9 Inexpensive Ways to Amuse Kids Over the Summer

Summer vacation has arrived. For many of us, that means the constant refrain of, “I’m bored!”  You want to provide something for your kids to do (other than watch TV or play video games), but you don’t want to spend a lot of money.  Happily, there are some inexpensive things that you can do to amuse your kids over the summer.

9 Inexpensive Ways to Amuse Kids Over the Summer

1. Check the local movie theater: Many local movie theaters have certain days on which they offer free movies.  In my town, you can watch free kids matinees on Wednesdays.  Popcorn and soda is inexpensive: Only $1.

2. Visit different parks in town: If your town has different parks, you can visit them all.  Make a plan to visit each park.  The kids will have fun visiting a new place, and you can make it even more fun by making and bringing a picnic lunch.  Spread out your visits throughout the summer.

3. Library programs: Check for summer reading programs at the local library. Your kids might be able to earn prizes as they read — which should keep them busy and away from the TV.  My daughter’s school library is open for shortened hours over the summer, and offers a reading program.  My daughter ends up with two library programs: school library and public library.  For younger kids, many libraries have story time.  You can make it more fun by having family reading time outside.

4. Youth programs: My daughter loves Girl Scouts. Growing up, I did Boy Scouts.  It was a great way to spend the summer.  I learned new things, and kept busy putting together a project.  Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts can also be good programs with relatively low costs (my Boy Scout camp always had scholarships and assistance for those that qualified).

5. Gardening: Each year, my daughter plants two or three items in the garden.  Then, she helps us grow the garden.  Get your kids involved with the garden, whether it’s flowers or food.  It will give your children something to do, and something to be proud of accomplishing.  If you have limited space, start a container garden.

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6. City Rec Center: In many cities, there is no need to get an expensive gym membership.  You can often save money by getting involved at the local rec center.  Many cities also offer low-cost sports leagues, so your children can play on a team.  Encourage your kids to spend time practicing so that their play improves.  This will give them something to do in between games.

amuse kids over the summer

Sidewalk chalk is an inexpensive way to amuse the kids over the summer!

7. Crafts: My daughter is really into origami right now.  All I need to do is look up the instructions for a new creation, and she’ll spend half the day learning to make it, and make multiples.  We don’t use origami paper; instead, she uses printer copies that we don’t need, or that contain mistakes.  For color, she uses leftover construction paper or wrapping paper.  There are plenty of other craft ideas that can be accomplished with dollar-store supplies.

8. Sidewalk chalk: Little artists can spend hours playing with sidewalk chalk.  Teach the kids how to create a hopscotch game, and then teach them to play.  They can transition to that once they are tired of drawing.

9. Go outside: As you might imagine, the great outdoors can be the perfect place to amuse your kids for less.  Bike rides, hiking, camping and sports can all be enjoyed outside.  You can even camp in your own backyard, or picnic in your backyard.  Explore local parks and find trails you may have never seen before.  Get out!

What do you do with your kids to keep them amused during the summer?

About Glen

Glen is married and the father to four children that he spends the day chasing as a stay-at-home-dad. He took an interest in personal finance when he realized most of his paycheck was going toward credit card bills. Since then he's eliminated his credit card debt and started on a journey towards financial freedom.

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  1. My little one is a big fan of going to the park, especially if it’s a park with a wading pool. Gotta love free swimming!

    She’s still a bit young for the library, but I’m excited to get her involved in summer reading programs when she’s older.

    Something to keep an eye out for is free museum nights. Here in Ottawa, a lot of museums have free admission for the last couple hours of their day, usually at least once a week. It can be super-exciting to be the last ones in the museum, and it’s a treat to get to stay up that late.

    • We have a couple of parks here that have some great sprinklers.

      Our library has more than reading programs – it has all sorts of playtime for young ages.

  2. Origami is a great craft project for kids – it’s almost impossible to be someplace and not have some scrap paper they can play with, and books are plentiful at libraries. I’ve been a fan of it off and on for decades thanks to my exposure as a kid, although I’ll admit I’ve got quite a stash of the fancy folding paper that I’ve built up.