Last summer, research conducted on behalf of Groupon revealed that parents spend around £389 per child during the school summer holidays on days out, activities, and additional household and supermarket costs that come from having the children home seven days a week. That’s without going on holiday!
The six week break has now started and many parents are understandably anxious about how they are going to manage the family finances during this time, with the same research showing that 40% of families reported having to cut costs in other areas as a result. To help relieve the burden, we have put together a list of cheap or free boredom busting activities.
1. Train Like A Jedi – Change4Life
The NHS’s healthy living campaign, Change4Life, has launched a summer training programme for kids. Train Like a Jedi is a six-week programme that has different challenges to complete each week. Activity packs with stickers and a sticker chart were handed out in schools just before the end of term but don’t worry if your child missed out (or lost it!) as all the activities are available online. There is also an awesome workout video for kids that is based on Jedi moves to inspire your children to move more.
If you can, you could offer your kids a treat for completing the six-week programme that aims to get your children moving for at least ten minutes every day. If Star Wars doesn’t appeal, then the Change4Life website has other activities based on Disney characters in their Ten Minute Shake Ups section, plus lots of other tips on how to get your children active.
2. Summer Reading Challenge
The Summer Reading Challenge takes place every summer and is a great way of keeping your child’s mind engaged with reading during the long summer break. It’s free to take part, and all you need to do is sign up at your local library. The challenge is then to read six library books. The choice of book is entirely down to your child, ensuring they can pick something they enjoy and are more likely to read.
This year’s theme is Mischief Makers, in honour of the 80th anniversary of the Beano comic. When children sign up they will receive a fun activity pack with a map of Beanotown and clues to find a hidden treasure. Children who complete the challenge will receive a medal.
3. Low Cost Swimming & Other Leisure Centre Activities
It’s worth checking out if your local leisure centre is offering any discounts or special holiday activities this summer. Some leisure centres offer very low cost swimming sessions for children, and others run holiday programmes that allow children to try different sports for a fairly low price. Furthermore, if you are in England, then check out if your local County Sports Partnership is offering anything during the holidays.
4. Sign Up For A Free Subscription Box
Subscription Boxes have become increasingly popular in recent years. They make fabulous gifts, containing samples, treats, and activities, covering a wide range of interests. For children, there is a wonderful selection available, and best of all, you can try some of them for free, including the Mister Maker Club and the ToucanBox.
To get a free box you usually need to sign up for a monthly subscription that can be cancelled at any time so if you don’t want to pay you will need to remember to cancel it. Other services offer special discounts for the first box when you sign up, but again, it’s worth checking the terms and conditions to be sure that you can cancel at any time.
5. Go On A Treasure Hunt
Getting your children outdoors can be tricky when they would rather stay plugged into a game of Fortnite or Minecraft. However, going on a treasure hunt might help to motivate them to leave the confines of cyberspace and venture out into the world around them. Treasure hunts don’t have to be just for kids in the garden. Treasure Trails have over 1,000 self-guided treasure hunts around the UK for people of all ages to try. The trails have clues to decipher and follow, leading you on a hunt around your local area. Solve the final clue to get an answer that can then be submitted online for a chance to win a monthly prize draw. Trails cost just £6.99, with the pack delivered to your door.
Alternatively, if your child would like to find a physical object on a hunt, then check out Geocaching. All you need is a smartphone with GPS in order to play the world’s biggest treasure hunt. Using GPS and clues, try and find hidden caches around your local area. Some are tiny, in small metal containers attached to posts with magnets, others are larger, in ex-ammo containers hidden amongst rocks and tree roots, and contain items for swapping, such as pocket money toys.
6. Aim To Complete The National Trust’s 50 Things To Do Before You Are 11 ¾
The National Trust have been encouraging children to get outdoors for a few years now with their programme of 50 Things To Do Before You Are 11 ¾. The full list is available as a downloadable PDF file here and contains a fabulous mixture of challenges. Some do require spending money, such as “Learn to Ride a Horse,” but others can be completed very cheaply or for free, such as “Skim A Stone” or “Make A Daisy Chain.” You could set your family the challenge to complete as many as possible during the six week period.
7. Go Fruit Picking
The school summer holidays coincide with the bulk of the fruit harvest, so it’s great time to go fruit picking. Strawberries, raspberries, cherries, plums and apples all grow in abundance. You do need to be careful about how much you pick though, especially if prices are applied by weight, as if you go overboard you can get a nasty shock at the till. Alternatively, go blackberry picking amongst local hedgerows and turn your findings into tasty jam.