the yard) 1000 times better!
- Library – often libraries will have programs for the kids, as well as it encourages reading!
- Hiking – I love a good hike. It gets the kids into nature where they are not even thinking about their screen time. They are just out enjoying the sights and sounds of outside. My youngest loves to find a “hiking stick” along the way. I actually bought a hiking stick last year to try out. I am hopeful that it will help to save my knees from aching at the end of the hike.
- Bike ride/bike trail – burns calories, and is a fun outdoor activity
- Wade in a creek – This one is weather dependent for sure! If you decide to do this one, then bring the kids a change of clothes and a towel. Even if you just plan on wading, the rocks in creeks are slick! I also recommend some shoes to help protect feet from rocks and any glass that might have accidentally gotten in the creek. Flip flops will work, but water shoes or sandals that strap to the feet work better because they are more secure. If your kid can’t swim and the creek is deep enough, make sure they wear a life jacket. Safety first! Look for crawdads in the water. They are mud colored and hard to see but can be fun to catch. Just grab them in the head section behind the pinchers! If you grab the tail they can twist around and pinch you. (For some reason, this risk of getting pinched makes them more fun to catch…boys….) Look for them under rocks as well.
- Geocaching – Remember scavenger hunts or treasure hunts? Geocaching is like that and they have locations worldwide! It is a free activity, but you need your smartphone for the GPS. They give you coordinates through an app and then you go find the “cache.” They come in different sizes and containers and they have varying difficulties. Some contain nick knacks that you can trade out, but all of them have a log that you sign and then put back. It’s pretty cool to see how many other people have found the cache. You can also log it online. It is a real live treasure hunt. This one is on my “to do list” with my boys.
- Visit the grandparents! This one is a FAVORITE of my boys and we MUST do it about every chance we get. This activity is highly encouraged by my parents as well.
Stay At Home Outdoor Activities
- Sandbox play – When my oldest son turned 2, my parents got him a sandbox with a cover over it. We are still using that sandbox 9 years later. It has held up remarkably well. The only issue that we have had with it is if it rains and then is very hot and humid, the sand will mold. When it does this, we scrape out the moldy sand, bleach and scrub the box and add new sand. My parents also have a sandbox for the boys that my dad made and they use a mesh cover over it and have never had this issue.
- Scavenger Hunt – This one can be quite fun and requires next to no prep. All you need is a list of things that are likely to be found outside. See who can collect the most!
- Nature Art – When I was a kid, I once took some acorns, turned them upside down and glued their little hats on and lined them up like little people on a piece of cardboard. I created a “summer camp” scene. That was my nature art. Mom kept it and framed it. The fact that I remember this piece of art that I made over 25 years ago, should say something about how fun and memorable this activity can be!
- Blow Bubbles – my youngest son LOVES bubbles. There are all kinds of variations on this one from giant bubbles to small bubbles, to homemade bubble solution to store-bought.
- Bubble Art
- Make and complete an Outdoor obstacle course – Kids love to be timed!
- Plant a garden – Kids enjoy learning about plants and they are more likely to eat their vegetables if they are involved in helping to grow them.
- Make rockets
- Spray out shaving foam and let them practice writing – this is a great sensory activity. It can be done indoors as well. I have usually seen it done on some sort of flat surface (like a cookie sheet) to help contain the mess
- Knight training – My mom gets full credit for coming up with this game. On the rafters of her covered porch, she hung a foam ball by a string and has two foam swords for the boys. The idea is to swing the sword and hit the ball without it hitting them. (extra points for super cool moves!)
*I will include a note of caution for this one… make sure the foam swords are soft and do not have anything inside to stiffen them! When you give two boys swords and send them out to play, someone is going to get whacked when things start getting exciting! We have a strict “target zone” that does NOT include the face or other sensitive areas.
Stay At Home Indoor Activities
- Reading time – remember that library trip? Now enjoy the books!
- Bake together – Both of my sons still enjoy helping me make a batch of chocolate chip cookies. They have “helped” me make them since they were toddlers. This is a great way to spend time with your kids, as well as develop small motor skills, math skills, and reading skills.
