101 Free Things To Do This Summer

With the long weeks of summer holidays stretching ahead, many parents will be worrying about how to make ends meet, what with the constant demands for snacks, drinks and entertainment.

But remember your own childhood summers?

I bet most of your memories revolve around free activities, not big days out and expensive holidays.  

Remember, even the smallest of things can be endlessly fascinating to small people, it doesn't have to be complicated or cost money. 

Here are more than 100 free things to do this summer to keep the kids busy and interested, while you keep an eye on the purse strings.*

101 Free Things To Do This Summer

* May require petrol, parking and picnic.

1. Find free museums and art galleries near you, most small towns have at least one.

2. Head to your local splash park. Take a picnic, a ball and some pool toys and you could be there all day.

3. Grab those DVDs you haven't watched in ages and organise a movie marathon. Popcorn and snacks optional.

4. Start (you might even complete over the 6 weeks) a long walk such as the Ridgeway or the Pennine Way.

5. Plan and cook a meal for grandparents or other relatives.

6. Dig out all your old comics and magazines and make collages of your favourite things, or everything red/blue/pink/green etc.

7. Design your dream house.

8. Research your next holiday, where would you like to go?  What is there to do there?  Where will you stay?  What will you eat?  (This can be real or imagined.)

9. Play travel agents with the information you found above.

10. Don't overlook the joys of colouring and drawing.  There are plenty of free colouring sheets available online, but you could also offer some interesting objects for them to sketch.

11. On grey indoors days, try our rainy day play ideas.

12. Pack up a picnic and go somewhere new.

13. Take a camera out and create a photo journey around your local area.  Our girls love this cheap and easy point and click.

14. Look up what your local council has on during the holidays, they often have play sessions and other activities organised.

15. Keep the magic alive.  Hunt for the gold at the end of the rainbow, or look for fairies or a four-leaved clover.

16. Go to your local library.  Most have a reading challenge and other activities on over the summer.

17. Create a photo challenge or scavenger hunt and set the kids off with their list and a camera or sketchpad and pencil each.

18. Lie in the garden under a blanket and stargaze one evening.  Learn what the constellations are called during the day before.

19. Forage for free food in your local forest or on the beach.  Take a reliable guide and see what you find.  Blackberries are a must!

20. Go for a walk.  Every day.  Yep, even in the rain!

21. Search the garage for outdoor toys and take your frisbee/ball/rounders bat and ball to the local park for the afternoon.

22. Ignore the rain or clouds and head to the local park or playground, you'll have the place to yourselves!  Just take a towel for wet slides and swings.

23. Bake.  See our cooking with kids posts or recipes for inspiration.

24. Play hide and seek, sardines, charades, Grandmother's Footsteps and all those other old parlour games.

25. Make soup with leftover vegetables.

26. Play tag, chase or stuck in the mud.

27. Wash the car, and yes, let them loose!

28. Feed the ducks, but see this list of better alternatives to bread.

29. Collect objects in nature to create collages and designs.  Leave your designs there and just take photographs home.

30. Blow bubbles - this bubble mix makes the most bubbles ever!

31. Go on a bike ride.

32. Camp in your own backyard, day or night.

33. Take an old appliance apart and put it back together.  You might even figure out how to fix it!

34. Set up an obstacle course in your garden.  For younger children make it a fun run with egg and spoon races, sack races, crazy clothes changes etc.

35. Make a blanket fort.

36. Do some gardening.  Then have a barbecue to celebrate your hard work and your beautiful new garden.

37. Build the best - and biggest - sand castle ever.  Can't get to the beach?  Invest in this gorgeous wooden sand pit for your garden.

