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As a new dad, I’m so excited to teach my daughter new things. Her current hobbies include crawling around the floor to play with dog toys or snuggle her favorite giraffe.
But when she’s older, I want to read Harry Potter with her and play basketball together. She will naturally learn to love the things I love if I teach her how.
Teaching my daughter new hobbies is a gateway to free family activities that will help us live on budget and reach our financial goals faster too.
“If you love it, they will love it. You must teach them how.”
A few years ago, a fellow teacher and I decided to teach our middle schoolers how to play the Pokemon Trading Card Game. If you have kids, there’s a good chance your kid has come home with Pokemon cards or asked to buy them at some point or another.
There’s also a good chance you despise Pokemon cards because they’re everywhere and all your kid can think about. I was that middle schooler once upon a time. 🙂
My friend Drew and I set out to teach our middle schoolers how to play Pokemon because we love it. I grew up playing the original game boy game and collecting cards when I was in middle school. And since Pokemon is awesome, it’s still around and popular 20 years later.
We had a ton of kids sign up to learn how to play and before we knew it, our school was bursting at the seams with Pokemon nerds who wanted to battle us and each other with the newest deck they built.
It was amazing! We got to share a hobby we loved with our students and watch them fall in love with it too. Through our passion, we taught them how to fall in love with a fun and challenging hobby. It’s a game they can play for the rest of their lives and teach to their own kids someday.
Now that I have my own family and a growing daughter, I want to teach her to love the things I love and embrace the hobbies she loves. I’m so excited to read Harry Potter with her and talk about the amazing and terrible things happening at Hogwarts. I’ll teach her how to play Pokemon too.
I actually started teaching my 7 year old niece how to play Pokemon a couple weeks ago and she loves it! She asked me to play about 10 times in one weekend.
So I’m adding a slight twist to fun family activities you can do with your kids. Think about what hobbies you love and how you can teach your kids and even your spouse how to love it too. Let your passion, goofiness, and love infect them in a way that they can’t help but love it too.
I’ll also include some classic kid activities that your kids can teach you how to love (hello giant cardboard box).
Try any of these free family activities to make memories this weekend. Remember to take a few pictures. Let’s take free family fun to a new level.
Build a Fort in Your Living Room and Watch a Movie
What kid doesn’t love making forts? Yes it makes a mess of your living room, but who cares! It’s worth it. Rearrange the furniture and grab bed sheets and blankets to drape over the chairs and couches. My wife and I did this a few years ago and used the broom to give our fort a little more height.
Get creative and be open to goofy ideas, because let’s face it, your kids will probably have some goofy ones.
Pick a movie, make some popcorn, and settle into your comfy, cozy, family fort. Take it to the next level and give your fort a name. Castle Griffin has a nice ring to it, haha.
Make Your Own Movie or Movie Trailer
Let’s stick with the movie theme for a bit longer. Do you have a smart phone and a laptop? If so, you have everything you need to make a short home movie. Film with your phone and edit on your computer (most computers have movie editing software already installed).
Once you come up with an idea, find props, scavenge your wardrobes for costume ideas, and start filming. It’ll probably be terrible, but you’ll have so much fun. If you’re fresh out of ideas, recreate your favorite movies together.
A couple years ago I hosted a Harry Potter Club after school. We played games, did quizzes, and played Muggle Quidditch. The most fun we had though is when kids asked if they could make their own Harry Potter movie. We spent the next six weeks recreating “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, and called it “Harry Potter and the Conjurer’s Pebble”.
It was hilarious! The only part I played was facilitator and editor. I helped keep them on track and come up with scene ideas, and they did all the filming, acting, costume design, and props. Everything they used for props and costumes came from my room. It was amazing and will always be a highlight of my teaching career.
Bake and Cook Together – Better Yet, Let Your Kids Plan and Prepare Meals for a Day
When we were paying off our student loans, we stopped going out to eat completely. It was a huge change in our lifestyle and really annoying, but we saved so much money. Instead we cooked every meal at home. We launched into the world of meal prepping, and spent every Sunday cooking big batches of meals for the week.
Instead of viewing it as a chore, which it totally was a lot of times, we tried to make it fun by putting on music and dancing around the kitchen. We also love Top Chef, so we pretended we were professional chefs in a really fancy kitchen instead of our tiny apartment kitchen.
Why can’t you do the same thing with your kids? Pick a fun meal and let them be the chefs with you. Give them jobs and tasks to do, explain what you’re doing, and play fun music in the background. If you teach your kids how to cook and make it fun, you might instill a passion in them.
