We rustled up 11 smart ways to celebrate spring that kids will love—and that won’t cost you a lot of money. Try one or all. Spring will never be the same!
1. Commune with nature
Compile a list of things little kids can find outdoors in April (use clip art or photos for pre-readers). Join them for the search. Keep the targets simple: a bird of any kind, a squirrel, a flower, an ant. Boost the challenge for older children—at a park or arboretum have them search for two or more ducks swimming together, a red-and-black bird, large yellow flowers, a bug, a nest, a robin’s egg, and a cool-looking shadow made by the shade of a large tree. Take pix and post on social media for family and friends. Or make a shadow box with your treasures (be sure to date it).
2. Save the planet
April 22 is Earth Day. For one day only, commit to using as little electricity, gas, water, and other resources as possible. Which family member can conserve the most? Let him or her choose dessert! Wear green and brown—earth colors. Take a hike, toil at a community garden, plant a tree in your yard, pull weeds, go vegan for a day, and if you’re not doing so already, reduce, reuse, recycle. See if your family can keep it up after Earth Day.
3. Behold the power of produce
Visit a farmers’ market. Let the kids explore the grounds (with you nearby), visit stalls, ask questions, taste free samples. Have kids point out one fruit or veggie in each of the rainbow colors. Then hand over a dollar or two and let them spend it on something special or encourage them to select two items they've never tasted before to cook and serve for dinner.
Connect with Friends and Family
4. Appreciate a sibling
Treat your kids to a movie and dinner if they vow to spend a squabble-free day together on National Siblings Day, April 10. Encourage them to make or buy small gifts, yummy treats, or favorite foods to show how much they care for one another.
5. Host a Thai water fight
In Thailand, people across the country mark the Thai New Year with the Songkran festival (April 13-15). Celebrants gather in the streets and in a friendly kind of way douse each other with water. Revelers use water blasters, large buckets, cups, and even garden hoses to wash away bad luck and wish each other well. Celebrate your own Thai New Year with a water fight at home with friends and family. Feast on Thai food later.
6. Practice yoga together
Grab some mats and head outside to teach your kids (or learn together) how to strike a table pose, a downward-facing dog, a cat pose, or a cow pose in honor of National Stress Awareness Month. Yoga boosts concentration and confidence. Enjoy the moment as your kids find their way to a more relaxed and peaceful mind and spirit.
Have Fun, Get Smarter
7. Learn about the world from the ground up
Find an atlas, head outside, and help your kids draw continents and oceans with sidewalk chalk—and don’t worry about it being perfect. Then walk from country to country and pretend you’re visiting. Impart such wisdom as “This country is known for pizza” or “This one makes the best chocolate ever.” Look up fast facts about one or two nations on the Internet. Explore their history and culture.
8. Cultivate a chemist
Have a blast making sidewalk chalk, using powdered plaster, paint, and water. Set aside time to talk about the science behind it. Ask your child, “What happens when you add too much water? Too little? Why is it important to have the right measurements of each component for this to work?”
Spread Literacy All Over
9. Donate books
Got two kids—say, one six and one eight? Great! Encourage each to donate six or eight well-loved and gently used books, respectively. Donate books to local schools and the public library. Charities such as Goodwill Industries and Better World Books accept books, too.
10. Read rhymes instead of stories
Commemorate National Poetry Month by sharing 30 poems in 30 days. Include silly poems, famous verses, nursery rhymes, and limericks to get you started. Organize a poetry slam. Make up poems to read aloud for a family activity on a Friday night.
Celebrate the Holidays
11. Eat, repurpose, seek
April means store shelves will be stocked with tons of matzo and plenty of plastic eggs. Let kids sample chocolate-covered matzo. One super fun way to repurpose all those eggs is to fill them with love notes. Hide the eggs around the house so your kids can find one or more each day.