Summer Programs for Kids that Won’t Cost Much

bordemSummer is three months of laid-back school-free relaxation. Kids look forward to that first day of vacation and the promise of pools, outdoor fun and—sometimes—later mornings. But after a few weeks, the boredom begins to take hold.

For parents, summer requires planning and lots of diverse activities to keep kids occupied and out of mischief. Most parents don’t have bottomless budgets to enroll kids in neverending streams of expensive activities, though. And the cost of camps, sports and swimming lessons adds up quickly.

To get the most fun out of summer and to make sure kids stay entertained, parents need to check out the numerous fun FREE activities that can be added to the summer schedule. While some activities are local, there are many free opportunities that are available in every town and city…you just have to know where to look.

outdoor movie

When summer boredom kicks in, and the kids are climbing the walls, check out these free or low-cost diversions:

  1. Free movies!

Almost every town will offer free summer movies. Often, towns set up an outdoor summer movie series that invites moviegoers to bring their blankets and catch a flick under the stars. However, major movie theater chains have even offered free summer movies in their cinemas…usually, movies are shown in the morning on a weekday.

  1. Camping

Take kids on a camping trip and set up your tent in a major state park or even in your own backyard. Make sure to pack hot dogs for roasting and ingredients for yummy gooey S’Mores. Don’t forget the bug spray and sunscreen, too!


  1. Fishing

My younger son loves to go fishing…I think it’s the joy of the catch! Visit a local lake or fishing pond and see what fish end up biting on your line! Many areas implement a catch and release policy, but some major lakes or river systems let you keep your catch for dinner. Just remember to practice water safety. If you’re taking kids fishing on a boat, make sure they were life jackets!

  1. Water fun

Make your own backyard water fun with a hose or squirt guns! Or take kids to local parks that have splash pads to cool off from the summer heat! The DIY geniuses over at even offer a step-by-step guide on creating a slip and slide out of plastic sheeting.

  1. Creative crafts

If the weather gets too humid and miserable to step outside, take the fun indoors with a day of crafts.  Parents suggest creating a souvenir bowl out of pamphlets, maps, and brochures from your family’s summer vacation stop. You can also take some of your kids old holiday candy use them in craft projects…you might even try edible DIY play dough made from marshmallow Peeps.

  1. Reading programs

Many local libraries offer free reading programs for kids of all ages. These programs offer kids rewards for reading a set number of books during the summer and provide encouragement for children to keep reading during the long break. According to Reading is Fundamental, “students who lose reading ability during the summer rarely catch up.” My kids once earned water squirters for the pool and free kids meals! Visit your local library and see what programs they offer!

This summer, take advantage of the free opportunities in your area to keep kids entertained without putting a heavy dent in your budget. Every area offers different free activities, so search around for the best activities offered near you. You never know what you might discover this summer!

Cassie Brewer is a health professional in Southern California. In her free time, she enjoys writing about her passion (healthy living of course!) and everything beauty related. Nothing makes her happier than helping other be the best version of themselves they can be. You can read more at and follow her on Twitter @Cassiembrewer

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