18 Summer Activities that Cost Little to No Money |

18 Summer Activities that Cost Little to No Money

abykm91 June 5, 2013

Looking for some family fun this summer without breaking the bank? Here are some fun, inexpensive summer activities to enjoy with your kids.

By Nina, Contributing Writer

Even though we homeschool our four little ones and do fun activities throughout the year, I still get giddy for the summertime and all of the special fun the season brings with it. Summer is a great time to do fun activities with the kids but there’s no reason it should cost a lot of money. Here are some fun, inexpensive ideas for enjoying summertime with your kids:


Any old meal can be made special just by grabbing a blanket and heading to a nice outdoor area. My kids love picnics because it usually means seeing friends or playing at a nearby playground


Bubbles don’t last long in our house because our kids love them so much. All you need to make bubbles is 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon dish soap. Kids can use their hands or wire bent into circles to make bubbles.

Sidewalk chalk

My kids stay entertained for hours with sidewalk chalk. They love drawing pictures, playing hopscotch and tracing each other on the cement.


Public libraries have all sorts of fun resources. Storytime. Computers. Classes. And then there are all of those wonderful books. Take advantage of the library and let your kids have fun choosing treasures to bring home.

Slip n’ Slide

You need a long tarp, water, and some dish soap. If you can, set the tarp up on a slope and turn on your hose to get it wet. Add a few drops of dish soap for extra slipperiness and let the kids have fun sliding around.

Collect goodies from nature

When you go exploring, take some bags or small buckets with you to collect interesting items from nature. Those items can be used to decorate the house, create a collage on some paper or just enjoyed for their different textures.


Draw with sand glitter

A reader on my Facebook page gave me this idea. She said to take a few bowls of sand and add a few drops of food coloring to each one (however many colors you want). Grab some glue and construction paper or card stock. Have the kids use the glue to draw out pictures and then sprinkle the different colored sand on for beautiful pictures.


I’ll confess that I’m hesitant to do this where I live in the summertime, where rattlesnakes enjoy the warm sun as much as I do. But when we visit family members who don’t have rattlers nearby, we enjoy hiking around and exploring.

Bike rides

I spent hours of each day on my bike when I was a kid. I didn’t go far, but I loved feeling the warm sun on my face and making my own breeze by pedaling as fast as I could. My own kids happily do the same thing and I love to join them.


In our family, camping is done in tents, yurts or cabins and my kids love it. (And I’ve learned to pack the right things so I love it, too). They love the dirt, exploring the area, roasting marshmallows in the campfire and did I mention the dirt?

Camp out in the yard

Sometimes I think my kids’ favorite part about camping is pitching a tent and sleeping in a sleeping bag. That’s why, last summer, we started camping out in our backyard. We’ve always had either a fire pit or chiminea at home so we enjoy a nice fire whenever we rough it in the yard.


I have a hard time keeping my kids out of the water, even when it’s not that warm. They love swimming and any opportunity to play in the water. Public pools tend to be more expensive (at least, they are in my area), but you could also use rivers, ponds and lakes with safe swimming areas or buy an inexpensive kiddie pool and enjoy splashing all summer long.

Head to the beach

We’re not on the coast, but there are plenty of lakes and rivers around with beaches. Some spots are free to park at, others are state parks that cost $5, unless you have a season pass (which I recommend). Kids love splashing in the water, collecting rocks and shells on the beach and playing in the sand.

18 Summer Activities that Cost Little to No Money

Dirt + shovels = happy kids. Our kids enjoy planting, picking and especially watering. If you can find a good way to make a game out of pulling weeds, they’ll probably enjoy that, too.


Whether you’ve planted your own garden that has veggies ready to be picked or you find a patch of wildflowers while you’re out and about, kids love to help harvest plants. Our favorite is berries, though we have a hard time making it home with any – they all end up in our very happy bellies.


This is a favorite of our kids that can be done outside or indoors on rainy days. All you need is sheets and blankets, something to drape it over and maybe some rope. Couch cushions and pillows are bonus tools.


Be it a small pond, lake or city fishing hole for kids, kiddos will enjoy casting a line and waiting for a bite. We’ve taken all of our little ones fishing and our oldest definitely has the most patience for it. Start littler kids off with just holding the pole and reeling the line in – we’ve had some near-accidents with giving them full control of the fishing pole without adequate lessons and supervision.

Tie-Dye old clothes

It’s been awhile since I’ve tie-dyed anything, but I know I had a blast doing it as a kid. Don’t have brand-new white clothes to dye? No problem! Your kids will have a great time with whatever you use, so gather your old t-shirts, socks, or playsilks. Need a tutorial? Check out this one.

What low-cost activities can you add to this list?

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  1. Nina,
    This is such a practical post and it is very well thought -out! There is no reason to spend a lot for the best of fun as a family. Thank you for sharing these very pleasant summer ideas…this takes me back 7-12 years! Glad to see you linking-up 🙂 Blessings!


  2. Nice list! My children do a lot with sidewalk chalk, bikes, and the library in the summer, and of course bubble are always a favorite! Last year I paid them to squish potato beetles, weed, and flick Japanese beetles into soapy water for me. That kept them outside, too!


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  4. […] outside is one our favorite ways to just hang out as a family. There are so many options! We go on hikes, walk, ride bikes, throw the frisbee, walk through the garden, build campfires and […]


  5. […] to have a few creative ideas under your belt for creating new toys from old packaging. Be sure you include your children in making these toys as much as possible, because the process of using their creativity can be even […]


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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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