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8 Ideas for Cheap, Outdoor Fun for Kids This Labor Day

Monkey Business

The calendar might point to September 22nd as the first day of Fall, but anyone with kids knows we're deep into the home stretch of summer. Many kids are back in school already, still others may return right after Labor Day. 

The three-day Labor Day weekend looms ahead, and that can be a challenge for parents who worry they’ve exhausted all their ideas, and maybe all their spending cash, over the past couple of months.

"It's easy to entertain kids if you have money," says Lake Effect contributor, Stacy Tornio. So Tornio has saved a few ideas that parents may want to dust off to keep the kids (or grandkids), occupied this Labor Day weekend. 

1. Sprinkler 

With high temperatures expected for the weekend, it's the perfect time to bring out that age-old favorite: the sprinkler. "It doesn't cost any money, you throw it in the backyard, and you just let em' go," says Tornio. 

2. Water Balloons

Water balloon fights are another tradition as old as time, but there's a very good reason for that: they're fun and many kids love them. "You'll definitely spend more time filling up the balloons than throwing them, but who cares? That'll keep those kids busy," she says. 

3. Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt is a great way to let children exercise their own creativity. "Let the kids write out clues for each other like they're going on a treasure hunt. And have something, you know, a little prize at the end," says Tornio. 

4. Obstacle Course

This idea came from Tornio's daughter, who suggests setting up chairs and different stations in the backyard. It's also an activity that can quickly be converted to an indoor activity in case of bad weather, says Tornio, and "if it's really hot and you just can't stand the heat, do that inside as well." 

5. Kickball 

All that's required for kickball is a large, rubber ball and it's a game that doesn't have an age limit. "The adults can join in, it can be a kids game, whatever," she says.

6. Four Square

"You can create your own foursquare board using sidewalk chalk," say Tornio. The only other necessity is a rubber playground ball and some dexterity. It's a great game for kids because the rounds are short, so everyone can get a turn. 

7. Dollar Store Challenge

The "Dollar Store Challenge" is something Tornio does with her kids. Everyone gets one or two dollars to spend at a dollar store,with the idea that whatever they buy will be used in a group activity. It's another chance for kids to use their creativity, while exercising decision making skills. 

8. Making Popsicles

This is an activity that easily follows the "Dollar Store Challenge." Popsicle molds can be found at many dollar stores, and don't need a lot of set up. Kids can blend up their favorite fruits (or juices), pour them into the mold, and wait for them to set. "That's a great activity and an idea that really just costs a dollar," she says.

While these activities are great for the kids, Tornio says you don't have to be limited by your age. "Get a kickball and challenge friends, like your 20-something, 30-something, 50-something-year-olds to a kickball game. I promise you'll have fun."

Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.