10 Ideas for a Fun, Cheap Spring Break

If your family is like my family, a big ski trip or beach vacation for Spring Break just isn’t going to happen, at least not this year.

With 5 kids in the family ranging from almost 3 to 15, we are constantly challenged to find fun family activities that everyone will enjoy so here are 10 ideas that come to mind that will make the kids feel special and not break the bank.

  • Visit one state park or national park every day. Depending on where you live, you might have to modify and say any park but for as much as it costs for an annual pass, you will probably pay for it in one week. Get the kids together and map out which ones are driveable in a day and which one have the amenities you are interested in – playground, flat hiking trails, etc. Have them help you pack the lunch or snacks for the excursions.
  • Camp out in the backyard (or basement, depending on the weather). If it’s warm enough, set up a tent in the backyard, bundle up the kids, bring out all the sleeping bags and big blankets and have a fun adventure in the backyard. Give them each their own flash light or glow stick and let them tell each other funny stories before bed.
  • Let them plan and make dinner. I know, this is terrifying to many parents but the kids will love it. Suggestions could be make your own pizza night, tacos or spaghetti. All of these meals are pretty easy and don’t require too much cooking.  Or help them make a gourmet meal all together as a family. Help them make a list and take them shopping for the supplies – and don’t forget a special dessert. Maybe ice cream sundae bar?
  • Movie night! Turn off all the lights, pile up the blankets and make some popcorn. Put on your snuggly jammies and settle in. If you need help finding a movie, check out the Pop Secret website for a movie selection tool.
  • Spark their entrepreneurial spirit. Help them create and set up a lemonade stand. If it’s too cold for lemonade where you live, make a big thermos of hot chocolate or coffee (if they are old enough to not burn themselves). Help them think of other things they could sell like pre-wrapped rice crispie treats or slice and bake cookies. Find a good location, such as a sporting event or a local gathering and set up close by. Make sure you see if there are any local regulations you must follow.  Talk to them about their selling experience – if they didn’t have traffic, why? If lots of people walked by but they didn’t sell much, why?
  • Another idea along that line is brainstorm about what they could do in the neighborhood to make a little money. If it’s snowy, can they shovel someone’s driveway? If it’s warm, can they pick up branches or debris in a neighbor’s yard? Does a neighbor need pet sitting help while they travel? Could you open up the house to younger kids and have your children lead a craft together for an afternoon for a small fee? Any of these could turn into summer job leads too. For more ideas on making money, visit www.raisingceokids.com for awesome inspiration. Talk to your kids about what to do with the money they make – maybe part to charity or your church and part for something new they’ve been wanting, or better yet, save it!
  • Have your kids email or call their friends to ask if they have things they want to donate to charity. You can help the kids by driving them around to collect the items and they all take them to the Salvation Army or other organization all together. Talk about how it feels to help others.
  • Start a Patriot Club. What a great week to talk about the Constitution. With help from the website Constituting America (www.constitutingamerica.org), founded by actress/activist Janine Turner, you can get some great ideas on how to start your own local patriot club. Read part of the Constitution together, talk about what it means and then make some fun Revolution-Era crafts or snacks. Maybe even dress up! For elementary school age ideas, please click here. If you have older children, they can help out.
  • Don’t forget the library. Many libraries have a great area to hang out and read or use the computer for games. Let the kids pick out a few books to read as well as a new movie or two to borrow for the week. We can easily spend two hours just hanging around and browsing the different books, games, puzzles and movies.
  • Put on a play for the neighborhood kids. Your kids could even recruit others to be in it or make it a variety show. You can either find kid plays at the library or have your children write their own, maybe about spring or Easter.  If no one else around is interested, just let them perform for the family and make a big deal out of it. Print some programs on colored paper and help them pick some songs from iTunes or your CD collection for background music. Help them find costumes or make them from the crafts store.

Most of all – have fun! Even going to a local park and having a picnic that they assemble can be special. Just enjoy being together for your week off and remember how fast they’re growing up! Soak up every moment you have together.  Please comment if you have other fun ideas to share too.

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