Keeping Kids Entertained During Summer Break

August 24, 2010

A child blowing bubblesMy husband and I have to work out entertainment on a very tight budget. I have two little boys, age 5 and 3. When my boys get the stir crazies, we take a walk to the closest park in the neighborhood. On the way, we use it as a learning experience. We look for special shapes, colors, textures, etc. There are endless possibilities to this game that we play on the way to the park. We play for a while and then we walk a different route home.


This is one of many different ways we get rid of the stir crazy boys. I hope this suggestion helps a lot. We save lots of money by doing it and they also get a learning experience as well.

By Lisa from Pekin, IL

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May 12, 2010

Frugal living is nothing new to us as I was raised in a family of 11 kids and many foster children. We may have struggled because money was tight, but we never seemed to lack for fun things to do and there was always something going on that held our attention.

A child blowing bubbles


May 28, 2008

Every year before the last day of school, I obtain a copy of the coming year curriculum. I evaluate it and note any summer activities that will help my kids gain a healthy headstart.


April 6, 2010

If your kids are wanting something fun to do this summer, have them start their own paper. They can interview the neighbors that they know, and write stories about their own life.


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 255 Posts
June 3, 2014

Research shows many kids "slide" up to 30% during the summer months. Don't let that happen to you.


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July 15, 2019

What to do for free and fun during summer? Can't go wrong with reading and being rewarded. Check with your local library to see if you can participate in summer reading - this is available for kids and adults!


May 16, 2007

Get free movies to watch from local library. This is especially great for kids over the summer. Make one day a week a movie day.


Lori Enos
March 21, 2002

Family activities don't have to be elaborate or costly to be enjoyable. Often the simplest activities are the ones kids enjoy the most. We've taken our kids to Walt Disney World and a host of other extravagant vacations, but the things they seem to enjoy the most are going on picnics and having family game night.


February 25, 2009

To keep kids entertained, look for free events. Sometimes programs offer 1 free class with no obligation. Gymboree, Little Gym, and Stroller Strides do this.


Additionally, some churches have open play times for a minimal fee.


July 8, 2008

Kids get bored during the summer and taking them places can get expensive. Try doing a craft project once a week. Something easy and cheap.


Sandy Baker
May 26, 2006

Are you looking for a way to have fun with your kids right at home? Then consider having a jungle day in the backyard. There are many things that can be done in the backyard to turn it into a pretend jungle.


June 14, 2005

Water balloon fights are always a big hit at summer kids parties, but the burst balloons all over the ground are a hazard to wildlife and curious toddlers. Encourage kids to clean up by offering a prize for the one who picks up the most bits of rubber balloon.


Susan Sanders-Kinzel
June 25, 2004

In the summer the kids need things to do for fun and learning. It's a good time to broaden their education, especially outdoors.


Here are some links of sites with indoor and outdoor activities for children.


Susan Sanders-Kinzel
June 2, 2003

Summer brings mixed feelings. Usually the first week is fun but after a few days we hear the familiar refrain, "Mom, I'm bored, what can I do?"


July 27, 2012

During summer vacation kids need to rest, as well as, keep busy. So many parents are concerned about making their kids have a productive summer that they forget that summer is also a time to sit back and relax.



Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

July 2, 2007

What can my grandson do to beat boredom this summer? He is 11 and is driving me crazy! I keep him in the daytime while his parents work. I won't let him play on the computer and he's tired of his Playstation games. (I refuse to buy him any more). Does anyone have any ideas? There aren't many kids his age that live close by for him to play with. Any ideas?

Linda from Alabama


By Darlene (Guest Post)
July 3, 20070 found this helpful

Here are several suggestions I can think of:
1. a scavenger hunt (the more difficult, the longer he stays busy!)
2. a nature walk (along a beach, in the woods, or a park are good choices)


3. take him fishing
4. look on the internet for some games they played during different centuries
5. go to the local library (they have more than books!)
6. get him to read to you (Harry Potter books, Eragon or Eldest are some choices, there are lots more)
He will balk at any idea at first. Just be patient and keep trying. If he finds some type of bug or insect, go to the library and look it up. Have him earn "computer bucks". Instead of making play money, you could use old monopoly money. Make each dollar worth so many minutes of computer time. Have him do some of the suggestions for a while and then he can earn an equal amount of supervised computer time.
It's been a while since I had kids that age. But I do have six grandchildren. My daughter uses the computer bucks and not only for playing games. Her children love going to the library etc.

