10 Low or No Cost Outdoor Family Activities for the Spring and Summer (that AREN'T going to the Beach!)
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When the weather starts getting nice, my family loves spending as much time outside as possible. We are outside on days we work from home (I am writing this from a lounge chair on my deck!), we play outside, eat outside, and generally find every excuse possible to be outdoors. But every parent has had the experience of their child feeling bored with outdoor free play. Here are 10 ideas that are low or no cost, and perfect for keeping the entire family entertained outside throughout the warmer months!
2. Water Play
3. Messy Art Activities
4. Take a Nature Walk
If you happen to live in or around Westchester, I also strongly encourage you to check out Lasdon Park's Dinosaur walk!!! It is an amazing resource available FOR FREE!!! The trail isn't particularly long by adult standards, but it is perfect for little feet. Along the way take time to learn about the different dinosaurs, their environment, and more. The trail also offers a virtual reality experience and stations where you can scan signs to learn more!
6. Outdoor Movie Nights
7. Get Dirty!!
Mud kitchens, dirt play, sand boxes, and mud pies are all great ways to have fun getting dirty! While many parents cringe at the idea (admittedly, I am included in that), kids love it. Warm spring and summer days are perfect for getting dirty, because you can do it in a swim suit. Just spray off with a hose when done!
8. Backyard Camping
Grab a tent, a sleeping bag, and a flashlight; then head outdoors! You don’t have to sleep outside to experience the fun of camping! Get comfy, light a fire in your fire pit if you have one, and roast some marshmallows. When it is time for bed, you can always head inside, but not before taking a long gaze at the night sky! There are some great apps out there that help you discover stars, planets, and constellations.
9. Go for a Bike Ride
Even small children can partake in family bike rides with a balance bike (which is obviously a lot slower than a regular bike, but a great tool for helping kids get ready to use a big kid bike!) or wagon attachment. Biking is great exercise, and allows you to get out and explore faster than using your own feet. My community has some excellent cycling trails, or just take a ride around your neighborhood.
10. Obstacle Course
Want even more ideas? I update my Instagram stories regularly with new activities I am doing with my preschooler, or things we are doing as an entire family. You can also find great ideas from around the web on my Pinterest account!
What are some of your family’s favorite outdoor activities for the spring and summer? Comment below and let me know!
Be sure to share this with other parents looking for creative ideas to stay busy outside this spring and summer!
Fresh spring coloring pages have hit the website and are available for immediate download!
As I do every season, I am making select coloring pages available for immediate download. This new PDF has 6 different pages that are perfect to brighten the entire season. There is something for every skill level, and the printable pack is perfect for rainy days indoors. Be sure to head over to my main Spring resource page to check them out!
Plus, you'll find access to tons of other great content.
And more! Content is being added regularly, so stop back to check out what's new!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at no added cost to you, and helps support my small business. You can learn more here.
How exciting is it that spring is here? With Easter around the corner, I've been working hard on some great Easter content, including this adorable Easter themed iSpy activity. And they are all free, but only to members of my Mindfully Scientific Caregivers group on Facebook. Not in my group? Be sure to sign up here. I'll be adding more group exclusives as time goes on. Connect with other caregivers, plus find great tips and tricks for raising kids from a place of evidence, mindfulness, and love. The group is 100% FREE, and comes with the added benefit of being run by a seasoned educator and cognitive scientist specializing in education.
I also have three great Easter printables available for immediate download, no strings attached! These include a cute coloring page, and two themed biggest to smallest activities. Also be sure to check out my other great Easter and spring content!
Free Easter iSpy Printable
This activity is super simple, and can easily be used on your favorite device for an eco friendly solution. Just have your child count the number of each item in the array. I've provided an answer sheet to help you with scoring. You can also print and either laminate, or add to your child's seasonal busy book. This printable fits with however they play!
Easter Printable Crafts
Also up on the group is an Easter Basket printable activity, bunny ears printable activity, hanging easter eggs printable, and a crossword puzzle.
