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Summer Fun Ideas on a Budget

Updated on April 20, 2016

Free Activities

A quick google at local websites will provide lists of activities being offered locally. Libraries often have summer activities free of charge, communities days, music in the park, museum free entry days and kids days at local martial arts/recreation schools will all provide free entertainment.

Schools Out

The end of the school year arrives, no more homework, no more packed lunches, concerts or early mornings. The summer can however be an expensive business, so what can you do to limit your spending but still keep the kids occupied and away from the tv or computer screen? There are many cheap or even free activities you can enjoy that won't break the bank and stop you from asking - "how many more days till school starts?"

Planting can be made Easy with Ready to Plant Pods


Plant a Food Garden

This is a great way to teach responsibility, patience, planning and teamwork skills. Kids can prepare, plan, shop for seeds/plants and weed and water their garden. They will then have food to share at the culmination of their project. This activity will keep them busy over a long period of time.

Tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, and peppers are all easy foods to grow.

If you do not have the space or resources to plant you own garden, there are many local food banks/farms that grow food for the community that are often looking for volunteers during the summer months.



Most kids love to bake and cook. Spend some time planning a menu or researching different recipes for favorite foods.

A 4th of July cake could be a good option for the summer months. Consider what colors to use, strawberries/blueberries/ cream for red, white and blue decoration for example. There are many ideas if you search online.

Individuals could be given the responsibility of planning a meal and preparing it. Another could compile a shopping list and take a trip to the store to purchase all the ingredients. Take a survey of favorite foods of family members and plan a menu including all those foods.

Cupcakes and cookies could be baked as gifts or for a bake sale to raise money for a local cause, plan experiments with different flavor cookies, take a taste test quiz.

Outdoor Water Play

Do your Children Like Outdoor Water Play?

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Water Play

Who doesn't like splashing in water? You don't need a big pool to have water fun, a bucket or hose can offer hours of entertainment. Water squirts and toys can be found cheaply at dollar stores or you can use toys at hand. Anything that can pour, float or spray, can provide great entertainment. At the end of the activity the water can be used to water the plants in the yard.

Another good water activity is painting. Armed with a clean paintbrush and a bucket of water, fences, walls and patios can be 'painted' with all sorts of patterns, shapes, even writing. Water painting requires no clean up!

Obstacle Course Fun with Pool Toys


Outdoor Fun

When the weather cooperates there are lots of outdoor activities you can enjoy in your own yard. Sidewalk chalk, cleaning the car, holding a lemonade stand, the sprinkler, picnic lunch and slip and slide to name just a few.

Building an obstacle course is a great way to involve the whole family and even the neighborhood kids. Use dress up clothes, hoola hoops, jump ropes and bean bags to create a line of activities to complete. Water squirting stations are also great fun on a hot day.

Musical Instruments

Making homemade instruments is always a fun activity and a good one when it is too hot/wet to go outside. Older kids can plan and research their instrument, using materials readily available around the house. The best part of making musical instruments is the playing of them, and making a band is even more fun. Choose a tune, designating parts and performing to an audience takes practice and dedication!

Build a Fort

Too hot to go outside? then build an indoor, castle, fortress or den. Use materials at hand such as chairs, sofa cushions, blankets, and let children's imaginations go wild with their creations. Spend the afternoon camping inside, lunch always tastes better in a fort!

Remember it use Bug Repellent/Candles

Backyard Camping

Backyard camping is great fun and easily resourced from items you have at home. Kids love to sleep outdoors, eat s'mores and tell scary stories, it is also a great way to spend time together away from electronics, gadgets and the internet!

BBQ or Picnic

Either in the backyard or at a local park, everyone loves grilled food. Many parks have outdoor BBQs available for public use. With a little forward planning, a fun day can be had by all. Taking your own food, blankets, and outdoor toys makes this a very low cost day out. Some parks even have wadding pools and wet pads for free use.

Browse the Library

Library shelves
Library shelves | Source

Visit the Library

The local library is a perfect place to hang out on a wet or very hot day. Libraries often run camps at little or no cost, so check your local library website for details. Many libraries run reading clubs over the summer with incentives for readers, a prize for every 10 days reading 20 mins per day as one example. Younger kids will enjoy the story time sessions.

Take a Bike Ride

Many areas have designated cycle paths or trails and are a great way to spend some family time together at no cost. All you need is a helmet, bike and a water bottle. Be aware of the weather before leaving home and dress accordingly.

Family Movie Night

Movies can be rented cheaply from places such as Redbox or even the local library. Many communities hold free outdoor screenings of movies. Make your own popcorn at home, get dressed up, hold a ballot to choose the movie are all ways to make it a special event. Also check local cinemas for special kids day. They often run specials, for example one day a week a designated movie is 1 dollar for all attendees.

Dog playing with stuffed Kong toy

Dog playing with stuffed Kong toy
Dog playing with stuffed Kong toy | Source

Community Service

The summer is an excellent time to focus on community projects and helping out those in need. A quick look to local websites will highlight any needs in the local area. Old peoples homes and sheltered accommodation are often welcoming to families who would like to come in and play games or read with residents.

Contact the local hospital or children's ward to find out if there is a particular need. Making cheerful cards, posters and messages will often be welcomed.

Contact the local animal shelter and find out if they are in need of old blankets, towels or equipment you no longer need, some of them hold events for children to participate in. One example or this is a Kong stuffing event where children stuff dog toys with treats to keep them occupied during their stay at the shelter.

Make Your Own Books

Books can be made simply by folding a few pieces of printer or construction paper and stapling down the center. This is fun for all ages and interests. It can be a picture book, story book, information book about a favorite topic/sport, a cartoon strip, a play script, the possibilities are endless. Older children may enjoy creating an electronic family newsletter and take on specific roles such as photographer, writer, editor etc.

Community Day/Festival

Bouncy castle at a community day/festival
Bouncy castle at a community day/festival | Source

Attend Community Days

Many community organizations hold community days that are free to the public. Fire houses, townships or recreational organizations often invite the community to see how they operate and provide fun events such as fireworks, bouncy castles, food and entertainment.

© 2014 Ruthbro


Submit a Comment
  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 

    4 years ago

    Lots of interesting things to do here and so much fun! I am sure these ideas will make summer a hit for any family. THanks for sharing!

  • peachpurple profile image


    4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

    great tips to have fun and safe money

  • Ruthbro profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago from USA

    Love it!

  • LeslieAdrienne profile image

    Leslie A. Shields 

    4 years ago from Georgia

    Send them to Grandma's....


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