Love them or loathe them, the summer holidays can be a stressful time for most parents. You either need a foolproof childcare plan or 1001 ideas to keep them entertained – or often a bit of both.
Now I’m by no means a “Pinterest Mum” but after 4 years of raising a child with the attention span of a flea, I have got a few favourite fun children’s activities up my sleeve for keeping kids entertained, and not having to spend lots of money every day.
If you’re trying to think of ideas to keep the children busy without spending money, hopefully my handy list of free summer holiday activities below will help. These are ideal for when you need to drag them away from the iPad or TV!
The list of free ideas to keep kids entertained includes indoor activities for kids, entertaining games, and things to do with your kids when they’re bored.
Go out and collect “treasure”
One fun thing to do with kids is to collect sticks, stones, pine cones, bits of fluff, whatever your child thinks is valuable – if they’re like mine you’ll have handbags/pockets full of random bits and pieces they’ve found on the floor. Collecting treasure can be done on a walk through the woods, at the beach, at the park, pretty much anywhere outdoors and is guaranteed to keep kids amused for hours.
Make a treasure chest
Following on from the above idea, we’ve made a treasure chest from an old shoe box covered in brown paper where we can keep all of my daughter’s special finds. This a great plan as collecting the treasure and then making the chest can take up a whole day – plus it means you don’t have to have their
rubbish treasure scattered around the house or in your handbag.
Visit your local library
Unfortunately, there’s bound to be plenty of rainy days during school holidays in the UK but we’ve found the library is great rainy day activity for an hour or so. I get to sit down while she pulls the books off someone else’s shelves, and even better she has to be fairly quiet as otherwise “the library lady will tell you off”. What’s not to like! Often your local library will also hold free activities for kids in the holidays as well such as story time or crafts.
Visit a museum
Another rainy day favourite is visiting the local museum. I read recently that the average 4-year-old asks over 400 questions a day, it definitely seems more like 4000 in our house! Museums are great because they encourage questions about all sorts of educational things rather than the constant “why?” and it’s interesting for the grown-ups too. Plus most museums are free or only require a small donation.
Go bug hunting
If you want a free outdoor activity, how about bug hunting? I have to admit to a complete phobia of bugs! Unfortunately, we now have a bug-phobic child as well so we’ve been trying to encourage her to go on bug hunts. Armed with a little plastic magnifying glass from the pound shop and an empty jam jar we head off to the woods and see what we can find…or what she can find while I stand a sensible distance away…
Do some alfresco painting
The perfect craft for kids of those of us who don’t fancy handprints all over the sofa or up the walls. Paper scattered on the grass, a few different colours of paint and a brush allows the kids to unleash their creativity while the grass ends up multi-coloured rather than your carpet – and you can sit down and
Have a water fight
Probably not my smartest idea but I bought a water pistol in the supermarket at the weekend. I suggested my child use it to water the plants or spray at the fence but obviously it was much more fun to squirt mummy. This turned into a bit of a water fight and I think I had as much fun as she did. I will be going to buy a second water pistol this weekend, but I think it might have to be us vs. Daddy! I have a feeling this might be her new favourite thing to do in the garden in the summer.
Make a scrapbook
One of my fave free ideas to keep kids entertained is to make a scrapbook. Credit has to go to my mum for this one as I can remember doing this in the school holidays. Argos catalogue (other high street catalogues are available!) + paper/scrapbook + glue = hours of fun. Little ones can just randomly stick pictures to their heart’s content and the bigger kids can create a story. Or like my younger brother, they could just make a birthday/Christmas list!
Make a den
Another really easy way to keep kids entertained at home is to build a den or a fort. All you need is a blanket, a couple of chairs and maybe the sofa cushions. Add their favourite toys, a torch and a couple of biscuits and I bet you get at least half an hour’s peace.
Go to the pet shop
Who needs the zoo when you can go to the local pet shop and see the bunnies, guinea pigs and fish? We have spent quite some time naming every single moving thing in our local pet shop. The only problem is getting out without having to buy an animal, so far I’ve been lucky but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time…
I hope some of these free ideas to keep kids entertained helps you survive the school holidays! What tips and tricks do you have up your sleeve to keep the kids from being bored? What are your favourite fun summer activities?