Also be sure to check out the spring numbers/color awareness binder book pages on the group!
Binder books are easy to put together. Simply print 2 copies of all pages, other than the cover. Insert the cover in the front of a binder, and one copy of each page into plastic page protectors. Laminate the second copy, and use velcro on both the plastic page protectors and the backs of the laminated pictures. Cut out each of the laminated pictures, and apply to page protectors. Insert into the binder, and you are all done! You can find an example of a fall themed binder book and detailed instructions here.
Easter Printables for Immediate Download
These great printables are available for immediate download! For the small to big activities, I recommend cutting and laminating the cards. This will allow your child to play over and over! You can also laminate the coloring page and use dry erase markers, which is an eco friendly solution enabling your child to color again and again!
Don't forget to share this with other parents with kids who would love these activities!!!
Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at no added cost to you, and helps support this blog. You can learn more about my participation in this program here.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, check out these great books and activities! They are perfect for both homeschooling families, and those just looking for themed activities.
Classic Handprint Turkey
If you grew up in the United States, you almost certainly have memories of doing handprint turkeys around Thanksgiving. The concept is simple; trace your hand, then add a beak and some legs. Voila! You have a turkey!
As a mommy blogger, of course I have to give my own take on the project!
The core concept remains the same, but I've added a few flairs of my own. Here is my take on the classic handprint turkey craft!
What you will need:
How to make your turkeys:
And that's it! Want to elaborate on this activity, or dress it up some? Try these great modifications:
No subscription needed for these great coloring pages!
Create a family gratitude list or journal! You can do this in several ways. One is to use a nice journal or notebook, and add entries each day with what each family member is grateful for. Younger children can add drawings to the book. Another option is to create a scrapbook of collages with what each family member is grateful for. An alternate form of this activity is to have your child create a gratitude collage by printing pictures of things that symbolize what they are grateful for, and gluing them on paper. Older children can also add captions or printed words to their collages. Finally, you can also use my gratitude journal printables and put them in a binder using page protectors or just a 3 hole punch.
If you are a newsletter subscriber, be sure to check out the Thanksgiving folder for some great new printables! Included are some velcro activities (I used them to make a Thanksgiving binder book game; you can get instructions on how to make one here), a counting worksheet, and gratitude journaling pages for the entire family!
Great Read: I am Thankful
I am Thankful is a new seasonal favorite in our home this year (both me and my child love it!). Featuring a diverse cast of characters, this relatable story discusses the many things children may experience as Thanksgiving traditions, and the many things (and people) they may be grateful for. The book also contains a variety of activities you can do.
Other Highly Rated Thanksgiving Books Your Child Might Like!
Create Your Own Parade Floats
Using materials of your choice (boxes, plastic bottles, paper, pom poms, sequins, toys, balloons, etc.), create parade floats and put on your own Thanksgiving Parade around the house!
Baking is one of my favorite activities to do as a family, and Thanksgiving baking is no different. Check out some of my favorite recipes, or use your own!
I'll be sharing even more soon!
Even More Ideas!
I love this turkey building activity from Beary Sweet Home. There are also tons of recommendations for other activities, books, and printables!
I also love this turkey weaving activity from The Growing Creatives (you can also find it pinned on my Pinterest).
You can also find a bunch of great activities on Amazon. Here are a few highly rated options your kids may love!
Want even more ideas? Be sure to check out my Pinterest account! I have tons of Thanksgiving and autumn ideas from other bloggers across a number of different boards. And stay tuned to my blog; I will be adding more activities soon!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at no added cost to you, and helps support this blog. You can learn more about my participation in this program here.
For our homeschooling letter W theme, I picked the seasonally appropriate word 'witch'. And what better book to celebrate Halloween and discuss the concept of witches than 'Room on the Broom'. This adorable picture book discusses the themes of kindness and friendship, as a witch is helped by a series of new pals, who she (in return) allows to join her and her cat on their adventures. But that is just the start of how these new friends help one another on a particularly stormy autumn evening! I'll not give spoiler, but I will provide you access to some of the awesome activities I developed (or in some cases, collected) just for this book!
