I just posted a response on our local homeschool board about free/ inexpensive family activities. I know some of this is specific to the greater Cincinnati area, but for my friends who are out of town I have plenty of suggestions you can use as well. I put local ideas in parentheses and local links at the end of the outdoor activities category so you can skip those.
For my subscriber friends who live in areas that don’t have cold temperatures or snow, I apologize for some of the cold weather ideas given here. I am wondering if I could work out an arrangement. Could I come and home school your children for a week in exchange for time to go out and enjoy the temperate climate you have while I am there? 🙂
Create a “treasure hunt” Hide a set of clues in various places throughout the house and have the last one lead to a prize. This doesn’t have to be anything big, maybe a treat or a family film to watch for the evening.
Hide and Go Seek Establish areas that are off limits before you begin (laundry room, Dad’s study). My kids loved doing this and played this with friends who came over.
Decorate your windows There are special crayons and paint that can be used for windows that can easily be washed off.
Make paper snow flakes and hang them around the house. Design tissue paper sun catchers for getting those rays in the house.
Read Alouds How about finding a book that you can read to the family? We used to spend evenings with all of us sitting around enjoying Dad read to us. I did a lot of the reading too as well as the boys as they got older and could read fluently.
Create Blanket Forts My boys loved this and would play for hours in the forts. We even had dinner in them from time to time.
Picnic in the living room Get out old blankets and lay them down in the living room. Have everyone fill up their plates and join you on the blanket for dinner.
Game Night This suggestion doesn’t come to my mind readily because I am not a game person myself. However, I have played many games because my children enjoyed them. One game I dreaded though was Chutes and Ladders, the never-ending game!
Talent Night Have you been paying for music lessons? How about having a concert one evening? Invite family and friends over and give your musician a chance to shine. You can also have poetry readings, pieces the children have written read aloud, put on a short play or have a sing-along. How about displaying some favorite art work? Have guests bring an appetizer and they can show off their culinary skills (or not).
Make pine cone bird feeders and watch the birds that come for a treat. Count how many visitors you get and see if you can identify them. Our family has enjoyed seeing regulars and an occasional migrating visitor. We have enjoyed having a pair of binoculars and an identification book close by so we can truly know what we are looking at instead of not knowing or guessing.
Riding bikes in your neighborhood or a local park or bike trail. (Loveland Bike Trail, Joyce Park)
Go for a walk at a local park, either on a bike and hike trail or a nature trail.
Christmas Light Night After seeing houses have a follow up discussion while munching on a Christmas cookie and a cup of milk or hot chocolate. What was the one display you liked the most? Least liked? Why?
Sledding There are some great hills in the area to enjoy with the kids. (Harbin Park,Voice of America Park). We just go out our back door and sled down a steep incline that leads to our neighborhood park. I know! How nice is that??
Ice skating Pick up a pair of used skates and try your hand at it. I was so blessed to have lived by a small pond in our neighborhood when I was a middle school student and we had a blast! Follow up with a thermos of hot chocolate to get you warmed up afterwards.
Snowman and fort building, snowball fights, snow angels The almanac is predicting a snowy season for us this year so why not get out and enjoy it if it actually occurs!
Local Things to Do:
Check out Parky’s Farm. This farm has some animals that you can see and a you can walk through a well-kept barn where animals are housed. Can’t afford a horse? They have them there and have horse back riding lessons if you have a child who is interested in participating.
The Niederman Farm in Middletown has a free Christmas light display that you can walk through along with free hot chocolate, cookies, and Christmas carolers at the end. They are a Christian family so the display tells the story of Christ’s birth. It’s a nice way for you to enjoy the season with the family.
Park Programs- I am always reminding people of this great resource. Here are the websites for events at various local parks:
Hamilton County‘s park programs
Have fun! If you have other ideas for family activities write a comment for all to enjoy.