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25 ways to entertain the kids this summer for less

Posted on 25 July 2018

Summer is an exciting time for kids and adults alike, as it often means jetting off to an exotic location on holiday, having some much needed time away from the hum drum of everyday life or making the most of our unpredictable British weather.

However, it can also be an expensive time for parents with six weeks to fill with activities to keep the kids occupied. This becomes even more costly if you have more than one child, and can be difficult to fund if you’re a single parent or a low income family.

These factors may have inhibited fun days out in the past, but with our 30 free ways to entertain the kids, you won’t need to spend lots of money and you'll learn some vital tricks to find offers and details to suit you this summer.

1.   Visit your local park. This may sound simple but it’s the perfect way to enjoy a sunny day and you can take the kids favourite toys with you, along with any snacks and drinks you already have in your cupboards.

2.   Bake cupcakes. Most households have the ingredients for basic cupcakes – flour, butter, sugar and eggs. There’s minimal effort or cost involved for a fun afternoon activity and tasty treats to enjoy!

3.   Make your own indoor tent. Sounds crazy, but why spend your weekend trawling your local shops to find an affordable tent when you can make your own? All you need is some old sheets or curtains hung over a clothes horse or chairs secured with pegs for the ultimate den/hiding place.

4.   Have a treasure hunt. You don’t need to use Easter as an excuse – chocolates and sweets (or healthy alternatives) can be hidden around the house and garden any time of year.

5.   2 for 1 deals on regional attractions. Through ‘Visit Heart of England’ you can save on the cost of your child’s ticket to popular attractions such as the Dinosaur Museum in Dorset and Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon.

6.   Make your own play dough. The cheapest flour from supermarkets mixed with food colouring, cream of tartar, vegetable oil and salt makes perfect play dough.

7.    2 for 1 with National Rail tickets. If you and your family love the zoo, buy National Rail tickets to the closest station, register on ‘Days Out Guide’ to get vouchers for attractions such as London Zoo and SeaLife and enjoy!

8.  Visit free museums. These include the National History Museum and Science Museum in London, The House of Marbles in Devon and The National Museum in Cardiff.

9.  Have an arts and crafts day. A simple Google search will pull up so many arts and crafts ideas that you won’t know where to start! Examples include making collages or papier-mâché.

10.  Free and subsidised holiday clubs. There are some holiday clubs held in schools and community centres that offer fun activities for free, but this does depend on your area so check with your local council.

11.  Spend a day gardening. Kids can get involved in tidying the garden or if you can spare a small amount of cash, let them choose a flower or seed to plant out.

12.  Visit your local library. Libraries often have free activities such as story time and they have children’s corners for some quiet play time.

13.  Get your kids involved with the cooking. This doesn’t have to be complicated or take much time, just simple things like making pizzas or decorating biscuits are guaranteed to be a hit.

14.  Go for a walk in the woods. If you live within reasonable distance to a woodland area, kids will love pretending to be explorers!

15.  Have a water fight. Even if you don’t have a paddling pool, you can have great fun on a hot day by filling buckets and bowls with water and bubbles to throw at each other.

16. Go for a bike ride. Get out on your bikes down your local park or find your local cycle route. You can even take a picnic along and make it into a fun day out.

17.  Register for free show tickets. Companies such as SRO audiences and Applause Store allow you to register your interest for shows such as Sunday Night at the Palladium and The Voice. It is a waiting game, as the bigger shows are popular, but if you’re chosen, you get free tickets!

18.  Play car games. You’re bound to get the typical ‘are we there yet?!’ so why not play games such as I-spy and travel bingo to avoid boredom on long journeys.

19. Cinema trips. This idea isn't exactly free, but with discounted family tickets at most  cinemas, a cinema trip for you all may not be as costly as you think.

20.  English Heritage kids go free. If you’re already an English Heritage member, you can get free entry for up to six kids under 18 within the family group.

21.  Free tennis coaching. The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) is offering free tennis coaching in August. See their website for details.

22.  Have fun with cereal boxes. The best pass time for rainy days (or low budget days!) is to make use of empty cereal boxes or any recycling you have lying around. Robots, magazine holders, storage boxes and laptops can be made from this household essential.

23. Take part in the Summer Reading Challenge. The challenge is free and easy to sign up. Just sign up online and head down to your local libary to select the books to complete the challenge.

24.  Free theatre show tickets. It may sound too good to be true, but it’s not! Children under 16 can get free tickets to shows such as Wicked, Billy Elliot and The Gruffalo throughout August when you buy a full priced adult. Check out the shows here.

25.  Make collages. All you’ll need is a few old magazines, some paper or card and glue. Any extras like glitter and stickers will make a great collage, even better if you have any family photos you don’t mind using.