Cheap eco friendly activities that don't cost the earth

With the summer holidays in full swing it's becoming harder to keep the kids entertained whilst keeping the cost down. Our blog this week takes a look at affordable eco friendly kids activities to keep them busy.

Leaf printing

This is a lovely traditional activity and leaves are easy to find wherever you live. It is really two cheap children’s activities in one as you will need a fun walk in the fresh air to collect the leaves first. Choose plenty of different shapes of leaf and don’t pick up the brittle ones as they will crumble too quickly.
Try to choose eco-friendly paint and simply paint the leaves in different colours and press them onto card or paper. Very simple and effective.

Pond dipping

A timeless favourite nature based activity. All you need is a body of water, (even a large container left outside for a few days will give you some great results) a sieve or small net, a jam jar and a large light coloured tray. There are some very good instructions on the Freshwater Habitats Trust website, take a look and get pond dipping!

Recycled crafts

Save toilet roll tubes, sweet wrappers, bits of wool, wrapping paper, foil, fabric, etc and make a craft box. Invest in some eco-friendly glue and any other craft supplies you find at reasonable prices. On a wet day, your craft box will come into its own, allowing your children to be messy and creative.

You can take a more organised approach to what you are making and have a look on Pinterest. It is a fantastic source of inspiration and there are loads of ideas for children’s crafts for every occasion.


The modern day treasure hunt, geocaching is hugely popular and very addictive. You used to have to purchase a GPS device to take part, but now there are apps available for your smart phone very cheaply. Some are even free. There is a great beginner’s guide to geocaching on the Ordnance Survey website.

Beach combing

If you are lucky to live near enough to the sea, beach combing is so much fun. Finding little treasures such as shells, sea glass and pretty stones costs nothing and kids love it. They can explore the wildlife in the rock pools too.

Charity shopping/boot sales

I love a summer boot sale. You can buy pretty much anything at a fraction of the as new price. Charity shops aren’t as cheap, but you are supporting a charity, of course, and they are still great places to find bargains. Both offer an inexpensive opportunity to teach your children about money and budgeting. Buying second-hand is also good for the environment as you extend the useful life of the items you buy and stop them from going to landfill.

Visit your local wildlife trust nature reserve

Joining and visiting a wildlife trust is a superb way to encourage an appreciation of nature in your children, as well as supporting the preservation of wild spaces. They offer the chance to run around and let off steam as well as learning about the wildlife in your area. The Trusts are a campaigning organisation and have a huge influence. Find your nearest Wildlife Trust reserve here: Wildlife Trusts.

Have a cookery session

Children love to cook! There are so many reasons why you should teach yours this essential life skill. At its most basic level, it is fun and will while away an afternoon or two. However, it also gives you the opportunity to discuss where food comes from and slip in some information about good nutrition. Cooking from scratch is cheaper and healthier than buying packaged meals and allows you to avoid excess packaging. You could let your kids plan a meal and buy the ingredients as well so that they get that food costs money.

Plant something

You don’t have to have a garden to grow things with the children. Cress is so easy to grow on your windowsill, along with various herbs. You can also attempt to sprout avocado seeds or try re-growing spring onions. If you are fortunate enough to have a vegetable patch, involve your children and give them a bit of earth to grow a few bits in. They will get the same satisfaction as you do from growing their own food.

What other activities do you do to keep the kids entertained cheaply? Drop them in the comments below. 

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