Keeping Kids Entertained During Summer Break

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Summer is coming and the kids will be looking for things to keep them busy. This is a page about keeping kids entertained during summer break.


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August 24, 2010

My 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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I have raised 4 girls plus provided day care for many children for several years. Now I take care of a 2 year-old and a 6 year-old granddaughter during school breaks. 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.


Sorry this is long - I have a lot more ideas on vacation fun on little or no money, so will hope to post more as time permits. Have fun!

By Debi Radcliffe from Groton, NY

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?"

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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.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

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

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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! (Affiliate Link) (Affiliate Link)

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

May 12, 2010

Summertime Activities for Your Children

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

I am a retired teacher and always used to say that we should float a bond referendum for teacher pay raises the second week of August! Parents who are not accustomed having the children at home all day have to adjust their schedules in order to fit in the needs of their youngsters. Below are some suggestions one might consider:

Vacation Bible Schools - All children are welcomed at these, not just church members. If you are taking your children, round up some of their playmates to join them. (You'll make some Mom's day!)

Morning Movies for Kids - Our local theater has a kids program at 10:00 a.m. during the summer. Because of the popularity of this program, they are now offering it several times a week. The admission is very little and they have a great concessions special.

Visit Your Local Library - Kids can be entertained for hours in the quiet air-conditioned venue offered by the library. See if yours has a special craft/story time program which your children might enjoy. If you don't have a computer at home, take them to the library. It's free and they'll know how to operate them.

Take a Field Trip to a Nearby Park - There are many beautiful public parks that offer more than just playground equipment. Often there are nature trails with the plants/trees identified, ducks to feed (take your stale bread and leftover popcorn), places for a picnic and all for free. Many state parks have rangers there to present free informative stories about the site.

Set Aside a Quiet Time Each Afternoon - Encourage them to read or rest during this time; no TV and only quiet music. Post a chart with numbered lines on it in an easily accessible place. Make a chart for each child and have them record the names of the books they read. Have them give an oral report to you and their siblings.

For younger children you can make a bookworm by cutting out colorful body segments and adding the name of each book as they read it. They love to see it grow. For your non-readers, make them one with the books they have sat and listened to you read to them. Your children will be much better prepared to start school again in the fall if you continue this practice through the summer. You could also work out some kind of point system for a more tangible reward if you choose.

Swimming Outings - Most children love to splash in the water. Have them run through the sprinkler when you're watering your garden or lawn. For even more fun, join them for a walk in the rain (not a thunderstorm, of course) with flip flops, clothing that it's okay to get wet, and no umbrella. They'll love to see you showing your kid side and you'll have some good laughs together.

Farmer's Market or Pick-It-Yourself Farm - If possible, plant some easy to grow vegetables in your yard or in containers on the deck or patio. Potatoes are a good choice because they require little, if any, attention and digging them is like a treasure hunt. If you don't want to plant your own garden, take them to a farm where they will be allowed to pick what they will be having for dinner.

Plan a Scavenger Hunt - Adjust the clues to suit the age of each child. Invite some friends over for even more fun.

Find Other Parents Whom You Trust and Do an Exchange - That way you'll each have a day off to catch up on whatever you choose to spend it doing.

Enjoy these days because you'll miss them when those little ones are grow and no longer need your suggestions for entertainment.

Source: Years of experience as a camp counselor, teacher, a stay-at-home mother and the "Mommy who likes to." (A title given to me by my son when he was in grade school. After a couple of exhausting weeks of grade-parenting, supervising their friends who came to swim or play, transporting many whose parents couldn't, baking cookies for school parties, etc., I slipped and said something I wished I hadn't the minute it slipped out of my mouth. "Why am I always the one who...? My son replied, "Because you're the mommy who likes to." That makes it all worth it.

By Sandy from Elon, NC

Editor's Note: Do you have a favorite frugal way to occupy your children in the summertime? Share it with us here.

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July 28, 2008
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