Frugal Ideas
15 Thrifty Summer Fun Activities

15 Thrifty Summer Fun Activities

Thrifty Summer Fun Activities

Either you’re excited that it’s summer break, or you’re in a dead panic as to how you’re going to entertain your kiddos everyday for the next 10 weeks! These thrifty summer fun activities keep my kids excited, and actually I get super excited too!!!

My oldest daughter and I had to go out of town a few weeks back for the day, so we collaborated about this summer and came up with some pretty awesome ideas! Hope you enjoy them and consider doing these thrifty fun activities this summer with your family!

1) $1 Movie Days

Regal Cinemas is hosting $1 MOVIES all summer long! Yay! Every Tuesday and Wednesday, starting at 10:00AM, they will be showing 2 movies. You choose which one you want to go to. For the list of movies, click the link below.


$1 SUMMER MOVIE EXPRESS – MOVIE LIST – click link here

2) FREE Library Lunch Program

Every week during the summer, our local library offers FREE lunch for kids! Caregivers can also eat the same meal for $3.00. This is an awesome way to feed your kids, gets you all out of the house, and your kiddos can read books or color! This is such a fun event, so make sure you check out your local library to see if they offer this same great event.

Also, every Wednesday the librarian does a singing and reading time with the kids before lunch time. Plus, during lunch there is always a fun activity for the kids to do. My kids really look forward to going! Make sure to grab the FREE coloring pages at the counter for a quiet activity later than afternoon.

Plus, make sure you check out the SUMMER READING PROGRAM! Your child needs to read so many books to receive a FREE prize (typically a free book of choice) and more! It’s a lot of fun, it keeps the kids on a reading schedule, and they get a FREE prize for their completion.

More Information about Kern Counties Free Lunch Program – click link here

3) Visit Different Parks Every Week

Going to the same few parks around your house is always very fun; however, it’s even MORE FUN when you visit different parks around town. We have TONS of parks in our city, and if we go out of town we like to find a park for the kids to get some energy out.

Visiting a different park gives your kids freedom to explore something new, and totally gives you the opportunity to put them down for naps when you get home!!! (MOM WIN!) LOL, anyways I love exploring new parks, and of course taking a picnic lunch is so fun too!

Also, look for parks that offer “water sprinkler features.” Many of our parks around town turn the water on these different water features around noon, so it’s like taking them to a FREE water park! Win Win!

4) Go To Vacation Bible School

Vacation Bible School is a great opportunity for your children to learn all about Jesus, and also it gets them out of the house everyday for 1 WEEK!!!! Plus, it’s FREE at most churches!!! This is the highlight of my kids summer. They absolutely look forward to it every single year and they learn so much. Typically the church feeds them a snack, they get to make a craft, and they make new friends.

Pictured above is my daughter from last year’s Vacation Bible School. It was crazy hair day! Can you tell??? We went for a galaxy outer space look… It was so much fun!

5) Camping Trips

Camping is my favorite yearly adventure with my family. We talk more about our camping trips, than other trips combined! We unplug, invest in our children and our marriage, and we just relax. We bring “fun” food, have campfires morning and night, and explore where ever we are staying.

This last year we chose to stay at a state park. The kids have a yearly tradition of creating a “doll house” out of rocks, sticks, leaves, etc. first thing when we arrive! This is their entertainment for sure, and they bring little figurines that live in their homemade camping house!

Here in California, for tent camping, most all state parks only charge $35 per night! That’s amazing, and it’s so much fun! Make sure you plan your camping trip. I know it’ll be the highlight of your kids year!

6) Game Day At Home

Game day is seriously so much fun! Each person gets to pick out a game, and we play them throughout the day. I set times on the clock, so we know when game time is. I may even set up different competitive activities in between. For instance, who can finish eating FIRST, who can make their bed FIRST, who can climb from one side to the other on the swing set the FASTEST, and so forth. The kids can dress in their GAME DAY best and we have fun!

This game shown above, is MY FAVORITE game! It’s called Suspend and I bought it on Amazon. Please click the link below to check it out:

SUSPEND – A FUN NON-BOARD GAME GAME!!! – click link here (I appreciate you using my affiliate link)

Another FUN game that my kids love is BLINK! It’s such a fun and fast card game! If you want to play with multiple people, then I suggest buying 2 decks.

BLINK – A Fun Card Game For Kids – click link here (I appreciate you using my affiliate link)

7) Themed Toys Play Day

I recently talked about this on my Instagram account. We store most all our kids toys in THEMED storage boxes in the garage. This keeps my kids excited about their toys.

So we have a LEGO box, a DISNEY box, a COOKING box, a BARBIE box, a SHOPKINS box, a DRESS-UP box, a DOLL BABY box, and so forth. We are able to keep our kids entertained by toys we already have because they don’t see them everyday. Sometimes I can keep them entertained with 1 box for a whole week! It’s amazing!

8) Cooking Lessons Day

My kids love watching me cook, and more than that they love to cook with me! Having all 4 in the kitchen with me is often times too overwhelming, so I generally pick 1 at a time to help me cook. My daughter last month asked if I would give her personal cooking lessons this summer. WHAT AN HONOR!!!

So we’ve decided once a week I will give her a new recipe to make with me. It should be fun, and I love instilling life lessons in my children. Cooking is a major one I want them all to learn!

