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Ten Free Summer Holiday Activities

I may be a little late to the party here, after all my children are only young. So here is my latest observation on the summer holidays – they’re really, really expensive!

Without our usual activities going on, we’ve been out and about every day, having an amazing time. Unfortunately, my bank balance is not happy.

So I’ve been brainstorming things to do that are completely free. Actually, it was quite easy to come up with ten free summer holiday activities.

I’ve included activities for both fine weather and foul. It is the Great British summer after all.

1. Build a den

This is great for both indoors and out. For us, the ideal place to build an outdoor den is under the decking.

Bubbles will be horrified, she thinks that’s her own private residence. She keeps hiding dog beds and remote controls under there. I’m fairly certain I’ll catch her dragging the television out there next.

On a rainy day, if you’ve got thick hedges or big trees, building an outdoor den to get dry can be great fun. This was one of my favourite activities as a child, and something I look forward to doing with my girls.

Of course, a bed sheet between several items of furniture or clothes racks is just as much fun.

2. Visit your local library

Even for children who aren’t bookworms, there’s so much going on these days at the library.

We regularly go to a singing group for young children at our local library and there are all sorts of groups and classes available for all ages.

Children can take part in the Summer Reading Challenge which gives them stickers and rewards for reading six books during the holidays.

This sounds like a great way for school age children to keep up with their enthusiasm for reading during their time off.

3. Paper maché 

Not as messy as it sounds! I did some paper maché with Libby at Easter and she loved it. We just put paper maché over a balloon to make a bird’s nest.

I’d do it outside if the weather was good, but we just spread newspaper on the dining room floor and did it there.

I love the fact that by doing something so simple, children can create something really impressive.

2015-03-14 18.06.414. Foraging 

This is best in good weather but can be done throughout the summer holidays. Early on, you can find wild strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries and blackcurrants.

As time goes on, you can find plums, damsons, apples and blackberries among other delights.

Of course, you need to know EXACTLY what it is you are picking, if you’re not sure, please don’t eat it!

5. Camp in the garden

All children love camping but you don’t need to go on  holiday to do it. Pitching a tent in the garden, cooking on a camping stove and sleeping under canvas are all incredibly exciting wherever you are.

6. Gardening

I am terrible at finding time to do the garden. But when I do, the girls love it.

Twice this year, Libby has been over to my dad’s house to plant things or even do weeding. It’s a great way to both pass the time and foster an interest in growing things.

If children are reluctant to eat healthy food, growing your own is one of the best ways to persuade them to eat vegetables.

7. Baking

On a rainy day, there is really nothing better than doing some simple baking.

I love baking chocolate brownies and cookies with the girls but cakes, scones and even bread are also great fun to make and even better to eat.

8. Painting

I am guilty of not doing enough painting. It’s great fun for any age, finger painting and foot painting is particularly good with little ones.

If that sounds a bit too messy, we’ve got an aquadraw which the girls enjoy just as much and there’s no mess at all.

9. A trip to the park

This is probably the default position for most parents but children never tire of it. We like to explore different parks either local to us or nearby if we have a few days away like we did this weekend.

2015-08-03 12.48.49

If there’s one thing more exciting than a park, it’s a new park!

10. Take a picnic

Even in bad weather, you can’t beat a good picnic.

This can be combined with many of the activities above. In the rain you can spread a blanket on the floor or eat in your tent or den.

If you are a National Trust member like us, they are great picnic venues. There is always somewhere to shelter with a picnic and it’s usually somewhere quite exciting.

Even in the rain, who wouldn’t be excited to eat their sandwiches in here?


Of course, in the sunshine a picnic is great anywhere. We love to head onto the hills with the dogs. I tend to go for somewhere with plenty of trees around to hook the dog leads onto so we don’t have our picnics stolen!

What free activities have you been doing this summer?



  1. Izzie Anderton
    August 5, 2015 / 3:28 am

    Loving all of your recommendations and when my daughters were small, we spent lots of time during the holidays doing this sort of thing. Now that they’re all grown up I miss days like these a lot… so make the most of Lia and Libby for as long as possible. They grow up much too fast x

    • August 6, 2015 / 10:38 pm

      Aw thank you Izzie. You are so right, the time is going too quickly already. Libby has asked to go for a picnic at the park next week. Such a simple think and free but I know they’ll have a wonderful time and so will I.x

  2. August 5, 2015 / 8:41 pm

    Great post – and not just for the summer holidays either, this list is fun all year 🙂 We’re doing the summer reading challenge again this year – this time Toby has asked to join in so we’re picking out very simple books where he can guess the word from the picture to make him feel included

    • August 6, 2015 / 10:34 pm

      Ah that’s a good idea! I feel a bit bad that I haven’t done it with Libby this year but we’re just working on recognising letters and numbers so hopefully by next year she’ll be able to read a few basic words.x

  3. August 5, 2015 / 9:12 pm

    A fab list,I really need to do some den building! We love a little teddy picnic too. And Gardening has been firmly on our agenda this summer!

    • August 6, 2015 / 10:33 pm

      Oh I so need to get gardening, you’re making me feel guilty 😉 I also need to get onto it with a den but I think a trampoline is coming our way so that might take up a lot of our time!x

  4. August 6, 2015 / 10:32 am

    Fab list lovely, my two pretty much amuse themselves now they’re older, but they do still spend a little bit of time with me 😉 We had a rainy day at Flambards yesterday which they loved,

    Stevie xx

    • August 6, 2015 / 10:32 pm

      Ah it must be a bit easier as they get older and keep themselves amused. I’m really quite looking forward to that time coming!x

  5. August 6, 2015 / 4:04 pm

    Love this! Good old fashioned and free-range fun is the BEST type of fun there is. We had a picnic just this afternoon. Might try a bit of foraging tomorrow! xx

    • August 6, 2015 / 10:31 pm

      Thank you Amy. We’ve got a picnic planned in for next week too. Libby can’t wait for the blackberries to be ready, she still remembers foraging for them last year!x

  6. Mel
    August 9, 2015 / 9:33 pm

    Great little list. The simplest things are usually the most effective and enjoyable. Foraging then baking, then taking our goodies for a picnic have to be three of our favourites from your list. We also love visiting free museums (RAF, Science, Natural History Museums). x

    • August 13, 2015 / 11:33 pm

      Yes, I didn’t think of the free museums, thanks for the reminder! We visit national trust properties a lot as well, which is free for us as we’re members but I didn’t include that because I guess there’s the initial outlay for membership.x

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