No matter how large or small your family may be, time spent together fosters feelings of belonging and intimacy, builds trust, instills a sense of security, and creates lifelong memories. Few things in life are more meaningful to children than knowing their parents enjoy spending time with them. Family time does not need to be elaborate or expensive. Many families realize that once they open their front door, there’s an enticing world to explore together.
Simple & Fun Activity Ideas for Family Time
Below are fun, easy, and inexpensive family activity ideas appropriate for all ages:
- Attend community events. Look at local newspapers, community websites or bulletin boards to find fun family activities. There is usually no cost for community events such as an open house at the fire station or police department, film nights in the park, parades, school plays, etc. Also, museums, aquariums and other places of interest often offer free admission a few times a year.
- Visit farmers markets. An excursion to a farmers market provides an opportunity for quality family time, as well as children's food education. Your family can see farmers bring in and sell their crops, and often talk to the farmers about their fruits and vegetables. At the market, children might smell the scents of fresh produce, enjoy tasty samples of fresh foods, hear local musicians, and participate in the coming together of the community.
- Visit the library. Many libraries offer much more than books. They provide extensive CD and DVD collections you can check out, have weekly storytime for children, puppet shows, movie nights, host authors, and other interesting events that families can enjoy together.
- Go for a hike or walk. Hiking with kids or family nature walks are shared experiences that connect family members to the natural world. On walks, both the children and parents can take photographs, collect special rocks, leaves, flowers or sticks or simply enjoy the natural wonders of being outdoors. While casually walking, children often talk spontaneously about their experiences, thoughts or feelings.
- Institute a family fitness program. Participating in family fitness could include age/stage appropriate push-ups, sit-ups, stretching, walking, hopping, skipping, jumping or jogging. Family members might keep a fitness log, use a pedometer to count steps, or count their heartbeats before and after exercise.
- Visit a dog park. Some families love dogs but can't assume the responsibility of owning one. A dog park gives your family the opportunity to play with dogs, connect with dog owners, and possibly dog-sit when the dog owner needs doggie care. Check the dog park's rules before visiting.
- Learn a foreign language as a family. There are many free language learning tools online, from interactive exercises that teach language to watching YouTube videos. In addition to learning a language together, you might learn about the culture of the countries where the language is spoken or prepare a traditional recipe from that country. Two recommended websites: Duolingo offers interactive lessons in Spanish, French, Italian, German and Portuguese and Mamma Lisa's World of Children and International Culture offers poems, songs, rhymes and traditions from around the world, in over 57 languages.
- Attend sporting events. Although some high schools charge a nominal fee for spectators to attend events, recreational sport teams for adults and children play in public parks. It's exciting when your children know a few of the players and can cheer for them.
- Volunteer as a family. Some families make volunteering part of their family culture, which is also a great way to spend quality family time together. Parents inspire and nurture in children a sense of stewardship for the planet by visiting a recycling station or volunteering to clean up the neighborhood. Parents inspire empathy and compassion by volunteering as a family, at a soup kitchen, nursing home, homeless shelter, or other local organization.
- Become stargazers. Learn about constellations and star formations online or through books. Then go outside on a clear evening, look up at the sky, and try to identify the constellations with your kids; or even more fun - make up your own. Counting stars and drawing constellations add to the learning experience. With younger children, parents can focus on the shape of the moon.
- Build a cozy fort. Created with blankets and chairs, wood and branches, or a giant carton (stop by an appliance store and ask if they have extra appliance boxes), a cozy den is a great place to congregate and spend family time without an elaborate plan or expenses. The family can plan and build a fort, and then cuddle up to read, snack, tell stories, or play games.
All the aforementioned activities enhance family relationships. Instead of being "entertained" by a costly event, family members share rewarding adventures. By playing, exercising, learning something new, experiencing nature, or sharing the good feelings of contribution, family members live the adage that "the best things in life are free."
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