20 Free Things to do with the Kids this Summer

We are coming to the end of our first full week of the Summer holidays here in the UK, and it is at about this time, when the euphoria of making it to the end of another academic year is fading, that the thought of keeping Small people entertained during the weeks ahead may be starting to look a little daunting.
At the start of the holidays, I sat down with the Smalls and we compiled a Bucket List for the Summer-basically a list of things they wanted to do during the holidays.

Bucket list2

Some of them are free, some are not. And some of them, like our National Trust membership, have already been paid for, so kind of feel like they are free!
It can be scarily easily to spend a LOT trying to keep the little darlings amused during the looooong holidays. An ice cream here, and a day out there, soon adds up. So here’s my list of twenty FREE things to do, just in case you are having ‘one of those days’ and are in need of some inspiration.

1. Picnic tea/lunch in the garden/park/local field
We took our tea for a walk in our Wonderbag the other evening, to a field down the road from us.

Bucket list 31

We had pasta and raspberries (not in the same bowl) sat on the picnic rug, and then spent a very pleasant half hour playing frisbee. The boys thought this was marvellous. And we quite enjoyed it too!

2. Visit your local library
This is a good thing to do early on in the holidays, as you might find some great books like these with loads of ideas in for things to make and do!Bucket list 41Our library are also doing a Summer Reading Challenge, complete with smelly stickers to collect, to encourage the kids to keep up with their reading over the hols.
I heart libraries.

3. Go bug hunting
I have small boys. They LOVE bug hunting. You don’t even really need any equipment-you could just go and turn over the nearest tree stump or rock, and see what is underneath.
If you want to get a bit more technical, you can make a bug net from an old bamboo cane, a wire coat hanger, and some old tights/net curtain-this is one of the things hubby wants to make over the summer, so stay tuned for a how-to!
If you want to identify what you’ve caught, then you can take a snap on your phone, and consult a library book, or the trusty t’internet when you get back home.

4. Pond dipping
We are lucky enough to live near to a brilliant nature reserve, with a pond specially designed for dipping! Again, you could just use a jam jar, or improvise your bug hunting net to use in the pond. Just make sure the little darlings don’t fall in.

5. Bike Ride
BigSmall is a whizz on his bike, and SmallSmall is getting pretty handy on his balance bike. They love biking to the park, leaving me trailing behind, running to keep up. Or there are some great paths through our local woods, which have the bonus of being traffic free Check out the Woodland Trust to find out your nearest woods

6. Match box scavenger hunt
Hubby remembers doing this one at school-each participant gets given a small match box, and the challenge is to fit as many different things as possible into it

7. Check out the National Trust’s 50 Things to do Before you’re 11 3/4 site
50 things
You can do lots of these things at National Trust properties, but it’s not obligatory to only do them there! You can download the list, and then head off into the great outdoors-there are things like climbing a tree, and rolling down a big hill, just like in the good old days..!

8. Cooking/Baking
BigSmall was given this book at Christmas, and we’ve had a look through and he has picked out one main course, and one pudding that he wants to cook. My plan is to go the whole hog, and get him helping me check the cupboards/fridge for ingredients, make a shopping list, buy what we need, and then cook it!
Check out your local library for similar books, or have a look on the BBC Good Food website-they have a kids cooking section

9. Go to the park
Your local park can be a brilliant place to while away an afternoon-ours has a lake complete with ducks and geese to feed, as well as a paddling pool and the usual climbing frames etc

10. Make your own skittles set
I was asked to come up with a free entertainment for kids during the Big Lunch Resourceful Week, and made some skittles out of tin cans-you can see the post here.


And actually, I was helped out by all you lovely lot, and you came up with LOADS of ideas-most of which are free, and all of which are in this post here

11. Treasure Hunt
Hide some treasure in your garden-maybe a toy they’ve forgotten about, or a cheeky packet of sweets. Draw a map, or hide clues in various places, each one leading to the next, until the treasure is found!

