Almost Free Boredom Busters

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

In June the kids aren't bored yet; the thrill of summer vacation is still upon them. However, August is another story. Entertaining children isn't cheap, either. With movie prices at $6 or higher and gas soaring in its price per gallon, how can you keep the kids busy and your budget happy? Try these almost free activities.


Summer Programs

Most libraries and many churches offer summer programs for kids. Besides the typical summer reading programs and Vacation Bible School, they may offer exciting activities such as pj story times, sing-alongs, and craft sessions.

Campfire Night

Head to the great outdoors in your own backyard. Fire up the chiminea or the fire pit, or if you live in the country it might be the burn barrel. If these aren't already in your yard, create a fake fire with construction paper and place an electric lantern in the middle. (Be creative but safe in your "fire" creation.) Then, unroll the sleeping bags around your "fire" and feast upon s'mores, hot dogs, and popcorn. Have each person tell a story or check out a book of campfire stories from the library.


Theme Week

Invest some time and creativity into "theme week." Have family members identify places of interest and focus each night's dinner and after dinner activities on that area. Monday could be Hawaii night with shish-ka-bobs and pineapple upside-down cake followed by a campy beach or exploding volcano movie. Make Tuesday a trip to Australia and roast shrimp on the barby before having a sack race like kangaroos.

Resident Artist

Get out the sidewalk chalk and create a masterpiece in the driveway. Either create a family mural or have the kids invent a new game that involves a large game board. No driveway? Try a roll of butcher paper on the wall for a graffiti wall instead.

Nature ABC

Practice alphabet skills by having children find items of nature that begin with each letter of the alphabet. Use your own backyard or travel to a park to host your game. Encourage the children to draw or write down the items rather than collect them in order to preserve the flora. (Besides, bringing back a squirrel for S might be challenging!)


Guest Chefs

Put the kids in charge of preparing the week's meals (or just one meal if you're not too brave.) Draw a food pyramid for them to plan the elements of the meal, and then have them make the grocery list. With your supervision give them the responsibility of helping with the shopping and the preparation of the meal(s). No more complaining about dinner, and lots of educational value!

About The Author: Kelly Ann Butterbaugh is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a variety of magazines as well as online newsletters. She teaches writing in the public school as well as at the collegiate level. Contact her at or visit her website at


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August 10, 20060 found this helpful

how about craft shows and museums? do you have a museum that is touch and learn? put on a play from a kids story, 3 pigs, or what ever they are into. put on a olympics with the local kids. make up paper awards and make an all day thing out of it.

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August 10, 20060 found this helpful

We live in Willamette Valley in Oregon, and I came across one of the local nursery that has a HUGE corn maze; it is 3-4 dollars to go in, but ages 5 and under are free....Farmer John's is the name. We are doing that as an activity for my son's 5th birthday, with fresh fruit and espresso for dad!

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September 1, 20180 found this helpful

If you live near the plant where your local news paper is printed you may be able to get free left-over news paper. The paper is clean, no print on it. The roles are about 12 ft wide but how long ??? One role would last us close to a month.


(It takes a lot of paper to run a complete addition.) I had the kids sweep the drive and then we rolled out the paper. We had three big cans of crayons. some kids brought water based paints. If the paper was full before the kids were finished we just rolled out another driveway length.

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