The summer is finally here and for parents that means trying to keep kids entertained all day while also trying to beat the heat. To keep your kids (and your brain) from overheating, we’ve put together a list of 50 cheap and cheerful ways to keep babies, toddlers, kids and teens entertained this summer without emptying parents’ wallets.
PLAY FILL THE BUCKET WITH COLOURFUL SPONGES
Divide kids into teams with each team getting two buckets. Fill one bucket with water and time the kiddies while they use a sponge to move the water from the full bucket to the empty one. The team with the most water in their bucket at the end is the winner!
LIMBO UNDER THE GARDEN HOSE
Turn on the garden hose and let kids do their best limbo to get underneath the stream. We recommend a fun playlist for this activity.
Have an old fashion water balloon fight — just make sure everyone knows that water balloons should only be thrown below the shoulders!
MAKE HOMEMADE POPSICLES
Get fancy with fruit, lemon juice and sugar, or just put some Kool-aid in an ice-cube tray.
USE A MIST FAN
Don’t leave home without a mist fan on extra hot days this summer. Actually, don’t leave home without two fans. Parents need to stay cool too!
TIE-DYE A SHIRT AND HAT
Movie theatres often offer lower prices for matinee showings, which means two hours of air conditioning.
BUILD A KIDDIE CAR WASH
It’s a car wash, but for kids.
USE AN ELEPHANT SPRINKLER
This super cute elephant sprinkler will keep kiddies cool and entertained for only $15 on hot summer days. Pick one up at Indigo.
MAKE A DIY SLIP AND SLIDE
If you don’t own a slip and slide, you can still make one for a quarter of the price. Plus, making something = killing more time with the kiddies on long summer days.
TRY A NEW ICE CREAM DESSERT
We’re loving the new ice cream from Yellofruit, a non-dairy, nut-free dessert that is perfect for kids and adults with food allergies or anyone who wants to cool down with a delicious treat.
PLAY THE FROZEN T-SHIRT GAME
Place a wet t-shirt in a Ziploc bag, freeze it, then divide kids into teams with their own shirt and let them figure out how to quickly thaw out the shirt. The first team that can put the shirt on is the winner!
VISIT THE LOCAL SPLASHPAD
Many parks have small splashpads that are open for free or for a small fee during the summer. Check your town or city’s website for information on location and hours.
PLAY PASS THE WATER WITH SOLO CUPS
Using Solo Cups or plastic cups, divide kids into two teams and have them pass water down the line by pouring it into each other’s cup. The team with the most water at the end wins.
MAKE AN ICE CREAM SUNDAE BAR
Put together ingredients for a sundae bar and let kids create their own ice cream parlour, expressing their creativity and having a cool snack. Ice cream topped with frozen carrots? Why not!
HAVE A SQUIRT GUN RACE
Using a string, plastic cups and squirt guns, kids can race to see who’ s cup is the fastest.
ATTEND FREE LIBRARY EVENTS
Libraries have free reading and computer classes all year and these tend to ramp up in the summer months. Check out your local library for events, or just take kids to the library to pick up some books, movies, CDs and more.
MAKE A WATER PINATA
It’s like a regular pinata, except candy is replaced with water and the reward is much, much more refreshing.
GO BACKYARD FISHING
Pinterest if full of examples of how to go backyard fishing, an activity little kids love. Using a kiddie pool and some supplies, your little one can reel in a big catch and even join the ‘fish’ in the pool if they want.
BUILD ICE TUNNELS
Ice tunnels are a fun and educational experiment that are perfect for a summer day.
FREEZE TRINKETS FOR ‘ICE EGGS’
Using balloons or a tray, grab small toys from around the house and freeze them into ice eggs. Kids can then try to ‘crack’ the eggs with household materials like coins, spoons and more.
WEAR A SPONGE NECKLACE
This DIY necklace is so good at keeping kids cool you’ll want to make one for yourself as well. Cut up sponges into small cubes, thread them with a needle and string, and soak them in cold water for a necklace that will keep kids (and parents) cool in the summer heat.
GET AN INFLATABLE COVERED WADING POOL
Perfect for little kids, this small wading pool comes with a cover to block bathers from the sun. Pick it up for $45 at Canadian Tire.
MAKE SUPER BUBBLES WITH A HULA HOOP
Using a kiddie pool, a hula hoop, and dish soap, your kids will have a blast making giant bubbles.
