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13 fun and low-cost ways to entertain the kids this summer

Posted 27 July 2016 by Christine Walsh

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Try our 13 fun and low-cost ideas to keep the kids occupied this summer.

Lots of schools up and down the country have now broken up for the summer holidays, making some children very happy indeed. Six weeks of sunshine and freedom (well freedom at least!). 

It’s great to be able to spend more time together as a family, but for some parents the holidays bring added stress, as they wrack their brains trying to find ways of entertaining the kids through those weeks.

And if you’re living on a tight budget the stress is going to be even greater – how exactly do you keep children entertained for six long weeks without spending loads of money?

Fortunately there are ways to do this – lots of ways in fact. We’re going to give you all the tips you need to keep their summer break fun-filled and low cost. 

1. Walks/bike rides/picnics

Sometimes there’s nothing better than exploring the great outdoors with your kids so why not set aside a few days throughout the holidays to have some chilled out fun? 

If you’re lucky enough to get some sunny days, take the opportunity to walk or cycle to your local park. You can take a picnic with you and make a day of it. 

2. Kids Pass membership

Want to enjoy 40% off at cinemas, up to 57% off on lots of family days out and get free meals for your children at select restaurants? If you do, it might be worth your while to join Kids Pass

Explore the site and see what’s on offer in your area. There is a cost for membership, but at just £1 for 30 days you’re getting a pretty great deal. 

3. Games day with the family

Another one here for a sunny day. Why not see whether you can get some of the extended family or friends together for ‘games day.’ 

You can play anything from rounders, to hide and seek to scarecrow tig. Or you could get really competitive and organise a full-on family sports day. Egg and spoon at the ready! 

4. National Citizen Service

Do you have teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17? If you do they might really benefit from signing up to the National Citizen Service (NCS)

NCS gives them the chance to get away from home for a bit and take part in loads of activities that they might never have tried before like archery, rock climbing and canoeing. 

The whole experience is 4 weeks long in total and in the last two weeks they’ll get a chance to take part in a social action project where they put their newfound skills to use to make a positive difference in society. 

There is sometimes a cost to this but the most you’ll ever pay is £50. When you consider how much it would cost for your teenager to go on holiday for the same amount of time this is certainly a bargain! In some circumstances though it’s much less or completely free – sign up to find out whether you’re eligible for help with the cost. 

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5. Free football and tennis lessons

It’s surprising just how much you can get for free if you take the time to look around. The Lawn Tennis Association is offering 10,000 free tennis lessons to children aged between 5 and 8. 

Specially trained coaches will do the teaching up and down the country and your child will get the chance to take a six week course which will teach them all the skills they need – you never know, you might end up with the next Andy Murray or Serena Williams in your house! 

Click on the link above to find out more. 

6. Events in your area

There are always lots of community events taking place over the summer, so make sure you know what’s going on locally so you don’t miss out. 

For instance, Blackpool is holding its amazing air show this summer on the 7th and 8th of August and it’s completely free for all the family. Or there’s the world famous Notting Hill Carnival in London where you can take in all the vibrancy of Caribbean culture. 

A simple Google search will show you what’s on for free in your area over the coming weeks. 

7. Travel by train and save

Did you know that you can get two for one entry into 150 top attractions in the country simply by downloading vouchers from Days Out Guide and then traveling to your destination by train? 

For the full range of days out you can enjoy for less just click on the link and don’t forget to present your train tickets with your vouchers when you get to your attraction. 

8. Cinema clubs

Sometimes there’s nothing more fun than seeing a film together as a family so don’t forget you can get some great deals on kids’ tickets depending on when you go. Vue, Cineworld and Odeon all have kids’ movie clubs where the tickets are significantly cheaper than usual. Find out when it’s cheapest to go and enjoy the latest releases for less. 

9. 50 things to do before you’re 11 and three quarters

This list is a great idea from the National Trust. It really encourages children to tick off some major childhood boxes before they turn twelve. 

Rolling down a big hill, cooking on a campfire, creating wild art and hunting for bugs, are some of the fun things you’ll find on this list. As you can see some of the ideas are very low-cost - but it’s these simple things that childhood is made of. See how many your child can do before the summer holidays are over. 

10. Baking/Cooking

Kids love baking, especially when they know they’ll get to sample what comes out of the oven! 

Click here to find 21 simple and delicious recipes you and little ones can have fun creating in the kitchen.

11. Reading 

Improved concentration, vocabulary and knowledge are all perks of reading – seriously, just have a look at this article and the research behind it. 

Library cards are free and you’ll definitely be doing your kids a favour if your encourage them to read more. Why not suggest they start a book club with some of their friends over the summer? They can pick a book, read it over a certain time period and then discuss it together. 

12. Arts and Crafts

Why not stock up on some extra art and craft supplies and let your child’s natural creativity take over? 

This won’t cost very much at all, and many an hour can be whiled away as they draw, paint, mould, cut and stick to their heart’s content. 

13. Fuel their curiosity

Just because they’re off school doesn’t mean they have to stop learning. Starting an educational project of their choice might just remind them how much fun learning can be. Ask them what they’d like to learn more about and set them a challenge to reach by the end of the holidays. 

There’s endless fun over the holidays and you certainly don’t have to break the bank. We hope you have a wonderful summer with your family, and if you’re looking for other ways to cut costs, be sure to check out the rest of the money saving section.

by Christine Walsh

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