Look for used toys and clothes at charity shops, eBay and Facebook Marketplace

Why splurge on new toys when you can get great quality options at thrift stores? Many charity shops will carry a great selection of children’s toys and activities. There are also second-hand shops especially for children.

FARA charity stores have special stores for children. You can find some around London, but they also have a online range and will ship to you.

The toy store in Archway, north London, recycles useless toys and donates them to children who need them. It also finances Lego workshops, art and storytelling workshops. If you know a family that needs toys, they get recommendations from professionals, including teachers, educators, and social workers.

Thurston also suggests checking out Facebook Marketplace or eBay for any great deals on kids’ toys and gadgets.

Create your own toys or do some junk modeling

Creating your own toys is also a fun activity to do with children. You don’t need anything more than the things you already have around the house. At The Big Issue, we’ve teamed up with science teacher and writer Alom Shaha for cheap and fun crafts for kids as part of our summer survival guide. Why not try making your wonderful mini mangonel?

Thurston also tells us that there are simple recipes for making vase, modeling clay and salt dough. Your kids will love to make a bit of a mess and have fun, and these are easy and inexpensive activities that will fill an afternoon.

You can also do unwanted modeling. It’s a fun idea to challenge your kids to create something out of a cardboard box or things you have around the house. You might decide to build Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower, or make an alien out of recycled scraps. Kitchen rolls, egg cartons, milk cartons and cardboard boxes are all great for scrap modeling.

Create a nature trail for your children

Thurston’s next tip is to create a nature trail for your child. It’s as simple as laying out a walk in your area (somewhere with lots of green space is ideal). Then see if your kids can identify flowers and leaves while you’re away. You can also pick up free paint swatch cards at craft stores and paint stores and see if your child can find color matches in nature with each one.

You can find local wood walks in your area through Forestry England. Your local park or playground is on the government website.

Host a game or movie night with your kids

A game night is a great way to keep the kids entertained and occupied. Pull out your favorite family games and puzzles from the back of the closet and get into the competitive spirit! You can trade games with a neighbor or friend for “new” games that cost you nothing.

You can also host a movie night by making the room cozy with duvets and pillows. You can make your favorite movie snacks with your kids ahead of time and have them create paper tickets for the movie so it becomes a home theater.

There are usually plenty of kids’ movies airing on TV during the summer holidays, so keep an eye out for your favorites and all the classics! Your local library should also have a selection of DVDs you can borrow if you have a DVD player.

While you’re at the library, give your kids a chance to hunt down any books they might want to read. Most libraries organize reading challenges and activities during the summer.

Visit a museum for free or go on an online adventure

Thurston reminds parents that many museums offer free admission to some of their exhibits and can be a fantastic day out for the kids. These include the Science Museum and Tate Modern in London, the House of Marbles games factory in Devon and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. Money saving expert has a comprehensive list of free museums covering the whole of the UK.

You can also take your children on a virtual day. You can observe animals in zoos around the world by Houston Where San Diego or visit aquariums at Baltimore and Monterey Bay on line. You can also take virtual tours or watch exhibits from museums around the world such as the National History Museum, The Metropolitan, The Smithsonian Where The Louvre.

And here’s our summer survival guide, which we’ll update regularly with new articles and tips to help your kids have a fun summer without breaking the bank.

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