- Let them help fix a meal – Allow more time for cooking when you have helpers, but this is a great way to teach them some valuable life skills. Everyone needs to know how to cook.
- Watercolor painting
- Marbled Art
- Make puppets from old socks or paper bags – classic crafty activity
- Make sculptures from modelling clay – There are two types of modeling clay, the kind that stays soft and the kind that actually hardens. The type that hardens can either be the type that you have to bake in the oven, or the type that can air dry. I prefer the type that can air dry for kids since the creations can break when fired in the oven. The kids love being creative and it gives us a good opportunity to make memorable gifts for family members, special occasions, or just because. (Edit: After doing some research, I have found that the type that you bake in the oven can also be boiled. I may have to give that one a shot myself! It looks fun! )
- Let them take pictures, then scrapbook together
- Have them put on a puppet show- You can make a puppet stage out of nearly anything, from a cardboard box to hanging a sheet over a tension shower rod in the doorway.
- Make musical instruments
- Listen to the kids “Private Rock Concert” (cheer and clap like it’s the best performance you’ve ever seen!)
- Make Playdough or slime – there are tons of recipes for these. Find one that suits you best, if you do not like either of the ones that I linked to.
- Make oobleck – What is oobleck, you say? I could be fancy and tell you that it’s a non-Newtonian fluid, but even to a former science teacher like myself that doesn’t mean very much. It is a super concentrated solution of water and cornstarch. (Which means it’s pretty safe even if you have small kids). Use a disposable cup and fill it about half full of water. Stir in cornstarch until it stops being able to dissolve. Then stir in more until you get a consistency that will move like a liquid when you put your finger in slowly but if you try to jab it quickly, will feel more like a solid. Very interesting sensory experience. When I taught high school science, this ranked as one of my student’s favorite activities.
- Make a bird feeder – There are all kinds of ways to make bird feeders. Use whatever you have on hand! One of the simplest ways is to take a pine cone, spread peanut butter on the open parts and sprinkle birdseed on it. I have also seen them made out of old pie plates. Use your imagination!
- Play charades – classic and can lead to lots of laughs
- Play a board game – There are so many video games in our society that we sometimes forget just how fun a simple board game can be!
- Have a tea party (yes, boys enjoy this too – just include snacks!) – I will admit to being a bit of a tea junkie and “ruining” my kids on it. My kids love hot tea! For them, I usually sweeten it a bit with some honey or a teaspoon or two of sugar. Our favorites include peppermint tea, fruit tea, vanilla chai tea (with milk and sugar) and green tea with pomegranate. A few little snacks to go with the tea are also fun.
47. Make a marble run
48. See who can build the tallest block tower
49.Who can come up with the most imaginative lego creations?
50. Masking Tape Roads – make roads all over the house for those hot wheels cars!
51. Masking tape shapes – several variations, who can find what shape, build something that shape, what will fit in that shape
52. Dress up
53. Cardboard box make-over – It can be a rocket ship, a playhouse, a tent, an airplane, whatever you want it to be!
55.Paint with q-tips, cotton balls, carve potato stamps, or any other thing you can find around the house
56. Blanket Forts
57. Let them “Camp out” in the living room overnight
59. Journaling – I started making my kids keep a journal over the summer to keep their writing skills sharp. This year, I may start during spring break as well. It’s a great practice to work through feelings and to help you remember things that would otherwise be forgotten. (We usually use a compoisition notebook for the jornal, although you can get something fancier to help encourage the kids to get more excited about writing.)
60. Family cleaning time. Who can get their chore done the best/quickest?? (Sounds like a fun game to me!)
Whatever you decide to do over spring break, remember that it’s the TIME that you spend with your kids that will make great memories. Kids need quality time more than they need stuff. One of our favorite things to do that I did not mention here is to simply have a lazy morning at home. Sometimes the simplest things make the best memories. Remember to slow down and enjoy the small things. I hope that you have an amazing spring break!
Do you have a favorite activity that you do over spring break? Leave me a comment! I’d love to hear from you!
Need more ideas? I found these posts from Tipjunkie.com to be extremely helpful and inspiring!
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