I certainly hope this helps.
Good luck.
PS does he enjoy any sports? if so, what teams are his favorite? have him look up the history of the teams he likes

July 3, 20070 found this helpful

I would recommend The American Boy's Handy Book or The Dangerous Book for Boys (links below). They have lots of outdoorsy and other really interesting activities. Is he a Boy Scout? Get him working on those merit badges! Also you could think about volunteering somewhere with him. Help him to find ways to use his time productively, not just to pass the time. Help him to learn a new skill or hobby that he can show for his time. Good luck!

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July 9, 20070 found this helpful

There are usually stores around where he can swap his Playstation games. He might try getting new games that way. Sometimes having a friend over is not really more work, but less work as they keep each other entertained. He can then play basketball, baseball, or ride bikes, etc.


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July 9, 20070 found this helpful

It is vitally important in the development of boys to be forced to find their own amusement. My parents did me a great favor by kicking me out of the house, saying it's a crime to sit inside during nice weather, and boredom turned out to be very wonderful in that it made me notice my world. I went for rambles, I found new friends, I made things from the natural materials (I remember a placemat made of grass stems). Boot him out and tell him not to come back for four hours, and give him a watch to come home on time. When you want to call him in from around the neighborhood, toot your car horn a predetermined code. Introduce yourselves to your neighbors so they can see him and recognize him. Buy him active toys like a frisbee or a dog or a chunk of rope. Let his imagination get some exercise! This boredom is his imagination crying for a chance to come out and play. Enjoy him at this age, they ask some great questions!

July 9, 20070 found this helpful

Oh to be a kid again and have the whole day to play! What sweetness!

Sure he will be pleased if you want to play something with him and that's fine for some times but of course you have your own things to do too.

I dont recall ever being bored as a kid. If we ever complained Mom would say 'well if youre bored you can always go to the garden and hoe" It didnt take us long to find something that would make us happier.

Of course we lived in the country and I played for so many hours all by myself. Never got lonely. And my Mom just wasnt a lot of fun anyway.

I would think any kid could find a million things to explore.

Even in the city. And at home or at least in the neighborhood. I dont know where you live.

Some activity books like Annaid suggests. Or ask him to go out and study something. You pick or he picks. And ask him to find 20 things he can say about it. Or as many things as he can find.

I could spend hours watching a spider even. Show him how amazing his world is if he begins to look at it. Discovery is such a wonderful thing for humans and especially kids.

This is such a precious time for him, if only he can discover that. Many of us would kill to have the whole day to play just as we choose. All kids are incredibly creative with even the simplest of materials.

Let him find out, expand his mind, his world. What a lucky young man.

July 9, 20070 found this helpful

Go to the library. Look for books to read or books that show you how to make stuff. I think there are books that show you how to make things with duct tape--he might like that.
Volunteer at an animal shelter or soup kitchen together.
Go to garage sales on Fridays.
Play board games.
Let him have some friends over.
Teach him how to cook a simple meal, then he can make it for his parents later that week.

A lot of learning can happen on a computer, especially with the internet. I don't understand why his parents let him play video games but not use a computer. If it's inappropriate content they're worried about, there are filters available to help avoid that stuff. I used a computer program called Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing to learn to type when I was about that age and that ability served me well through high school, college, and now as a teacher.

By Diana (Guest Post)
July 9, 20070 found this helpful

Volunteer at local hospital or nursing home, etc.

"Rent" videos, play station games and the like at your local library free of charge

Condition for a sport-swim, run, lift weightd at your local school

find FREE entertainment in your neighborhood

Adopt an area roadway near your home and pick up the trash

Do something nice for a neighbor (walk the dog, weed their flower beds)

READ-I have my children read and write essays, book reports, etc and then "pay" them with spending money for new school cloths, Toss in a few treats too-like movies, icecreams, etc to make it less like school

Lear to cook-select a few dishes he enjoys eating. A woman loves a man who cah cook

Teach him to do laundry and to iron his own clothes

Have him wash your car

Learn a new craft

Have him clean your house-teach him the right way to do things (and then send him over to my house!)
Have fun with it and good luck!

By Lynda (Guest Post)
July 10, 20070 found this helpful

I'm a 24/7 Caregiver, Home School Teacher for my 9 yr. old grandson, for 6 1/2 yrs. now. He has finally met a 11 yr. old boy in the neighborhood with whom he really gets along and is available to be good friends.