PLAY IN A BUBBLE SENSORY BIN
Using a sand table or plastic bin, add ice, water, and toys to create a sensory bin that will keep kids entertained and cool.
BUILD A POOL NOODLE WATER WALL
With inexpensive materials including pool noodles, funnels, zip ties and a peg board, a pool noodle wall teaches kids how to design and build their own creation and will provide a fun and water-filled experiment.
BLOW UP AN INFLATABLE SKILL SHOT POOL
This inflatable pool includes small openings for kids to practice their aim while staying cool and wet. Pick one up for $50 at Canadian Tire.
EAT TWO-INGREDIENT POPSICLES
PAINT A PICTURE WITH ICE PAINT
With simple ingredients that include water, an ice cube tray, and washable paint, kids will love creating their latest masterpiece with this cool paint tool.
BUILD ICE VOLCANOES
Ice volcanoes are a bit on the messy side, but the results are beautiful, educational, and cool, both literally and figuratively.
PLAY IN A SPRINKLER SPLASH PAD
Perfect for swimmers and non-swimmers, this sprinkler splash pad can keep kids of all ages cool. Pick one up for $32 at Amazon.
WASH THE CAR
That allowance money isn’t going to earn itself.
SET UP A FIREFIGHTER RACE
Using a tarp, soap, plastic cups, and a few buckets, this firefighter race is a great way to keep kids and teens entertained and cool for only a few bucks.
VISIT THE LOCAL POOL
If you don’t have a pool in your backyard, that doesn’t mean the kids have to spend the summer in front of the TV. Check out your local parks and rec centres for pool hours for indoor and outdoor pool times.
RENT A KAYAK OR CANOE
If you live near a lake or river, there’s a good chance you can rent a canoe or kayak and spend the day paddling with your kids while taking the occasional dip to cool off.
BUILD A BIRD BATH
Pick up items at the dollar store or use things around the house to build a bird bath. Humans aren’t the only things to get hot in the summer.
THROW A KIDDIE POOL MOVIE HOUR
If you don’t have an outdoor TV, a tablet, laptop, or Smartphone Projector ($38 at Chapters) that turns your phone into a projector can provide a cost-effective outdoor movie hour. Keep kids cool and entertained by setting up ‘seats’ in the kiddie pool.
BUY OVERSIZED POPSICLES
Take a walk to the local convenience store and pick up an oversized popsicle for $0.50.
MAKE FRUIT KABOBS
Using wooden skewers, cut up fresh or frozen fruit for the kiddies and let them make their own fruit kabobs.
PLAY IN A FROG POND WATER TABLE
This Frog Pond Water Table helps pre-walkers by giving them a table to lean on while they’re learning to stand and gives older kids a place to let their imagination fly. Pick one up for $50 at Chapters.
GET A STROLLER FAN
When the weather gets hot, make sure to have a stroller fan on hand for babies and toddlers. Pick one up for $10 at Amazon.
MAKE COLOURFUL ICE CUBES
Use food colouring when making ice cubes to create a colouful sensory play bin that is also cool to the touch.
PUT AN ICE PACK IN A STROLLER OR CAR SEAT
Strollers and car seats can heat up quickly, so keep your baby cool by placing an ice pack in their seat between trips.
MAKE A POOL NOODLE SPRINKLER
Poke holes in a pool noodle to create a sprinkler that kids will love and won’t hurt them if they fall.
DESIGN YOUR OWN SPLASH PAD
Using a tarp, toys, and imagination, your kids can create your own splash pad.
PLAY SPONGE DARTS
Kids can draw their own bullseye on the driveway or side of the house with chalk and use wet sponges as ‘darts’ to throw on hot days.
SIT UNDER A POP-UP TENT
Whether you’re in the backyard, at the park, hanging at the beach or sitting on the sidelines of a little league game, keep your kids and yourself cool with a pop up tent. Pick one up for $60 at Chapters.
HAVE A DUCK RACE
Using rubber duckies, a bin full of water, and spray bottles, kids can race their ducks all the way to victory again and again and again. The summer is long.
MUNCH ON FROZEN FRUIT
Frozen fruit makes a cool and refreshing snack for kids in the summer that is also nutritious.
LOUNGE IN A KIDDIE POOL
Never underestimate how much fun a little one can have in their very own kiddie pool. Pick one up for $25 at Canadian Tire.