I wasn't looking forward to this summer. Last summer, pregnant with my 5th child was really really hard. It was hot (or at least I was hot) and I was so uncomfortable we didn't go anywhere. The kids were bored and I was cranky.
This year I vowed summer would be different, but on a budget. We canceled all of our normal summer trips (Vegas, Arizona, a family trip) and stayed home is the pursuit of savings. I scoured all the libraries, zoos, museums, and community events to find ways for us to keep busy. And we did. We went on a 'field trip' once a week and did science experiments at home. We did a lot. So to all my kids teachers, when you ask "what did you do this summer?" and they respond "nothing". Here is the list.
National History Museum: Caskey won a family membership to this museum, so we went 3 times. We ran out of summer or we would have gone more. Its a huge museum with plenty to do and plenty of activities during the whole year, so we will probably make another visit or two before the year is over.
Belt Loops: Someone asked me why we were doing so many belt loops this summer, was I an overachiever? Nope. I used our scout book and belt loops as an easy guide for things to do this summer. In all, Connor earned 10 belt loops and completed about half of his Wolf requirements for next year. I am thinking it will make for a more relaxing fall.
Camping: With the scouts of course. There is no way I would go otherwise. Although we were only gone for a few days, the packing and unpacking stretched it to a full week. It only cost us $50 (if you don't count gear and food) so it was a pretty inexpensive activity. It was also a great experience for all of us.
Bowling: For a Belt Loop - of course. We found some coupons for cheaper bowling. Also many bowling alleys have free bowling for kids during the summer. Plus its air conditioned. Bonus!
Ultimate Frisbee: For a Belt Loop. We found 2 Ultimate Frisbee courses; one nearby and one further away. We played one game and learned the rules. It took up an afternoon and we learned something new. It was great fun for the whole family. The bonus is we did it with another family, playdate!
Adventure Park: This was by far one of my most favorite activities. I can't wait to go again next year. It was a bit of a drive down to Long Beach, but so worth it. The whole park was beautiful. We definitely need to go back there again soon.
Legoland: Coupons! We had not planned on doing a trip. But once we found out there was a buy-one get 4-days free deal we went. We stayed with my uncle and the whole trip only cost about $500 for a family of 6 (hubby stayed home). You can't beat that.
Science Experiments: We did several science experiments. I had ambition to do one each week, but we got busy, then lazy, then I was content to just let them play in the front yard. .. . yada, yada. But the most memorable ones were Invisible Ink (a Wolf requirement) and Volcanoes (just plain fun).
VBS: Cheap! Fun! Need I say more?
Scout Camp: Our local chapters held one cub scout and one girl scout camp locally. They were also super inexpensive. More belt loops and patches were earned.
Zoo: Free coupons!
Library program: We live near two great libraries, even more if you are willing to leave the city. We signed up for the book reading program so the children could read and get prizes. We tried going to the library once a week to get new books and return old ones. Plus they had a puppet show, animal show, Mad Science show and much more that we didn't attend.
Chess Club: Our local YMCA has a local Chess club for children ages 5 years and older. We went for several weeks in a row to practice our Chess skills. Also for the Belt Loop.
Free Lego Day: I don't even want to post this here. But on the first Tuesday of every month Lego has free Lego's. They just give them out. A little kit for the kids to put together and keep! Of course you can't go to the mall if you don't go to Red Robin. So this one may not have been that cheap, but we have to eat, right?
Getty Museum: Did you know the Getty Museum is absolutely free? I didn't. They have beautiful gardens and architecture. A fine restaurant. Parking is $15 though. And I wouldn't exactly consider it kid-friendly. But it was still fun to ride the monorail from the parking structure to the museum. The kids had a great time rolling down the grass and looking at all the fountains.
Birthdays: I must have done something right (or wrong). We celebrate 4 birthdays in the summer. It keeps us busy with family and friends; baking cakes, having parties and celebrating. It costs less in the summer because we can just have some good food in the front yard.
Lowe's and Home Depot Kids projects: These are free kids projects that are held 1-2 times a month. They are free. You must sign up for them about a month in advance to make sure you will get a spot. The website says they are for children 5+, but I saw young children there as well and I think we are going to let Alexander try next time.
JPL: JPL offers free family tours, as long as you book it far in advance. We took the whole family for a weekday 3 hour tour where we had the opportunity to see the new Mar's Rover Curiosity. Plus we are space nerds so it was pretty cool!
Vegas Baby: I just remembered, we did go to Vegas, for 24 hours. We had an errand to run in relation to Allyson's upcoming nuptials. But since it wasn't in the budget to go we stayed just one night and stayed at the Orleans. I have never stayed off strip before and it worked out great. I don't really need to be near the strip, so it was just fine for us. The rooms were cheap, but clean and since there was a food court downstairs the food was cheap too. The kids had a great time in the kiddie pool and full counting cacti across the desert.
Building: About halfway through the summer Connor ended up with a tool box and scrap wood. Its kept them busy for HOURS.
Things I would do differently:
Plan. I got lazy near the end of the summer and we didn't do quite as much in regards to school work, library visits and science experiments.
Be realistic. I planned on the kids doing far more school work than they did. I'm not saying we were lazy. They were definitely always learning, cooking, measuring, doing chores, reading, etc. But I had a much bigger idea as to what we would actually accomplish in the workbooks. But I am not going to be hard on myself. They learned far more valuable lessons on their 'building' days with wood and nails in the front yard or baking pumpkin muffins than they would have in a workbook.