Their favorite thing to do is swim, make shaved-ice (Targets for under $20, good for parents ot buy him and leave at your house.)Using fruit juice/kool-aid for flavorings.

Rarely we go feed ducks stale bread crumbs, and fish at the local public ponds with worms. We enjoy
this and are very alert to strangers.

I don't encourage bike riding, for safety's sake., but using a small "sidewalk wooden bike ramp" to drive over saves the day.

Once I took them to toss the baseball, but not often.

This is the age when it's VITAL that they have friends, boundaries, a few things other boys have, and are allowed WITH PARENTAL CONTROLS to go to a few Internet sites, IF they are computer literate and competent: The Penquin
and KOL (Kids on line) are o.k.because they are SAFE.

I am VERY watchful and have not one single incident
to occur to him. I check for "LIVE moderators" and
strict rules before letting him "visit" on their KIDS' chat rooms.

They LOVE mechanical items, water balloons, and
renting videos from the Library. I've discovered a wide range of fun-LEARNING videos as well there.

Next, we go together to the .50 movie once or twice
a month, ONLY if a G or PG rated movie that I accept is playing. Oter times we go to the local skating rink, if his dad gives us money to do these extra things.

We also go to parks in AM or late afternoon. The reason it's so terribly important for them to relate to other boys at this age is because it's a rite of passage, a measuring of how they're doing in life, to them. House rules are expected and must be given
gently but firmly. I say, "In our house we ______, ______, ______, and I'm sure you will remember these things. Be positive and patient. I have a large
sand box, plenty of bird houses to watch, lots of trees to climb and plenty of the best snacks I can
afford/make that he likes as well. I watch for the least sugars/food colorings, most whole grains, a good variety, least junk snacks, NO candy except a small amount of Dark Chocolate, and a weekly trip
to get ice cream/sorbets/yogurt/OR $dollar burgers, all within 2-5 miles of home.

I have used riding toys, rollar blades, Legos, board games, plenty of silly putty(for some reason this age loves it!, and an old large t.v. in his room. He
has pets but doesn't like to take better care of them, since it's daily.

They like to paint on most anything, use small tools, use K'nex, and punch balls. These two aren't sports minded, nor is our family, so we enjoy the Summer without hot sports/grueling practices. They
seem to like exercise equipment and light weight-lifting. I have a good library but encourage this more during the Fall and Winter than Summer.

It's also a time when they like to push boundaries wtih sound effects they make, like whistling, laughing,giggling like older girls, telling/hearing funny jokes, stories, experiences, seeing funny photos, taking pictures(if you have a camera...), and reading magazines, especially for their age and interests. The big thing among them is Spider Man, and SuperMan.

They'd love to explore, but it's so hot and moist here that it seems much hotter. I don't force them to stay outside, but to comply the best they can with what we have, my rules, and to not raid the kitchen
of all I have to eat. I keep tuna, peanut butter/jelly, corny dogs, meatballs, cheap pizzas, and smoked turkey cold cuts for snacks, crackers,
oatmeal cookies, and sale chips/popcorn/occasional
sale fruits. One of my rules is that I need to know why they are in the kitchen, not just leave it open to them, both to budget our food, AND to remind them to keep their little grimey hands washed before handling foods, for their sakes and mine.

Occasionally I will play Monopoly, Battleship, Stratego, or other games, or take turns reading to each other, and praying twice daily.

I trust that God has urged my heart, helped me to raise this child properly while his parents continue to get their lives in order.

One thing I did when I was young was go house to house until I found a playmate each day. This is not only not acceptable in this neighborhood, but not during these dangerous days when even adults are being kidnapped and worse. A child needs only a couple of decent friends/playmates who meet parental and godly standards. If they have that they should consider themselves very lucky.

Good luck and God bless you. : )

I remind them occasionally that I am not only the grandmother in charge, but a teacher, older, wiser, and that God has placed them in my care for a reason. I guide their speech, activities, judgment,
boundaries, discipline, TV/music, and Internet experiences, but without oppressing them. If children have no strong faith/belief system, they will believe ANYTHING and more likely to get into serious trouble. I screen/get to know all friends/acquaintences, set strict time limits on visits, and give guidelines also on clothing/TV programs and content I will allow into my home, and into their heads. My rules are the typical:
If you open it, shut it.
get it out, put it up.
put it down, pick it up.
break it, tell me and offer to help repair it/help
hurt someone's feelings, apologize,
dirty it, clean it,

I have learned to delegate: You may ______, IF you
first have yourself groomed, fed, cleaned, dressed,
and your room straighted, pets fed/cleaned. You must be home by ______ and not leave _____unless you get my permisson. If you ever deliberately hurt someone/break or damage property, you will be punished according to the offense. If you curse or
deliberately do wrong, you will be punished properly,
usually grounding. If you miss the trash
can, or leave food out anywhere, whenever I do find it, you will be punished. If you simply learn to obey me, honor me by using your manners everywhere you go, and learn not to question every statement I make, and not to argue so much, we will get along fine.

