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5 Spring Activities Under $5

May 12

By Amanda Gartzke, program manager

For my family and like many other families, there are a lot of fun spring and summer activities that don’t always fit into the budget. Luckily, there are plenty of activities to enjoy together that won’t break the bank. Here is a list of five things to do under $5. Have fun making spring and summer memories.

1. Homemade Window Clings
Get in the spirit of the changing seasons by decorating your home with spring and summer imagery: suns, raindrops, watermelon, ice cream, baseballs, fireworks — get creative!

White school glue
Dish soap
Food coloring
Plastic wrap
Paint brush

Instructions: Stir together 2 tbsp. of glue and ¼ tsp. of dish soap. Add a few drops of food coloring. Repeat the process for as many colors as you like. Using a paint brush to paint your image or design onto laid out plastic wrap. Do freehand or use cookie cutters and stencils. Let sit for approximately 8 to 10 hours depending on the thickness of the glue mixture painted down. After dried, peal your window clings off the plastic and stick them to the window. Note: Mixture can be applied directly to windows. To avoid drips, use multiple thin coats.

2. Giant Bubbles
Spend the afternoon blowing bubbles as big as you are with this easy recipe. Bubbles that even your big kid will love!

6 cups water
1/2 cup dish soap
2 tbsp. glycerin

Additional Items Needed:
Large container

Instructions: Stir together water, soap, and glycerin in large container. Let the mixture sit for at least an hour. The longer the mixture sits, the better the results. Use this time to create your bubble wands. Cut a piece of yarn that stretches from fingertip to fingertip. Feed the yarn through two straws and tie to create a loop. The straws will work as your handles. Once the bubble mixture has sat long enough, lower your hands holding the wand into the container. Walk backwards allowing air to catch in your yarn loop. After everyone gets the hang of how to create bubble, see who can create the largest!

3. Newspaper Fort
This is a great indoor activity on rainy spring days when you want to make a cozy play space or a fun outdoor project when you need shade from the summer sun.

Tape and/or stapler

Instructions: Take two sheets of newspaper, lay them out flat, and start rolling it from one corner until you have a rod-like support. The tighter the roll, the stronger the rod you’ll have. Secure with tape or staple. Make at least 30 newspaper supports. Make triangles with your supports using tape or staple at the three corners. Secure each triangle to each other creating your structure. The more triangles, the larger the structure can be. Cover with extra newspaper or a lightweight bed sheet.

4. DIY Sponge Balls
Water balloons are a favorite summer pastime for kids but is dreaded by parents, or at least me. Water balloons are a one-time use item that leaves rubber all over the place — not great for the environment or my wallet. Making sponge balls is a perfect solution. Take the time this spring to fashion these water bombs and be prepared all summer long.

6 sponges (6-pack for $3, buy more as your budge allows)
Rubber bands or strong string/floss

Instructions: Cut a sponge longways into four equal strips. Repeat with a second sponge. Bunch the sponge strips together going the same direction. Tie a string tight around the middle or wrap a rubber around the middle with no slack. If it is tight enough the strips will fan out creating a ball that will not fall apart. Repeat with the remaining sponges. When you are ready to have your water fight, place a large container of water outside to ‘refill’ the balls as you play.

5. Milwaukee’s Blue Moon Ice Cream
This Wisconsin summer staple actually costs $15 when purchasing everything listed below. However, if you are buying all of the ingredients new, you will have enough for 8 serving — enough for the whole family to enjoy or to split over a few weekends! You may already have some of these ingredients or supplies in your pantry which will cut down on cost. *For a less expensive option, remove raspberry and lemon extract, nutmeg, and food coloring for a simple but delicious vanilla recipe.

1 cup milk 
¼ cup granulated sugar 
½ tsp vanilla extract 
¼ tsp raspberry extract 
¼ tsp lemon extract 
¼ tsp nutmeg 
A drop of blue food coloring 

Additional Items Needed:
Sandwich baggies
Quart or gallon baggies
Ice cream salt

Instructions: Add all ingredients to sandwich bag, seal, and shake to mix. Add ice and rock salt to the larger bag. Put the sandwich bag that contains ice cream mixture in with the ice. Shake the bag to churn the mixture into ice cream. This can take up to 15 minutes and winter gloves are encouraged.

BONUS: Make a Summer Bucket List
Use springtime to think as a family of all the things you would like to do over this summer. What 25 ways do you want to prioritize time with your family? Need help getting started? Here’s a great list.