Budget Friendly Summer Activities

Thrifty thrills for your adventurous & energized children with enough excitement to keep them entertained all summer long.

mom nature walking with kid

Now that school is out for the summer you might be wondering about the best ways to engage young active minds. My best advice would be to go outside and explore all the natural wonders of your environment. A vast majority of my favorite childhood memories come from the great outdoors, so I wanted to share a comprehensive list of summertime activities that won’t break the bank. Once you start exploring your surroundings, you’ll be surprised at the things you notice.

Sidewalk Chalk

You’re probably already aware of the classic game hopscotch, but that’s only the beginning when it comes to the many ways in which sidewalk chalk can be used. Chalk is an excellent way for your little one to practice writing letters, drawing shapes, and using their imagination. The best part about this activity is it's water-soluble which drastically reduces clean up time.

kid playing with chalk

Snail Hopscotch

  1. Draw a large circle (about 10 - 12 inches) on the ground. Then draw a very large spiral board on the concrete starting at the circle and spiraling out to look like a snail’s shell. The spirals of the snail shell need to be about 8 - 12" apart.
  2. Make 3 or 4 large spirals around the center circle. Divide the spirals into spaces about 12 - 14" apart and number them.
  3. The first player hops on one foot from the center circle to the outside and back. If they make it without stepping on a line or losing their balance they can use sidewalk chalk to mark any space they want with their initials. No one is able to jump on that space the rest of the game.
  4. The next player must hop on one foot from the center and back but must jump over the space that is marked with initials. If they make it then they may write their initials on any square they choose. The person with the most initialed squares wins.
Snail Hopscotch

    Rainbow Chalk Tracing

    This is a classic way to help your child learn how to write letters and words. First, take a piece of white chalk and write whatever you’d like your child to practice – it can range from upper and lowercase letters to sight words, numbers, and their name. Then have them trace it with a few different colors of chalk. As they add more and more colors, they’ll see a rainbow forming.

    Carrot Patch Letter Spray

    Write the letters you’d like your child to practice and draw a cute carrot around each one. Then arm your child with a watering can or spray bottle and give them instructions like “water the carrot that makes an ‘ahhh’ sound” or “get the carrot wet that has a ‘P’ on it”.

    Nature Color Hunt

    For younger kids, keep it simple and have them go hunting to find items that match your chalk colors.

    Drive Thru Maze

    Make a fun life‐sized maze and navigate cars (or just yourself) through from start to finish.

    Follow Me

    Use active instructions for your kids to follow while navigating a custom course. Draw squiggly lines to follow, straight lines to jump over, and spirals to spin on!

    Aquatic Playtime

    Summertime is known for sweltering heat which means incorporating water into your outdoor activities is a surefire way to cool down. Although you could plan a trip to your local waterpark, this excursion can become quite expensive. By creating your own aquatic oasis at home, you can tailor the activities to suit your child’s age group and save some money at the same time. Besides the ideas down below, keep in mind that community pools and beaches are another cost-effective way to spend time outside without breaking a sweat (or the bank).

    slip and slide

    Slip ‘n’ Slide

      1. Buy 100 feet of heavy-duty plastic sheeting. Choose something that is between 10 and 12 feet wide. Do not skimp and buy thin, flimsy plastic—it will rip and tear.
      2. Spread the plastic sheet out on a grassy lawn. It would be best if you place the slide on a hill—even if it is a small one. The slight incline will help boost your speed. Smooth out any wrinkles or ripples with your hands.
      3. Fold the plastic sheeting in half. It should now be around 5 or 6 feet wide. This will help make it even more durable and slide-like.
      4. Anchor the sides of the sheeting with landscape anchor pins. You will need a pin in each corner of the slide. You will also need to add more pins down the long side edges, about 5 to 10 feet apart. Use a hammer to drive the pins into the grass. You want them to be flush against the ground. If they are sticking out, you could get hurt when you use the slide.
      5. Add some liquid soap down the center of the slide. This will help lubricate it and make it more slippery.
      6. Spray the slide with water. Grab a hose and turn it on. Spray water over the entire side. Don't worry if the excess water runs off the slide.

        DIY Soda Bottle Sprinkler

          1. Rinse out an empty 2 liter soda bottle and drill holes with a small drill bit. There is no need to drill holes where the bottle will be set against the ground, and too many holes would decrease water pressure.
          2. Make sure your bottle opening is dry. Use a piece of duct tape to attach the bottle to your garden hose.
          3. Add a bit of water to give it some weight so that it doesn’t flip over when you turn up the hose.
          4. Place sprinkler on the ground or hang it from a tree branch and turn on the hose!


          Even though you might have lived in the same town for a while, there are still plenty of new places to discover. I remember my great grandma taking me to various playgrounds nearby and my grandmother taking me to the library. These somewhat insignificant outings turned out to help build my love for reading and nature. Investigate your surroundings together to build memories that can last a lifetime.



            When you’re a child there’s nothing better than getting to run around a playground. Each one is unique whether it’s the equipment, location, or special features. I think this form of entertainment is the best way to release excess energy or to meet new playmates. There’s a free app called Playground Buddy which helps you locate playgrounds in your area. The app even allows you to see photos, type of equipment, and the ability to share details with other people. With over 37,000 listings in the United States, you’re sure to find something great.


              Some of my earliest memories come from taking trips to the library. This free activity is the perfect place for your little one to let their imagination run wild. Most libraries have a dedicated children’s area with toys, age appropriate books & movies, and sometimes even a story time. I would recommend letting your child select as many books as they want to encourage positive habits. Sure they might not read all of them, but giving your child the independence to choose books based on topics they’re interested in teaches them that they can come to the library to learn about anything they desire.

              Hiking Trails

                There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when spending time in nature; furthermore, there are actually scientifically-proven health benefits from spending time amongst trees. Advantages such as lower blood pressure, boosted immune system, and increased energy level are just the beginning of the ways in which being in nature can be beneficial to your well-being.₁ There are numerous websites and apps that give you an insider’s look at trails in your area; however, I recommend starting your search using Outdoor Project. This website encourages you to “find your adventure” by searching various outdoor activities in a certain area. Once you find an excursion that piques your interest, you can find detailed information such as address, features, preferable seasons, and more. They also have reviews from previous explorers to help you be informed about trail conditions, difficulty, and other tips. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, then plan a camping trip for the whole family!

                There are so many unique ways to entertain your kids over the summer…all you need is a little creativity! Envision summertime as an opportunity to soak up some sunshine. It’s always great to spend time outdoors together to create indelible memories. For the days you want to stay indoors, keep in mind that oftentimes museums have free admission days. Let your imagination run wild!

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                Alex Stoffel
                Retail Customer Service | Erin Baker's

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