Room on the Broom Velcro Activity
As you read the book, you can use this velcro activity to help children track what is happening in the story. Have your child pick out the appropriate pieces, removing them or adding them to the velcro board. The activity is a great, hands on, visual aid for comprehension.
You can find this activity in my free subscriber's resource library.
Room on the Broom Videos
My little one has been enjoying watching this cute Room on the Broom cartoon on YouTube. It pairs imagery with the classic book text, read out loud.
A second fun version reads the book outloud as a song, with video graphics!
Witch Themed Coloring Pages; Letter W Coloring Page
I'm making a few of these pages available for immediate download. The rest are available in my subscriber's only resource library.
For immediate download:
And for those who have subscribed to the library, check out the newest addition to coloring pages! The letter W page is already uploaded there.
Witch Matching Velcro Activity
Another subscriber's resource library exclusive, I added this activity to my busy book for independent play and learning. Simple laminate two copies, cut out the shapes from one copy, and add velcro to make your own. You can also have your child color the pages prior to laminating (for extra fun).
Witch's Hat Craft
What you'll need:
This activity is super simple! Just cut out a witch's had shape (use the stencil below)- use one plate/piece of paper for the triangle shape, and one to make a flattened oval. Glue them into the shape of a hat, and then decorate!
If you want to make a band, simple place the hat on your child's forehead, use the paper or twine and measure the circumference, and then tie or glue to the hat! Make sure to leave room for your child to pull the hat on and off, though.
Magical Mud Sensory Play
Making magical mud is easy. It is just ooblek! If you've not made it before, the recipe is easy, and uses ingredients you probably already have in house:
That's it! You'll need a 2:1 ratio, so 1 cup of cornstarch for 1/2 cup of water (or whatever sized batch you'd like)
Want to make it extra 'muddy'? Just add food dye; you'll want to add all the colors to make a nice, gunky, brown color.
Then, let your kids play! If you'd like, you can let them cover animals in the ooblek, too (just like the animals cover themselves in mud in the book).
The great thing about ooblek is it really does seem magical. Defying the boundary between solids and liquids, this amazing activity is bound to get your kids thinking.
Witch's Brew Sensory Play
This one isn't my activity, but head over to Tot School Resources for their Spooky Witch's Brew Science Experiment. It is a perfect complement to my Room on the Broom activities!
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Who doesn't love a seasonally decorated mantle? I'm making it easy to replicate the look I put together in my home with low cost products you can order online!
While many of the products I'm recommending in this post are look alike for the ones we have in our home, these are the bats that we've been using the last couple of years. They are sturdy and make for a bold accent. We've used them on our fireplace and our walls, and have received tons of compliments the last couple of years. Once Halloween is over, we take down the bats and leave up the rest of the decorations until it is time to decorate for Christmas!
We love our farmhouse style clock; it is one of our favorite pieces! For your home (since we got our clock from a friend's small, local business), I've found a great look alike that has similar roman numerals and a weathered wooden base.
So many look-a-likes, so little space! Here are just some of the great fabric pumpkin options I was able to track down. These will keep your home looking seasonal and stylish from September to Thanksgiving!
We've had our 'Fall' sign for about 7 years now, but lucky for you, there is no shortage of look-a-likes! This one is the closest I was able to find, though you'll have no problem finding a different one should you not love this recommendation.
Who doesn't love candles? We have made them a staple of our decor for years. Check out these orange taper candles as one option. You can display them in whatever candle sticks you have, or get ones that look like ours (which were originally purchased at a small shop in the Berkshires for our wedding). The look-a-likes are shorter than ours, but will still work (and are much less expensive!). We rotate the candles we place in them based on the season; fall is red, orange, purple, or black, winter is red, green, or white, and so on.
We love our battery operated orange string lights. With no plug to worry about, they are portable, and perfect for the mantle because they don't have a wire running to the nearest outlet. These look-a-likes come in a pack of two, and cost a good bit less per piece than the ones we found in a local store!
