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20 ideas for the park – frugal family fun

Park ideas for kids & parents!

Park Ideas

Having been a mom for eleven years, I have certainly spent a lot of time at parks. I do love watching my kids have fun, but sometimes I get a bit bored — there, I said it!

Having set aside that confession, I decided to pull together a Frugal Family Fun post with ideas for playing at the park — for all the parents and kids out there who need a little variety.

Mix it up

For variety, I throw the kids (nicely, of course) into the van to visit a new park. They love exploring new equipment and trying to climb, spin and swing in different ways.

Splish splash

Our city has an online list of splash/spray pads we can access for free. In the warmest months, I keep a bag of swimsuits, sunscreen and towels in the van so we can cool off without any pre-planning required.

Say cheese

Some of my favorite pictures of my boys are shots at the park. Chasing them around, trying to get that perfect shot – it keeps me active, almost as much as the kids.

Say Cheese

Park activities to try

    1. Play on the equipment with the kids. Run, chase, slide, climb.

Mom at Playground

    1. Bring a bucket and shovel for each child, and at least one to share. Be a park hero.
    2. Catch the wind in a plastic bag. More fun than you’d imagine on a windy day.
    3. Have a competition to see who can swing the highest. Perhaps wait until they at least have hair.

Baby in the Swing

    1. Collect – label one plastic zip-top bag for each child to gather treasures (pine cones, pebbles, leaves).
    2. Chalk — play hopscotch with the kids, trace each others’ shadows, daydream and draw.


    1. Race — my boys love to beat me. I used to have to let them win!
    2. Lie on the grass and look for shapes in the clouds.
    3. Listen — everyone closes their eyes and names all the sounds they can hear.
    4. Load up the wagon with baseball bats and balls. Show them what you’ve got.

Dad Playing Baseball

    1. Play with marbles.
    2. Rest — my babies had their best stroller naps at the park.
    3. Make a friend — kids and adults can meet the nicest people at parks, if we are friendly.
    4. Bring a few toys. Playmobil guys love to fight enemies in the sand. Cars on the slide are a hoot.
    5. Play a board game at the park. Years ago, my boys loved this chess set under a tree.

Chess at the Park

    1. Scavenger hunt — make a list of specific things kids should be able to find at your park.
    2. Bring a book — stories come to life when we read them in a new environment.
    3. Blow bubbles and chase them.
    4. Help them climb a tree. Our new-ish subdivision requires that we drive a bit for trees that don’t resemble twigs, but it is worth it, especially when it fosters teamwork.

Climbing a Tree

  1. I promised twenty ideas – and reserved this number for our MapleMoney readers.

Having recently visited with a friend who is moving back to Africa, I was reminded of the privilege we have to safely and freely explore parks in Canada. Frugal fun at its finest.

What favourite park idea can you give to fill in #20?


  1. Angie

    20. Feed the ducks
    21. Make/fly a kite
    22. Photo scavenger hunt…take pictures rather than gathering things
    23. Look for a splash park
    24. Lay on your side and roll down hills

  2. Sarah

    Love this post!! Thanks Karen. The park gives me a great cardio workout!! I have my littlest babe in a sling and follow my toddler step for step. No need for the gym!! Thanks for the fun ideas.

  3. Jo

    water gun and water balloon fights.

  4. marlene

    Wonderful, creative ideas!

  5. Olivia

    Always loved the park and swings. I used to take my baby to nap under those majestic willow trees to the park you have pictured here before I had air condition. So much fun and energy galore required.
    Let’s always take advantage of our outdoors since good weather is short lived in our part of Canada.
    Thanks for a great post.

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