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It’s February, but that means that it is almost time for spring break. How is that even possible? However, March Madness is around the corner and spring break is always right beside it.
Is your family planning to stay home this year? Are you traveling for part of the break and still need something to do the rest of the time? Do you have a strict budget that you need to keep but still want your children to have a memorable break?
Here are 30 ideas for a free (or close to it) spring break.
Visit Pet Store
Our local mall used to have a pet store with fish, snakes, puppies, and everything. I never went in (or tried to avoid it) because of my allergies. However, I don’t know of a local pet store now. We have chain stores, like PetCo, but I can honestly say that I have never been there.
However, if you have a local pet store that has animals in it, go in and walk around. Let your children play with the animals (if possible). Stare at the fish in the tanks. Take some time just to hang out in the store.
Most public libraries have programs for children, but sometimes they have programs for families as well. Check the online calendar or go in to get some books for spring break reading time and check the calendar in person.
You can also check area libraries, not just the ones in your local town. Where I live, our library has several branches, but there are two other library systems close to me as well. Check the programs at other libraries near you.
Scavenger Hunt Walk
If you want to go on a walk but your children aren’t keen on the idea, make a list of things for them to find on the walk. As they find the items, they can check them off. The kids can work together on the list or individually. Examples of things to look for are a yellow leaf, a caterpillar, a puppy, a brown cat, a prickly bush, and a trash can.
Fresh air is great. Take a picnic to the park or throw a blanket in the backyard. If it looks like it might rain, move the cars from the garage or carport and throw a blanket in there. You will be sheltered if the rain comes, but you still get the feeling of outdoors eating.
Visit a New Park
For a free spring break activity, you can head to the park. You probably have a local favorite, but you should try a new one or one you haven’t visited in a long time. Go to one in a neighboring city. Ask friends for recommendations, and then ask them to meet you there. Take birdseed to feed the birds, like ducks, while you are there. This would also be a good time to eat outdoors if you didn’t do that already.
Pitch a tent in your backyard and camp in it. If you don’t have a tent, borrow one from a friend or family member. If a tent is not available, or the weather isn’t good for sleeping outside, make a firepit and roast s’mores and cook hotdogs. Simple fun for the whole family.
Simple Spa Day
You can do this spring break activity for relatively little money. You may have all the supplies already. Paint each other’s nails, fingers and toes. Style one another’s hair with tools and accessories you already own. If you have the supplies, do simple facials with cleaners. You could check Pinterest and YouTube for ways to make your own facial masks if you wanted to do those.
I love looking through my craft supplies to see what I can create. However, when my daughter was little this was even more fun. I have a pretty big stash of supplies, and we would look through it and plan out great projects. You can make up your own projects with supplies you have or look on Pinterest for ideas.
Game day/night is always fun. Have the kids pick 2-3 games. These can be card games or board games. Then, as a family, choose which game you will play first. Play as many of the games as you have time for that day. This is a great activity for rainy spring break days.
Find a puzzle that you haven’t worked on before or that you haven’t completed in a long time. Clear off the table and start with the outside pieces. It won’t be long before you and the family have created a beautiful work of art together.
Depending on where you live, this may or may not be possible. I’m in NC, so March weather can be iffy. Sometimes, it is 85-90 degrees. Other times, it’s 50. We never know what to expect. For example, today, it was 40 degrees, but for the next week, it’s supposed to be close to 70 every day.
If your weather will cooperate, set up the sprinkler in the backyard and let the kids run through it. You can join them if you want. It would be a lot of fun!
Throw some blankets and pillows on the living room floor, start a movie, and sleep there for the night. Or, use the couch cushions to build a pillow fort to play and sleep in. When it’s time to sleep, use the blankets on the floor, an air mattress, sleeping bags, or the furniture as beds. Everyone in the family can sleep in one room.
Pizza or Taco Bar
Grab the ingredients for personal pizzas or tacos on your next grocery run. If you are making pizzas, have each person make his/her own pizza. Place some parchment paper on the pan and the pizzas on the paper. With a sharpie, write the person’s name near the pizza. For tacos, just line the ingredients up on the table and everyone can make his/her own food.
This is another spring break activity that depends on the weather, but play games outside. If you don’t have outside games at your house, make up some or play tag, hide-and-seek, or other games that don’t require equipment.
