10 Budget-Friendly Summer Activities for Kids

Keeping your kids busy during the summer doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are ten fun and inexpensive ways to keep your kids entertained this summer while also going easy on your budget.

1. Make Homemade Play dough

What You’ll Need:

Playdough copy.jpg
  •  1-cup water
  •  1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  •  1/2 cup salt
  •  1 Tablespoon cream of tartar
  •  Food coloring
  •  1 cup flour


  • Combine water, oil, salt, cream of tartar and food coloring in a saucepan and heat on a medium low setting until pliable.
  • Remove from heat and add flour.
  • Stir and knead until it feels smooth like play dough.

The dough can be stored in an airtight container or plastic bag for up to 6 months!

From HappyMoneySaver.com

2. Create a Giant Slipping Slide

What You’ll Need:

  •  Giant tarp
  •  Tent stakes
  •  No-tear baby shampoo, baby oil, or any other kind of shampoo
  •  Water source – (i.e. two sprinklers)


Lubricate the tarp every thirty minutes or so to maximize slippage!

From HappyMoneySaver.com

3. Make Tie-Dye T-Shirts

What You’ll Need:

  •  White cotton t-shirt
  •  Distilled white vinegar
  •  Kool-Aid packets (vibrant colors work best)
  •  Rubber bands
  •  Rubber gloves
  •  Small bowls
  •  Plastic medicine dropper
  •  Iron
  •  Towel


  • Mix 1 cup of vinegar with every 2 packets of Kool-Aid in a small bowl. You’ll need a separate bowl for each flavor/color.
  • Pull, twist and secure t-shirts into your desired design with rubber bands.
  • Put on rubber gloves and place a disposable plastic table cloth on your work surface as the Kool-Aid will stain
  • Dip desired portions of the t-shirt into bowls to saturate the t-shirts full of color. You can also use the medicine dropper to place color into certain areas.
  • Keep the rubber bands on the t-shirts and lay them out to dry in the sun for 6- 8 hours.
  • When fully dried, remove the rubber bands and hang the t-shirts up to dry overnight (consider hanging them outside so your house doesn’t smell like vinegar).
  • To set the colors, iron the t-shirts on a medium-high setting using a towel between the iron and the t-shirt.
  • Let the t-shirts set for 24 hours before washing them so the cotton absorbs all the color. Wash t-shirts separately in cold water for the first time so the dye doesn’t bleed.

 From HappyMoneySaver.com

4. Attend a FREE (or Cheap) Summer Movie

Regal Entertainment Group’s Summer Movie Express program runs for 9 weeks with select titles playing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the summer. See your local theatre for program start date. Admission to these films during the Summer Movie Express is only $1 and a portion of the proceeds goes to the Will Rogers Institute.

Cinemark’s Summer Movie Clubhouse offers 10 movies for $5 when purchased in advance or at Cinemark.com or $1 per movie if purchased at the box office. All films are rated G or PG. The program runs for ten weeks.

5. Take Part in FREE (or Inexpensive) Craft or Hobby Programs

Michaels craft stores is offering their Passport to Imagination summer crafting program every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10am – noon June 16 to August 1st. The cost is only $2.00.

Home Depot stores provide free kids’ workshops on the first Saturday of every month. Check with your local Home Depot store for a list of upcoming workshops.

Lowe’s stores offer free kids’ clinics through their Build and Grow program.  Once at the website simply enter your zip code to find a list of stores and available workshops near you.

From Simpleighorganized.com

6. Go Berry Picking

Find a pick your own farm near you! There are crop calendars for each local area to tell you what is available to pick throughout the year, local weather forecasts and illustrated directions to show you how to make jam, jelly, salsa, pickles, and much more!

From MommasFunWorld.Blogspot.com

7. Have a Backyard Campout

What You’ll Need:

  •   A tent
  •   Sleeping bags or blankets and pillows for each member of the family
  •   Air mattresses or sleeping pads (optional)
  •   Flashlights
  •   Playing cards or board games
  •   A CD player with sing along or story CDs
  •   Marshmallows or other snack foods (optional)
  •   Hot dogs, hamburgers, and other food that can be grilled (optional)

What to Do:

  •          Find a flat spot in your yard and help your family pitch the tent. Be sure to do this before it gets dark!
  •          Set up your sleeping bags or blankets inside the tent.
  •          You may not be able to build a campfire in your yard, but your parents can make outdoor goodies on the grill.
  •          As the sun sets, turn on your flashlights and sit in a circle. Tell ghost stories, share jokes, or tell stories, do a little stargazing (with flashlights off), and then climb in your sleeping back and tent and drift off to sleep.

From KidsNationalGeographic.com

8. Make Sidewalk Chalk Paint

This is a cheap and fun way to make your own sidewalk chalk. It is the perfect summer craft for kids of all ages and the best part is that when the fun is done, the mess simply washes away.

What You’ll Need:

  •   Cornstarch
  •   Food Coloring
  •   Water
  •   Paint Brushes
  •   Plastic Containers


  • Mix equal parts cornstarch and water
  • Add a few drops of food coloring and stir
  • When you first start to paint, your creations will look watery. But don’t worry, as the paint dries the colors in your masterpiece will pop!
  • Try mixing up different colors baby food jars or plastic containers so there’s enough colors to go around to everyone.
  • Use some squirt bottles to add some fun to the process. An old squeezable ketchup bottle would be great or even a spray bottle.

From TheSuburbanMom.com

9. Check Out Frugal and Fun: Enjoying the School Holidays the Frugal Way

This e-book authored by Jen Walshaw, Becky Goddard-Hill, and Cass Bailey is packed full of creative ideas to make the school summer holidays both fun and frugal. It begins with a week of preparation activities so you have everything organized and ready to go. The ideas are suitable for children aged 3-10 and are based around weekly themes.

10. Teach your kids to Be Good Stewards of Their Money

FamilyMint's Money Management Certification Program combines a 60-page step-by-step workbook with a fun online money management application for kids.  Kids that complete the 2-month program develop key money habits that will benefit them the rest of their lives. Financial success and independence starts with forming the right habits and behaviors. This simple step-by-step program is designed to enhance learning and ensure success.