Mother Nature’s Free Fun


Viewing this weekend’s Perseid meteor shower may have been one of the most thrilling moments of the summer. And the best part: I didn’t have to fork over a single penny for the opportunity. Rather, my family got to witness a sky set ablaze with so many shooting stars we lost count of them all.

Free family fun. It doesn’t get better than that.

According to AAA, the price of gas has increased 34 cents since July 1st. It’s no wonder why parents are counting their pennies and looking for affordable ways to entertain their kids.

And by affordable, I mean F-R-E-E!

After soaking up the star show, I’m on a full-blown kick to unplug and utilize as much of Mother’s Nature’s free resources as possible. With summer fading, you might consider doing the same with your clan. No more afternoons or evenings sitting in front of the television, computer or handheld video games. Turn off your iPod and cellphone and start exploring the great outdoors.

You may have missed this weekend’s Perseid meteor shower, but that doesn’t mean you can’t gather the kids and go stargazing at a local park before school starts. Let your children break curfew for one night and head out to a rural area, away from bright city lights. If you don’t have a telescope, bring binoculars and a book on constellations. You can spice up the night by having contests to see who will be the first to find Ursa Major, Orion and Andromeda.

Another cheap evening thrill for kids and parents requires a park, arboretum or nature preserve, flashlights and a high level of curiosity. During the summer months most city-run nature areas are open until 10 p.m. Consider visiting at dusk to see and hear all of the creatures that come out when the sun goes down. Use your flashlights to hone in on owls, bats, hedgehogs and raccoons. Or, turn off the flashlights and let the kids chase fireflies.

Related Articles:

Summer Fun for Kids in the Great Outdoors

Super Summer Sanity Savers for Parents

Affordable Ways to Keep Kids Busy This Summer

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.