There are many sports and activities that cost the proverbial arm and a leg (and, sometimes, it feels like a rib and an eye too). But there are also many sports that require little to no equipment and the whole family can play together. They’re a win for fun and for your wallet. Here are just a few.
While the popularity of skateboarding has waxed and waned since it was invented in the 1950s, it was recently named an Olympic sport. With boards at many price points, everyone from ages two to 102 can hop on for a ride. Skateboard on a level surface like a driveway, sidewalk, or schoolyard, or, once you’ve mastered some tricks, in a skate park. Don’t forget your helmet and elbow and knee pads.
2. Frisbee/disc golf
Frisbee golf can be played with two to many players. Requiring only a disc or frisbee, you can play in your backyard, a local schoolyard, or in parks. Many public parks, in fact, have frisbee golf courses already set up for free use. The rules are similar to golf. Players stand on a tee (or starting line) and take turns throwing towards a target. At a set-up course, the targets are called disc catchers and are usually metal baskets. For a DIY game, you could set up laundry baskets or hula hoops as targets. Just like golf, there are usually nine “holes” or targets, and the goal is to take as few shots as possible to get your frisbee into the hole.
Badminton is a fun racquet sport for two to four players. Requiring only racquets and birdies, games can be played in a backyard, a schoolyard, a beach, or anywhere at all, with or without a net. Practice forehand and backhand, and decide whether or not you keep score. If you want to develop your game more fully, many schools teach the sport in PE class and/or have teams. Recreational and team play can also be found at some community recreation centres at a cost far lower than joining a racquet club.
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Playing with family and friends in a backyard or schoolyard, the only equipment necessary is a ball and items to mark off a net. Have fun learning the basics with various drills and your child might eventually choose to play with their school team, a team at a local recreation centre, or in a soccer league. Here’s how and when to get your child started in the sport.
Dancing is a fantastic way for kids to express their creativity and develop agility, balance, and coordination. It can also help kids with many other areas of their lives in interesting ways, too. Movements such as jumping, skipping, and hopping can be incorporated into dancing in your living room, at a party, or anywhere at all. With so many different genres of dance, there’s something for everyone. Many recreation centres offer low-cost dance classes for kids and parents alike.
Basketball is a fun and low cost game for all. Pick up a basketball and work on shooting, catching, dribbling, and ball handling in your own driveway or schoolyard, with or without a net. Head to a local school playground or recreation centre to play as a family or with others, or join a school team to learn new skills in practices and games.
The best news about hiking? Nature is free! Let your kids help pick a trail and to choose a few snacks and water for the hike. Activities during hikes are limitless. Have your kids look for different rocks or bugs. Create a scavenger hunt with a list of items that begin with every letter of the alphabet or every colour of the rainbow. Kids can balance on tree stumps, hop over roots, and climb hills.
Swimming is an important life skill that can be learned with or without formal lessons. While formal lessons offered through local recreation centres are definitely going to teach kids the skills necessary to be a confident and strong swimmer, there are many ways that parents can work with their own kids. Whether it’s a pool, a lake, or a creek, the key is that kids learn to to be safe in and around water, as well as enjoy it, and that they swim well enough to be safe. For more formal lessons, check in with your local recreation centre. Once kids have mastered the skills, swimming is a wonderful (and very low-cost!) family activity.
A pair of running shoes and off you go! Whether it’s around the block, to the end of the playground and back, or on a trail in a ravine, running is a great activity to do for fun, as a family, or with a school or organized team. Keep an eye out for undone laces!
Keeping your kids moving and building skills is important and can be undertaken without compromising your family budget.
Remember to check with your local and provincial guidelines as to restrictions in the use of public and private spaces before you plan any activities.