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Frugal Summer Fun from A to Z

Guest post from Sarah of TheCharacterMom

If you’re looking for frugal summer fun, here are 26+ ideas to try with your family this summer!

Art – From shaving cream and chalk drawings to real paintings for grandma’s art collection, the possibilities are endless!

Balloons, Bubbles, and a Big Box – Need I say more about simple pleasures?

Cookouts – Nothing brings people together better than a campfire or food cooked on a grill.

Drama – Put on family plays, puppet shows (make your own with old socks, plastic spoons, or toilet paper rolls with photos glued on for faces), have a talent show, make up your own music videos or commercials. Make sure to get crazy costumes as well!

Eat Treats – Cooking together and eating together bring you closer together. A couple of my favorite kid-friendly recipes:

  1. Juicesicle – freeze juice in plastic ice cube trays with toothpicks stuck in them or Dixie cups with a popsicle stick stuck in them.
  2. Simple homemade ice cream – 1 Tbsp. vanilla, 2 cup cream or half & half, 1 cup milk, and 3/4 cup sugar. Mix together and freeze.

Field Trips – Designate one day a week to go somewhere interesting and fun. Visit a library, fire or police station, check out a local museum, or tour a bakery or factory in your area.

Games – Pull out the board games or make up some fun games of your own for a memorable family game night.

Homemade crafts – Teach your child how to make a craft. Or learn a new skill like woodworking or sewing together. Take them to a craft store and let them pick out a kit.

Insects – Go on a nature hike and hunt for bugs and identify and learn about them.

Joking around – Be silly together: wrestle, tickle, or have a pillow fight.

Kite – Make a kite or buy one at the dollar store and take it to a park to fly.

Lake – Play on the beach, swim, or fish.

Movie Night – Rent a movie, go to a cheap movie theater or drive-in, or host your own backyard movie night.

Nature/ Neighborhood – Explore the area around your home whether that is nature or a neighborhood park.

Outside fun – Teach your children some of the fun games you used to play as a child such as: capture the flag, freeze tag, or hide and seek.

P. Photos – Take family pictures. Take goofy pictures. Go for a walk down memory lane by looking at old photo albums or make a new album or a collage.

Q. Quality Time – Go on an outing with just one of your kids at a time so you can spend one-on-one quality time together.

Relatives – Visit your relative and extended family together.

Service Projects – Contact your local church or non-profit and see how you can serve as a family.

Tent – Go camping in your backyard or make a tent fort in your living room.

Undercover Secret Spy Missions – Anonymously do random acts of kindness. For a fun twist: try writing a secret note in white crayon on white paper. Then, attach watercolors and instructions to paint over the paper to reveal a secret message.

Vocal Talents – Recite a verse, perform a musical, or have a karaoke night. Make sure to get it on tape!

Water is Wonderful – Your kids can play for hours with just a kiddie pool of water. A few creative ideas to change things up:

  1. Have a water fight with balloons, water guns.
  2. Sponge fun: Give everyone a bunch of cheap yet absorbent sponges and a bucket of water to play with. (Get the car cleaned while they are at it.)
  3. Make your own sprinkler.
  4. Give you preschooler a bucket of water, a durable paintbrush, and a shady spot on the cement and let her paint pictures with water.

“X”-treme Sports – Try something a little more adventuresome like mountain climbing, rock climbing, or rappelling.

Yard Sales – Go to yard sales, thrift stores, and consignment sales. You can find great and entertaining items for the price of pocket change. Or, have your own yard sale. This is a great way to clean out and simplify and, if your kids get to keep the money they make, the will have more incentive to de-clutter!

Zoo – Visit the zoo or a nearby farm.

Free Printable Summer Fun from A to Z List

If you’d like to refer to this list summer long, you can download the free printable A to Z list here!

What are your favorite frugal fun activities for summer?

Sarah Holmes – The Character Mom – is a former teacher and current stay-at-home mom of three characters. She’s also a local columnist, blogger, and speaker. She loves to encourage and equip moms to grow Christian character in their families through fun and simple ideas and insight. Find more fun family-friendly character building ideas at

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  • Fun ideas! Thanks for your post, Sarah 🙂

  • I didn’t see this under “S” but shaving cream is a great, frugal way to play. Clean off the kitchen table and squirt it on there, kids can doodle and play! You can put it on a tray and have them draw shapes or write spelling words. You can put little toy cars in it and provide another bowl of water so they can do a “car wash.”

    With coupons you can score cheap or free shave cream and if nothing else you can pick it up for a buck at the Dollar Tree!

    • Sullivan’s Mom,
      You can’t go wrong with shaving cream! I think I see a good lesson on forgiveness here. Give them a couple of dallops right on the table, and let them draw all kinds of stuff. It will eventually disappear, leaving the past mess invisible and the table clean and smelling fresh.

  • Shelly says:

    I like these ideas, playing with water is something both of my kids enjoy.
    Today we have a tent set up in our family room for my son to play in. We are going to have a picnic in it for lunch. Our summer weather today is looking more like fall so we needed to camp inside today.

  • amber says:

    Great list! Don’t forget Vacation Bible School.

  • Lajoie says:

    We like to stay up late (every once in a while) in the summer to sit outside and look at the stars, or look at the lightening bugs. It is a good reminder of how small we are and how mighty God is. A campfire and smores are nice too!

    • Lajoie,
      Super ideas about star-gazing. You are doing an amazing job of teaching life lessons the best way – integrating it into a fun family activity. You and I are definitely soul sisters!

  • Kathryn says:

    I love this idea so much! I think I am going to adapt it so that as a family we can create our own ABC memory book this summer! Including pictures of us doing these activities!! Thanks for the great inspiration 🙂

  • Devon says:

    Our library offers a program for free museum passes. Ask around at your library to see if there is something like it in your area. Ours is called Discover and Go – It has saved us a fortune when it comes to attending museums and other cultural events!

  • Sue says:

    Love these ideas and I’m looking forward to doing them this summer with my kids and my (many) nephew’s and niece’s!

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