When I used to have the luxury of staying home with my kids during the summer, I wanted to make sure I didn’t hear those dreaded words from my kids: “I’m bored!” I decided that I would map out the entire summer in advance, so we all would have something fun to look forward to.
To ensure a smooth summer, the first order was establishing rules. The primary rule was no complaining. If we were attempting an activity that they didn’t care for or had not tried, there was no bellyaching. Secondly, only I could change the activity. If we were planning a morning hike and the rain started to pour, I was able to switch it for another plan. The next rule was this was a Monday through Friday prospect, and weekends were meant for relaxing. Lastly, we would only participate if everyone’s chores were completed in advance.
With the ground rules set, my mission was to find entertaining activities to keep the summer interesting, but not to break the bank. Here are some of the ideas we came up with and the cost of each. To keep up the excitement factor, I made a calendar so the children could always look forward to our daily plan. Since I currently work full time, I am unable to share the daily fun with my son, but hopefully, these ideas will help you beat the summer blues.
Monday: Every Monday, we attend the Harkins Theatres Summer Movie Program. Each week at 9:45 a.m., we attend a kid’s movie at the Harkins Theatre. The program is 10 weeks long and features some fun movies such as “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” and “Rio”. The cost is $7.00 per person for all ten movies! (This is the one event we continue to do each year and I arrange my work schedule so Dan and I can go!) In June, Mesa Public Schools features free breakfast (from 7:30 am to 8:30 am) and free lunch (approximately 11:00 am to 12:30 pm–varies by location) to children under 18. Meals are offered Monday through Friday and adults may purchase breakfast for $1.25 and lunch for $3.00. Check the Mesa Public Schools website for locations.
Total cost for the day: $4.40
Tuesday: Start the day with a free breakfast at MPS ($1.25 for adults) and then set up water day! If your yard can’t accommodate water day, move your adventure to one of many parks in Mesa. Stop by a dollar store and pick up some water balloons, and squirt guns and maybe even a slip and slide (or try Target or Walmart). Bring towels!
Total cost: approximately $10.00.
Wednesday: Reading day. Have the kids read their favorite book (or books) and act out a scene from the book.
Total cost: free
Thursday: Mesa Museum for Youth, open from 10-4. Throughout June, the theme is Extreme Pets.
Total cost: $7.00 per person.
Friday: McDonald’s play place. Head to your local McDonald’s for a kid’s meal and a place for kids to burn off some energy. Afterwards, take a stroll through the local WalMart to kill some time.
Total cost: approximately $8.00.
Monday: Harkins movie!
Total cost: .70 per person (paid in advance with no snacks)
Tuesday: Start with a free breakfast at MPS and then come home for a cooking day. Work with your children in your own kitchen–learn to make some easy dishes, based on your childrens’ ages and abilities. Enjoy your culinary creations together!
Total cost: $1.25 (adult breakfast)
Wednesday: Check out the Great Arizona Puppet Theatre, featuring their rendition of Red Riding Hood. Shows start promptly at 10am.
Total cost: $6.00 for children, $8.00 for adults.
Thursday: Start out with a great breakfast at Mesa Public Schools and then head home and have “art day”. Tie dye shirts, paint and glitter American Flags to honor “Flag Day” (June 14th) or for 4th of July.
Total cost: $1.25 for breakfast (per adult) and cost of supplies.
Friday: Tempe Town Lake’s Beach Park. From 10 am to 7 pm, the Beach Park has a Splash Playground for kids. Pack a lunch and make it a day!
Total cost: $0
Monday: Movie day! 9:45 am. Afterwards, cruise over to the school for a Mesa Public Schools lunch
Total cost: .70 per person (no snacks) and $3.00 for adult lunch
Tuesday: Grab a light rail all day pass and head over to “A” Mountain in Tempe, first thing in the morning! Take an early hike before it gets too hot and then hop on the light rail to check out Phoenix. Get off at various stops and walk around different areas of the valley. Make sure to bring lots of water!
Total cost: $3.50 for an all day light rail pass, per person
Wednesday: (June 20th)–Attend a matinee Diamondbacks game at 12:40. Tickets start at just $7.00 a seat! Take the light rail and save the parking cost.
Approximate cost with light rail: $21.00. Eat lunch before the game or check out one of the many downtown lunch spots.
Thursday: Head to the AZ Farmers Market (one is located at Mother Nature’s Farm, in Mesa). Take the kids out to the farm and sample the local fruits and vegetables and then stop by MPS to sample a free lunch.
Total: your purchase and $3.00 for adult lunch
Friday: Bounce U in Gilbert has two hour sessions for kids to use the inflatables and wear themselves out! Parents are welcomed to participate at well, and reservations are recommended. Remember to wear socks!
Total: $8.95 per person for a two hour session
Monday: It’s movie time at Harkins Theatre. After the show, visit the closest Mesa Public School for lunch.
Total: .70 per person for the movie and $3.00 for adult lunch.
