UK Markets closed

Cheap, unusual and fun ways to entertain the kids

Felicity Hannah

The summer holidays are upon us! Across the country, commuters are celebrating the clear roads, while parents are nervously checking their bank balances.

Because keeping the kids entertained isn’t cheap. There will be dozens of articles suggesting free museum trips and picnics in the sitting room – and those can be great, free fun.

However, these options struggle to last more than a week, and that’s when it can start to get expensive. Ice skating, swimming, even shopping can be popular and easy, but the cost soon adds up.

So, what are the alternatives? Read on for some cheap, unusual and very fun things for your children to enjoy this summer.

Free football session

During the school holidays, Tesco runs free taster sessions to its football coaching programme for 5-11 year olds.

It’s open to boys and girls, of all abilities and provides age-appropriate football coaching designed to be fun and teach teamwork.

You can check if there’s a class running near you and sign up for a free session over on the dedicated website.

Go down to the woods today

You want to get the kids outdoors but you can’t face another trip to the local park? The UK is filled with beautiful woodlands, many of which have specially designed family-friendly walks and nature trails.

Find out more by visiting the VisitWoods website and discovering what’s on near you.

There are even special classes in woodland skills, such as building dens and foraging. If you can’t find a class near you, there are some great ideas for free things to do with the kids – including a guide to climbing trees.

Bug safari

This is educational, it’s free and kids love it. Send your clan into the garden or park armed with a white bed sheet. They hold the sheet under any bushes or trees and give the plant a shake.

As the creepy crawlies fall out of the trees and onto the sheet, ask them to draw what they see. Then, when they come home they can identify what they found using the internet – there’s some good information available on the National Insect Week website.

Once they’ve found, drawn and identified the various bugs, ask them to prepare a presentation to show you what they found. Even the most squeamish children will love feeling like scientists for the day.

Find freebies at the museums

It’s wonderful that so many museums and galleries are free now, and they can be great ways to entertain the whole family for less.

But it’s easy to get sick of trailing around yet another museum, no matter how interesting and interactive it is.

The good news is that many museums and attractions will be running free, exciting sessions for children this summer.

For example, there’s free story-telling and crafts activities in Buckinghamshire’s Roald Dahl museum or free artefact handling at the Imperial War Museum North.

Visit museums’ websites and look for free events; you’ll be amazed at how much is on and how much it can enhance your day out.

Go Sky riding

There are some major free biking events for families this summer. The organisation British Cycling has teamed up with Sky to organise fun, free community bike rides.

On these bike rides, local volunteers will guide groups of between 16 and 24 people around rural and urban routes, providing information and advice on safe cycling.

It’s suitable for all ages and abilities, so these could be a great way to ensure your children understand the basics of cycling safety.

There are even rewards for youngsters who attend more than one ride, including posters, flags and even a hoodie.

How do you keep your kids happy during the long summer holidays? What are your tips for keeping the price down? Share your ideas with other readers in the comments below.