10 cheap ways to keep the children entertained this summer

The school holidays are fast approaching! Some schools have already broken up. What are you going to do with the children for 6 weeks to keep them entertained and occupied? More importantly, what activities can you do that aren’t going to break the bank?!

A recent survey (carried out on behalf of Epsom UK) among parents of children aged between 3 and 13 years old found that, on average, parents expect to spend £1,445 per child on activities over the summer holidays!

Here are some ideas to see you through till September, hopefully without spending a fortune:

1. Get outside:

• Go for a walk – absolutely free and good for you! All you need is a good pair of shoes, trainers or wellies if the weather is bad. For some inspiration visit Walk 4 Life
• Hold a treasure hunt – set clues around the garden, house or local area.
• Be a nature detective – the Woodland Trust has some great activities for all age groups including a free downloadable sheet to help you identify animal footprints and tracks.
• Attract butterflies – butterflies can’t resist a solution of sugar and water which recreates the sweet nectar they get from flowers. The RSPCA has instructions to make a butterfly feeder as well as other nature activities on their website.
• Fly a kite – wait for a windy day and then head out into a large, open space. Don’t get too close to trees and avoid overhead power cables!
• Go on a picnic – BBC Good Food website has lots of ideas for food to take and you can always have an indoor picnic if the weather turns bad.

2. What if it’s raining?:

• Get creative – you don’t have to be Picasso to enjoy a bit of arts and crafts. Protect furniture and carpets, put on some old clothes and enjoy making a mess.
• Hold an indoor sports day – you don’t need lots of equipment or space, just a bit of improvisation.
• Run your own restaurant – set up chairs and tables, write and design your own menu, allow the children to create some of their own dishes and set their own prices.
• Make some smoothies or ice lollies – cheaper and healthier than shop-bought. Experiment with different combinations of fruit – all you need is a cheap plastic lolly mould or you can even use plastic cups or old yogurt pots.

3. Museums – lots of them are free and they often run a programme of activities for the school holidays.

4. Visit the library and sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge 2016. This is a great way to keep up the children’s reading skills and confidence over the long summer break.

5. Pick your own – visit a pick-your-own farm and pick up some fresh, cheap, seasonal fruit or veg. At the same time you will be getting some exercise and fresh air.

6. 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ – This initiative from the National Trust is free to join and suggests 50 fun adventures that children can take part in to earn badges and rewards. From cooking on a campfire to making mud pies and stargazing, simply tick off the skills as you master them.

7. The science bit – The British Science Association has some ideas for fun science projects for children that were promoted via British Science Week in March. However, you can still download activity packs for free to give you some inspiration.

8. Make your own movie – Instead of paying a small fortune to visit the cinema, why not make your own film? Sketch out a script and experiment with special effects. You only need a smart phone and there are some great free editing apps. Invite the rest of the family to a VIP screening!

9. Buy a bus or train pass and explore the local area, or even further afield. Good deals can be found if you book in advance and go off-peak. Further savings can be made with a railcard or family saver ticket.

10. Check out your local council’s website and see what events or activities are planned in the area.