All over the world, people are hiding little treasure troves (caches) for you to find. It’s free! All you need is a cell phone with GPS — it can even be an old one with no service — and a list of local cache locations from geocaching.com. You’ll also find detailed instructions there, as well as the rules and ethics of geocaching. One of the best things about geocaching is that, literally wherever you happen to be in the world, if you find yourself with an hour and nothing to do, there’s going to be a cache nearby, waiting for you to find it.
2. Grab some free music movies and games from the library
Most local public libraries have a large collection of stuff other than books. Head on down and grab some music and some movies and check them out for a couple of days of free entertainment
3. Unplug for a whole day
Make a pact to go electronics-free for a whole day tomorrow. Tell your kids that it’s only for a day – it will be interesting to see what happens when there is no television, no electronic games, phones, or the internet available, what everyone finds to do. You may want to find a couple of board games or jigsaw puzzles and have them laying out and available. It’s surprising to see kids choosing to sit down and read, or having a conversation with siblings over a long game of Monopoly.
4. Visit garage sales in search of The Great Treasure
Is there a toy or a game that’s missing one important part? Have you always wanted to find a red 1969 Chevelle SS… Matchbox Car? Or a two-quart Pyrex measuring cup? This summer is your big chance. Put together your (small) wish list, and when you see garage sale signs going up, go check them out for The Great Treasure. If you’ve got just a couple of specific items on your list, you’re not likely to come home with a bunch of junk.
5. Learn a language with Duolingo
Duolingo is a free language learning tool, available on the web and on iOS and Android devices. I prefer it over Rosetta Stone – it makes language learning really fun. This would be age-appropriate for kids as young as young as fifth grade or so; there is some typing and spelling involved. Duolingo makes language learning a game – you get points and rewards for completing exercises, and you can have competitions with your friends. Maybe you could engage in a little friendly parent-child race to learn French this summer, oui?
6. Run a lemonade stand
Have you helped your kids set up a lemonade stand? If you live in a busy neighborhood, a lemonade stand can be an all-day, fun experiment in running a business. Have the kids put together a team of friends to work the booth and to go out finding customers, making signs, and preparing lemonade. You might want them to play at some virtual lemonade stand management using one of the many web-based lemonade stand games. (I like this one the best.) You can still play the original 1979 Apple II version here.
7. Learn origami
If you have scrap paper lying around, here’s a fun craft that you can learn that is really pretty easy to start, but will never stop giving you new things to learn. It’s a really cool craft, and one that you can pick up and start doing any time you have a few minutes to spare – all you need is a piece of paper! Start here for some cool, free designs.
8. Get the kids cooking
This summer, why don’t you get the kids involved in helping you with making the meals? In our family, we’re giving each kid the responsibility to plan and prepare one meal per week all summer. This is great for older kids – but for younger kids, you might have them helping to pick out meals, plan shopping lists, or do mixing and assembly.
What are your free summer fun plans?