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The Little Lilypad is a lifestyle blog mostly written by a mum to two beautiful, cheeky and entertaining daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad, when he is not relaxing in one of our best recliners, or our baby bloggers and occasionally we accept guest posts. There is frequently talk of shoes and clothing (we love fashion and savvy shopping), chocolate (who doesn't love chocolate) education and swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.

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Low-cost ways to keep the kids entertained over summer

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While we’d all love to have limitless bank accounts over the summer holidays, sadly, family fun is often capped. We have already had some brilliant days out but no matter how much we prepare, none of us are Mr or Mrs Moneybags.

As such, for a successful streamlined summer, parents have to get creative about how to entertain the brood. Low-cost family fun is the key to keeping little minds stimulated, and ensuring boredom is at bay.

15 virtually cost-free fun for the family

1. Magic a lunch into a picnic

You were making those sarnies anyway, were you not? Rather than popping them on a plate, wrap them in a sandwich bag alongside a carton and a packet of crisps, and make your way to the field. Lay out an old blanket, and magic that lunch into an impromptu picnic.

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2. Coupled-up colouring

Youngsters can pair up with a sibling or a parent and work together on some intricate colouring sheets – calming, quality together time.

3. Create a family book club

Bookworms are never bored. Reading is such a pleasurable pastime and with the potential to fill hours upon hours of free time. The rules are simple. Let your child(ren) choose the books for your summer book club. Everyone in the family reads a book over each given week. Put aside a certain day and time each week for biscuits and book talk.

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4. National Summer Reading Challenge

Alternatively, register your child for the National Summer Reading Challenge at your local library. After reading six books over the six-week break, they will receive a certificate and a medal for their efforts.

5. Discover local wildlife

Whether you live in the city or the countryside, there’s nature near to you. Have a look online for what to expect in your neighbourhood, and go outdoors together on a homemade nature trail. Don’t forget the camera!

6. Garden games

From football and catch to swing ball and tig, keep the lawn cut and kids can keep themselves entertained for hours with sports and garden games.

7. Movie night with treats and sweets

The cinema may be expensive, but a family movie night at home can cost next to nothing. Head to Wilko’s for a pick-a-mix, put a pizza in the oven, tip some crisps into a bowl, and get snuggled up on the sofa.

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8. Get wet!

Paddling pools, water balloons, hose pipes, water pistols… as soon as the sun shines, get outside and get wet!

9. Berry picking in the wilderness

Sure, berry picking can cost a fortune, but not if you know where to go. Many fields, canals, and other public pathways, are lined with blackberries and other edible fruits. Pick away.

10. (Don’t) Make a meal of it

With a basketful of berries, be sure to create a culinary masterpiece once you’re back at home. From fresh fruit ice-lollies to homemade summer berry pie, kids love cooking.

11. Find out what’s free

Have a browse online for free local attractions. You may be pleasantly surprised. Some farms are free, so long as you buy animal feed, and many museums offer free entry too. If you live in a bustling borough, you may find that you can fill a day a week with free attractions nearby.

12. Adventuring outdoors

Biking, hiking, dog walking. Scooters, roller skates, skateboards. Summer is the time to get active outdoors.

13. Pond dipping and crab catching

If you live near the coast, crabbing is a favourite low-cost pastime for children of all ages. Yet, those who live inland can also put their own spin on it with a similar activity. With just a cheap little net, see what creatures are revealed when pond dipping.

14. Parks and playgrounds

It’s always OK to do the norm. Stop giving yourself such a hard time! Take a ball for a kick about, or take the young ones to the playground. If you’ve been a few times already, mix it up maybe, and go a little further afield than your nearest park.

15. Get all green-fingered

Sunflower seeds cost pennies. An old potato in some soil doesn’t cost much, either. Why not plant some flowers and some fruit and vegetables? Children will love watching them grow and eventually reaping the tasty rewards of their efforts.

What is your favourite "free" activity?

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  1. Oh I love crabbing, but our nearest beach is like 60 minutes away. Great list of money saving ideas!

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