Free & low cost activity ideas for you and your child

A father and his young son reading a book together, which is a great low cost activity

With the end of the summer break approaching, we’ve rounded up some great ideas for last-minute activities that cost next to nothing to help you keep your little ones entertained for the final few weeks before they return to school.

  • Head off for a picnic

Get the children to help make some sandwiches, then pack a rug, and off you go. You could choose from a park with a great play area, a beach, or a local beauty spot.

  • Play dates

Want your child to have a fun time with their friends for no cost? Arrange a play date! Not only do play dates keep them entertained (and allow you some much-needed peace) but socialising helps kids build their social skills, grow more confident and foster empathy.

  • Spot some wildlife

Take the trip to a nature reserve and create a tick list of things to spot- perhaps insects, dragonflies, birds, or butterflies.

  • A day by the sea

If you have a beach nearby you have free entertainment for many days of the summer. Children are endlessly entertained by paddling in the water, looking for shells on the beach, and making sand castles.

  • Free entry museums

If you are anywhere near a major city then a great choice of museums and art galleries with no entry charge are your oyster! The Natural History museum in London never fails to please, with its incredible dinosaur exhibits and stuffed animals. Also be sure to swing by the often-missed vault, which houses rocks from Mars and large meteorites.

The Tate Modern is a great place to visit, with spectacular installations that will stir kids’ imaginations. The British Museum is also an interesting day out for children, as it houses Egyptian mummies, tombs, and hieroglyphics.

In smaller towns, there are often local art galleries or small museums providing an opportunity to look at new things or learn about the history of your local area.

  • Cheap cinema deals

Vue cinemas are offering ‘Mini Mornings’ during the school holidays where both adults and kids pay only £2.49 per ticket. Odeon also offer a similar scheme.

  • 2 for 1 London days out

When you travel by train you can get fantastic 2 for 1 deals on lots of top London attractions. Choose from a long list of great days out including Legoland, the London Eye, London Zoo, and Madame Tussauds.

  • Go camping

Children love camping- even in the garden! Set up a tent, grab some snacks for a midnight feast and you’ve got everything they need for a fun night.

  • Make a miniature garden

Hand your child a seed tray, line it with dirt, and let them choose things from outdoors to create their own mini garden; flowers can be planted, leaves can form trees and sticks can make a tiny den or fence.

  • Scour the charity shops

With a couple of pounds each, head off to root through your local charity shops to find low-cost treasures. Charity shops can be great for kids’ books and toys, and allowing them to choose what to spend their money on is a great way to practice budgeting and decision-making.

  • Max out the library card

If your kids don’t have library cards yet, be sure to get them one. In general, libraries don’t charge late fees for children’s books, and they can often borrow up to 30 books each! Reading is the cornerstone of learning, creating vivid imaginations, and teaching kids about the world. Encouraging them to regularly swap books at the library keeps their creative side developing and young minds working.

Lots of libraries also have summer activities that are often free to attend and your child can also get involved in the national Summer Reading Challenge Scheme and earn a medal for their reading efforts!

  • Grab some chalk

Let kids decorate the patio or even the bricks of your house with their chalk designs. Such a large canvas offers them the chance to let their creativity fly, and the best bit is that it will all wash away when it rains!

This blog has been adapted from an article on DAD.Info.

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