Entertain your child on a budget this summer

School is out for the summer, which means you may hear your children saying, “I’m bored” or “There’s nothing to do.”

Whether you live in a city or small town, you likely can find some low-cost activities to keep your child or children entertained.

Check with your county office of the North Dakota State University Extension Service to see what summer youth activities are available in your area. A lot of county Extension offices host no- or low-cost youth programs. Your children may not need to be a 4-H member to participate.

Libraries are a great place to take your children this summer. Look for summer reading programs. Your library may also offer free movie rentals with library membership. Both the Minot Public Library (852-1045) and the Ward County Library (852-5388) offer a variety of summer programs for children.

The cost of going to the movies at a movie theater can add up quickly, especially if you have more than one child. As an alternative, hang a sheet in the backyard, and use a projector and laptop to host an outdoor show – just bring a blanket and the bug spray!

Putting your children in summer sporting activities is a great way to keep them active. However, the cost of these sports can become overwhelming. Teach your child or children outdoor games from your childhood. Did you play games such as Red Light/Green Light or Simon Says? Granted, this will work only if you have multiple children to join the games.

Don’t have the time or money to take your kids to the city pool every day? Then let them have a water balloon fight or run through the sprinkler in your backyard.

If you decide the pool is the best place for your kids to cool off this summer, look at the costs and see what you really “need.” If you have a large family, a family pass may get you the best bang for your buck. But with one child who goes to the pool alone, a single summer pass may be what you need. If your child goes only a few times throughout the summer, see if the pool operators offer a punch card option. You may find that paying per trip to the pool is the least expensive choice.

Check with city parks and recreation services to see if they offer no- or low-cost activities in your community. Even smaller towns may have some day camps that children can attend for a minimal fee.

Locally, there are many opportunities for fun!

– Arts in the Parks is a free summer concert series featuring live music and visual artists. It is every Sunday and Thursday evening from June 11 through Aug. 3 at Oak Park, Minot. For more information, call 852-2787.

– Young people can sharpen their reading skills every Tuesday evening at the Souris Valley Animal Shelter by reading to the cats and dogs (very good listeners, by the way!). Call the Animal Shelter at 852-6133.

– The Taube Museum of Art, Minot, has several free or low-cost offerings for people of all ages this summer. Give them a call at 838-4445.

For more ideas, check the Visit Minot website at visitminot.org or Minot Parks at minotparks.com.

Ellen Bjelland is the Family and Consumer Science Agent with the Ward County Extension Service in Minot.

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