Free Kids Summer Activities in Jackson Mississippi

Summers in Jackson, Mississippi can be long, hot, and boring for children unless you have a plan to make the days both worthwhile and memorable. An added concern in our current economy is that activities be free or practically free. Whether you’re trying to make the most of the last of this summer or plan for the next one, here are some ideas that provide not only fun, but learning enrichment.

1. Go the Park with a plan. Le Fleur’s Bluff State Park, 2140 Riverside Drive (601-987-3923) is worthy of several visits. If your family has time, you may want to reserve a camp spot for an overnight visit. The park is full of wonderful trails, a delightful lake (Mayes Lake), a clubhouse with picnic and playground facilities, tennis courts, and a golf course. You can spend a day on the lake boating and fishing or a day hiking in the woods, but your kids will remember your outings more if you have a special plan when you go.

Birding Day: Le Fleur’s Bluff State Park is home to innumerable bird species year round. Pick up a bird guide from your library and make a list of the birds you hope to see on your visit. Children can make sketches of the birds in advance and carry their sketch pad with them. You could have a simple prize for the one who finds the most or perhaps a family treat if everyone working together manages to see at least ten on the list. Be sure to bring binoculars.

Flora and Fauna Day: Le Fleur means flower in French and you’ll find plenty of them plus an incredible variety of trees and plants in the park. Have children see how many different plants they can find just be careful of poison ivy that grows there as well. French-Canadian explorer and trapper, Louis Le Fleur originally discovered the area. What were the varieties of animals he trapped? Can your children spot any of them on your visit? Instead of trapping, they can capture their sightings with the click of a camera.

2. The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, 2148 Riverside Drive (601-354-7303) is not free unless you’re under 3, but it’s so cheap ($5 for adults; $3 for kids) that it’s worth mentioning since it’s right inside Le Fleur’s Bluff State Park. Their kid zone is especially fun.

3. Read. What’s better to do than read on a hot summer day and the libraries of Jackson help the process with a reading contest every May through July 4th. But that’s not all. Metamorphosis is a program in community libraries that offers summer reading programs for children including teens. In Jackson, Thursdays are teen days with speakers and book discussions. You don’t even have to go to the library to have a summer reading adventure in your home or neighborhood. There are many Newbury award books for younger readers that are also great reads for adults. Pick one and discuss it as a family or with your neighbors. Make star charts for younger children to reward them for pages read. Encourage older children to share their favorite books with you. Discussing books is one of the best ways to encourage communication.

4. Plant a garden. A summer garden is a good family activity and if you have enough room, it can be a source of income for children. You can all work together in the same plot or divide the ground up and have each child specialize in certain plants or herbs. Let your neighbors know that you have produce for sale. If your kids have green thumbs, they may be able to get jobs tending neighbors’ gardens while people are away on vacation or just general weekly help such as lawn mowing and weeding.

5. Record the summer. Whatever you choose to do for the summer or any season, take photos, draw pictures, and collect souvenirs. Then spend some time organizing them into a photo book or scrapbook. Label it Summer of 2009, and keep it out on a coffee table to enjoy during the year. Books of summer memories will become favorite keepsakes for your children in later years.

The best things in life truly are free and summer is a wonderful time to enjoy them. In Jackson, Mississippi, there are enough free things to occupy not just one summer, but a lifetime of summers.