Five Fun and Inexpensive Activities for Your Kids This Summer

With warm weather and excited kids who can't wait for the end of the school year, you know summer is almost here. It's time to start planning fun activities to keep your family busy. But what do you do if you're on a tight budget? Don't worry. There are plenty of fun things to do for families on a budget. Here's a look at some inexpensive summer fun.

Public Library Summer Programs

According to the American Library Association, public libraries have offered summer reading programs since the 1890s. The goal is to encourage children to read. In addition to a summer reading list and free books to borrow, many public libraries offer a weekly storytime and other fun activities to help excite kids about reading. You can see if your local library has rewards for children who meet their reading goals based on the child's age.

Summer Movie Programs

Most national and local movie chains offer summer movie programs for kids and families. Each week, the theater shows a different movie — usually in the morning on a weekday — and all of them are G or PG rated. These movies cost a dollar or two per person, and the theaters offer cheap candy, drinks, and popcorn too. Some theaters even offer a movie pass so you can prepay all the movies at once and save a little more money. These movies are usually a mixture of old favorites and newer releases.

Spend a Night Under the Stars

Can't afford a vacation this year? You can camp out in your backyard. If you don't have a tent, you can borrow one from a friend or neighbor or sleep in sleeping bags for a truly rustic experience. Encourage one of the adults to dig a fire pit for roasting hot dogs and toasting marshmallows. You and the kids can sing songs and tell ghost stories around the fire until everyone is ready for bed. The best part is that if one of your kids gets scared, you can move the campout inside.


If you have a YMCA close to your home, you can become a member and take advantage of their summer programs for children. Many YMCAs offer an inexpensive summer camp. There is usually an indoor pool for your family to cool off in the heat or learn to swim for the first time. You can take a fitness class or use the exercise equipment while the kids enjoy the children's daycare or other activities. If your finances are tight, the YMCA offers a need-based scholarship program. Your local YMCA has the details and application.

Paper Bag Puppet Show

On a rainy afternoon, it's time to let your children get creative. Use paper lunch bags to create puppets. Your kids can use yarn to make hair and draw a face with crayons. All of the bag people need an occupation and role.

When your kids grow tired of creating puppets, ask them to create a story for their newly created friends. After dinner, ask the kids to put on a puppet show for you and your spouse. They can even make props out of cardboard to help their story. The possibility for fun and new stories are as endless as your children's imaginations.

You don't have to spend the summer hearing how bored your children are. With a little preplanning, the entire family can have fun without breaking the budget. From movies to books, it's easy to keep your kids occupied and entertained when they don't go to school each day. Looking for local activities at community centers can help you save money on your summer fun.