How to Entertain the Kids for Free During the School Holidays

This is the big question that many people are considering at the moment with the cost of living crisis – how can I entertain the kids for free during the school holidays?

School holidays with the kids can quickly become very expensive with requests of trips to the zoo, shops and soft play… but thankfully there’s lots of activities you can do with them that are free at home and out and about!

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

One thing to remember is that boredom won’t harm children, in fact in my experience boredom often makes children more creative and imaginative with their play ideas- so don’t feel you need to pack in fun filled days out and activities visiting here’ there and everywhere! Instead be led by the children, let them relax after a busy time at school, embrace the great outdoors (it’s free!) and let them come up with some ideas themselves.

And as difficult as it is, don’t compare your kids school holidays with others on social media- they may look like they are doing more exciting things and having the best time, but we must remember people only show the best bits and not the full picture!

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Here are some suggested activities you can do with the kids for free : 

Make a Den – You can’t beat a good den, either in the garden or in the house. And importantly, let the children build it themselves (that’s most of the fun!). Just provide them with some suggestions of what they could use, maybe a blanket, an old clothes horse or even some branches in the garden. Building dens is great for problem solving skills, team work and imaginative play.

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Set up an Obstacle Course – Again, either in the garden or in the house. Use various objects you’ve already got to see if together you can create a safe but fun adventure course to weave in and out of, balance on and jump off. This is great for gross motor skills (find out what they are here)

– Draw with Chalks on the Paving Slabs– An absolutely wonderful activity that has the added bonus of being completely mess free (just pour/squirt water on the chalk afterwards and it washes away). Drawing and writing with chalks is fantastic for gross and fine motor skills (learn more about them here), as well as literacy.

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Feed the Ducks – Another of my favourite free activities. Take some left over bird seed (it’s better for the ducks than bread) to a duck pond/lake or river and enjoy feeding, watching and chatting about the different ducks and geese you see. You can even extend this to a drawing/writing activity too- ‘can we draw a picture of our favourite duck?’ ‘Shall we write about it?’

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Have a movie night (at home) – Don’t just ‘watch TV’ change the phrasing of it to make it a really big event instead! Turn it into a ‘special movie night’. They can choose a film, make the pretend cinema posters, signs and tickets! Bring blankets, popcorn/other snacks and have a no-phone rule to avoid distractions like in the real cinema.

Make a Race track for cars- Use masking tape to create a race track on the floor for their toy cars (no expensive plastic race track to buy!) Or even create a masking tape airport (see how here)

Go to the park – Don’t underestimate the excitement of the park. It’s great and FREE! And why stop at one park, maybe visit EVERY park near you! Why not try them all out and get the kids comparing them.)

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Go to the Library– Another free one and the great thing about the library over the summer is that many have summer reading challenges where the kids can get stickers and a certificate for their reading over the holidays. A brilliant incentive to keep on reading over the summer holidays too.

Go on a Bug Hunt – Simply jot down the names of some bugs you think you’ll see (or even draw them if easier). And the kids have to tick them off when they see them. Great fun and fantastic for literacy skills as well as a good way to encourage kids to come on a walk with you.

Make & fly a kite – If you’ve already got a kite then great but don’t go out and buy one if you haven’t..there’s lots of instructions to make one for free on the Internet. Have a search and enjoy creating a kite together to fly.

Photo by Ahmet Fatih u00c7amaltu0131 on

Have a Water Fight – Warm summers are great for paddling pools and water fights. Free entertainment that lasts longer than you’d expect!You don’t need to go out and buy water pistols either, they can use the hose for example (Always be careful with children around water. And remember water in hose pipes left in the sunshine can become very hot)

Make a pretend sweet shop – Playing shops is really fun and what better shop than one that sells sweets? They can even make it complete with signs, sweets and pretend money. Great for maths skills, communication and literacy. (And you can swap it to a fruit shop if you’d prefer) Have a watch of my video on how to use this activity for maths skills here.

Create a reading nook and let them curl up with a book. If you’re looking for ways to encourage your child to read and write, pre-order my latest book ‘How to Boost Reading and Writing Through Playhere.

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Set some Lego challenges– Stimulate their creativity with Lego, or other building blocks by setting them some building challenges. Who can build a house, the tallest tower, the funniest pretend animal?

Performances – Ask them to create a dance/music show to perform to you and the family! 

Dog Walk – Offer to walk a friend’s (friendly) dog. Not only does this give you a purpose for a walk but it can be great for children to learn responsibility and about caring for animals.

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Visit a Free Museum/Art Gallery – Many museums and art galleries are free to visit, so make the most of them! Enjoy learning new things together.

And if you’re still looking for ideas, can I (subtly!) suggest you purchase my book 100 Ways Your Child Can Learn Through Play – as the name suggests, there’s 100 ideas in there to keep the kids entertained and happy (and even learning). You can find it on all major online bookshops in the UK and USA. Here’s the UK Amazon link.

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