+ Add Chrome Extension

Back to Blog Home

20 Free or Cheap Ways to Keep Kids Busy this Summer

dtran5 profile picture
July 24, 2017 · 1.8k Views

cheap or free ways to keep your kids busy this summer

Now that school’s out for the summer, it’s time to occupy your kids with fun, educational things to do. Thankfully, you don’t have to shell out for a costly summer camp or buy admission to museums or the like. There are plenty of inexpensive or even free things to do this summer that is perfect for the whole family.

lightbulb icon You can always check out the Freebies section at DealsPlus for free goodies and activities year-round!


  1. Visit on free admission days.
    Many museums and zoos will have special days that offer free admission to everyone. Although they are more crowded than usual, it’s worth it to save a good amount of cash on visits. Bring snacks to avoid splurging on lunch there, too!

    If you are a Bank of America customer, check out their Free Museum Entrance days. The next one is August 5th and 6th, with four more weekends happening until the rest of the year.

  2. Homemade Slip ‘N Slide.
    If visiting the waterpark with a group of children makes your head and wallet hurt, we understand. Make your own water park at home, or at least a Slip ‘N Slide. Grab your hose, old tarp or trash bags, and lay them out on a soft, grassy area and watch your kids fill with joy as they slide away. It’s a great and easy way to beat the summer heat.

  3. Read with them.
    Head to the library on the weekends and spend a couple hours letting your kids pick books and read. Borrowing books from the library will teach them responsibility in caring for the books and maintain their reading skills while they’re not in school. It’s no cost to you and public libraries are always filled with tons of books of all genres.

    Public libraries will also occasionally host storytime and other events throughout the summer, so check your local branch’s calendar to see what’s going on!

  4. Go on an easy hike.
    Get exercise and let your kids marvel at the beauty of mother nature by going on easy walking trails around your city. You may have to pay a small parking fee to access the trails, but they are usually at least an hour of good fun. Teach them about plants and animals along the way to make it more worthwhile. You can even make a scavenger hunt out of the hike!

  5. Find free or cheap events in your area.
    If you just do some research, you’re guaranteed to find plenty of free or low-cost events for you and the family this summer. For example, Cinemark is holding a Summer Movie Clubhouse 2017 for just $1 a movie. If you want to save even more, it’s $5 for ten movies. Check out the movie lineup here.

  6. Attend free workshops at local stores.
    Stores like The Home Depot and Toys R Us will often hold free events for kids and their families. A lot of times, they are educational and will help develop some of your child’s skills, and other times, they are pure fun and enjoyment. Check out a few events coming up:
    The Disney Store:
    Summer Play Days from now until August 9: Events take place every day at 3 PM

    Toys R Us:
    August 5, September 2, and October 7: Geoffrey’s Birthday Club (storytime, special prizes with coupons, free Geoffrey Plush toy and story book. Click here for in-store events.)

  7. Bowl for free thanks to the Kids Bowl Free initiative.
    Through the Kids Bowl Free initiative, parents can sign their children up for 2 free games of bowling in the summer. Select bowling centers and schools nationwide offer the free games, so click here to find locations near you.

  8. Make use of chalk, tape, and other household items.
    Use chalk outside in the driveway to trace each other, design a bullseye target game, hopscotch, or simply draw. You can use tape for the same activities, or use tape indoors if it’s too hot outside. For the outdoor bullseye target games and hopscotch, add wet sponges for a cooling effect.

  9. Make your own no-churn ice cream.
    Did you know that you can easily make your own ice cream? It’s also a fun activity to do with the kids! It requires ingredients that you typically have around the house, like ice cubes, half and half, salt, sugar, vanilla extract, a Ziploc bag, and whatever fun toppings and mix-ins you want to add. Check out this DIY recipe from Instructables.

  10. Camp indoors.
    If your young ones are too young to actually go camping, bring the campgrounds to your own home. Either make room in the living room or camp in your own backyard, equipped with a tent (that they pitch themselves, of course!), a campfire, and tasty s’mores.

  11. Teach them about volunteering.
    One of the best lessons you can teach your kids is to give back. Volunteering is an easy way to show them that even they can make a difference. Take your kids to animal shelters, homeless shelters, nursing homes, park or beach cleanups, and the like will allow them to experience different walks of life. Check out VolunteerMatch to find kid-friendly volunteer opportunities in your area.

  12. Attend a free outdoor concert.
    Are any of your kids big on music or just love to dance? See if your city is hosting any free summer concerts that are suitable for the entire family. Make a picnic out of it and dance the night away.

  13. Host a garage sale.
    An easy way to get your kids involved in cleaning the house is by having a garage sale. Have them decide (with your help) which toys, clothes, and other knick knacks they can part with. They can learn about money, transactions, bargaining, and more. You’ll also have a less-cluttered home at the end of the day!

  14. Build a fort.
    Have more cardboard boxes than you know what to do with? Hand them over to your kids and let them build a fort. It’ll keep them occupied for hours on end, and after they’ve built it, hand over markers or even paint brushes and tell them to adorn their new abode.

  15. Have a water balloon fight.
    You can pick up a 48-pack of balloons at your local dollar store and have an afternoon of water balloon fights for just one dollar. While you’re there, see what other fun toys and gadgets you can pick up (popsicle sticks, pom poms, etc.) to plan an entire summer’s worth of activities.

  16. Find activities on Groupon.
    Groupon always has discounted activities for the whole family. Whether it’s a new restaurant to try or the county fair, make sure to visit Groupon regularly to see what offers are available. Head over to DealsPlus to see what coupons you can apply to your order!

  17. Involve your kids in cooking.
    Now that the kids are home and homework is no longer an issue, have your kids help you with cooking meals at dinner. Have them assist you with more complex recipes, or do something they can personalize like individual pizzas. The possibilities are endless.

  18. Visit your community pool.
    Check your city’s website to see if there are any community - particularly family-friendly pools - pools available for your kids. They are normally free, charge a small, annual membership fee, or charge per person. Either way, the costs should not be significant and it’s a great way for your kids to cool off in the summer heat.

  19. Give them something new to learn.
    Summer vacation is about 2-3 months long, which is a perfect length of time to learn something new. Ask your kids what they want to learn, whether it is a musical instrument, a sport, an art, and visit thrift stores or ask friends and family if they can lend a hand. Maybe they can contribute an instrument, an old football, or some painting supplies. Have your child practice throughout the summer and they will learn that practice makes perfect.

  20. Explore Pinterest.
    Pinterest is an entire library of DIY projects with objects you find lying around your house. Spend an hour or so browsing Pinterest with your kids to see what kind of activities they want to do, and pin them all! Refer to them whenever there are no plans for the day, and they’ll never be bored.

disney dining hacks to save time and money

parenting tips to survive the digital age


dtran5 profile picture
Daisy loves to write with humor and can be quite the sarcastic commentator when it is appropriate. Loves carbs, fashion, staying active, and pinning the latest DIY projects for her room (which she will actually never do).