15 Ways to Have (Affordable) Fun this Summer

Now that schools over, the kids need some entertainment that won’t put a huge dent in your wallet! Having fun doesn’t mean spending lots of money, especially when you get outside! Here’s a list of some free to frugal ways to keep the kids busy and parents sane that only requires extra quality time with kids–something we can all afford to spend more on!

1. See a movie at the dollar theater! Many theater chains around the country offer summer movie programs for kids where they offer a “one dollar” movie everyday for a week, or on a particular day of the week all summer long. If you don’t have of these participating theaters in your area, an alternative option would be to find a drive-in theater which usually have lower prices or have a movie day from home by streaming a classic from Netflix.

2. Have a Sprinkler Day! Delay your sprinklers for one day and get everyone in their bathing suits before they start. Have fun on a hot day by jumping through the sprinklers! But not for too long–teach your kids about conserving water and reducing utility costs when they ask why the fun must eventually end.

3. Attend a “Story Time” at your local library! Encourage your kids to read more by having them check out books about their favorite subjects. Have them sign up for their own library card and join in the many summer events library’s do, such as winning prizes for reading the summer reading list. Many libraries also have story time, where stories are read out loud and the kids have a chance to interact with the story-teller and answer questions about the book.

4. Set up a lemonade stand! Give your kids a lesson in entrepreneurship by loaning them $10 as “seed money” for supplies or let them use their own allowance savings. Take them to the grocery store for supplies: lemons, sugar, cups and some ice in a cooler. This is a great way for neighborhood kids to work together, as they can divide into teams to man the lemonade stand, make the lemonade, handle the money, etc.

5. Teach your kids to fly a kite! Check your 10-day forecast and look for a windy day in the coming week.  Pick up an expensive kite for the kids.  We recommend springing for the extra spool of kite string on a roller because the string and handles that come with the kites are lousy.

6. Make homemade play-doh! It’s a lot of fun to make and a ton of fun to play with. Try out different colors and make a play-doh scene. The kids will have enjoy playing with it even more that store made play-doh since they made it with their own two hands. Here’s an easy, cheap recipe!

7. Bake a Cake! Measuring out ingredients for a cake or other baked good and mixing them all up is a great way to learn how to follow instructions and how to calculate fractions. Letting them lick the bowl is a fun reward for a job well done!

8. Build a “fort” in the living room! This is something I loved doing as a kid. Gather blankets, pillows and any other materials (cardboard boxes, sheets, brooms, etc) from around the house to build their very own fort, complete with a door and windows. When your done, have story time inside the fort and practice making your shadow creatures with a flashlight!

9. Go bowling! Usually, all you have to pay for is shoe rentals– then let the fun begin! Call the lanes ahead of time and ask if they have any summer specials (certain days may be cheaper). Also check those coupon mailer packs for coupons for free games.  To really keep costs down, just let the kids bowl – you can work on your game another time.

10. Declare a “bored” game day! Chess, poker, backgammon, checkers, or Cranium! There are a number of card, dice and board games you can play or learn to play (look online for ideas) anytime your kids claim, “I’m bored!” Few kids these days realize they can play a game without a computer. Board games are a great way to have real interactions and to connect with family and friends. Most of these old board games are inexpensive in their basic form – skip the “deluxe” edition, and check out the board game selection at Amazon.com to save even more.

11. Have a water balloon fight! Whether it’s for a birthday party or just a hot, lazy day, getting a bag of balloons and filling them with water always leads to fun.

12. Create a “mini-me!” Find a piece of poster board or large heavy-duty paper wide enough for your kids to lay down on. Use a dull pencil to trace their entire body to the paper from head to toe. Then let the kids decorate it to look like themselves, from their eyes to their clothes.When they are finished, help them cut out their mini-me for proud display.

13. Have a Pajama Day! Stay in your PJ’s all day long and just laze. We need these days, no matter what age we are. Make some pancakes, bake a pizza for lunch and watch some movies or catch up on some shows. Netflix is a great resource for this and, of course, Chipper has a number of fun sing-a longs on his DVD.

14. Spend a day volunteering your time! A good way to wrap up your two-week blitz of summertime fun is to allow your kids to donate your time to a worthy cause.  Contact a few local charities and find out which ones will allow kids to volunteer some time over the summer. Our state and national parks are a great resource for some outdoor volunteer work.

15. Craft Day! Dedicate a day to making crafts! From tie-dying old t-shirts to making Caterpillar clothespins, there are a number of fun crafts out there to do. Gather some items from the recycling bin and go crazy! We have a number of crafts you can make with a toilet paper roll and other natural materials HERE.

Having fun with the kids can be frugal and creative. Please share other summer activities you and your family enjoy! 🙂