What does your autumn mantle look like this year? Comment below to share some of your tips and tricks!
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As I noted inmy post about our first week homeschooling, sometimes everything doesn't get done when we want, or how we want. And that is perfectly okay! But because I didn't want us to fall behind with what letters I was planning to review each week, I made the choice cover a few letters at a time throughout the rest of September, and into October. Since I know I'll be covering the alphabet repeatedly, this felt like a good modification to make sure I could get through content I wanted to review while also being able to do other activities in October
Here is a breakdown of each of the activities we did for the remainder of the alphabet!
You can find our letter A and B activities here.
Calendar and Story Time - Daily (Mostly!)
Our calendar and story time routine doesn't vary much! Therefore, it has looked pretty much like what we did the week before. Be sure to check that out here. You'll also find a link to our daily circle time book, Shadow Boxes. We read the page related to the letter(s) of the day!
Why does the header say "mostly", by the way? Because we didn't do the calendar daily. Between early intervention therapies, doctors appointments, general life, and refusing to enforce calendar time rigidly (my kid is a toddler, remember?), it didn't happen every day. And that is okay! While I always try to do fun homeschool activities with my child daily, I never want to give the impression that I have it all together, and things run seamlessly. That isn't fair to you, the reader. That isn't real life. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise!
Book: 10 Little Pumpkins
Activities: 10 little pumpkins velcro activity, Fall Numbers Binder Book Activity (from the subscriber's library)
You can learn more about the 10 little pumpkins activity here.
Letters D, E, and F
Nat Geo Dinosaurs 101 Video
Many kids love dinosaurs, but given they are something no human being has or can experience in person, they are also a highly conceptual topic to cover. As such, I wanted to find ways to make the content more accessible to my toddler.
The video I'm sharing with you is geared towards slightly older children and contains larger vocabulary, but my toddler loved it! It is never too early to start exposing your child to more advanced academic content, so long as it is in a developmentally appropriate way. In this case, the video was just over 3 minutes (so, short), contained exciting imagery, and was presented in a way that made my child more interested (I played the video on my phone after reading a book about dinosaurs, and he normally doesn't have access to my content via my phone). From the time I was a small child, I loved National Geographic and PBS documentaries. I hope to instill the same sense of academic curiosity in my child!
While I try not to use screen time as a way to teach, in this case, it made a lot of sense to provide video content.
Dinosaur coloring pages:
These coloring pages can be found on the Subscribers' Library!
Dinosaur Spikes and Spots Shape Activity
We added spikes and spots to the dinosaur template from my subscriber's library (or any dinosaur coloring page). While doing so, we discussed shape and color.
This activity is easy. All you need is a dinosaur shape, a glue stick, some colored construction paper, and scissors. Cut out circles and triangles for your child using different colored paper. Then, let them have fun decorating their dinosaur however they want!
Letters D, E, and F letter tracing/coloring pages
Letters G and H - Ghosts and Halloween
Craft and Sensory Activity: Tissue Paper Ghosts
Making tissue paper ghosts is easy! Just grab some white tissue paper, crumple, and glue to a piece of black construction paper (though you really could use whatever color you want)! Then add eyes with black paint or marker. If your child is a bit older, they can paint a Halloween scene on the paper first (like I did on mine).
Literacy/Letter Activities: Reading Halloween books, as well as about the letters G and H in our Shadow Boxes book. We then colored the letters G and H, and did ghost and halloween coloring pages from the resource library.
One of our favorite Halloween books is "When the Goblins Came Knocking". It is a great social emotional story for young kids who may find costumed trick or treaters scary of overwhelming. The protagonist tells of last Halloween, when he was scared and hid, but also, of how this Halloween he is able to wear a scary costume. The last page shows the child with his scary dinosaur hood off, letting little readers know that behind those costumes are other kids. It is a sweet story that you'll love sharing with your child.
I believe the book is out of print, but there are tons of used copies available for less than a new hardcover copy!
