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Ten low-cost ideas for Summer 2023

Pennies are being pinched even tighter this year but that doesn't have to mean any less fun for you and the littlies!

Having come from a place of complete skintness I had to get a bit creative finding things to do over the summer holidays to keep my boy entertained and happy. But kids are all different, some want to be out climbing trees while others will be happy to curl up and read a book or create something arty. Mostly children just want your uninterrupted attention to join them in their fun.

I've had a quick think and here are some things that may be of use to you over the next 6 weeks. There's also an idea of where to get cheap food for the kids if you're not in the mood for cooking!

1) Starting, as ever, with local libraries. They get so over looked but there is often a wealth of fun, games and education!

And this year they are kicking off with a bang.

Spaces need to be booked but they are happening all over Gloucestershire. Head over to the catalogue, go to events and then choose your library in the location drop down section to filter your results. Don't forget to look at other libraries too to make the most of what's on offer!

2) Play Gloucestershire delivers active and creative outdoor play in local communities. Play Rangers provide adventure, friendship and fun for hundreds of school aged children each year - they are running sessions all over Gloucestershire including here in Kingsway. These are FREE sessions. Here is the timetable:

3) Club together!

Have a bouncy castle day in the back garden. When Barnaby was little we had one every year. Invite all your Mum-friends with the kids, get everyone to chip in for the castle and electric and bring a plate of food to share. You put your feet up and have a natter while the kids bounce themselves silly... all day long... as much as they like! It only used to cost us about £5/6 each so a really cheap and easy way to keep them entertained. Plus.... bouncy castles aren't JUST for kids....! ;)

4) Head over to Westonbirt Arboretum. Kids go FREE over summer, there's a Zog trail for the little ones too but if the suns out there's nothing more fun that a picnic, creating shelters in trees and connecting with nature.

How about running the distance of the tallest tree?

Have a go at making a magical mythical creature or try the woodland honey taste test. And then explore the brand-new summer woodland trail.

I found this on their website:

Find us outdoors at Silk Wood Barn on Saturdays and Sundays and indoors on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in the Great Oak Hall.

Perfect for families with children three years and over.

Towering Trees

Sat 29 & Sun 30 Jul, Tue 01 - Thu 03 Aug, 10.30am-3.30pm

Have fun discovering why trees grow so tall. Run the distance of our tallest tree or try a tree tower building challenge.

Sensory Summertime

Sat 05 & Sun 06 Aug, Tue 08 – Thu 10, 10.30am-3.30pm

Walk our blindfold texture trail, try our woodland sound quiz and honey taste test, all part of a summer sensory adventure.

Magical Creations

Sat 12 & Sun 13 Aug, Tue 15 - Thu 17 Aug, 10.30am-3.30pm

Chance to get creative making mythical creatures and magic woodland wands and have a go at creating a story.

Green Games

Sat 19 & Sun 20 Aug, Tue 22 - Thu 24, 10.30am – 3.30pm

Have fun through play and learn about trees by joining in with a range of traditional wooden and tree-themed games.

5) Visit Sherbourne Cinema. Under 15s are £5 and under 2s are free - programmes change weekly and there are reasonably priced snacks an drinks available too. This would be a huge saving going to other cinemas which would easily be double the price. The Sherborne Cinema Gloucester - Kingsholm : Official Website

Alternatively create a cinema experience at home. Get the kids to invite a couple of friends over for movie night. Let them rejig the lounge furniture, they can design their own tickets. You could set up the snack bar and 'serve' them before they take their seats. Close the curtains, turn the lights off and press play...

6) Tenpin in Gloucester has a £5 deal for bowling AND a burger which isn't badly priced for a treat if you're on a budget. Suitable for little ones too if you put the bumpers up. You just need to take into consideration an exit strategy when you're done. The noises and flashing lights of all the machines are exciting and you might be badgered for 'just £1, pleeeease' so make sure you plan ahead for getting out! Here's the link to book :Tenpin Summer Deal | Bowling & a Small Burger Meal for £5!

7) St Augustine's Farm have a special offer on for July with the first 50 pre booked

tickets of the day are half price at just £2.75. Otherwise tickets are

Adults £6.50

Children £5.50

Concessions £6.00

Under 2’s Free

however it looks like this could be a whole day out for the relative cost. You can feed the lambs or calves, meet the pigs or cuddle a guinea pig. Tractor rides are £1.50. Take your own picnic and this could be a real cost effective visit in comparison to bigger farm parks and wildlife parks. Find their website here: St Augustines Farm

8) Create your own treasure hunt. Print off a sheet with various things kids need to find... a stone that looks like a shark tooth, a flower with 8 petals, a real life duck, something that is orange and round, or you could make it simple and print off the alphabet and find something that starts with each letter. This is a great activity because you could string it out over a few weeks. You could put something on there that you know they won't find until the end of the holidays because of a particular visit they are going on. ie a lamb being fed or a tractor etc. Kids love a treasure hunt and while the hunt itself is the fun you could always use it as an incentive for another treat when it's complete. Whether that's an ice cream or a movie night. Whatever works for you!

9) There are loads of parks locally and a bit further afield. Robinswood Country Park, Worcester Wood Country Park, Stratford Park in Stroud. All have high recommendations and most often put of free or cheap activities for the kids so have a quick google or search their facebook page before you go.

10) Finally, of course I am going to say 'Come to Dixie Dot'! Apart from our Lego Club which runs weekly (£2.50) we are really reasonably priced to sit and create some memories. £10 is the cheapest pottery we have (unless you can find anything less on our odds and ends shelf) but this equates to 2 hours of painting. Throw in free parking directly outside, it's actually cheaper that a lot of soft play's for just an hour. Our drinks and snacks are a good price should you be inclined. We also have other sessions/workshops like our crafternoons where you choose what you want to do when you arrive so it's perfect for all ages. Plus, you actually get something to physically keep at the end of it which is an even bigger bonus! All our info can be found at

I hope that something here is useful for you over summer. There are groups on Facebook that publish updates with new ideas daily (Entertaining the Kids on a Budget for example) for things that are cheap or free, but don't under estimate the fun of water fights in the garden, blanket tents in the lounge, being allowed to watch a film in Mum and Dads bed.

Finally, don't worry about letting the kids get bored. It boosts their creativity and their problem solving. Boredom doesn't always equal trouble. You'll send yourself doolally if you try and keep them entertained every minute of the day. If they have a little extra screen time it won't hurt them. If you have a blanket picnic for tea 4 times a week - who cares? Don't forget to swap kids with friends, we ALL need a few hours off from time to time. You can have theirs for a day and they can have yours. Sometimes its easier when you have more to manage that just your own!

Whatever you end up doing, come rain or shine, have a great summer!

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