I'm a Christian and believe children want and need boundaries, house rules, godly counsel, and less idle time. If they are bored, I find a chore for them to do. If my grandson does something in disobedience, I usually have him to write, "I will not
____." About 25 times the first offense, double should there be a second offense.

My grandson is learning to be a Junior Leader at church, but I do not FORCE him to attend, although I don't allow him to goof off on Sundays if he has
chosen not to go that weekend, like missing school because of some illness.

I don't know if all I've done is correct, but I am trying my best, with the help of God's Word and Holy Spirit.

Hope this helps in some way?


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July 10, 20070 found this helpful

Are you looking for things that you can do with him or things that he can do on his own to keep him busy while you tend to other stuff?

Do not turn him out on his own. We have had two bored neighborhood boys (at different times) who's parents constantly turned them out on their own and they both turned out to be neighborhood terrors. They'd destruct anything they could find (usually neighbor's stuff), torture animals, were always in trouble breaking windows, starting fires, etc. We called the police after we found one on our roof for the third time (we have a three story house). All we could think of was he'd fall, get seriously hurt, and we'd get sued. And neither set of parents believed their child would do such things.

A bored child needs to be directed. Have you checked daytime activities at the library, the city's parks and recreation dept, various church's vacation bible schools, the city pool, art classes, gymnastic classes, practice for school sports (around here, thery are already having football practice), buying a trampoline or basketball hoop for him to use, going on bike rides, taking hikes on the city's walking paths, starting an insect or leaf collection, maybe a stamp or coin collection, gardening, youth golf, teaching him to bake or cook? At twelve, my nephew learned the basics of sewing--mom wanted him to be able to sew on a button when it came off, and he preceeded to mend everyone's socks. My son picked up golf balls at the city golf course daily in exchange for playing free from the time he was 12 yrs old; he was a hard worker and well behaved. A friend's son cut neighbor's lawns for spending money. My niece pet sits (walks a dog) for a neighbor who is a flight attendant and gone a couple days at a time. Can he volunteer at the hospital (candy-stripers aren't just girls any more)? Make time one morning each week for an experiment, the library has lots of fun books that I used when mine was younger. Rent a good movie, then have him write a review about it. The arts centers are always looking for children for productions. Is there a big-brother program where someone could do something with him one afternoon a week? Check out the local bowling center; they usually have a youth bowling league that bowls in mornings. Our old skate center had skating specials on Wednesday mornings during the summer just for kids. Everyday, give him a box with so many odd things in it (a piece of wood, a hammer and nails, tacks, etc.) and ask him to invent something, or better yet, make a bird house. Lots of Lowe's stores have kids programs for free. Buy that fan you've been needing and ask him to put it together. Have him help you clean the closet or wash walls, move the sofa to vacuum behind it, can tomatoes, etc. Teach him a new craft (woodburning or wood carving), have him paint the old rocker on the porch, get him a pen pal, have him write a letter to a serviceman every week. Just keep him busy, because sooner-or-later, he'll find something he loves/wants to do on his own.


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July 10, 20070 found this helpful

Just one more thing, consider buying an interactive video game where he has to run track, dance on a numbered floor pad, or just move in general for exercise.

May 11, 20080 found this helpful

Not sure if your area has a "freecycler" (yahoo board) but something WONDERFUL I found was someone giving away an old grass motor that didnt work. My son loves tools and seeing how things of the best things I ever did was get him that grass mower and allow him a shady spot to take this apart and then put it back together.
Old clothes is a MUST!!!! But it kept him busy and happy for a few weeks....taking it apart was easy....figuring how to get it back was another

By Cosmos mom (Guest Post)
May 11, 20080 found this helpful

If he can use the computer try introducing him to RuneScape (SP). My boys are 8 and 11 and they love it. It is an interactive mid-evil type game. They play with others on the internet. They have to hunt, fish and keep track of their money. It is a fun game and teaches them a little. Not a total brain dead game. It does cost about 10 a month to play but it is well worth it. I do kick the boys outside to play hockey and basketball and give them time to play on the computer also.

