Posted by: elissabell | July 7, 2009


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  1. We try to hit up the parks and other local free attractions/activities as much as we can, then occasionally splurge on going to the Goodman Pool or festivals or the like.

  2. We go camping with another family, splitting the cost of one camp site. We never go camping further than 45 minutes away, saving gas money. We go in together on all of the meals. I also try to make a lot of food ahead of time, making nutritious and inexpensive food.

  3. We explore other small towns and their attractions. We live on the brink of the northwoods so there are many options, especially in the summer. Other small towns have many fairs, carnivals, and festivals that are often impressive.

  4. This is our first summer as parents and we are loving it!! Our daughter is 9 months and we are blessed to have good friends with young daughters as well. We are spending summer Wednesday nights enjoying the concert on the square series! Taking turns bringing dessert to share and watching the girls play and crawl around on the blankets it is a wonderful way to enjoy amazing music right here in our hometown!

  5. Water. Water in any form. The sprinkler. The hose. A bucket with measuring cups. Squirt bottles. Or if we’re feeling ambitious, the Middleton Splash Park (free!) or the beach.

  6. Ice cubes! They make the best toys and are so cheap (and easy) to make. My preschooler loves to “paint” with them on the sidewalk–when he’s not licking them or rubbing them on mommy’s legs!

  7. We spend lots of days at the splash park, we follow around the Art Cart, We take picnics to different parks around town to keep things spicy for the 5 year old. We turn our yard into our own water park with sprinklers, slip n slide and a bucket of water or baby pool. We wrap our baby and hit up the festivals. We go on drives and walk through the arboretum. We camp and pack our own home-made food. We play board games, walk by the lakes, Olbrich, State Street. Sometimes we spend a few bucks on the Childrens Museum, pool, or a Mommy Matinee. Also we make a date of getting a smoothie at Java Detour and then riding on the Ellas Deli carousel. (Or getting a drink, snack, or Gelato at our other favorite coffee shops Mother Fools and Java Cat) We spend time together sitting around having a popsicle and generally relaxing! Happy (thrifty) Summer!

  8. (While trying to nurse the baby back to sleep-it didn’t work- I remembered a few simple things I forgot) We also like to go on bike rides, grill out on a fire in the back yard and play at the Willy St Co-op or Whole Foods kid area while we enjoy a healthy snack.

  9. Our daughter is only 6 months old, so anywhere is an adventure for her! We love spending time in our backyard looking at the plants and watching the occasional animal scurry past. We also enjoy going on evening walks as a family around our neighborhood. It’s so neat to see the world through her eyes! Every blade of grass is something new and interesting to explore. Makes us realize how much we take for granted every day.

  10. I have a recent preschool “graduate” (5, going into kindergarten) and a just-turned-1-year-old. I decided to make the summer fun by organizing a playgroup for my daughter’s preschool classmates, once or twice weekly, all summer. It started with just her class, but then we added in all the kids from the class across the hall too! It’s purely drop-in and voluntary, but we’ve had great turn-out. My rules are that the place to play must be free, and have easy access to bathrooms. So far we have tried out all the “dream parks” in the area, followed the Art Cart, gone to the Vilas zoo, the Middleton splash park, Olbrich gardens, and rain dates at the Monona public library. It is always fun to know that not only are you going to the park, but some of your friends from school will be there!

  11. We like to make our own ‘day camp’ by having special activities at home, with a ‘field trip’ every day. We go to places like the Children’s Museum, story hour at the various libraries, the free Middleton Splash Park, the Vilas Zoo, and others. We always pack a picnic with lots of veggies from our garden and fruit from the farmer’s market. On Wednesdays, we hit up the Lakeside Kids at Monona Terrace and then “pick a picnic” with local food from the farmer’s market. Our special activities involve painting the house (and each other) with mud puddles, playing with shaving cream, making wearable jewelry with cereals and other treats, doing science experiments like making oobleck (water and cornstarch), and more. We try to make a special “camp shirt” for the boys to wear. We also like going to the Arboretum to enact our own “Magic Treehouse” stories which we then tell at home before bed.

  12. We’ve been going to one of the local lake beaches every weekend that the weather allows. We just moved to the area so frankly every time we leave the apartment it’s like being on vacation – a little beach trip just adds the “summer” part. 🙂

  13. I guess it’s time to finally choose a winner, though I was having a great time letting the answers pile up. In the theme of staying professional (though the “hey, Hilary, choose a number between 1 and 12” tends to work well too) i used “” (which is fun) and got 5….

    so, elizabeth, it’s all you!

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