Beginning at the end of February or early March, I think, there is a weekly farmer’s market in our town. Go there and walk around. See what local people are growing and making. You don’t have to buy anything, but if you do, you would be supporting local farmers/crafters in the process.
This activity for spring break can be messy and fun. Grab a few supplies–seeds, dirt, gloves, and pots/cups. You may be able to get them at the local $1 store. Plant seeds in the cups that you will be able to replant when the weather is warmer and there is no chance of frost killing the plants. This way, you have your garden started before spring completely arrives.
Find somewhere that will allow the whole family, including the kids, to come to volunteer. It will be a rewarding experience.
Turn up the music on your phone or stream some on the TV. Find an open space and dance with the family.
If you haven’t lived in your town for a long time, this would be a great way to get to know the area. Or, if you’re like me and have lived in a 10-mile radius your entire life, you can still learn new things. Find information online for walking tours of your town. Find an area you want to see, pack up the family, and go. You will probably find sites and see things that you don’t notice when you are riding down the same streets.
You will need a GPS or a smartphone. You can look up locations online, and they are often in parks. They should always be in public areas, not restricted or private ones. Head out on your search. Be sure to check any restrictions online for what you can place in the geocaching location when you have found it.
Take a Hike
You can go on a local greenway. I’m guessing that’s what long walking/biking paths are called in other places. Most parks have hiking trails, and if it’s like some of our local parks, there are activities to do along the path. This would be a great time to do a scavenger hunt list for the kids as well.
This spring break activity has a little bit of a cost to it, but it’s a lot of fun. It is especially great for toddlers whose fingers stay in their mouths. Get some instant vanilla pudding mix. Make it according to the directions. Separate it out into a few bowls and add just a dab of food coloring to each. Now, let the kids finger paint with it on cardboard or thick paper. If they eat it, that’s ok. It won’t hurt them.
Make Bird Feeders
If you have pine cones, they work the best. When pine cones aren’t available, paper towel tubes (or bathroom tissue tubes) work well too. Cover the tube or pine cone with peanut butter. Then roll it in birdseed. Loop some string or yarn around it. Hang it from a tree and watch the birds come to it during spring break.
Grab some chalk and head outside. Let the kids draw on the driveway or on bricks. You can rinse it off with the hose or wait until the next rain comes.
Top 10 Lists
Have the kids make “Top 10” lists.
Some list examples:
things to do over spring break
things to do over the summer
things that make me happy
places to visit
You can use some of these lists as ideas for activities during breaks.
Backyard Obstacle Course
This is something that could possibly be moved indoors if the weather doesn’t cooperate during spring break. Use items, like outdoor furniture and toys, to set up an obstacle course. The family can keep trying the same one to improve their times, or it can be rearranged over and over for a new challenge.
Learn Something New
If you’ve been wanting to try a new hobby or learn a new skill, now is the time. Find something you and the kids can do together. Watch YouTube videos or read books about how to do it. Then give it a try. You can learn to cook a new dish, crochet, sew, or paint. If you are serious about taking up a new hobby, check out the posts I wrote about it that are all linked here.
Grab your phone or your camera. Take pictures of the kids. Let the kids take pictures of one another. Then, let the kids take pictures of you. As a family, you can do this indoors or outdoors. Have fun with it.
Do Absolutely Nothing
Yes, I said it. Do nothing. Over spring break, and any other break the kids have during the year, “plan” a couple of days where there are no plans. Stay home. Let everyone do what they feel like doing. If they want to play video games, talk to friends, or dance, let them. It should not be planned or structured. Too many of us, kids included, live over-scheduled lives. We know where we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to be doing just about every minute of the day. “Plan” a do-nothing day, where there are no plans.
In my life, I have had so many spring breaks. I have friends who plan elaborate trips every year for their breaks. Some of my other friends plan nothing for the entire break so they can rest, relax, and recharge. I like to be in the middle. I like to plan something, probably not an elaborate trip, but some activities. On other days, I want to sleep in, read, and take my time doing the few things that I accomplish that day.
What are your plans for spring break with your family this year? Have you done any of the things on this list? What other free/inexpensive spring break ideas do you have? Share your ideas in the comments. I’d love to try some of them.