After being cooped up all winter, it’s time to take advantage of the warmer weather by spending some quality family time outside. These awesome activities will help you make memories without breaking the bank. You can also use your outings as fun, teachable moments to help your children avoid summer learning loss.
- Explore a National Park: Aside from the bragging rights on Facebook, there’s plenty to do in America’s beautiful national parks. Try hiking, observing nature and wildlife, star gazing and camping. Almost all of the parks have a Junior Ranger program, where children complete a series of activities to earn an official Junior Ranger patch. And all kids in fourth grade can visit national parks free of charge through Aug. 31 with an Every Kid in a Park pass. To get a pass and learn more, visit nationalparks.org.
- Go to a Cultural Festival: Celebrate different cultures by taking your family to a cultural festival. Sample authentic food and drink, listen to storytellers, watch traditional dances and enjoy the artwork created by local artists from that culture. You can also buy unique jewelry and other souvenirs. Discuss your experience as a family and encourage your kids to Google answers to any questions.
- Pick Your Own Produce: Make healthy eating fun by including your children in purchasing local food. Visit a local farmer’s market and get to know the people who grow your food. Create a scavenger hunt based around the farmer’s market to encourage children to ask questions about their food and where it comes from. Smaller children can match pictures while older ones can ask the vendors for more information. Check out an example at naturalparentsnetwork.com.
- Visit Your Local Library: Public libraries have a lot more to offer than the thousands of books in their archives. You can borrow movies, audiobooks, e-books, videogames and even baking trays at some locations. You can also attend community events such as author interviews and book signings, children’s story time, computer literacy classes, comedy workshops and more. Best of all, it’s free!
- Spend the Day at a Theme Park: In addition to being great family fun, theme parks can be great places for kids to practice the skills they learn in school. Nurture your children’s navigation skills by having them to mark the attractions they want to visit on the theme park map. Once you get there, encourage their time-keeping skills by noting how long wait times are and when meal times should be. You can also put your kids’ math skills to the test by giving them a set amount of money and having them manage their spending throughout the day.
- Exercise as a Family: Get your family out the house and exercise together. Something as simple as a walk around the block or a bike ride down the street is a great way to develop healthy habits. If your family likes a bit more structure, you can all register for a fun 5k run, sign up for a dance class or try indoor rock climbing. Maybe try out a new popular exercise trend—kid’s yoga!
- Random Acts of Kindness: Studies show that performing acts of charity leads to increased happiness and better overall mental well-being. Encourage your kids to help elderly or disabled neighbors by offering to run errands or do yardwork. You can also deliver homemade goodies or flowers to brighten a neighbor’s day.
Corinne Canning is the editorial and marketing specialist at National PTA.