Keeping your kids entertained during school breaks can be a headache, especially if money is in short supply. However, there are plenty of free or inexpensive fun things to do and places to go if you’re on a tight budget.
Find out here how you can make the most of school holidays throughout the year without breaking the bank.
School Summer Break Activities for Families on a Budget
We’ve rounded up some great free or cheap activities for kids during the summer break, from bowling and roller-skating to reading programs and trips to national parks and movie theatres.
The Kids Bowl Free program is run by bowling alleys across the States to provide a safe way for youngsters to have fun during the summer break.
Kids get two free bowling games each day. Optional family passes are available for a one-time fee, so mom and dad can join in the fun too. These passes cover two games per person each visit for up to four adult family members.
Like Kids Bowls Free, the Kids Skate Free summer program also allows families to save money while their kids have a great time and stay safe and active.
You get two free roller-skating passes for each of your kids every week of the holiday. If your youngsters don’t have skates, they can rent them for a small fee.
Summer Reading Programs
Many fun summer reading programs are on offer to encourage kids to explore the delights of books.
Kids up to sixth-grade age get free admission to any Six Flags theme park by completing the Six Flags Read to Succeed program.
Other summer reading programs include:
- The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.
- Amazon Summer Reading Challenge.
- Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program.
Don’t forget Your Local Public Library
Local public libraries are always an amazing free resource for kids, and many run special summer activities.
These include reading challenges and book clubs, book giveaways, writing competitions, and art and craft sessions.
Free Passes to National Parks
Formerly known as Every Kid in a Park, the Every Kid Outdoors program gives fourth-graders and their families 12 free passes for a year to hundreds of national parks.
These passes are also valid for national monuments, historic sites, and national forests and national seashores.
Summer Movie Passes
Many movie theaters across the US give kids and their families free or cheap passes for selected days of the week during the summer.
LHM Megaplex, for example, offers a $10 summer movie pass for kids that includes 10 films spread across 10 weeks during the summer holiday.
Budget-Friendly Family Fun During the Fall Break
If your kids’ school takes a break during the fall, there are many opportunities for enjoy autumn family fun on a tight budget.
Have a Picnic
Picnics have been around since the Middle Ages, and we still enjoy quality family time sharing food in the fresh air.
Many free open spaces, including local parks, are ideal for a family fall picnic. Or why not have a picnic in your own backyard?
All you need besides the food and drinks, is a ball, a Frisbee, a kite, or a couple of board games on your picnic, and your kids can entertain themselves for hours.
The fall break gives kids the chance to start getting ready for Halloween (October 31).
Taking the DIY approach to Halloween costumes can cut the cost to zero or next to nothing. It also provides a fun activity you can do with the kids.
With a little creative thinking, it’s possible to come up with a great outfit like an Egyptian mummy or zombie costume made from materials lying around the house.
Visit an Apple Orchard
School fall holidays fall within the apple ripening season, so why not take the opportunity to visit a local pick-your-own apple orchard?
The kids will get some fun in the fresh air and you get to take home fresh, juicy and nutritional apples at low cost.
Free or Cheap Christmas School Holiday Activities
The holiday season can get really expensive if you have kids but there are plenty of free or low-cost festive family activities you can come up with. Consider these:
- Walk or drive around your neighborhood to find the houses with the best Christmas illuminations. Take simple, festive refreshments with you like holiday cookies and a flask of hot chocolate.
- Gather round the TV with a bowl of popcorn and watch a couple of favorite Christmas movies.
- Make your own Christmas decorations and ornaments, gingerbread men and gingerbread houses rather than buying them from a store.
- If your little ones still believe in Father Christmas, help them write a letter to Santa. With the Greetings from the North Pole Post Office program, you’ll get a reply with a North Pole postmark!
- If it snows, make the most of it. Help the kids build a snowman or a snow fort, and create snow angels.
Easter Holiday Activities for Families on a Budget
You don’t have to spend a fortune on keeping the kids amused during the Easter weekend of the school spring break. Here are a few affordable ways to create your own Easter family traditions:
- Egg rolling is an Easter tradition in many towns. Join in the fun and roll your own hard-boiled eggs down a hill to see whose eggs will for farthest without breaking.
- Connect with the significance of Easter and join a family-friendly Easter church service.
- Get the kids involved in baking Easter bunny, chick or egg-shaped cookies.
- Take the kids to see a local Easter parade with colorful floats, marching bands, and fire trucks.
- Have a big Easter brunch and invite extended-family members.
- Hold an Easter egg hunt or Easter picnic in your backyard.
Overspent During the School Holidays?
No matter how careful we are with money, it can still be easy to spend more than we intended on keeping the kids happy during school holidays, particularly the long summer break.
If you do go over budget and find yourself struggling with household bills, this could affect your credit score. But there are ways to get back on track financially and fix a bad credit score.