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July 28, 2008

What is a good schedule for a mother with 2 kids starting with the morning time. I feel so tired and clueless on what I have to do when I wake up and throughout the day. What can I do to keep my kids busy and entertained? What is a good schedule to keep busy? My son is 9 years old and my daughter is 7 weeks old.

Michelle from EL Paso, TX


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July 28, 20080 found this helpful

If you have a 7 week old then you are most likely feeling drained because you aren't getting much sleep! The number one, top thing you should MAKE SURE you do each & every day is TAKE A NAP WHEN THE BABY DOES! If your 9 year old won't lay down with you to take a nap, then put a video on for him to watch & instruct him to wake you when it's over & NOT BEFORE! But tell him he'll get to do or eat something special if he lets you nap while the Video is on, this way he won't be bugging you constantly because he's bored & if TV isn't something he gets to watch all the time & it's only for special occasions, then he'll really look forward to his ONE video or one TV show a day while you nap.

---> Mark my word, if you get to take an hour or an hour & a half nap when the baby naps during the day, you will have SO much more energy for your family! And a 9 year old should be old enough to either keep himself entertained OR he can lay down WITH YOU to nap also!

If you get enough sleep, then everything else will fall into place! This is important, do NOT feel guilty about getting an extra hour or two of sleep when you have a small baby. You need it!
* Ask your doctor, they'll say. "Sleep when the baby sleeps"!

By Anna Kemery (Guest Post)
July 29, 20080 found this helpful

I think you have been given some great advice about letting kids just be kids during the summer but I think scheduling is important with a new baby. Here are some suggestions from a mom of 2 who also raised two brothers. Try to put your baby on a regular nap schedule this is hard I know my daughter was really hard to do this with but I finally succeeded. (She has high functioning autism, and is hyper-kinesthetic, so she never wants to sleep.) Ideally she would sleep right now for at least 2 hours. During those two hours as suggested you nap for one hour (set a timer) than try to catch up on a few around the house chores that you cannot do while she is awake. Baby wakes up you feed her and then put her on the floor for some "tummy time" good for her and for you. While she spends 15 to 20 minutes doing this you stay in the room with her, and you and your son do a quiet activity together.

Remember that as old as he is, he is very used to being the center of your attention. This has to be quite an adjustment! Then pick her up, put her in a front pack and move on with your day.
Here is a sample of my schedule. Keep in mind that I live on a large ranch so we have earlier hours than other people probably do, so just adjust to when you get up and go to bed.

7:00 eat breakfast, do dishes
8:00 outside chores (that are not little children friendly, ie feeding horses)
8:30 kids wake up feed them breakfast
allow older child to watch PBS Sesame Street etc.
play with baby.
9:30/10:00 go outside to play, with baby in front pack do outside chores that can be done with little ones.
11:30 make lunch
12:00 eat lunch.
1:00 go for walk with kids in stroller
2:00 everybody has two hour nap while mom sleeps for one than does housework
4:00 feed baby, give two year old snack
5:00 start dinner
6:00 eat dinner
7:00 two year old goes out to play with dad while mom does dinner dishes and baby does tummy time in the living room, or play in bouncer chair.
when dishes are done we go outside too.
8:00 baby goes to bed, two year old has craft/paint time with mom.
9:00 Two year old goes to bed, read bedtime story til 9:15.
9:30 Mom catches up on any last minute stuff, pays bills etc.
9 to 11 Mommy alone time mommy does whatever she wants to do or needs to without little ones underfoot.

I plan all my meals for the month at once and write them down so I can be organized, I pay all my bills at the first of the month , on a scheduled day at a scheduled time. I also have a list of housekeeping duties that are broken up into days of the week so that a little bit of housework gets done everyday, the whole house gets cleaned once a week, and one room gets deep cleaned a month. This is not extraordinary and I am not necessarily well organized but I force myself to schedule, this is the key to your survival. Your nine year old is old enough that if you haven't already, you assign him a few things to do to help like washing the lunch dishes. I would recommend getting some organization books, from the library and finding a system that works for you.

Just remember, babies grow up fast and so do nine year olds so the more quality summer time you spend together now the more wonderful memories you will have later to look back on. Good luck!

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

May 12, 2010

Keeping your school age children happy, physically active, and learning during the summer.


July 28, 2008
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