I have been counting down the days until Spring since last Spring. Seriously, I am a Spring and Fall girl. Not too hot, not too cold. Just right. So, you can only imagine how I felt this past Friday, the first day of Spring, when I woke up to bitter temperatures and falling snow. Ugh. It was such a downer! However, I found comfort in the fact that I am relatively sure that this was Winter’s last hurrah here in South Jersey. I can’t wait until the sunshine is here to stay. How about you?
One of the best things for me this time of year, is that the arrival of Spring marks the countdown until the end of the school year. It coincides with the end of the 3rd marking period and the start to the last quarter of the school year for both my kids and myself, as I am blessed to work in their school. I absolutely love my job and working with kids. I love helping them learn and seeing those light bulbs light up when they master a concept that they have been struggling with. However, I have to admit, I love the blessing of being able to be home with my boys during the late Spring and Summer months, enjoying all sorts of cool things together. Since I don’t receive a paycheck during this time period, I have become quite adept at finding some great deals on some really fun experiences. I wanted to share a few of them with you today.
Okay, so this one wasn’t too hard to find. Just open your door and shove the kiddos out! Seriously. I am only partly joking. The truth of the matter is, our kids spend entirely too much time indoors and on electronics. Obviously, I am not against electronics or technology. This is a blog on the internet, after all. But, too much of anything can have a downside. I try to really limit my kid’s electronic time, especially in comparison with other families I know, but I still feel I could do better managing this one. Our children need to be outside in the fresh air. Just running around and using their good old imaginations. It’s good for their health. It’s fun! Go outside with them. Grab a swing and swing with them. Play catch. Run through the sprinkler. Play tag. Take a walk. Take the dog for a walk. Look for bugs. Or Bigfoot. Camp in your back yard. Have a bonfire. Catch lightening bugs. Have a Nerf gun war. Have a water gun war. Ride bikes. Make a vegetable or flower garden. The outdoor possibilities are endless. Visit my Outdoor Fun In Your Own Back Yard Board on Pinterest here for more ideas. Want to venture further outdoors? Check out number two.
This place is a hidden gem. You can find a lake and beach with a lifeguard for safe swimming. They have a vast amount of free activities such as beautiful nature trails with related crafts and/or workshops for kids. You may find a Movie Under the Stars night or a fishing derby. Boating or kayaking. Camping is very inexpensive, with spots as low as 5$ a night for tents, or 60$ a week to rent a cabin complete with indoor plumbing and electric (my choice, by far!). If you live in New Jersey, you can find a great State Park guide here. For other states, visit your state’s home page and you will find a link to the State Parks.
We discovered this program last year. Bowling alleys from all over the United States participate in this program. It’s designed to encourage the sport of bowling in youth. It has certainly done that for my kids. They love to bowl now. You sign up your children and starting June 1st, you will receive a weekly email on Sundays, that will include bowling passes for the week. Your children, ages 16 and under, will be entitled to bowl 2 free games every day, June 1st through August 31st, simply paying for shoe rentals. The extra gem is that you will receive an email to purchase a family pass. The cost of the pass last year was a one time fee of $24.95. The pass is for 4 adults to play 2 games with the kids, also just paying for the shoe rental. I didn’t purchase the pass right away and received an email to purchase the pass with a $5.00 coupon, so I paid $19.95. Four adults were able to bowl all summer on that pass. I put my 17 year old cousin and my parents on the pass with me (my hubby doesn’t like to bowl, boo on him!). We had so much fun! Obviously, we didn’t bowl everyday, but we could have. The savings were spectacular, considering games are $2.75 a game and 4-6 people were bowling two games every time we went. You can find your nearest participating bowling alley and sign up by visiting the Kids Bowl Free site here.
This is the same exact concept as the Kids Bowl Free program, except that it is roller skating (or roller blading). Each Sunday, you will receive an email for two free admission passes to skating sessions at a local rink. You can bring your own skates or rent them. There was not a family pass option for this program, but that was okay with me. I haven’t been on skates in twenty years, and my sense of balance was never great to begin with! However, we have continued to receive passes all year long, so we were able to plan some fun times during the school year at the rink. You can find your nearest participating skating rink and sign up by visiting the Kids Skate Free site here.
This is the staple of my children’s summer. My oldest is 12 and we have been participating in this program since he was just 18 months old. I am an avid reader. I love to read and have been reading to my children just about everyday since they were in my belly. I’m not kidding. While my oldest take after me and loves to read, to the extent that everything else ceases to exist when he’s reading, my 9 year old, who is more of a sporty kid, really enjoys it as well. I am 100% positive that this love of reading is due mostly in part to the National Summer Reading Program at our local library. Every year, a national theme is chosen and libraries all over the United States develop programs around that theme to encourage a love of reading in children. Programs can be found for infants through teens. They are encouraged to keep reading logs and receive incentives for the logs such as movie rentals, McDonald’s, Texas Roadhouse or Applebee’s free meals, movie tickets and much more. They also participate in science experiments, film making, Lego clubs, puppet theater, arts and crafts and more. The NJ Theater Alliance comes and gives awesome FREE theater and magic performances in the community room of the library. My kids have helped train therapy dogs to sit still through a program where they read to the dogs, which they LOVE! My oldest, who absolutely loves to write, has been in The Young Writer’s Club the last three summers. They meet each week, learn a new writing skill and do some writing. In the Fall, all of their writings are published in a magazine by a local printer and copies are given away. My son loves the fact that he is an actual published writer. They have been enriched in so many ways through this reading program, that I can barely find the right words to describe them all. Please visit your local library to learn more. I am positive that your local branch has some fantastic things in store for your child this summer. You can find out more about this year’s theme, which is “Every Hero Has a Story” for children, and “Unmask!” for teens, by visiting here.
I hope you find this information helpful in planning your Spring and Summer activities for your family. I’ll explore some more free (or almost free) summer activities and travel fun in a future post. Until then, take care and remember, He’s got your back!