12. Den Building
This can be an indoor or outdoor activity.
Indoors-you need old blankets and kitchen chairs; Outdoors-you can make a tent in the garden, or can venture into the woods and prop branches up against a sturdy tree, and cover with ferns etc.

13. Make ice lollies
There are loads of ideas for improvised lolly moulds in my post last week on Zero Waste ice lollies.


You can either do what we did and use fruit juice, or you can whiz up any slightly manky into a smoothie, and freeze that, or milk whizzed with Nutella make surprisingly good Mini Milk knock offs!

14. Water painting
Give them a bucket of water, a patio and some paint brushes, and let them ‘paint’ to their hearts content. And the bonus is, no clearing up!

15. Geocaching
Have you tried this yet? It’s on our Bucket List for this summer!
Geocaching is a “World-wide treasure hunt”. I think in essence, you can search for caches near to you, and you are given the map co-ordinates. When you find it, you open it, and the person before you will have left a little something, you take it out, and leave something else in it’s place for the next person to find. There is an app you download too. Find out more on the Geocaching website

16. The Beach
Summer wouldn’t be summer without at least one trip to the beach!
Take a picnic, and if you can resist the lure of the ice creams, you could have a free day out…!

17. Mud Kitchen
If you don’t object to a bit of mud, collect some old kitchen utensils (you could always ask on Freecycle or Freegle if anyone has anything suitable) and find a patch of bare earth. Give them a watering can of water, and let them get creative with mud pies and generally getting filthy

18. Snail Racing
I made a snail racing kit for a birthday present during My Make Do and Mend Year (in my defence the recipient was 4, and I think he liked it..!). You might have to do the snail collecting for them late at night, when they are all munching on your veg, and the Smalls are (hopefully) fast asleep, but then you can let them (kids and snails) loose the following morning



19. Learn Semaphore!
You can print out some ‘flags’, and stick them to cardboard from old cereal packets. Give them each a copy of the Semaphore Alphabet, and a message, that they have to communicate to each other.


This could keep them quiet for hours..!

20. Make a kite and fly it
A quick Pinterest search for ‘homemade kites’ gives LOADS of ideas-they can be really simple, like this ‘upcycled’ carrier bag kite

Or slightly more elaborate like these ones

Whichever you choose, pick a breezy day, and “go fly a kite”!

So there you go.
At least 20 ideas that just *might* stave off the “I’m boreds” as and when they arrive this Summer…
Have a good one 🙂


10 thoughts on “20 Free Things to do with the Kids this Summer

  1. When I was a Brownie (in the fifties!) we learned semaphore and the best word was RUN because the three shapes are symmetrical and easy to remember which meant that every Brownie could learn at least one word very easily and Brown Owl could signal it to us. Might be useful for Smalls too.

  2. When my girls started infant school and summer holidays loomed, I planned an activity a day and put the results in a scrap book. Most were free or very cheap! Making tree bark rubbings was a favourite, picking berries always went down well. Towards the end of infants we made our own “McDonalds” burgers, bread buns and milk shakes which my daughters, now in their 20s remember fondly! DD2 is about to start a PGCE and has been trawling the scrap books for ideas and suitable activities.

  3. Some great ideas in there Jen and I love the “bucket list”. A note on Geocaching we LOVE it! We’ve now found 104 geocaches, mostly in our local area but some across the UK when we’ve been away and even some in France. It’s a great day out to go to the woods or a park where you know there’s a cache and then you can combine geocaching with a picnic / play in the park / den building in the woods. It can be a whole day adventure. We’ve also done caching by bike to try and get a few in the same day. We’ve also placed two of our own in a local park and boys like to check on them and make sure they’re still ok.

    Enjoy your summer!

    PS the 50 things to do before 11 3/4 from the National Trust is great too and you can log onto their website for ideas on how to complete the challenge.

  4. Pingback: Making, Making Do and Mending August Linky | My Make Do and Mend Year

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