This Saturday my husband will go pick up my step-sons so they can spend the summer with us. They are 5-year-old twin boys, so there is a definite shift in energy when they are here! Since we do have a pretty small living area, I try to plan a lot of activities to keep them busy in the summer, but activities can get expensive quickly. Here are a few frugal summer activities that keep our little people busy without emptying our wallets!
We have one of the top-10 zoos in the country about 90 minutes away from us, and while the kids love it, admission for 5 people can be spendy. After a little research I found that we could purchase a yearly membership for just over $100 – which is less than what we would pay for all of us to go to the zoo twice. Our membership includes admission to the iMax theater on site, and if we go when my husband is at work I can bring a friend for free on our membership. This has been a great purchase for us, and we have done it several years in a row.
This year, either in place of or in addition to the zoo membership, we plan to purchase a membership to the children’s museum in the same town. The cost is $89 per year, and again, for 5 people to go somewhere an unlimited amount of times, the price can’t be beat.
I love nature photography and often take nature walks with my camera in hand. Last year I purchase cameras for the boys so they could come along and snap away at their own shots. We are fortunate to live in an area with tons of beautiful parks, nature trails, and landmarks, so we are never at a loss for a new place to explore! There are also a ton of different playgrounds around town, and the boys have several favorites. Sometimes when we go to the park I can even bring my iPad and get some work done!
Watch For Free Activities
Most towns have some free, or very cheap, activities for kids during the summer. We have a nice local museum that has free admission, and our art center has a kids area that is also free. Our city plays a free, family-friendly movie once a week in a local park at dusk, which has been too late considering bedtimes in years past, but we are gong to give it a try this year!
Another fun thing we do every summer is go to the small-town fair in my Grandma’s town. There is a parade where the kids get candy, and they can look at the animals. The only cost is food and rides, so we budget a set amount for each child. Plus whatever they can beg off of Grandma.
We spend a lot of our summer in the pool. Our apartment complex has a pool, plus my parents live right up the block and also have a pool. Many local pools have yearly passes that are cheaper than individual admission, if you plan on going a lot.
Pinterest is FULL of great ideas for crafts and projects you can do with your kids for little or no cost. We made “moon sand” last summer and they played with it for HOURS. Homemade play doh is also a favorite in our house.
In my experience crafts and projects work best when planned and scheduled. Throwing crayons at the kids when you NEED to get the floors scrubbed usually ends up in a masterpiece scrawled on your walls, but a structured activity is fun and educational.
We are fortunate to have a large local library, and the kids love going to check out books and videos to keep them entertained throughout the week. Our library also has story time, and other special activities. They have a summer reading program that my daughter has participated in before and when the kids finish a book they get a stamp in their booklet. When its full they get to choose a prize. In most places a library card is free, so you can’t get more frugal than that!
Keeping your kids entertained this summer does NOT have to cost an arm and a leg. What are your tips for frugal summer entertainment?