Three Cheap Summer Activities

If you have kids (like us) and if they need something to do during their free time (they do) and they aren’t coming up with anything on their own (they aren’t) then you are at the right spot. Nothing fancy, this is just a list three cheap summer activities that are quick, easy, and fun. They will cost you little to no money, and can keep kids occupied for a good while. Most of these are appropriate for a wide age range, and are messy, so your kids will love them. Let’s dive in.

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Hopscotch 2.0

Three cheap summer activities

What you will need:

This started out as regular hopscotch, but on the way, something strange happened. We started adding in extra shapes with commands such as “hop, jump 2x, wiggle around, reach for the sky,” etc. and ended with “dance party.” The big kids had a blast following along to the instructions, and little Bean just hopped around whenever the mood took him. As an added bonus, a lot of families with their own kids walk down our road, so they can have fun with it too. Plus, it makes us seem thoughtful and popular.

Bubble Painting

Image of kids painting with bubbles.

What you will need:

  • Dish soap, (clear works best, but good old blue Dawn will do. Your mixes will look weird, but it won’t show up on the paper.) 1 cup
  • Water, hot. Shaken, not stirred, 3 cups
  • Corn syrup, Half of 3/4 cup. (Yeah, I know this is weird. But the original recipe was double of everything listed here, and this made a ridiculously large amount of bubble soap as is, so half of 3/4 cup is what I am telling you.)
  • Food coloring, As needed.
  • Paper, or posterboard, or canvas, just something to “paint” on.


Just mix the water, soap, and corn syrup in a big bowl. Mix by gently stirring, so it doesn’t get too bubbly. To get one half of 3/4 cup, I just took a cup with a 3/4 marking and filled it halfway to that. No need for complicated math. After this is ready, portion out the bubble soap in as many containers as you want different colors, and then add coloring, again, stirring gently to mix.

The Low Down

Okay, this one is all over Pinterest, so I’m not claiming that we came up with it. But what we are somewhat original in bringing to you is the truth about bubble painting. It’s messy. It gets everywhere. That Pinterest image that grabbed your attention? The one with the dainty little perfect circles in delightful hues of blue, red, and yellow? You would be hard-pressed to produce that yourself. Your kids never will. They will make a jumbled, soggy mess that is more brown than anything, and has no perfect circles anywhere. The coloring dilutes the bubble soap, so half the time it won’t even blow properly. The color will get on everything. It will get on clothes, it will get on legs, it will drip on the painting itself. If you have a toddler around, he will probably stick his entire hand in the bubble solution and look like he’s wearing a blue glove. We have thoughtfully provided a toddler to test this, and it worked perfectly. But what Pinterest also won’t tell you is that your kids will have an absolute blast making a soggy mess that you probably won’t feel like displaying when they are done. So worth it. Don’t stress, just let it go, and have fun. Also, make sure you set up outside, in an area you can easily hose off afterward. I really don’t want to see you cry.

Also worth noting, this recipe makes amazing bubble soap. Just mix everything together, but don’t add any coloring.

Water Balloon Baseball

Image of boy ready to hit water balloon with bat.

What you will need:

  • Water balloons
  • PVC or a broom handle or something.
  • string, twine, rope, yarn, whatever.
  • some kind of hook or spring so you can attach the balloons. A chip clip would be pretty ideal, but I didn’t have one, so I used the spring from a clothespin.

So we have this giant container of water balloons that I wanted to break out the other day, when it was stupid hot outside. Beth pointed out that little balloon pieces are A) very pretty, and B) mouth-sized, so they present a very real choking hazard to little Bean. (On a serious note, there are too many stories about tragedies that occurred when toddlers and babies got their hands on balloon pieces. It’s something no parent should ever have to experience. Use extreme caution with babies and balloons of any kind.) And they would be all over the yard after any water balloon fight worth its salt. So that was out, but I still really wanted to use them for something, plus it was still stupid hot. Then inspiration struck. I rigged up a 10′ length of PVC with a string and a small metal hook, and hooked a water balloon to the end. Then I got an old bat, and we took turns each blasting a water balloon into oblivion. In between, the big kids collected the few scraps from the balloon we used, while I rigged up the next batter’s setup. The string helps because we aren’t all MLB batters, and even for them, .500 is a stellar average. Everyone got wet, whichever kid wasn’t batting was pushing Bean in his swing, and everyone had a blast. Bug even managed to make a sprinkler balloon. We still don’t know how.

Bonus Activity

At no extra charge, we have a bonus activity, perfect for when the weather doesn’t really facilitate going outside. Hide and Seek. Seriously. Set up boundaries, and get in there with your kids. Make the whole family play. It’s a blast. Bean would follow us around and give away hiding spots, until he got fussy. At that point, I just kept him with me, and had the others all hide in the same room, and then let him go find them. It was loads of fun.

Three Cheap Summer Activities

Jacob is a husband and father of three.  He has a full-time job, but a lifetime commitment to making life magical with the rest of his family.  He enjoys reading, cooking, visiting places, and not trading his baby away to the Jawas.  We don’t recommend following him, but if you must, he does have a Twitter account.

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