9) Craft Ideas Galore

All my kids love creating crafts! Here is a list of our favorite craft ideas:

  • Paint rocks. We like to hide them around town to brighten other people’s days.
  • Make homemade playdough. My kids could play with playdough all day!
  • Paint clay pots for fresh herbs. I tend to our summer garden, but the kids are in charge of the herb garden. They plant them in their painted pots and take turns watering them.
  • Craft jar. 99 Cent Store sells art jars for $3.00. These are random craft items and the kids can be creative all they want! Or make a random selection of leftover craft supplies, put them in the middle of the table, and give your kids free-rain to make whatever they want.
  • Leaf art. Go for a walk around your neighborhood to collect leaves. Come home and let the kids make all kids of art. The leaves can be used as stencils, stamps, or they can create leaf people with them with glue and googly-eyes.
  • Use leftover paper towel rolls, egg cartons, or cereal boxes to create “furniture” for a homemade doll house with a cardboard box. This is a concept we do when we go camping. We have these mini-figurines and when we go camping the first thing my kids do is make a “house” for them out of leaves, rocks, and sticks. The same concept can be used with things around the kitchen.
  • Construction paper jewelry making day. My kids love making jewelry and crowns for themselves out of random pieces of construction paper. Then, they get to decorate them with stickers and markers. My girls will wear their homemade jewelry ALL DAY, and they have a blast making it!

10) Rite-Aid Thrifty Ice Cream Cones

A sweet surprise we like to give our kids is $2.00 to go to Rite-Aid to get ice cream. It’s a thrifty summer treat, and my kids love the surprise! You could even send them on a scavenger hunt to find the money! What a fun adventure that would be!

11) Budget Days At The Beginning Of Every Month

Getting your children on board with your budget is one of the most important life lessons you will ever teach them. Every month I sit my kids down and they help me fill our cash envelopes and count all our change we saved up from last month. This teaches our children all about the value of a dollar, and how begging for something doesn’t help them get what they want.

Since starting this, we do not deal with as much begging. Yes, we still get some, but we just remind them about our cash envelopes and tell them that we’ve already dispersed the money and there isn’t any extra. We do have a family activities budget every month to do something fun, and they know they can earn money doing various tasks, but just begging for something doesn’t work in our house.

The kids also take turns grocery shopping with me. We have our cash, we have our list, and generally we stick to it! We don’t typically buy extra “fun foods” unless we can save money to buy them. There are definitely exceptions to this, but it’s our general rule of thumb.

12) Acts of Kindness Day

My goal as a mother is to teach my kids as many life lessons as I can. I want to be intentional about our summer, so I will be scheduling acts of kindness days on the calendar.


  • Adopt a senior.
  • Feed the ducks leftover bread, or squirrels love peanuts.
  • Volunteer at the animal shelter.
  • Foster a kitten.
  • Pass out snacks to the homeless.
  • Help carry groceries for somebody at the grocery store.
  • Offer to pay for somebodies coffee at your local coffee shop.
  • Bring popsicles/snacks for all the kids at the park.
  • Pass out cold water bottles to people on a walking trail or parking lot.
  • Bake a loaf of bread for your neighbors.

13) Food Festivals

California offers many food festivals throughout the year. These festivals have some of the best FREE samples, however there is often an admission fee. Google to see what food festivals your state offers!

This is not something that we do often, at all! However, this summer I would love to attend the garlic festival! Give me all the garlic french fries!!!! Not the garlic ice cream…

14) Backyard County Fair Fun

Ok, I might have thrown you for a loop on this one, but let me explain the FUN! I am not trying to create a bunch of work for you mom, promise! This is all about the kids, so let them be in charge of it! Cook up some hot dogs or heat up some frozen corn dogs, and have a good ol’ fashioned BBQ dinner, then create stations in the backyard that you love to do at your local country fair!


  • “Petting zoo” with your pets. Dress them up to look like farm animals.
  • Karaoke station.
  • Bubble bar. Create huge bubbles using hula hoops, or see who can blow more bubbles the fastest.
  • Coloring station.
  • Obstacle course using your swing set.
  • Whipped cream, pie eating contest.
  • LEGO building station.
  • Face painting station.

15) Michael’s Craft Store Craft Day or Lowe’s/Home Depot Building Day

These are great options during the summer to get you out of the house. My kids have really enjoyed both of these options. At Michael’s you sign-up online and pay a small fee, normally $3.00 or so. At Lowe’s and Home Depot, every Saturday or so, they offer FREE kids building workshops. Normally it’s a little kit of some sort and the kid gets to hammer nails together and decorate what they made with some stickers or paint. Check your local stores to see what they offer.

BONUS: Make Activity Binders or Boxes for Quiet Time

This can all be done at Dollar Tree, and I recommend you let your kids build their own with the amount of money you give them. Set a budget, so they can learn the value of money. I started creating these last year, and have been building on them. They will official get these once “summer break” begins!

We put these binders together, so that when my kids are having trouble getting along, or they just need some quiet time, they have so quiet activities to do. They are also great for older kids during nap time. Still have them sit on their beds, and they can enjoy their own quiet binder/box, so you can have a little rest time.

My 2 older girls don’t enjoy nap time, but I do like to keep the house quiet for a few hours in the afternoons. These come in handy everyday, and the girls really enjoy it!

If you liked this post, you might also like:

Aimee’s Weekly Grocery Haul and Menu Plan – click link here

Easy Ways To Eat Something Green Everyday – click link here

Bacon Zucchini Boats – click link here

Please Note: The links in this post are affiliate links, and I will receive a small compensation when you use my links to make a purchase. I would appreciate your support, as this website helps support my family.

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