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10 Summer Activities on a Budget

These summer activities are a budget-friendly way to get the family engaged and playing together. They include both indoor and outdoor activities for a variety of ages with materials you probably already have lying around the house.

Rock Painting

Go on a rock hunt and find some flat rocks in the neighborhood. Once you’ve got a nice collection, bring them back home and paint them. You could create animals out of them or just decorate them however you’d like. I’ve found that mostly any kind of paint works for this, although you may need to paint darker rocks white first to ensure that all of the colors show up. For longer-lasting paint, you can seal them with a clear coat of spray paint or modge podge to help them be more weather resistant. Want to take it a step further? Spread your colorful rocks to your neighbors by leaving them on doorsteps, giving them as gifts, or decorating a garden. Just keep in mind that paint can be toxic to some ecosystems, so painted rocks should never be left near water sources such as the beach, lakes, or streams.

Scavenger Hunt

Have a scavenger hunt for your family! Write out some clues and hide them around the house. You’ll want to make the clues and riddles age appropriate for your kids to make sure they’re not too hard or too easy. Your scavenger hunt could be indoors, outdoors, or a combination of the two. To make it extra special, leaving a prize at the last clue adds a fun incentive for the scavenger hunt. This could be a store-bought prize, an activity such as going out for ice cream, or something simple like a piece of candy. If kids are sending parents on a scavenger hunt, they could create a coupon for their parents as a reward at the end as well. 

Try A New Recipe

Cooking and baking is a great way to spend time together as a family. For kids, cooking is also an excellent way to practice math and literacy skills such as counting, fractions, adding, and reading. Including kids in meal planning and cooking is a great way to give them ownership and investment over the dinner or lunch plans. If you want to take it a step further, you can have your kids make their own cookbook of recipes they’ve made and love. This is a quick and easy way to spend the summer having fun while also making meal plans go smoother.

Squirt Gun Watercolors

There are two ways to go about squirt gun watercolor painting. One is to fill up several squirt guns with different colors of watercolor paint. However, I’ve found this method to be time-consuming as you need to mix lots of paint, and you also need several squirt guns for different colors. This method also tends to give more watered-down colors that don’t show up on paper as well. The second method is to tie or clip a palette of watercolors on top of watercolor paper and use squirt guns to target the paint palette allowing the watercolors to run and drip down the paper. This way, you only need one squirt gun per painter and the colors tend to be more vibrant and pigmented.

Build A Fairy or Animal House

This is a fun outdoor activity that is good for all ages. Going on a nature walk or in the backyard, find natural materials that could be used to build a small house for a fairy or other small animal. The design could be minimalistic or intricate, it’s totally up to the builder. 

Make Friendship Bracelets or Wristbands

All that’s needed for this is some string or yarn. You could also add beads that spell out a name or other message. There are many different ways to tie knots in different colored patterns to create a variety of bracelets and wristbands. However, this may be more suitable for older children who can tie knots on their own. 

Build A Fort or Camp Out

Building a fort indoors with blankets and pillows is always a fun way to spend the summer. Again, this is something that can be done with all ages and be either minimalistic or intricate in its design. If you’d rather not have a room taken over by an indoor fort, outdoor forts or camping can be a great alternative if you have a backyard or outdoor space. 

Lemonade Stand

Making a lemonade stand is a classic way for kids to spend their summer time. Designing advertisements, mixing lemonade, and selling them to the community is always fun. When doing this, it is advised that you have list of ingredients out used in the lemonade to ensure that buyers are aware of possible allergens and an children should always be accompanied by an adult for safety.

Engineering Challenge

This is a fun engineering activity that can be done with supplies you probably already have at home. My favorite challenge is to see who can build the tallest tower using only marshmallows and uncooked spaghetti noodles (you could also use toothpicks), but you can use any supplies you have lying around the house. Engineering activities are a great way to get the family using their brains and thinking of creative ways to find solutions, reflect, and solve problems. 

Water Play

On hot summer days, there’s nothing better than cooling off outside with a water game. This could be having a water balloon fight, playing with squirt guns, setting up a kiddie pool, or even filling a tub with water and setting out some bowls and cups. There’s always an affordable way to cool off and play in the water, even if it’s just a sensory tub and it typically keeps kids busy and engaged for hours. If you want to be extra fancy, add a few drops of food coloring to whatever water your using just to make it extra special.