It’s nearly that time again, in fact some schools are already breaking up for the big Summer holidays. I have three children of my own so I know how difficult it is to keep them entertained without breaking the bank. I’ve put together a list of ideas for things you can do with the children to keep them entertained without spending a fortune.
Cheap and free activities that’ll keep both your children and your wallet happy!
In my former life as a childminder, we used to go to parks every day if we could during the summer holidays. We’d have lots of children between us of all ages and it would often be incredibly difficult to keep them all entertained. Parks were a winner will all of them. We’d pack up a picnic and spend the day there.
There is usually more than one park within easy reach of most people. It’s worth trying new ones and changing it up a bit so that the children are kept interested. They can get bored with going to the same one repeatedly. I’ve discovered a new park in a village nearby that we’ll be spending at least one afternoon in during the holidays.
If you’re worried about the dreaded “Can I have an ice cream?” question that can end up costing a small fortune, buy a box of assorted ice creams in beforehand and they can have one when they get home!
Let’s face it, the great British summer isn’t always that great! If the weather’s pants then spend a morning in the library. Most local authorities run a summer reading challenge. The idea is that the children go to the library at the start of the holidays and collect a booklet or a stamp card. They then get a stamp for each book they read and return and collect small prizes along the way. This is something I’ve always done with my children and I’m pleased to find that they do it in our new area too now we’ve moved.
Libraries are fab places for children, they usually have a separate area with low, soft seating where children can snuggle up with a book.
There are often activities going on in libraries too, I know ours has a lego club which is proving really popular, it’s worth asking what’s going on.
Children’s centres often run a variety of activities over the holidays. We’ve been on welly walks, teddy bear’s picnics, stay and play, puppet shows, a barbecue and countless other events. All these activities are free but you may need to put your name down in advance.
You can find your local children’s centre here – https://www.gov.uk/find-sure-start-childrens-centre.
This always ends up being just an afternoon in our house usually as I tend to work mornings. On a gloomy day, there’s nothing nicer than snuggling up together under a blanket and sticking on a DVD. The children can stay in their jim jams and just chill. This isn’t a great activity for toddlers I’ll admit but older ones usually love it. If you’re feeling a little flush you could always get some sweets or popcorn in beforehand to munch with the film.
There are so many bargain shops out there selling cheap crafts. I picked up a felt fairy for my daughter from The Works a few weeks ago and it took us around two hours to sew it, stuff it and paint it’s face. She absolutely loved it and it cost me the grand total of £1! She’s so proud of it she’s taken it into school to show.
These kits usually come with everything you need in so you don’t need to go out buying lots of glue etc.
Craft opportunites are endless. We’ve also made collages outdoors using natural materials. The children really enjoyed doing this and it could be done in the park or the garden.
These seem to have gone out of fashion recently but I’ve made a conscious effort to bring them back into our lives. My eldest is 10 and all he wants to do is play on his xbox. He’s allowed a set amount of time on that but then we call him off to do other things. He’s really into wordsearches and sudoku at the moment. I’ve bought him some cheap puzzle books but you can find them online too. Or even have an afternoon making your own.
Give them a bowl or a bucket with some water in and you’ll be amazed how long they’ll be happy. One of my children’s favourite activities is water painting. This works well on a hot day. Give them a bowl of water and a paintbrush and let them paint with water on the patio or the outside walls. Once the water dries up they’ve got a blank canvas to work on again!
Often highly under-estimated, bubbles can provide hours and hours of fun, particularly for younger children. I recently bought a bubble gun for £3 which all 3 children love to play with. Even the 10 year old runs round like a loon popping them and really enjoys being the one in charge of the gun and watching the other two run round popping them. So much fun for such a little cost!
Top tip: use warm water to make your bubble mixture, it reacts so much better with the washing up liquid and forms much stronger bubbles!