Five frugal summer activities for kids

Picture of the view out of the tent pitched in our own garden

Camping close to home!

I’ve been casting around for ideas for frugal summer activities now the school holidays have started, but a bunch of things we normally do for free are still shut. 

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Pinterest size image of view out of a tent in our garden

Here’s a few things that worked well for us during the last school break.

Pic of my daughter sliding along a home made slip n slide

Tablecloth splash down

Set up a slip ‘n’ slide

Normally, we head to fancy pools, with flumes, waves and inflatables, several times during the school holidays. When that wasn’t possible, my daughter set up her very own water feature in the back garden. She laid out some wipe-clean tablecloths and play mats,  turned on the hose and added a bit of washing up liquid. Hey presto,  a home-made slip’n’slide that kept the kids occupied for ages.

Maybe not one to suggest during any crucial video calls for work, due to the screeching involved…

Picture of our blue family tent pitched in the garden

Bringing out the big tent

Pitched a tent in the back garden

Boy, have we been grateful for our camping gear this year.

Bunging up a tent in the garden was huge fun while we couldn’t travel, and gave us all a bit more space. Even now campsites have reopened, it’s still fun if either cash or availability is limited.

The kids love being able to drag out their duvets, and note the extension cord trailing back to the hall for all important bedside lamps, story CDs and recharging devices.

Plus, if you’re not the biggest fan of camping yourself, you can sleep safely tucked up inside in your own bed.

If you have a trampoline, check out transforming that into a tent too

Picture of my son on a woodland walk

Running around a nature reserve

Tried new nature reserves

Since my husband started his new job at Suffolk Wildlife Trust we’ve been ticking off visits to different reserves nearby, taking Otto the puppy where allowed on a lead.

The children might sometimes complain beforehand, but once we get to places like Groton Wood or Arger Fen, they do seem to enjoy everything from climbing trees, clambering along tree trunks and running off with the dog to paddling in streams and just trying woodland paths in bare feet.

It’s been fun seeing new places after so long stuck at home, with no cost apart from a bit of petrol.

Picture of K'nex pieces and instructions for my post on frugal summer holiday activities for kids

Every piece needed for the truck he didn’t build 🙂

Revived a construction kit

Rubbish weather makes it harder during the holidays, especially if leisure centres, bowling,  climbing walls and the like are shut or booked out well ahead. 

So for indoor activities I eyed up the assorted assorted Lego and construction kit models around our house, completed and left to gather dust. They rarely get rebuilt.

Despite hankering after assorted Hogwarts sets at the start of lockdown, which I fancied far more than the kids, I held off splashing the cash. (Excuse me: how much???*)

Instead, when term finished, I took a K’nex vehicle apart, found the instructions and checked we had all the parts.

Building it again actually distracted my 10-year-old from screens for quite a while. Not that he made the truck I’d so carefully checked,  but hey I’ll take his tottering flying version any time.

Next target: the Lego millennium falcon…

Brought out the board games

We actually did a bit of decluttering during lockdown (a bit).

But it also highlighted some of the things we wanted to hang on to, so the kids have discovered some retro games including battleships, Guess Who and Othello. Uno and ordinary playing cards have also been a big hit, and since we were able to form a bubble with my Mum, they’ve been off to play the fancy dominoes game Mexican train with her. 

Added bonus: total cost 0p.

More  ideas: 50+ ways to entertain kids over the summer for less


Now – over to you. What would you recommend for fun but frugal activities in the school holidays, while some stuff is still shut?

Do share in the comments, I’d love to hear, with the long weeks stretching ahead to September!


Want more frugal inspiration?  Do head over and join the Much More With Less #MoneySavingYear Facebook group, to share thrifty tips and support. It’s a private group so your comments won’t be splashed all over your friends’ Facebook feeds.

I’m linking up with Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five fabulously frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky.

*indicates an affiliate link, so anything you buy through it will help support the blog, as I will get a small commission at no cost to you. Many thanks!

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  1. 24th July 2020 / 12:00 pm

    The slip and slide looks really fun, I am hoping to do this with my four this year. Brilliant idea to take apart the KNEX. Distracting from tech is really hard at the moment, especially as its also a safe way to stay in touch with their friends!

  2. 24th July 2020 / 1:04 pm

    oh that slip n slide! And the battleships photo is awesome! great ideas Faith

  3. Tracey M
    26th July 2020 / 1:41 pm

    Hi Faith,
    What lovely ideas, when mine were young we went to different beaches. Sometimes rock- pooling and sometimes sandy beaches to have a variety. We had breakfast before we went and then took our lunch which we would have been having at home. I mostly put dinner in the slow cooker before we went, so if they were hunger and tired it was already done. The only extra cost would have been petrol and sometimes ice cream. We still love the beach now and my youngest is 19 yrs old. In lockdown all went to a beach social distances adhered too. And took a picnic.

  4. 29th July 2020 / 5:07 pm

    I absolutely loved camping in the garden when we were younger! I don’t know what the novelty of sleeping outdoors is when you have a nice warm bed inside, it’s just so exciting isn’t it? I’m glad you’ve been able to get creative when most of the things you’d normally do have been closed 🙂 #5frugalthings

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