Updated on May 18, 2021
Looking for a few kid- and budget-friendly how-to’s that’ll help your family celebrate summertime? Read on for five DIY ideas that’ll keep your kids entertained and your wallet happy.
Make Your Own Ice Cream
It’s no secret that ice cream is a summertime favorite for many. To make your next ice cream indulgence even more fun and to fit in a learning experience, too, teach your children how to make their own.
There are countless homemade ice cream recipes available online, so it’s easy to find one that features the flavor of your choice. Generally, for vanilla ice cream, the instructions are as follows:
- Mix two tablespoons of white sugar, 1 cup of half & half or heavy cream, and ½ teaspoon of vanilla together in a pint-sized plastic baggie. For a dairy-free option, try full-fat coconut milk – it may require more shaking, but still works because the consistency is similar to heavy cream.
- Separately, fill a gallon-sized plastic baggie halfway with ice and add 1/3 cup of coarse salt.
- Squeeze any extra air out of the pint-sized plastic baggie and place it inside of a gallon-sized baggie.
- Squeeze extra air out of the gallon-sized baggie and start shaking.
- After shaking for 5-10 minutes, you should see ice cream forming in the smaller bag. Once you’re happy with the consistency, take the sealed smaller bag out of the larger one (leave it sealed so that the salt doesn’t combine with your ice cream mixture) and serve.
- Don’t forget to add your favorite toppings, like sprinkles, chocolate chips, or fresh fruit.
Make Your Own Bubbles
Blowing and chasing bubbles is a great way to get your whole family outside on a sunny day. Making your own bubbles is a quick and easy project to do with kids, too. This only requires two ingredients – water and dish soap. You’ll want to use about 1/4 cup of dish soap for every cup of water. To combine them, slowly pour the mixture back and forth between two containers or stir gently, trying not to create bubbles and foam while you mix.
To make your bubbles more resilient, you can add in a small amount of corn starch or glycerin and/or sugar to help with durability. Do your research and determine what method best meets your bubble-making needs.
If you want to add a bit of color to your bubbles, you can also add in a few drops of food coloring. Just make sure you don’t let the bubbles pop on anything you don’t want stained.
If you don’t have a bubble wand on hand, you can get creative using household items, such as straws or pipe cleaners, bent into a circle. Turn your bubble-blowing into a friendly competition, and see who can blow the biggest bubble or the most bubbles at once.
Make Your Own Vacation Memory Jar
Help preserve memories from a fun vacation or day trip by having your child create their own memory jar. You can use a jar you already have around the house, such as an empty mason or jam jar, as the base for this project.
Have your child choose items that are meaningful from your trip or will make you think of your destination. For example, if you visited a beach, sand or seashells would make a great addition to the jar.
You can use this idea even if you’re enjoying a staycation. Go on a favorite walk or hike and find items to include such as rocks or small pinecones that your child picks out.
To make the jar a bit more personal, you can print out a photo from your trip or adventure and cut it down to the height of the jar. Tape or glue it inside to create a backdrop for your memories.
Once all of your items are inside, use a sticker or marker (make sure it can write on glass without smudging) to note the year and/or location of your trip.
Make Your Own Bird Feeder
A bird feeder is a great ongoing project for kids. First, they can design their own bird feeder using common household items you likely already have. Then, you can help them learn responsibility by tasking them to check the feeder periodically to see if it needs more seed.
There are countless ways to make your own bird feeder with kids, but one simple approach is using popsicle or craft sticks. Line up popsicle sticks to make a base – use as many as you need to make your base. Then, glue popsicle sticks going the opposite direction at each end to hold the base together. Next, stack the popsicle sticks vertically until your bird feeder is the shape and size you desire.
When assembling your bird feeder, choose a glue that can withstand the elements, so it doesn’t fall apart the first time it gets hit with rain or wind. If you have more time, let your children paint the popsicle sticks first. Just be sure to choose a paint that’s intended for outdoor use and allow them to dry fully before you glue them together.
Once your bird feeder is complete, fill it with bird seed, and hang it up. Once it’s hanging in your yard, they can learn about birds by identifying which species stop by to eat. Swing by your local library to borrow a birding book for a free way to teach your kids about the birds they see at their feeder.
Make Your Own Sidewalk Chalk
To get your kids’ creativity flowing, help them make their own sidewalk chalk. Once it’s done, they can have fun outside coloring your driveway or sidewalk all summer long.
To make your own sidewalk chalk, you’ll likely need to stop by the craft store to pick up plaster of Paris powder and tempera paint. You’ll also need cups or bowls, silicone molds, and water for this project. You’ll need one cup or mold for each chalk color you want to make. Once you have your materials ready, follow these instructions:
- Mix together ¾ cup of water for every cup of plaster of Paris in a cup or bowl.
- Add in the tempera paint until you get the color you desire.
- Pour the mixture into the molds and allow it to dry (drying time could vary depending on how large of a mold you use.)
- If you pop the chalk out of the molds and they’re not quite the right consistency, allow them to dry for extra time outside of the mold.
When cleaning up, it’s important to follow the instructions on the plaster of Paris container for proper disposal. You’ll want to avoid pouring the mixture down your drain, as it could harden up in your pipes the same way it does in the molds.
More Family Fun on a Budget
There are plenty of ways to give your wallet a break this summer. If you’re looking for more ways to have family fun on a budget, check out our blog for budget-friendly ideas for meals, trips, and more.