20 Fun, Easy Activities Under $5 To Keep Your Kids Busy This Summer

By Nicole Mucci

Summer is well under underway. If our recent record-breaking heatwave (not to mention spending most of Summer 2020 dealing with COVID restrictions) has taught us anything, it’s that parents need to keep some fun at-home activities on hand for our tiny humans. With that in mind, we’ve gathered some fun, affordable ($5 or less!), crafts for you that your kids can do to celebrate summer!


Indoor Activities

With B.C.’s Restart Plan allowing for indoor socializing, including playdates (YAY!), having some simple crafts to keep the kiddos occupied, on a too-hot or too-rainy day, can be crazy helpful. This summer at UGM, we are continuing to support kids from low-income families in our community with summer day camp programs full of fun activities (and maybe even some of these creative crafts) that they otherwise may not get to experience. The impact that these adventures can have on children can last a lifetime! 

  1. TP Roll Binoculars: These binoculars are so fun and easy to make! Grab those TP rolls, some simple craft paint, glue, ribbon and stickers and you are good to go. After the kiddos make the binoculars, go walk around your local park and put their binocular skills to work – looking for local bugs and greenery!                                                              Credit to https://www.redtedart.com/                                                                                  
  2. Cardboard Tube Craft: Featherheads
  3. Make an Eagle from a Cardboard Tube
  4. Fire Breathing Dragon Craft | How to Make a Simple Dragon 
  5. Rainsticks {Tutorial} — this recommends an empty gift wrap roll, but a paper towel roll would do the trick
  6. Kids Get Crafty: Loo Roll Monsters 
  7. Next Post: DIY Marble Run from Toilet Rolls (Grab some marbles at the dollar store, and you can create a craft that will be re-used all summer!)
  8.  Another cool DIY paint option? Homemade Microwave Puffy Paint! Using the same household ingredients you’d need for pancakes, you can create homemade paint that puffs up! 
  9. Jellyfish Salt Painting Activity For Kids
  10. DIY Art Materials: 3 Easy Homemade Paints for Kids


Hot Tip #1: Start saving all of your toilet paper rolls, 2L pop bottles, and milk cartons now! A ton of these crafts reuse common household recycling items! 

Hot Tip #2: Stock up your craft cupboard beforehand with a trip to your local dollar store. Here’s a helpful shopping list: 

  • Popsicle sticks (there are plain or coloured options, either will work!)
  • Paintbrushes if you don’t have any on hand
  • Construction paper 
  • Craft glue 
  • Buttons, feathers, and/or googly eyes
  • Kid-Safe tempura or acrylic paint
  • Stickers or mini-foam that kids can cut into fun shapes!
  • Table Salt


Outdoor Activities: 

  1. If you live in an apartment, you might find yourself eager to find craft ideas that bring you outdoors. With this simple, 3-ingredient DIY Sidewalk Chalk Paint you can teach your kids how to make their own paint, and then head outside to create a lovely sidewalk mural! 
  2. Remember the painted rock craze last summer? Well, it’s still going strong! So hit the road and collect the flattest or roundest or most unique rocks you can find and spend the afternoon outside decorating those bad boys. Then when you are done, take another walk around your neighbourhood, leaving the painted rocks for others to find and enjoy!
  3. Trying to keep phonics fun through July & August? Try this activity with water balloons!
  4. Challenge your family to a homemade outdoor obstacle course this summer! Grab simple household items like your laundry hamper to jump over, a skipping rope to walk across a pretend tightrope, and the homemade chalk paint to create circles to jump to and from. Not only is this an affordable option, but kids love the movement and fun. Uninterrupted family time is critical for children’s well-being. At UGM, we are working hard with our camp partners to help send families struggling with poverty to family camps—an opportunity to make summer memories together that will last a lifetime. You can read more about it here.


BONUS: Cheap and Fun Science Based Activities: 

  1. Magic Milk Experiment                                                           Credit to https://craftsbyamanda.com/                                                                                
  2. Cheap & Easy Activities: Simple Steam
  3. How to Dye Pasta and Make Necklaces | Play
  4. How to Make a Bunting Stained Glass with Melted Crayon Shavings (this requires grown-up supervision!)
  5. Kids Salt Crystal Experiment | Highlights Your Child & You 
  6. Speaking of camping – did you know you could use s’mores to teach your kids science this summer? No campfire required! You can make your own solar oven using simple household materials. The best part? You can balance it out by chopping fresh fruit to add to the treat, or if you’re feeling really wild, you can try to fry an egg on your homemade contraption! 


We hope these 20 activities help you keep your kiddos busy this summer! 

At UGM we’re supporting kids and youth this summer and beyond with fun activities, field trips and most importantly relationships that help guide them towards a brighter future. In addition to our camp sponsorship program, we also provide year-round care for kids and families. And more families are reaching out to us for help than ever before. 

Did you know over the last year the number of emergency food hampers we’ve provided to our community members has risen dramatically? As we prepare to open our new Women & Families Centre this fall, we feel incredibly excited for the expanded life-changing programs that will be available to families in the Downtown Eastside. You can read more about that here.

To learn more about how UGM supports families in the lower mainland, sign up below for our emails here. 

Written By: Nicole Mucci