This Mom Shares 3 Cheap Summer Activities That Your Kids are Going to Love

two kids sitting on the floor playing with slime
Photo from Kwynn Gonzalez-Pons
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Before you drop all of your hard-earned cash on a fancy summer camp or the latest fidget spinner to keep your kiddos entertained for the summer, let me introduce you to my friend, Lottie. You can thank me — or Lottie — later.

Lottie is the queen of affordable, at-home entertainment for her kids, two boys and one girl between the ages of 1 and 6 years old. That’s right, she has not one, not two, but three kids to entertain this summer. Us non-moms are hiding under our covers — I mean I can barely keep myself entertained.

Lottie says the hardest part of planning activities for her kids is actually finding activities that are fun but not stressful to put together. The three hours it may take to prepare isn’t exactly worth the kids being occupied for just 10 minutes.

Lottie takes pride in crafting activities from items she already has on-hand at home (she’s crafty while she’s crafting!).

Things can get tricky when you’re trying to plan activities for three kids of different ages and genders, but Lottie capitalizes on the littlest one’s nap time. “My youngest usually takes a one-to-two-hour nap during the day, which is when I like to do activities for the older kids.”

Here are three of Lottie’s favorite activities to keep her kids entertained on a budget.

1. Homemade Slime

two kids playing with slime
Photos from Kwynn Gonzalez-Pons

Appeal to your kid’s inner scientist and let them create something that looks out of this world. This homemade slime recipe is Lottie’s favorite activity to do with her kids.

When a project only requires four ingredients (baking soda, contact solution, Elmer’s glue and optional food coloring) and keeps the kids occupied for a few hours (what’s that, like eight years in parent world?), what’s not to love?

Lottie says, “The slime itself does not stain, but the food coloring of course does! I give each kid the bowl of glue and use little Dixie cups to put the baking soda and contact solution in, and I add the food coloring.”

2. Water Gun Paint Party

A piece of paper with paint splattered on it
Photo from Kwynn Gonzalez-Pons.

Wondering if you could have a petite Picasso on your hands? Find out with your own personal water gun paint party.

Lottie puts tempera paint and a little bit of water in mini water guns and unleashes her little artists on poster boards set up in her backyard. “The best part about the tempera paint is it comes out with soap and water,” Lottie says, “I buy the Sargent brand fluorescent tempera paint because I love the bright colors! The paint is also non-toxic so it’s safe for little ones, too, especially for finger painting!”

3. Ziploc Bag Ice Cream

Ice cream pictured in multiple cups
Photo from Kwynn Gonzalez-Pons

This Ziplock bag ice cream recipe uses only uses 3 ingredients and doesn’t take hours to make, so you won’t have a hard time getting your kids on board with this neat (and yummy) activity.

Lottie loved this because she had all of the ingredients on hand, and, even better, she didn’t have to do much. “My 6-year-old did all the hard work, so it showed him a little lesson about the value of hard work.” Perhaps you’ll find out that your kiddo is the next Wolfgang Puck, and as a bonus, you get ice cream at the end.

You’ll love Lottie’s ideas even more when you find out how much she spends because let’s be real, saving money is going to be your favorite thing about these activities. Oh, and the happy memories of course.

Lottie’s Tips for Budget Summer Activities

Lottie sources all of her ingredients from her house first before turning to the store (like the whipping cream, vanilla and sugar for homemade ice cream). But when she does shop, she keeps her spending under $20. Her advice for nailing the budget vs. summer entertainment balance? Keep it simple.

“There are so many activities that my kids love that don’t cost anything!” One example —  a mini scavenger hunt in their own backyard. Hey, if your kids are as messy as I was growing up, they could probably even have one in their own rooms.


If you’re sad that you can’t hire Lottie to plan activities for your kids for the remainder of summer, don’t fret, she has a suggestion: Pinterest. (Did you think I was going to talk about DIY crafting and activities without mentioning the beloved site of DIY lovers, inspiration seekers and wedding planners?)

Lottie finds inspiration by searching kid’s activities, finding some real winners to follow like these while expanding her own Pinterest boards: A Bird and a Bean, Fort Magic and Kim/The Best Ideas for Kids.

Now, it may take a little planning on your part, and maybe some trial and error, but what’s more appealing — gifting your kid a fidget spinner (or worse, going broke over expensive camps) or bonding over mom-and-me masterpieces?

Kwynn is a soon-to-be PhD student in Utah and mom to two dogs. She lives the mom life vicariously through Lottie’s Instagram posts and aspires to be half as creative as Lottie is one day.