Letter I - Ice
For the letter I we painted with ice cubes and colored the letter I (see coloring pages in the resource library). We also discussed the concepts of cold, and melting (while my little one likely didn't take in everything I told him, it is a great idea to share ideas with your toddler. They are sponges, and as long as you aren't giving lengthy explanations of high level concepts, the only thing it can do is get their little minds working!)
J - Jack O Lantern
For Jack O Lantern we made pumpkin faces out of paper plates and black construction paper shapes (you can find that activity here), and watched Sesame Street's Making Pumpkin Faces Video. Just like all Sesame Street content, this cute music video is educational, talking about shapes and family.
Letter K - Kitten
We didn't spend a lot of time on letter K, but we did do the letter K coloring page from my library, and spent a lot of time with our own cats. We also did the same animal finding activity with easter eggs (see the Letter E section), but this time searched for different kinds of "kitties" (big cats).
Letter L - Leaves (did along with letters O, R, and Y for orange, red, and yellow)
For the letter L we collected and played with leaves (sensory), watched a Nat Geo video about leaves changing, as well as doing the leaf matching activity in the resource library. We also did the L for Leaf and fall finds velcro activities from the resource library. We also did a number of velcro activities I put together sorting the colors we see in autumn, and discussed letters R, O, and Y for the brilliant colors our leaves turn this time of year. You can find those velcro activities in the Subscribers' Resource Library.
Letters M and N - Moon, Monsters, and Night
Letter Activities: M for Moon Velcro Activity, coloring/tracing pages for letters M and N.
YouTube Video: Moon 101
Craft and Literacy: Making a Monster (from subscriber's library)
This activity is simple! Just print the pages and let your child mix and match bodies, arms, legs, and other add ons for their monster. Want to expand on the activity? Have your child tell or write a story about their monster. What is their name? Where do they live? What do they eat? Do they have a family? A job? A hobby? Are they friendly or scary? Your child decides! There are two worksheet pages (not shown) to get your child started with writing in the printables kit.
Letters O and P - Orange and Pumpkins
I did an entire blog post about the great pumpkin activities we've done. You can find that here.
Letter Q - Quiet
We did letter Q along on the same day as letters O and P. How to help a young toddler learn about the concept of quiet? We practiced! We tip toed around the house, and then practiced being loud by stomping and roaring before going back to trying to be quiet.
Letter R (did along with letter L, plus reviewed O, and skipped ahead to discuss letter Y): Red, Leaves, Orange, and Yellow (Autumn Colors)
See the section for L above for more!
Letter S, skipped ahead to letter X - Spiders, Six
For the letter S we discussed spiders, and the difference between spiders and insects. One great way to tell them apart? Insects have six legs, while spiders have eight!
I'm putting up a separate post about the spider activities we did soon, so keep an eye on the blog! I'll link that here once it is live.
Letters T and U - Ten, Up, Teal
We came back to 10 little pumpkins for the number ten, danced and practiced being up and down (through dance and song; we sang the Wheels on the Bus and did If You're Happy and You Know It (jump up, put your arms up), and painted Teal Pumpkins for the Teal Pumpkin Project.
You can find the 10 Little Pumpkins Activity and the Teal Pumpkin activity here.
Letter V - Volcanos
We didn't spend much time on letter V, but we did do a bit of learning about volcanos. I look forward to returning to the letter V and doing a volcano unit in a few months, when my child is a little older!
Nat Geo Volcanos 101:
Letter V coloring pages (see resource library)
Letter W - Witch
I did an entire post about our letter W activities. You can find that here.
Letter X - See Letter S
Letter Y - See Letter R
Letter Z - Zoo
We were initially planning to take our little one to the Bronx Zoo for this unit, but weather and responsibilities got in our way. Instead, we focused on doing a lot of learning about animals that might be in a zoo!
I added wild animals you might find in a zoo to my child's sensory bin, and he had a blast playing with and labeling the different animals he found. I also gave him some salt dough I'd made, since he seemed to have been craving the smooshy texture.
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May 2020 (Prior to 5/31)
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