Written by Spotloan
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There’s always a flood of excitement, energy, and enthusiasm on the day that school lets out for the summer. But come July and August, kids can get pretty restless without school to occupy their days. They start to miss being around other kids and having activities to focus on all day.

Unfortunately, entertaining kids all summer isn’t always cheap. Traditional summer activities for kids, like full-time camps, theme parks, water parks, and shopping outlets can be expensive. The average parent expects to spend almost $1,000 on summer childcare.

Luckily, there’s plenty to do at home or at a public park that costs very little or nothing at all. From summer game days and neighborhood play to reading contests and fun family projects, you can put together an unforgettable summer before your kids go back to school.

Set Up Summer Game Days

There are the usuals, like Marco Polo, Simon Says, and checkers. But there are also some great options for imagination-driven games or affordable board games that kids will enjoy without costing you a fortune.

For younger kids, playing dress-up, hide-and-go-seek, and putting together puppet shows or blanket forts can keep them entertained for hours. For older kids, musical chairs, scavenger hunts, and identifying objects in the clouds provide endless entertainment.

Hopscotch, jump rope, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, sprinklers, corn hole, and affordable board games like Twister are other great ways to occupy time when you’re on a budget. Work with what you have to create a variety of options, and your kids will be thrilled to play all day.

Make the Most of Your Neighborhood

Encouraging social interaction with neighborhood kids can take some of the pressure off of you coming up with all of their activities. Kids can play tag, wiffle ball, card games, and more. Plus, building relationships with neighborhood parents will give your kids additional options for places to play and activities to focus on.

Maybe one neighborhood home has a ping pong table, another has a pool, and another has a swing set and trampoline in the backyard. Building relationships with neighborhood families and rotating hosting duties or play dates can be a great way to break up the burden for everyone.

And if there aren’t many other families in your neighborhood, you may have better luck searching for affordable weekend and day camp opportunities. Some of the larger programs, like the YMCA summer camp operate on an income-based scale to make them more affordable. These camps are packed with fun summer activities for kids.

Host a Reading Contest

If your kids are old enough and around the same age, a reading contest can be a great way to get them invested in something that’s both good for their development and your bank account. With a local library card, they can browse and check out a handful of books at a time for free.

If a competition doesn’t seem like the right way to go with your little ones, a prize-oriented reading system might be the better way to go. Books aren’t always a kid’s first choice for activities, but that doesn’t mean that they’re automatically off the table.  

If kids know that they’ll get an ice cream cone, stickers, or a toy from the dollar store after they meet a reading goal, they may be more likely to follow through. And this can turn reading into an exciting and affordable way to keep them occupied.

Find Fun-for-the-Whole-Family Projects

On days when it’s raining or too unbearably hot to be outside, kids often become even more restless. They may get stir-crazy quickly, but there is a remedy. Actually, there are several. Pull up a streaming service and break out the snacks for a family movie night.

Set up a picnic or a paint night in the living room, bake together, or find something to craft. There are plenty of summer projects for kids that you can do on a budget to keep them entertained and leave more money in your wallet.