LIMA — Ah, summer vacation. When kids are home all day during the summer months, it can be both a blessing and a curse.
The summer doldrums are peaking. Here are some ideas on getting the kiddos occupied and engaged without breaking the bank.
1. Hit up your local splash pad. If there’s a park nearby with a splash pad, take advantage of it. It’s a free way to keep cool during those unbearably hot days.
2. Have a picnic at the park. Find a park to let the kiddos run off some energy (don’t forget the sunscreen!) and be sure to pack a lunch. Find a picnic table or lay out big blanket and voila — those sandwiches, carrot sticks and apple slices are infinitely more awesome.
3. Revisit Pokemon Go. Sure, the initial craze of the popular app may have peaked two years ago, but there are still plenty of people playing the game — especially during the summer months. So re-download the interactive app, grab some snacks and sunscreen, and go exploring your in your neighborhood/local parks for some new Pokemon to catch. Find a gym and battle. Collaborate with friends for a raid. The best part? You’re basically tricked into exercising while trying to “catch ‘em all.”
4. Get out the inflatable pool/sprinkler/have a water balloon fight. These are summer classics that never get old — especially as the temperatures continue to climb. Yes, there is an initial investment. But it’s something you and your kiddos can enjoy over and over again.
5. Give geocaching a try. Download a geocaching app and explore your city in a whole new way. The way it works is you locate a set of GPS coordinates in order to find objects hidden by other geocaching enthusiasts. Once you find the object, you list your name in the log and then return it to its place. You can hide and list your own geocache, too. It’s like a giant game of treasure hunt.
6. Go on a family walk/bike ride. What better way to burn off some pent-up energy than going for a family walk or bike ride? It’s a excellent time to catch up while moving your bodies together in the great outdoors.
7. Hit up a free state park. There are 74 state parks in Ohio, and every single one of them has free general admission and parking — which means you can take advantage of trails, beaches, picnic areas and boating and fishing facilities free of charge. There are fees if you’re using overnight facilities, reserving shelter houses, and for equipment rental, golf,and some facility tours. Visit parks.ohiodnr.gov to find a state park near you.
8. Check out your local library summer reading program. Most local public libraries have a summer reading program in place that’s designed to reward kids for continuing to read over break. This often includes free, special events, prizes and more.
9. Seek out free/nearly-free museums. Local/county museums are a good place to start. Another free (and air-conditioned) option in Ohio is the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, which is located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton. Admission is free, the building is huge, and you can bring a cooler with a packed lunch to eat outside in one of the many shelterhouses. For a list of interactive museums in Ohio, visit Ohio.org/interests/interactive-museums.
10. Sign up for kids bowl free/kids skate free programs. At participating bowling alleys, kids can enjoy two free games of bowling per day all summer long. Just find a bowling alley near you that’s participating, register and bowl to your heart’s content. Visit Kidsbowlfree.com for more information. The Kids Skate Free program offers free indoor roller skating at participating locations for those who register. Go to Kidsskatefree.com for more information.
11. Catch a dollar movie at Regal Cinemas. Search “Regal Summer Movie Express” for a list of movies and times at a Regal Cinemas location near you. These family friendly titles play every Tuesday and Wednesday, and they’re just $1 per person.
Good luck, parents and caregivers — and may the odds be ever in your favor.
Reach Michelle Stein at firstname.lastname@example.org.