Five cheap and free activities to keep the kids happy over the school holidays

KEEPING kids entertained in the summer holidays can be expensive.

Sun Money’s OLIVIA MARSHALL explains how to find cheap – or even free – days out, meals and activities for fun that won’t hit the family’s finances.

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Keeping kids entertained in the summer holidays can be expensive, so take a look at this money-saving days outCredit: Shutterstock

FREE DAYS OUT

GETTING the kids out and about need not cost a fortune. 

Under-17s can see a West End show, including & Juliet and Jersey Boys, for free in August when an adult buys a full-price ticket.

Find out more at official londontheatre.com/kids-week.

You can also visit a number of National Trust and English Heritage sites around the country for free, although you may have to pay for parking. 

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A Blue Peter badge will get your kids free entry to attractions including HMS Belfast and Whitby Abbey. Apply for a badge via bbc.co.uk.

Got a Tesco Clubcard? Parents can swap vouchers for up to three times their value to buy tickets to Alton Towers, Legoland, Chessington World Of Adventures and more.

Getting the kids out and about need not cost a fortune - with plenty of ways to cut the outlay

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Getting the kids out and about need not cost a fortune – with plenty of ways to cut the outlay

FREE CASH

IF you face struggling financially this summer, check with charities if help is available.

Many offer grants to help with household bills, clothing and even holidays. Martin Lewis and his Money Saving Expert team recommend using online tools to find any grants you might be eligible for. 

National charity Turn2Us (turn2us.org.uk) has a “grant search” function on its website where you can find out what support is available to you. 

The Family Holiday Charity helps families get away together during the school break — but a social worker or teacher must refer you.

FREE OR £1 MEALS

From kids eating free at Morrisons to eat-all-you-can buffets for kids under 16 at Brewers Fayre, Table Table or Beefeater pubs, there are tasty deals to be found

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From kids eating free at Morrisons to eat-all-you-can buffets for kids under 16 at Brewers Fayre, Table Table or Beefeater pubs, there are tasty deals to be foundCredit: Shutterstock

KIDS eat free all day at Morrisons Cafes when adults buy a meal costing £4.99 or more. 

Dobbies Garden Centres and Yo! Sushi are also offering a free kids’ meal when their parents fork out for a main. 

Spend £9.50 on an all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast at Brewers Fayre, Table Table or Beefeater pubs and two children under 16 can eat for free. 

Asda and Bella Italia both have £1 meal offers for kids.

Families visiting Ikea can get a meal from the kids’ menu for between 95p and £1.50 at its cafes. 

If your child receives free school meals in term-time, they should be entitled to vouchers you can spend at supermarkets.

Parents can usually claim between £15 to £30 but this can vary depending on where you live.

You should check with your local council, as it can be something of a postcode lottery.

Apply via the council’s website or through your child’s school.

£500 FOR CHILDCARE

MORE than one million families could be eligible for help to cover childcare costs over the summer holidays.

Tax-free childcare gives families up to £500 per child every three months. The cash can be used for holiday clubs, before- and after-school clubs, childminders and nurseries.

You could get up to £1,000 if your child is disabled. 

For every £8 you put into a tax-free childcare online account, you will get an extra £2 topped up by the government. It’s available for kids up to the age of 11, or 17 for disabled children.

There are rules which decide whether you get tax-free child support. It depends on if you’re working, how much you earn, your child’s age and your immigration status. 

You can usually get tax-free childcare if you or your partner are in work, on sick leave or annual leave or on shared parental, maternity, paternity or adoption leave You might be eligible even if you’re not working, as long as your partner is.

You must also be claiming either Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance.

You can find out more at: www.gov.uk/tax-free-childcare.

FREE ACTIVITIES

PARENTS could save a few quid and keep the kids fit over the holidays by taking advantage of free swimming, cycling and gym classes from their local council.

Brighton and Oxford councils are offering these deals and you can find out what your council has on offer by referring to its website.

Also, join your local library so kids can read books and use the computers for free. 

If you want to keep the kids occupied at home while also stimulating their brains, then Amazon Study could come in handy.

There’s a bunch of free resources like workbooks on maths and science topics for ages five up to 16. You can take a look at what’s available on Amazon Study online.

Has your little one been inspired by Wimbledon? 

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) is hosting free tennis sessions or coaching at more than 100 venues across England, Scotland and Wales.

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 SWITCH TO HSBC OR NATIONWIDE FOR CASH GIFT

FREEBIE hunters have until midnight tomorrow to grab £170 by switching their bank account to HSBC Advance.

After that, the bank is axing its reward to new joiners, which has been the most generous deal on offer for months.

To get the cash, you’ll need to be a new customer who has not had an account with HSBC or First Direct since January 2019.

Grab your free cash by heading to the HSBC website and filling out the form to switch your current account. 

In order to get accepted for the Advance account, you need to qualify for an optional overdraft of £1,000.

The account doesn’t require you to pay in a minimum monthly amount but you must deposit at least £1,500 within the first 60 days to get your bonus. 

You also need to switch at least two direct debits or standing orders. Nationwide Building Society is also offering £100 to new customers who switch to its FlexDirect, FlexAccount or FlexPlus accounts. 

If you’ve already got a savings account or mortgage with Nationwide, you can get a higher £125 bonus. You’ll need to move at least two direct debits.

With the FlexDirect account you can also get interest of 5 per cent on a balance of up to £1,500 for the first year if you pay in at least £1,000 a month. MoneySavingExpert.com has found a loophole whereby you can get the full £125 bonus – even if you’re not yet a Nationwide member. To do so, open one of the three accounts offering the bonus, but don’t request to switch from your existing current account.

Instead, wait until a day after you’ve received confirmation that your new account is open. You can’t get the bonus by switching from one Nationwide current account to another.

But If you already have a Nationwide current account as well as an account with another bank, you could switch the other one to Nationwide to get the £125.

Rachel Springall, finance expert at comparison site Moneyfacts, said: “Switching is easy, but it’s vital to compare all the benefits and charges to ensure it suits the customer’s needs.”