Tuesday: Visit the Phoenix zoo and check out the animals. Coupons are available for a free child’s admission with purchase of adult’s admission. Gates open at 7 am.
Total cost with coupon (excluding food): $18.00
Wednesday: Enjoy the day at home with a video game contest.
Thursday: Go enjoy the Desert Oasis Pool in Chandler. The large pool area includes diving boards and a slide and there’s a shaded area when you’ve had too much sun.
Total: $1.00 for kids, $2.25 for adults
Friday: Rent movies with a theme. Watch all the Harry Potter movies, the Pirates of the Caribbean flicks or the Star Wars films. Have everyone dress up as a character from the film and plan the menu around the movie theme.
Total: movie rental cost
Monday: Movie day–grab a yogurt or ice cream afterwards!
Total: .70 per person and approximately $5.00 for ice cream
Tuesday: Swing by the local library. Some libraries have a story time and you can pick up a few good reads, as well. Read the books to the kids in character.
Wednesday: Plan your 4th of July celebration–have a picnic (indoors, if necessary) and check out the fireworks at Tempe Town Lake.
Thursday: Go by the Bass Pro Shops and walk around the store. They have a huge indoor aquarium and you can also try your hand at the shooting gallery.
Total: shooting gallery cost
Friday: Tempe’s Kiwanis Wave Pool has an indoor pool with real waves! You can rent a raft and ride the waves and also go down the indoor slide. The hours are 1-5.
Total Cost: $5.00 per child, $7.00 per adult. Raft rental extra.
Monday: After the Harkins movie, try a pizza at Peter Piper Pizza. There are video games and a play area for the kids.
Total: .70 each for the movie, and food and token cost.
Tuesday: Take the kids out to volunteer. Feed My Starving Children in Tempe has two hour sessions where children as young as five can volunteer to package food.
Wednesday: Make it another library day and then cruise over to Skateland at 5pm. Admission on Wednesdays from 5-8 is free.
Total: skate rental (or bring your own!)
Thursday: Brunswick bowling sessions offer two for one bowling (coupons required). Make sure you wear socks!
Total: $3.49 per game (before 6pm) and $3.95 shoe rental, per person
Friday: Play some mini golf at Golfland. Go early to beat the heat. Opens at 11 am.
Total: $7.95 for adults, $6.95 for kids. Coupons for free games are available!
Monday: Harkins movie and a coupon for a free meal at Hot Dog on a Stick (inside the Saavy Shopper guide)
Total: .70 per person for the movie and cost of meal
Tuesday: Schedule all your back to school appointments on one day: visit the dentist and doctor all in one day!
Total: $0.00 (or co-pay)
Wednesday: Take a trip to As You Wish Pottery. Let the kids break out their creativity by painting their own piece of pottery.
Total: $8.00 session fee for adults, $6.00 for kids, excluding cost of pottery pieces.
Thursday: Do some window shopping at one of the local malls. Visit the pet stores, if you date.
Friday: Return to Desert Oasis for some fun in the sun.
Total: $1.00 per child, $2.25 per adult.
Monday: Harkins movie day at 9:45 am. After the film, head on over to Buffalo Wild Wings at the Chandler Mall. Ask for my older son, Ryan, to wait on you!
Total: .70 for the film (in advance) and your cost for lunch.
Tuesday: Pop in to Laser Quest in Mesa for a few games of laser tag.
Total: $8.00 per person, per game (or on a Friday night, leave the kids overnight for an all night laser tag session–check the Laser Quest website for times and costs).
Total: $16.00 for a two person game.
Wednesday: Have a Board game day. Award ribbons to the winners.
Total: No cost!
Thursday: Splurge and spend a day at Sunsplash. Ride a tube on the lazy river and enjoy the exciting water adventures while keeping cool in the Arizona heat. Locker rentals are $11.00.
Total cost: $27.99 per person (over 48 inches tall) and $19.99 for smaller children.
Friday: Hold an ice cream sundae day at home. Get different flavors of ice cream and have everyone decorate their sundaes with their favorite toppings. Grab some cherries, nuts, whipped cream, and any of your favorite ice cream toppings.
Total: $15.00 approximately for ice cream and toppings
Monday: The last week of the 10 week Harkins movie program. Splurge, if you like, on popcorn and soda.
Total: .70 per person for the film, and bring $20.00 for snacks!
Tuesday: Let your kids pick their favorite activity from the summer
Total: Cost will vary
Wednesday: Clothes and school supply shopping. Pick your favorite stores and prep the kids for the upcoming school year!
Total: Cost will vary
Thursday: Hit the library one last time and have the kids act out their favorite scenes from their books. This may help them to break the ice with their new classmates, too!
Friday: Check out the fun at Organ Stop Pizza. Order your best pizza pie and be entertained by the organ music and sing and clap along.
Total: Cost of food and drink
Monday: Get ready for school: have your children make something for their new teachers. Sneak in one last volunteer day by dropping off some food at the local food bank.
Hopefully, you took some pictures from your summer adventures and can spend some time making memory books with your children before they start back to school. Have a great summer!