38. Fly a kite.

39. Try geocaching or letterboxing.

40. Give them a few pieces of giant chalk and let them loose on the pavement, patio, wall or fence.

41. Sit outside and read, draw, daydream, snooze.

42. Spend more time with your pets, playing and having fun.

43. Make postcards or write letters to send to loved ones.

44. Upcycle something at home, maybe clothes, fabric or homewares.

45. Make up crazy outfits for yourself or other family members and take lots of crazy photos.

46. Make jigsaws.

47. Gather things you don't need and have a garage sale or car boot sale.

48. Go on a litter hunt in your local park, woodland or stream.

49. Play restaurants or shops.  Make a museum or art gallery with your own items and drawings, then treat dad to a guided tour.

50. Play board games, or create your own.

51. Challenge your family and friends to create their best art works then create an art gallery or have a competition.

52. Climb a tree or roll down a hill.

53. Offer to help an elderly neighbour in their garden or around the house.

54. Splash and paddle in a stream or river.

55. Lie outside and watch the clouds.  What shapes can you see?

56. Offer to take a friend's or neighbour's dog for a walk.

57. Learn juggling or origami or some other unusual skill.

58. Learn about the history of your local area.

59. Visit a local place of worship, such as a church or synagogue.  Be sure to check their website or ring ahead to check it's OK.

60. Have a water fight in your garden/local park/on the beach.

61. Enter competitions that require drawings or photos for entry.

62. Follow a forest trail.

63. Draw a map.

64. For older children, volunteer to help at an animal rescue centre.

65. Press flowers from your garden to make into bookmarks or cards.  We love these cute wooden flower presses.

66. Do finger painting or potato printing.

67. Write and illustrate a story or poem.

68. Do some shopping for an elderly or busy relative or neighbour.

69. Look up some Guinness World Records and see if you can equal or even beat them.

70. Dance in the rain.

71. Create a movie storyboard for a film you know well or one you want to make.

72. Use a video camera to make your own stop motion films or films with your toys.

73. Go on a bug hunt.

74. Put on a play or concert.

75. Do a survey of cars that you spot, pets people have or anything else and create charts to represent it.

76. Tell a story together, each contributing a little more as you go round the circle.

77. Play memory games like 'I went to market and I bought...' or 'The Prime Minister's cat...'

78. Clear out your shed or garage.

79. Look back at old photos together, either form when the child were born or when you were little/a teenager etc.

80. Put a bee refuelling station in your back garden: a shallow dish, such as a plant saucer, with some stones in and a water-sugar solution in the bottom.

81. Create an activities jar.  Everyone writes down or says 10 things they want to do, then all the slips are folded and put in a jar and you pull one out whenever you don't know what to do or the dreaded 'I'm bored!' is uttered.

82. Clear out old toys and take them to the charity shop.

83. Make a junk model, e.g. a robot or a street of cardboard box buildings and paint and decorate them.

84. Get your arts and crafts supplies out and see what you can make.

85. Make daisy chains.

86. Explore a local village, town or city you have never been to before.

87. Make sock puppets or sock monkeys from your odd socks.

88. Make your own newspaper, either with current news and events in their world or a historical version based on what they've been learning.

89. Play traditional party games like musical chairs, musical statues, pass the parcel and sleeping lions.  Prizes optional!

90. Phone your local tennis club and ask if they offer free taster sessions.

91. Play card games.

92. Find a pen friend with similar interests and start writing to them regularly.

93. Learn some tricks, either the magic kind, with your football,  or some on your bike, scooter or skateboard.

94. Move the furniture around or re-decorate a room.

95. Create a water park in your garden.  Get out the paddling pool(s), turn on the sprinkler and let them have fun.

96. Freeze small toys in large ice blocks then get the kids to melt and excavate them.

97. Start a book club with friends.

98. Make your own comic books.

99. Visit your local fire station.  Phone them to see when they can accommodate you.

100. Play hide and seek.

101. Find a new playground to go to every week.

102. Learn a new language.

103. Open a savings account at the bank or building society.

104. Do some odd jobs for relatives, neighbours and friends to earn money for that new account.

105. Make your own play dough.

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