Fun on a Budget: Creative Activities for Families

With summer break in full swing, you might be running out of ideas for fun and creative ways to entertain the kids without breaking the bank. The initial excitement of school-free days has worn off, and now you may be scratching your head, wondering how to keep the kids entertained for the remainder of the season without breaking the bank. More than just an exercise in creativity, finding affordable, engaging activities is also a great way to support your family’s mental health during these long summer days. But don’t worry—we’ve got you covered.

In this blog post, we’ll share some innovative, budget-friendly ideas that will ensure the rest of your summer is full of fun, laughter, and memorable moments. So, let’s dive in and explore how you can make the most of this summer break!

Creative, Low-cost Things to Do at Home


Gratitude Jar

Save jars from dinner, and have everyone in the family decorate paper to line the jar. Have everyone fill the jar with slips of paper stating what they are grateful for. Smaller kiddos could draw a picture of what they are thankful for. This wonderful mood booster helps kids learn the process of noticing what is good in life. Use older children and adults as a model for younger ones about ideas to be grateful for. Read all the slips of paper all together once a week.

Draw Your Superpower

have a family discussion about each member’s best quality. The list goes on, maybe kindness, sharing, helpful, happy, funny, hardworking, and supportive. Draw a superhero. Since not all of us are artists, tracing a printout or coloring book superhero would work. Decorate the superhero, adding your name and superpower! Hang around the house to remind everyone that we all have special qualities.

Livingroom Concert

Laughter is a perfect way to boost your mental well-being. Vote on a song to perform and have everyone go into the kitchen to grab something to make sounds spoons, a pot and wooden spoon, a drinking glass (gown-ups only), and a spoon. The possibilities are endless. Have everyone accompany the song being played and have some fun.

Everyone Plans a Meal

Have everyone in the family create a menu (with parents’ help and approval). Try to be as creative as possible. When it is someone’s turn, they prepare the meal (with parental supervision depending on age) and serve the family. Maybe it’s pancakes for dinner or butter spaghetti for everyone. Let’s get creative!

Summer Stretch

Find a kid-friendly stretch video on YouTube and schedule a summer of stretching. Body stretching releases stress and promotes good physical health. Check out an example at this link or at this link.

The Best Animal Contest

Have everyone in the family (grown-ups, too!) select an animal. Use paper or other crafts to create an animal costume. Have an animal show with costumes and act out the sound effects. Everyone votes for the best animal portrayal.

Creative, Low-cost Things to Do Away from Home


Bug hunt (in the park or your backyard)

Have all the kids look on the ground to find as many different bugs as possible. Use a smartphone to pull up a website to identify the bugs. If someone in the family does not like bugs, use birds instead. When you go home, have everyone make up stories about what the bugs were doing and where they were going.

Spend Exactly That

Have the kids search the car, under couch cushions, or anywhere else loose change might be hiding. Add up the amount of found change. Go to any store (a Walmart or dollar store might be best) and have the kids search for a combination of items that equal EXACTLY the change they found. They have to keep looking if it adds up to too much or too little.

Positivity Rocks

Gather rocks from the neighborhood. Use paint and markers to decorate the stone and add positive messages like “You Rock” and “You’re special.” After they are decorated, they walk around the neighborhood to hide the rocks where people can find them. Check on the progress of them being found every so often.

Summer Strech Outside

Try the Summer Stretch activities in the backyard or at the park.

Outdoor, Low-cost Things to Do Around Jacksonville


Tree Hill Nature Center

Walk tree-covered trails to visit the museum and see birds, butterflies, and a variety of animals.

7512 Lonestar Road, Jacksonville 32211
Tickets: Adults: $5, Kids: $3; Kids under 2: Free.
Visit their website here.

Jacksonville Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

Hike trails, get close to nature with seven trails to choose from. Leashed dogs are welcome. Join a Master Naturalist-led trail walk every fourth Friday.

1445 Millcoe Road, Jacksonville, Florida 32225
Tickets: $3 each
Visit their website here.

Hands-On Children’s Museum

Let the kiddos’ creativity go wild in the experiential play rooms, such as a Winn Dixie shopping center, Fire and Emergency Station, TV and Radio room, Kid’s Bank, climbing areas, and dress up.

8580 Beach Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 23316
Tickets: $6.50 each
Visit their website here.