When summer starts, the kids and I are always super-excited for the break from cold weather and the everyday homework and school routines. We look forward to going on vacation and having some outdoor pool time! But when summer boredom hits, we parents can find ourselves out of ideas on what to do with these kiddos! Here are a few tricks I like to do each summer to break the boredom—without breaking the bank!

1. Tie-dye old clothing

My kids love tie-dye! You can find a kit at Amazon, Walmart, Target, or your favorite craft store for a reasonable price. That really could be the only thing you buy for this project.

When I was in college and worked with camp kids, I would grab a large, white pair of socks from my dad’s sock drawer and an old white undershirt to use for my dyeing projects. It doesn’t have to be a white clothing item, although lighter colors work best for colors to show up. This way you’re not only saving money on new items, but reinventing old clothes that you might have tossed!

P.S. Don’t forget the rubber bands!

2. Go on a scavenger hunt

Here is another favorite in my house that I will bring out whenever the boredom blues hit: go on a scavenger hunt! You can create it to be as long or as short as you like. If it’s a rainy day, have it be throughout the house. If you have a large yard they’ll be at it for the entire day! Get creative and have fun. Check out Pinterest for some fun clues to get you started!

3. Have a $5 store challenge

Do you and your kiddos like to shop? We do for sure! I like to take them to the dollar store or Target and give them $5 to “play with.” This keeps them busy for a while and it gives them full control over how to spend just a small set amount of money. They enjoy the responsibility, and they don’t realize it, but they’re also learning how to spend OR save what they are given. 

Related: 7 Programs to Help Your Kids Score FREE Books & Prizes This Summer

4. Take your kids bowling for free

We have done this for many years now. Sign up for Kids Bowl Free and head to the nearest participating bowling alley for free bowling! You only need to pay for shoe rental. Parents can play for a discounted rate if you sign up for a special package. Usually just before summer hits they’ll give you that option at a deeper discount for signing up early. Your kids can bowl two games every day this summer for free! This is a super-great deal to get in on.

5. Go to $1 Movies

Each summer Cinemark and Regal movie theaters offer kids movies for $1! These movies are usually a year or two old and rated G or PG. Usually they’re offered on a weekday morning. Check your local theaters to see if they participate and on what day and times they’ll be showing their summer movies.

Last year we went to the movies every single week! When the featured movies were first released, it was way too expensive for my family of four to go to the theater, so it’s a real treat to be able to see great movies on the big screen.

6. Roller skate

Do you have a local skating rink? Check to see if they have a weekly special. My kids love to go. Our rink is half priced on Tuesdays and they even have free Wi-Fi for parents like to me to bring a laptop or iPad!

7. Attend two-week camps

Each year my daughter does a two-week mini dance camp. I love this because it breaks up the summer but isn’t as costly as those camps that last the whole summer. I’ve found that our local YMCA has a summer camp program that you can sign your kid up for. You can opt for either just one week, one day a week, a month, or the entire summer!

8. Join library book club activities

Our library launches a book club for school-aged children at the beginning of each summer. Look into your library’s programs to see what summer reading activities that they offer absolutely FREE!

Related: 7 Programs to Help Your Kids Score FREE Books & Prizes This Summer

9. Go to Lowe’s and The Home Depot’s kids workshops

Here’s an activity that I plan on bringing my kids to this year. Each week Lowe’s and The Home Depot offer a workshop where kids around the ages of 8-12 can build a new project. Check your local stores for participation!

10. See concerts in the park

Many community and city parks have begun to schedule free summer concerts. The ones for kids are usually on a weekday morning or Sunday evening. Make a call or look up what concert events will be at your local park this summer!

11. Dress like a cow for a free meal at Chick-Fil-A

​This is one of my kids’ favorite days of the summer! At first they were skeptical. Dressing up like a cow and heading into a public place is not the most comfortable thing in the world to think of doing. After a few successful and super-fun summers of doing this, they now look forward to it every year!

Once a summer (mark your calendars for Tuesday, July 14th!), Chick-Fil-A offers FREE meals to everyone who dresses up like a cow on “Cow Appreciation Day”! This does not mean that you have to go rent a costume. They’ll offer free printouts on their website that you can tape or clip to your clothing.

Our local Chik-Fil-A had a bounce house, face painting and balloons for kids all for FREE. Don’t worry–parents can get in on the fun too!

This is a guest post by Amber S. from Waynesboro, PA.

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