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Last updated Jun. 20, 2024 by Peter Jakes

Summer is a magical time for kids—school’s out, the weather is warm, and the days are long. However, keeping kids entertained throughout the summer can often become a costly endeavor. Luckily, there are numerous budget-friendly activities that can keep children busy and engaged. Below, we’ve gathered a list of creative, fun, and affordable summer activities for kids that won’t break the bank.

1. Nature Scavenger Hunts

A nature scavenger hunt is a perfect way to turn a simple walk in the park into an exciting adventure. Create a list of items for your kids to find, such as specific types of leaves, insects, flowers, or rocks. Not only does this activity cost nothing, but it also encourages kids to explore the outdoors and learn about nature.

2. DIY Crafts with Recycled Materials

Gather materials you already have at home, like empty toilet paper rolls, bottle caps, and old magazines, and let your kids’ creativity run wild. Websites like Pinterest are packed with ideas and instructions for various crafts. This is an inexpensive way to keep children occupied while also teaching them about the importance of recycling.

3. Outdoor Movie Nights

Transform your backyard into a theater by hanging a white sheet and using a projector. Invite the neighbors over for a communal movie night. If you don’t have a projector, you can still make it special by arranging a cozy spot indoors. Serve homemade popcorn and lemonade for a true movie experience without the hefty price tag.

4. Educational Online Resources and Apps

Many educational websites and apps offer free access to games, activities, and lessons during the summer. Websites like Khan Academy, Tynker, and Duolingo provide hours of educational content that’s both fun and informative. This allows kids to keep learning without even realizing it.

5. Community Events and Festivals

Check out your local community calendar for free events and festivals. Many towns offer free concerts, fairs, and outdoor movie screenings throughout the summer. These events not only provide entertainment but also allow kids to socialize and experience new things.

6. Library Programs

Libraries are treasure troves of free summer activities, from storytime sessions to craft workshops. Many libraries also offer summer reading programs with incentives for kids to read more books. It’s a wonderful way to encourage a love of reading and learning.

7. Backyard Camping

Set up a tent in the backyard for a night of outdoor adventure. You can tell stories, make s’mores over a campfire (or a barbecue), and gaze at the stars. Backyard camping is an inexpensive way to give kids a memorable experience without leaving home.

8. Gardening Projects

Involve your children in gardening projects, such as planting flowers or growing vegetables. Not only is this an educational activity, but it also teaches kids about responsibility and the rewards of nurturing plants. You can start small with a few pots or a raised bed in the backyard.

9. Water Games

On hot summer days, water games are a huge hit. Set up a sprinkler, have a water balloon fight, or create a DIY splash pad using a tarp and a garden hose. These activities are low-cost and provide hours of cooling fun.

10. Cooking and Baking Together

Get kids involved in the kitchen by letting them help with cooking and baking. They can learn valuable skills and have fun making their favorite treats, like cookies, pizza, or smoothies. Plus, cooking together is a great way to bond and create lasting memories.

11. Explore Local Nature Trails

Take advantage of the local parks and nature trails. Go on hikes or bike rides as a family to explore the natural beauty of your area. This is a great way to stay active and spend quality time together without spending any money.

12. DIY Science Experiments

Conduct simple science experiments at home using household items. Projects like making a volcano with baking soda and vinegar or creating a rainbow with a glass of water and a flashlight can be both fun and educational.

13. Board Games and Puzzles

Bring out the board games and puzzles for some indoor fun. These timeless activities are great for rainy days and can entertain kids for hours. They also help with critical thinking and teamwork skills.

14. Create a Summer Journal

Encourage your kids to keep a summer journal where they can write about their daily adventures, draw pictures, and paste photos or souvenirs. This is a great way for them to practice writing and reflect on their summer experiences.

15. Volunteer Together

Spend some time giving back to the community by volunteering together. This could be anything from helping out at a local food bank to participating in a community clean-up. It teaches kids the value of helping others and can be a very fulfilling way to spend time.

✓ Short Answer

Keeping kids entertained during the summer doesn’t have to be expensive. Fun, budget-friendly options include nature scavenger hunts, DIY crafts, movie nights, library programs, gardening, and cooking projects. These activities encourage creativity, learning, and family bonding without breaking the bank.

16. Learning a New Skill

Take the summer as an opportunity for your kids to learn a new skill. Whether it’s riding a bike, learning to sew, playing an instrument, or trying their hand at simple coding, acquiring a new skill can be both engaging and rewarding.

17. Building Forts

On a lazy afternoon, help your kids build an indoor or outdoor fort using blankets, cushions, and furniture. This classic childhood activity is free and sparks creativity and imaginative play.

18. Host a Talent Show

Organize a family talent show where everyone gets to showcase their unique abilities. Whether it’s singing, dancing, magic tricks, or comedy, it can be a fun way to celebrate each other’s talents and spend quality time together.

19. Explore ‘Pay-What-You-Can’ Museums and Zoos

Many museums and zoos offer "pay-what-you-can" days or free admission on certain days. Take advantage of these opportunities for an educational and inexpensive day out.

20. DIY Obstacle Course

Create an obstacle course in your backyard using items like ropes, cones, hula hoops, and more. This is a great way for kids to burn energy and compete in a friendly, active way.


Q: How can I keep my kids entertained for free during the summer?

A: You can keep your kids entertained for free by organizing nature scavenger hunts, DIY crafts with recycled materials, visiting the library, and participating in community events.

Q: What are some educational online resources for kids during the summer?

A: Educational websites like Khan Academy, Tynker, and Duolingo offer free access to games, activities, and lessons that are both fun and informative.

Q: How can I involve my kids in helping the community?

A: Involve your kids by participating in community clean-ups, volunteering at local food banks, or organizing a small neighborhood charity drive.

Q: What are some cost-effective ways to enjoy the outdoors with kids?

A: You can enjoy the outdoors by hiking local trails, setting up backyard camping, playing water games, and hosting outdoor movie nights.

Q: Are there any budget-friendly indoor activities for kids?

A: Yes, indoor activities like board games, puzzles, building forts, and cooking or baking together are great, budget-friendly options.

By incorporating these activities into your summer plans, you’ll be able to keep your kids entertained and engaged without overspending. Enjoy your summer!

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