301 Thrifty Activities for kids – squeeze every drop out of summer

13 August, 2011

Oh, Hello!!! Yep, here we are. Still in England. Waiting and waiting and waiting for a passport that is stuck at the Passport Office like a humongous fatball clogging up a London sewer. It has been there for 2 months and they are devoid of all sense of urgency. *flares nostrils in their general direction* (Or as my mum used to sing “I open my nose at you, you, you.” Anyone else used to sing that? Nah. Didn’t think so. Must be a Welsh thing.)

There are just a couple of weeks left of the summer holidays and, just in case you were running out of ideas, here are over 300 of the buggers. Some are are plucked from my own befuzzled brain, the rest from the fine minds of fellow internet friends.thrifty activities for kids

We have had quite a lot of fun while we’ve been hanging about. Ramona makes it pretty clear when she is enjoying herself by changing lyrics to songs according to what we are doing. The other night it was “If you’re happy and you know it go to the forest!” This age, where they are imaginatively playing with words and ideas, is so flipping brilliant. (It’s sad that they have been termed the Terrible Twos – I’m sure it doesn’t have to be this way.)

Aaaaaanyway. Number Uno:

1 – GO TO THE WOODS! The coolest place to be in the heat. Find a patch of trees and get your badger on. Dig, play, forage.

2- More specifically: Build a Den. These are so much fun and so easy to make proper, good ones. Check out this little video here.

3- Toast Marshmallows over a fire. We took a little BBQ and built our fire in that as it is so dry we wanted to be super cautious. We did it in the evening after a whole day of boring jobs. It recovered the entire day for us. I was inspired recently by reading about microadventures – I think toasting marshmallows in the woods counts as one of these. Toasting marshmallows and 300 other ways to have thrifty fun (Ramona’s marshies got toasted for about 1 second before they went straight in her mouth.)

4- Make a fairy/ dolls house. We did this in the woodland at Camp Bestival, primarily to entertain our sick little Ramona who was languishing in the trolley. But we got really quite into it. There is something magical about making these tiny little huts!

5-14- Here are ten more FREE forest activities from the wonderful Missie Lizzie.

15- DO STUFF WITH ICE! The most fun I’ve ever had with a bunch of kids involved freezing a 50 cm by 30 cm tray of ice and then using it to slide down grassy hills. BEYOND FUN!

16- One of Ramona’s favourite activities this year involved chipping little animals out of a big block of ice I had frozen. I gave her proper tools, knives and screwdrivers and mallets in order to do it. Some might say she is a little young for these implements but she soon learnt – there was BLOOD EVERYWHERE. Just kidding, there was no blood, not even a minor accident; I believe kids are much more capable than we think and they love feeling their power with proper tools. Chipping ice block and 300 other ways to have thrifty fun

17- A coloured ice bath. Use food colouring to create rainbow ice cubes and pop them in a cool bath with your kid. A lot of fun, and the right amount of mess.

18- We made our own slushy by pouring Ribena into our ice cream maker – such a delicious treat that Ramona got really hands on with making.

19- 23 – Here are 12 more ways to play with ice. Will definitely be trying them out.

24- HEAD TO THE CITY. Explore the city through your child’s eyes, hands and feet. Head there with no agenda and simply explore the nooks, crannies, walls and doorways she fancies. Genuinely, it is fun, really. And it helps your kid feel like a million bucks. Do some research before hand to see if you can get any good deals on anything. (Check this out)

25- Find the fountains and splash parks. They are hidden all over. In London the best one, I reckon, is at Somerset House. But they are also tucked up at the V and A, outside the Royal Festival Hall and in London Zoo.

26- One of the things I will miss about not being in a city is the million free things happening at anyone time. Galleries and museums and centres put stuff on throughout the holidays. I tend to use Time Out to see what to go along to. Free fun in the city and 300 other ways to have thrifty fun We found a collective street chalking activity on the South Bank – Ramona chose her body as the canvas though.

27- Keep an eye out for two for one offers and then head one of the many kids attractions out there. This map has them all in one handy spot.Littlewoods Summer activities map


28-93- Provided by the cool cats that are Style My Party. They are simple ideas but really original and I guarantee you’ll find something in there. Especially love the One Colour Only Day and the Hula Mocktail Party.

93- 301- Provided by the lovely Joy and chums in the Summer Carnival. There are craft ideas, and nature play, and recipes for kiddos. Blinking brilliant.

This sign was written by the next door neighbour’s kid and hung up on a tree yesterday; “Pleeease can somebody organise something fun” – I think they might be a family who have run out of ideas, hehehe. Hopefully some of these will cut it! 20130813-113824.jpg

Do you have anything on your bucket list still to do this summer? Would love to hear them!

Delivered in partnership with Littlewoodscheck out my disclosure for more info on that.

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  • Becky 13 August, 2013 at 11:13 am

    I love all these ideas particularly the ice tray!!!!

  • Ali hoo 13 August, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Brilliant. Will be sure to try the ice block treasures! My 4 year old has her own tool kit and is really into fossils at the moment so this will really inspire her.
    I’ve already planned to make tiny fairy gardens on trays and lids as it was one of my favourite things to do as a kid.
    We went to a beach yesterday and made a village out of stones. We found some charcoal and made people ( mainly grannies for some reason!) by drawing on bits of slate. A fab time was had by all. I feel so honoured to witness my child inventing games and allowing me to join in!

    Ps I had issue many years ago with a passport. The employee dealing with it quit his job with fabulous passion and destroyed all the forms he was processing! I can laugh about it now… !!!

  • Karina 13 August, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    excellent ideals, thank you!

  • Carolin 14 August, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Fabulous, you can’t ever have too many activities up your sleeves.

  • Andrea @loveandcake 14 August, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Wow!! So many brilliant ideas which I will use beyond summer with the toddler!

  • Janine 15 August, 2013 at 8:35 am

    That idea for chipping toys out of ice is stellar – Will definitely be trying that one! Sebastian is obsessed with his little tool set and always wanting to use our real tools. Obviously that’s a bit limited or he’d tear apart our apartment! Ice is a great solution.

    We’ve been doing tons of chalk this week and it’s been a blast. We started at a nearby park (during a free BBQ – Hurrah! – We’re always looking out for free events too) and he chalk-graffiti-ed the neighborhood all the way home.

    People here go iceblocking down hills but I’ve never personally tried it. It was really big when I was in high school. 🙂

  • Mammasaurus 14 August, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    Heh heh an ace list – and also I spy the shoes I love in the first photo *yay*

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  • sand art craft 3 February, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Notice the arts all around you take your family to museums, concerts, or theater. Notice the art even in the parks, subways, and open spaces. Start a conversation about what you see.Enjoy the arts at home share your artistic skills and interests with your kid. Find out what your kids love about the art.