kids hanging from trees

School holidays can be a real challenge for parents looking to entertain their kids. Sure, there are any number of theme parks throughout the UK where you can spend the day with your child’s favourite cartoon characters. But with entrance fees often costing in excess of £50 per family, it can make for a very expensive day out – and that’s before you’ve even thought about food and ice creams…

So what are the alternatives?

The truth is that there’s very little that £5 can buy you now in terms of entertainment. But we’ve thought long and hard to come up with suggestions for £5 or less per child that will still provide great fun, whether you’re out – or at home.

What can I do with the kids during the holidays for less than £5?

1. Take a bus ride

Where will £5 get you? Why not wait at the nearest bus stop and find out?! For most bus companies, very young children will be free so there’s just the older ones and yourself to pay for. And for most children, they couldn’t care less about the destination. If there’s an upstairs to your bus, is there anything better than riding on the top floor of the double decker bus, imagining you’re the driver?!

2. Visit your local swimming pool

Kids also adore swimming! In fact, ask a child on holiday what they’d like to do for the day and swimming is usually right up there. And the cost for a swim at most pools is much less than £5 each, which means you can spend a fun hour or two watching them splash around and tire themselves out. And if you have a lido near you during the summer months, you could probably stretch the hour out to a day if the weather is kind!

kid in swimming pool


3. Play a board game

Ok so £5 is likely to get you one of the more traditional favourites if you’re looking for brand new. But you could always head to the charity shops to widen your choice and then spend a couple of hours with the kids playing Pictionary or trying not to get Operation to buzz. Teach them how to play chess? Or just sit back and wait for them fall out over a game of Monopoly?!

4. Climb a mountain

One of the best things about the UK’s landscape is that if you’re lucky to live within reach of a mountain, they cost nothing to climb. If you live in Scotland, older kids will love Munro bagging, where you aim to climb all mountains over 3,000ft, with Ben Nevis perhaps the best known (and highest). There’s 282 at the last count, so it’s a long term goal! Elsewhere in the UK, head to Snowdonia in Wales or Scafell Pike in the Lakes for incredible scenery and a challenging day out.

5. Ready, steady, cook!

For those less keen to scale 3,000ft, there is a fab alternative! Get out the recipe books and give your child £5 to spend on making anything they like. Then head to your local supermarket or farm shop to buy the ingredients. Bonus points if that gets you evening dinner bought and made.

fruit and vegetables

6. Watch a film together

Many cinemas operate a kid’s film club during the holidays, where you can watch most of the recent releases for about £2.50 each. Which leaves enough money to buy armfuls of popcorn and sweets from the shops before you arrive. And 1.5 hours for you to take a well-earned break in the dark.

7. Fly a kite

If you have a kite, this suggestion is obviously free. And if you don’t, you can buy an entry level pocket kite or similar, from most newsagents or toy shops, for less than £5. Kids love running about trying to get them airborne. Our recommendation, from personal experience, would be to keep small children and more than one kite some distance from each other!

two kites in the air

8. Go for a picnic

They say food tastes better when you eat it outdoors and there’s nothing better than a picnic somewhere on a nice day. Let the kids make it at home – or pick up some essentials on your way. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not take a bbq? And don’t forget the picnic rug.

fairy cup cakes

9. Build a bug hotel

Most gardens have old bits of wood or disused rocks and bricks lying around that you can repurpose for a bug hotel. Older kids can be supervised with a hammer and nails to bash something together. And little ones will love stuffing the holes with moss and leaves to encourage wildlife into the garden.

10. The charity shop rummage

Give a child £5 to spend in a charity shop and you’re likely to be there some time! Whether they are looking for a new toy, another dvd, clothing to alter or dressing up clothes for their next play, chazza shops offer fantastic value for money as well as the chance to support a myriad of good causes.

11. Go orienteering

There’s a great educational value to this suggestion as kids get to familiarise themselves with ordinance survey maps and compasses and they tend to love the challenge of getting from A to B via C.

Or if you just want to keep it simple, plan a route you know well and get them to spot the symbols on the map as you walk it. Make you destination a coffee and cake shop and that £5 will come in handy for tired legs.

little boy throwing leaves

12. Grow some plants

Ask Google what you can plant in the month you’re planning to do this and you’ll be surprised at the results. Even the October half term can see you planting asparagus, broad beans, garlic and onions to name just a few. Pop to Wilkos or your local garden centre for some seeds and set aside an area of the garden to get the kids digging with you. The bonus is another day spent harvesting the results in the coming months.

13. Fruit picking

Ok, this depends on the time of year but we’ve had a good hour or two of fun with the kids, simply by giving them an empty punnet and watching them fill it with raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants etc. The best places will tell you what each punnet roughly costs to fill in advance and the contents make the healthiest snack – or pie filling.

Of course, you can forage for free, if you fancy searching for blackberries in the late summer/early autumn. Or perhaps make elderflower or elderberry cordial – those trees keep giving!

14. Go out in the rain!

Controversial one but how many times have we written off the day because the weather looks poor? And then been driven mad by stir crazy kids climbing the walls? Far better to get togged up and head out on a walk whatever the weather, especially if there’s a warm café to head to at the end. It not only builds resilience but it’s often exhilarating to head out on a cold, windy day. After all, they say there’s no such thing as poor weather – just poor clothing.

little girl with umbrella

15. Have a pamper party

For £5, you can buy an array of pampering products from the likes of Superdrug, including face packs or nail varnish in every colour imaginable, which will take kids at least an hour to choose. They will love painting your finger and toe nails. The end result is likely to be carnage but its quality time together that counts, right?!

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