Springtime can mean many things: flowers, warmer weather, bunnies, allergies, cleaning, and Easter. But spring break only means one thing: time to spend with your family. If you are on a tight budget, can’t take the time off with your kids, or are making plans last minute, here are eight inexpensive family activities for spring break.
Gardening is a springtime classic. When you think about spring, you think about starting your garden and watching your fruits, vegetables, and plants grow. Luckily, gardening is the perfect family activity. You get to spend time with your family while doing something productive and rewarding. And you are making your family partially self-sufficient.
However, sometimes wrangling your kids into gardening is difficult when there are other things they’d rather be doing on their break. If this sounds like your situation, check out our article “Five Fun Ways for Kids to Help in the Garden.” With ideas to make gardening interesting for kids, you can start “sowing and reaping” the benefits of gardening this spring.
If you’re a gardening beginner and don’t know where to begin, don’t worry. You and your family can figure it out together—that’s what makes gardening fun! To learn the basics, you can check out Dan Martin’s book Breaking the Grid. Considering everything from the season to your climate to the types of gardens that will work best, this book will point you in the right direction.
2. Playing Games
If having a relaxing vacation is more your speed, you can spend time with your kids doing something they love: playing games. Perfect for days when you don’t have a lot of time, playing a quick game together will give your kids the love and attention they need on their spring break. This can be anything from soccer to board games to puzzles.
If you’re running out of game ideas, the Big Book of Family Games will have a solution.
Just because you’re on a break from school or work doesn’t mean that your stomach is. Since you have to cook and eat anyway, spend this time with your family. You can do whatever else you need to between meals. Working together in a kitchen will not only help your kids develop necessary skills and a love for food but also deepen your relationship. (The way to the heart is definitely through the stomach.)
Invite your kids into the kitchen by putting them in charge of simple tasks. If you want to take it a step further, ask them to plan a meal. You can give them a kid-friendly cookbook like The Munchy Munchy Cookbook to start them on their foodie journey. Or you can promise to make something your kids love if they help you out. Guaranteed, homemade ice cream will be a spring break winner. You can entice them into the kitchen with ice cream recipes from Bad Day Ice Cream.
Nothing heals the soul like going outside after a long season of working and studying. You can take your kids out hiking over spring break to work off the break-time jitters. Not only will they be getting fresh air, spending time with their family, and enjoying nature, but they will also be keeping fit over their break.
Staying active will only benefit them in the long run. It will teach them how to keep their bodies and minds healthy and encourage them to explore the outdoors. However, hiking can get boring for kids. I mean, who wants to hike if they can be inside playing video games? But you can make hiking interesting for your kids with our article “Five Ways to Make Hiking Fun for Kids.”
5. Going for a Picnic
The great outdoors plus good food plus people you love? Going for a picnic is really the perfect trifecta. Your kids will get to explore a new place and socialize with their family. Plus, it will be a real mental break from school.
You can make the picnic a big affair and invite your extended family, friends, and neighbors. Have your kids make cute invitations that they deliver by hand, and you can prepare it potluck style, where everyone contributes to the basket. Bonus points if your kids help you prepare.
Or you can keep it small. Just take a picnic basket when you and your family go for a hike or a drive. It can be as simple as a sandwich (everyone loves sandwiches), a bag of chips, and a drink. With Jason Goldstein’s cookbook The Happy Sandwich, even the simplest sandwich can make a gourmet picnic.
6. Making Crafts
Although learning is good for the brain, being creative is good for the mind. According to Dr. Cathy Malchiodi’s findings in her article “Creativity as a Wellness Practice,” being creative will rejuvenate your kids by making them less stressed and more positive. It will even improve their immune systems!
Take time out of your day to make crafts with your kids, like painting, drawing, writing, and other creating. This will give them invaluable family time and the tools necessary to become resilient. Even better if you do this over spring break, when your kids are free of distraction and stress. It will prepare them for the rest of the school year. (Plus, it will rejuvenate you as well!)
For some fun craft ideas to do with your kids, read Hannah Abbo’s book, Marcel’s Mouse Museum.
7. Going for a “Junk Food” Ride
A personal favorite, going for a “junk food” ride is the perfect way to spend some free time over your spring break. Just as it sounds, a “junk food” ride involves going for a drive in your area with your favorite junk foods. Kids will love being able to choose the snacks they want to bring, they’ll get to see new places in their area, they’ll spend fun time with their family, and they’ll get used to taking long drives and entertaining themselves while they travel. This is an all-season activity, but if you go during spring, you’ll get to see beautiful weather and blossoms wherever you go.
During the ride, you can play car games, like “I Spy” or singalongs, and you can even make the “junk food” at home to save some costs. Check out Nicole Presley’s ¡Viva Desserts! for some new dessert ideas or Lara Lyn Carter’s Skinny Southern Baking for some healthier options.
8. Having a Reading Marathon
Nothing cures an overworked brain like reading a good book. Although it doesn’t always work for everyone, when school has made reading seem like a chore, it’s important to remind your kids that reading is both good for the brain AND fun.
Over their spring break, you can pull out your book collection and spend time together lying around the house doing nothing but reading—taking breaks to cook and eat together, of course (good food will only sweeten the deal). This will not only encourage your kids to have hobbies that are good for them but give you relaxing time with your family and some conversation starters that will strengthen your relationship.
If you want to make the event feel more special, you can take them to the library and have them choose a brand-new stack of books. And at the end of the day, you can talk about the books with them, have them perform a skit about the book, or gift them their favorite book.
For your spring read-a-thon, we recommend Gardens Are for Growing, Hear Them Roar, and Alice’s Magic Garden. Or for more springtime books, check out our article “10 Children’s Books for Your Easter Basket.”
To discover more ways to spend your spring break, read our articles “Here Are TONS of Great Ideas for Spring Break” and “Activities for Family Fun: 3 Things for Spring.”
For more spring break activities you can do with your kids on a tight budget, check out this article from Zen Habits: “100 Ways to Have Fun with Your Kids for Free or Cheap.”
Shaelyn Topolovec earned a BA in editing and publishing from BYU, worked on several online publications, and joined the Familius family. Shae is currently an editor and copywriter who lives in California’s Central Valley.