Family Magazine

7 Frugal Activities for Your Kids

By Therealsupermum @TheRealSupermum

7 Frugal Activities for your Kids

When summer nears, having the kids home from school may seem challenging, especially in light of rising costs at every turn.  There are many activities that the kids would love to include in their vacation time, but many of these can carry hefty fees for participation and supplies.  However, summer fun doesn’t have to be out of reach.  Following are seven ways you can cut costs while providing fun and interesting activities for the kids.

1. Public Library
The public library is an outstanding source of free and cheap summer activities.  Whether you have a large library or small, you will no doubt find a themed summer reading program in place, with rewards for children who reach a certain quantity of books read.  In addition, many libraries will increase story hour schedules for small children, as well as arts and crafts activities.  Older children may enjoy movie events often sponsored at libraries during the summer.  Most libraries also have computer access for kids, making it possible for the kids to get in some computer time, if there is limited computer access at home.  Just make sure that books and (free) DVDs are returned in a timely manner, so you don’t face extra late fees.

2. Family Passes
Some summer activities cost money, but with family passes, the costs can be cut.  This makes the bill a little less stressful, and still allows the children some recreational fun.  Public swimming pools are particularly good about providing family discounts for an all-summer pass. Check with your local skating rinks and bowling alleys as well, to find out about inexpensive promotions.  Plan some of the kids’ summer recreation around discount days.

3. Community Organizations
Community organizations are great sources for summer activities for children.  Community youth events may range from teen nights to game board days, with low or free admission.  4H is a wonderful source for themed clubs, with minimal participation costs.  Children can learn to sew, participate in a science or gardening club, or attend monthly craft days.  Day camps are often offered at low admission costs, as well (as compared to overnight camps).

4. Church Activities
Many churches provide free events during the summer.  Vacation Bible school activities, for example, are held at many churches in a community, allowing the opportunity for visitors to participate in stories, songs, and games.  Older children may find it fun to go on hikes or day trips, or to participate in social activities sponsored free of charge.

5. Cooperative Summer Camp
Cooperative summer camps can be created by parents working together to keep the kids busy for the summer.  Much less expensive than going away to camp, a camp plan managed by parents can be tailored to kids’ interests and parents’ skills.  Cooking camp, sports camp, or drama camp can be a means to provide social interaction and meaningful activities. If you are a teacher (with the summer off), you could tutor or provide lessons over the summer for extra income too.

6. Setting Limits
Setting limits can help keep the budget in check, and keep parents from being stretched too thin (in time and money).  Allowing children to choose just a couple of specific activities for the summer makes them prioritize.  This helps them to be more thoughtful about the activities they engage in, and helps them not to take for granted the opportunity to participate.  Don’t promise to do everything they want to do, but challenge them to determine which activities are most important.

Summer activities can cause expenses to add up quickly.  When children press for things to do, have a game plan prepared, and present both options and limits.  Keep things simple, and don’t overfill their schedules.  Summer can be fun and affordable, a great time for learning new things. As long as they’re not sitting in all day playing video games, consider it a success!

Jon Freeman likes to spend time with his kids, write and visit

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