Now that we’re debt free Jenna gets to bake more. The most fun she has baking is when she does it with our nieces and nephews. They make a mess together in the kitchen, and have a blast doing it. My niece Kiley asks Jenna to bake something every time we see them, even if it’s just making pancakes together.
Get a Giant Box and Let Your Imaginations Run Wild
I told you the giant box was coming! 🙂
It seems like there’s nothing kids love more than a giant box. A box gives kids so many opportunities to be creative and explore the farthest corners of their imaginations. Your kids will probably take to the box naturally and start their adventures.
Don’t be afraid to join the fun with them. Get on their level and explore your own imagination.
Go to a Museum and Pretend You’re Art Critics
Most local museums are free. Find a museum and make a family date out of it. Instead of just wandering through in 30 minutes, take time to evaluate artwork that catches your eye. Boost your fun by talking in accents and critique the artwork like you know what you’re talking about.
Ask your kids ridiculous questions about the art to get them into it.
Create a Science Experiment
Did you ever make a volcano that blows up? I sure didn’t, but I bet I would’ve loved it as a kid! You don’t need fancy chemicals or ingredients, just the right ones. Grab some vinegar and baking soda and get started making your volcano.
If you don’t want to make a volcano, there are still tons of simple science experiments you can do with your kids at home. You don’t need to be an expert either. Most use basic ingredients that you might already have in your house. Here are eight cool experiments you can try this week.
Learn a New Hobby Together
I fell in love with sports by watching them with my Dad. He loved sports, and because I thought my Dad was the coolest person in the world, I learned to love them too. Playing and watching sports is still one of my favorite hobbies in my 30s.
What hobbies do you love to do that you can teach your kids? Is there a new hobby that you can both learn together?
The best cheap hobby I know is Dungeons and Dragons. The only supplies you need are dice and character sheets. You can download the Player’s Handbook and campaigns for free and you’re all set. You don’t need to be an expert, just a bit more than your kids.
That’s how I taught it to my middle schoolers and now many of them have a life long hobby they absolutely love. Some even discovered that their parents used to play D&D and now they can play together.
Other free options are hiking, geocaching, play catch or shoot hoops, or start a book club with your kids. Get creative and have fun.
Family Game Night
This is something I wish my family did growing up. I love to play games, even if I’m not good at them.
Set up one night a week, or every other week and play games together. Your kids feed off of your enthusiasm so make it a big deal. Build it up until they buy into it and you’ll have a fun, free family activity for a long time.
If you don’t have any games, spend a couple bucks at Goodwill to get started.
You can switch it up every time, or play the same game and start a leaderboard. Track wins and losses so you can try to dethrone the champ. I’m thinking of “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” (great cheesy romance movie BTW) and their running leaderboard of BS.
If you don’t want to play actual board games, grab a deck of cards. There are endless games you can play with a single deck. If you start when they’re kids, you’ll always have something to do together even when your kids are adults. Then you can start with the new generation. 🙂
Have a Movie Marathon Day
Who doesn’t love a good movie marathon. You sleep in and stay in your comfy PJs all day. Brew delicious coffee for yourself and hot apple cider for the kiddos, grab your favorite blankets and snuggle in.
Take it next level by making themed food and drinks or dress up in fun costumes (or matching PJs since you’ll be watching movies all day).
My friends hosted a Lord of the Rings marathon last summer and made it a big deal. They made yummy snacks and gave them movie themed names. Deviled eggs became “Eyes of Sauron”, toast is “Lembas Bread”, and a box of Keebler Elves can be “The Council of Elrond”.
Be creative, have fun, and start a family tradition while you share your love of your favorite movies.
Family Activities Don’t Need to Hurt Your Budget
You can go to the movie theater, play laser tag or mini golf, or go out to eat. Those are awesome and fun things, but they cost a lot of money. Fun with your family doesn’t need to break or budget or delay your debt free goals. Use these free family activities to break the routine of spending. You can start this weekend.
Leave a Comment 🙂
What are your favorite free family activities? How do you save money having fun with your family?
Our budget and goals changed our lives and it can change yours too.
As an Educator and Personal Finance Blogger, Jamie has helped hundreds of families learn how to budget, save money, and pay off debt (go here to subscribe and start your debt free journey). Read our debt free story, “How We Paid Off $73,000 of Debt in Less Than Four Years”.