Cheap and Free Activities or Entertainment for Low-Income Kids During Summer Break.

There are a number of different activities that kids can do during their summer vacation, and some of them are free or are cheap to do. After all the extended break is an exciting time of year for kids, but it can be costly for parents. The list of summer activities and things to do for free or inexpensive entertainment listed below can help families save money.

Summer break can be a challenge for low income and working parents with kids. Many can’t afford movies, travel or eating out. They cannot afford to provide enriching summer experiences abroad or learning programs to keep their kids occupied and busy. The activities listed below will help them have some fun and entertainment, all of which the parents or they themselves can afford.

Children from low-income households often develop self-sufficiency and independence traits from a very young age. Older kids take on the responsibility of caring for younger siblings and self-care increases during the summer months. As a result, many low-income parents end up leaving their school-age kids at home during the day while they go to work because they have no other choice.

It is estimated that over 40% of children are left home alone while parents go to work, run errands and other social activities. During the summer break, parents are expected to spend at least 20 percent of their income on child care services. And a learning gap happens between low-income students and those that participate in educational activities over the summer.

As parents, you want to keep your kids safe, engaged and learning during the 10 to 12 weeks while school is out of session. This can be a challenge for low-income parents that are struggling to provide basic necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter. However, there are many free and cheap ways to keep your kids busy during the summer without breaking the bank.





Free activities for kids during their summer vacation

Below are some cheap as well as free options to keep your kids occupied and happy during summer break.

Spending Time at the Library: The library offers free resources for everyone, with more programs during the summer break. There are books for all ages, picture books for young children, board books for babies and novels and information resources for older kids and adults. But the library is more than just books.

According to research published by the National Literary Trust, kids aged 8 to 16 who use the library are twice as likely to be above-average readers. Libraries offer endless hours of educational entertainment for your kids during summer vacation.

In addition to books, your kids will have free access to Wi-Fi, computers, employment help (for teenagers) and free learning classes for kids to improve their literacy and math skills. Some libraries give free items too if they have had them donated, such as computers, books, tablets and more. Read about how to get a free laptop for students.

Volunteer during the summer: Smartphones, computers and tv screens can remove kids from real life experiences and interacting with people from all walks of life. Volunteering is an affordable way for kids to discover their talent, strengths, qualities and to use it to help people. It is also a preventive balance for kids in the consumer materialistic world we live in. There are many places to volunteer out there, including food pantries, the Salvation Army, and many other charities.





Through free volunteering activities over summer break, children will learn valuable life skills- such as teamwork, tolerance, cooperation and problem-solving to help them cope with daily challenges in their own lives. Children will also feel like a valued member of a community and develop compassion that will help them to appreciate the goodness and small things in their own lives.

Your kids can celebrate the beauty of summer and have fun by participating in volunteering opportunities such as community gardening, cleaning up local parks, serving and delivering meals, food banks, Red Cross and animal shelters.

Cooking/Baking:  Getting your kids involved in the kitchen over the summer break and learning them to cook is a critical life skill with endless benefits. Kids of all ages from preschoolers to teens can help around the kitchen.

Cooking together is a great way for working parents to spend time with their children over the summer. Cooking also promotes creativity, following instructions, math skill (counting tablespoons, adding fractions 1/2 cup) and reading recipes.

Younger children can develop exceptional motor skills from performing simple kitchen tasks such as sprinkling, rolling, measuring and stirring. Kids love to be praised for their accomplishments and cooking over the summer provides a free opportunity to applaud their efforts in the kitchen. And lastly, they ease your workload by cooking dinner for the family.

Starting a YouTube Channel: Young children are digital natives and toddlers are tech-savvy. They can demonstrate remarkable kills when it comes to technology compared to older adults. The reason for this is because young children have more nerve cells and their brains are still developing, which makes it easy to absorb new skills and fresh information.

Kids born today have grown up surrounded by the internet. They enjoy using technology to keep themselves entertained. According to Pew Research, 81 percent of parents with kids 11 or younger allow their child to watch YouTube videos. YouTube is now becoming traditional children's TV.

For kids, videos are a fun and free way to communicate. With parental monitoring and guidance, you can help your child create a YouTube channel over the summer break and allow them to express themselves. They will also learn digital video skills, exploring their creativity, talent and earning themselves cash. Read more on making money from YouTube.

Exploring Outdoors During the Summer: Whether if you live in a city or small town, there are many ways for kids to interact with nature over summer break. All of them are free to do. They can even earn some money by walking using smart phone apps.




Take your child for early morning walks around the neighborhood or nearby parks to look at different types of trees, leaves, and flowers. Nature is more beautiful and fruitful during the summer season, and it provides countless learning opportunities for kids. Modern family life has drastically changed within the last decades, and many children consume junk food and lack exercise. Kids are mostly indoors during the academic school year, and summer break offers numerous opportunities for kids to connect with the natural environment and get some exercise. Read more on apps that pay for walking.

According to a research study by Harvard University, kids who spend time outdoors are smarter, happier, more attentive and less anxious than kids who spend time indoors. Take your child for a free neighborhood tour to take pictures of flowers, butterflies, insects, leaves and encourage learning by allowing them to write, draw and talk about their experiences. Promote their creativity and imagination by allowing them to make fun crafts from objects found in your community such as seashells, sticks, rocks, jars, cans and other recycled items that can make pieces of art. This will stimulate creative, mental exercise during their summer break.

Summer Job: Summer vacation is a great time for kids to learn financial lessons. Putting your kids to work during school-free months will allow them to put effort into earning money.

A summer job will allow your kids to respect hard-earned cash, and it would teach them about saving and prioritizing their spending. Regardless of age, your kids can use their hobbies to make a little extra cash during the summer.

Rather than having your kids spending the summer relaxing and texting away, put them to work for a number of weeks for a taste of the real world and they will learn some valuable lessons and a summer to always remember. Locate a number of free job placement programs for both kids and their parents.

Gardening: Summer is a blooming season and a perfect time to start a garden and save money on fresh fruits and vegetables. Gardening provides amazing developmental benefits for kids and it allows them to use all their senses. It is very inexpensive to get started.

Kids can feel and touch dirt, seeds, flowers, see the vibrant colors and shapes of plants. They can experience for free the amazing scents from flowers and the sound of picking vegetables. This will allow them to understand and grasp the concept of gardening.

Teaching your kids how to garden and grow food is a lifelong skill of providing for themselves. Gardening will allow kids to have an appreciation for hard work and nature. When they have learned the hard work of growing food, they are less likely to waste it. Gardening will give kids a sense of accomplishment from serving a salad full of veggies from their garden and pride from providing food for their friends and family.

Summer Stargazing:  Summer night sky is filled with beauty and mystical qualities. Admiring the stars is a great experience to bond with your little ones and to teach them something better than themselves.

Set up a tent in your backyard with some blankets, pillows and provoke their curiosity and questions about astronomy, mythology, classical literature and more. Have a free enjoyable nighttime activity with your kids under the sky with storytelling and more.





Make stargazing an educational activity by checking out a few astronomy books from the library, constellation worksheets, and a stargazing journal to record their sky observations.

Summer break can be a challenging time for low-income kids and working parents. But, as shown above, there are many free and cheap ways to keep your kids learning during the summer months without any reading or learning loss.

The idea of summer vacation can seem out of reach for many working families. But there are countless ways to enjoy summer with your kids, and you do not need to spend thousands of dollars to give your kids a memorable summer vacation.


By Jon McNamara

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