Mother and Baby

11 ways to entertain little ones for free this summer

Things to do for free this summer

The summer holidays are upon us! Finding things to amuse your children in the summer months is easy. But keeping it economical isn’t. Rather than spending half your salary amusing the kids at zoos, in soft play and at fun fairs, here's some easy - and cheap - DIY summer fun. Enjoy!

  1. Happy campers: There’s no greater fun for children than hiding under canvas. Put up a tent in the garden and watch as they hide, explore and make their own adventures.
  2. Al fresco eating for beginners: Win over picky eaters by turning every meal into a picnic. Sandwiches have never seemed so exciting! When it (inevitably) rains? No problem: take the food fun indoors and have a carpet picnic.
  3. Good clean fun: Occupy the children, grab a couple of sponges and bucket of soapy water and wash the car: it'll take four times longer than is necessary and the kids will be drenched but your car will be (half) clean.
  4. Crack open the bubbles: Nope, sadly not the fizzy variety but sitting on a deckchair and blowing bubbles while the kids hurtle around gives you a break and tires them out.
  5. Fish for fun: Don’t pay pricey admission fees for an aquarium then watch the little ones race through it in 10 minutes flat. Instead, take the free option and visit a garden centre that sells tropical fish… Plenty of sea life spotting but all for free.
  6. The travel bug: It might seem dull to you, but a trip on a bus or tram to run errands (instead of piling into the car) can be highly exciting for little ones. Point out of the window; listen to the engine noises and keep tickets for a souvenir.
  7. Culture club: Most museums and galleries are free to enter so introduce your little one to looking and learning. Many museums offer summer holiday activities for very tiny ones through to school age kids.
  8. Summer reading: Local libraries aren’t as available as they used to be so why not sign up for a free library card then enjoy picking out a few picture books to save shelling out for new bedtime stories. Some libraries offer free story time sessions for pre-school kids too.
  9. Get your nature fix: Whether it’s spotting worms; watching snails make their slow trails or finding feathers, you can start your very own nature trail right outside your front door.
  10. Park life: Usually, our weekends get filled with parties and play dates so hanging out on the swings or getting bolder on climbing frames isn’t something our little ones do all the time. Go retro with a trip to the playground and watch them grow in confidence and independence.
  11. Baby film buffs: On rainy days, head to the cinema for specially-themed (and priced) cheap children’s screenings. These are often shorter films where the lights are kept on slightly and the volume turned down a few notches. A great way to introduce little ones to the movies, but without the usual ticket prices.
  • Author: Joanna Dunbar Joanna Dunbar
  • Job Title: Contributing writer

As a freelance writer, Jo covers parenting, health and lifestyle with the odd opinion-based rant and celebrity interview thrown in.

Before freelancing (and juggling journalism with two young sons), Jo was on staff at Good Housekeeping, Bella, Woman and The Mail on Sunday. When not typing furiously or refereeing the kids, Jo can be found pulling on her trainers for a gentle run or baking up a storm in her quest to produce the perfect brownie batch.


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