School's out for summer! So our Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis is here with ideas for cheap and free things to do with the kids.
Are you eligible for help with childcare?
If you’re paying for childcare (including your kids attending summer schools or clubs), do ensure you take advantage of help that may be available. Working people may qualify for childcare tax credit (part of the working tax credit) to cover the amount you’ve shelled out.
Plus, see if your employer offers childcare vouchers, which effectively allow you to pay for childcare from your pre-tax salary and can be worth £1,000s a year for some.
Take advantage of freebies
As always, with these deals there can be exclusions and number limits, so do check before using:
- Free swimming: Get vouchers from the British Gas website (whether you’re a customer or not) for up to one adult and two children at a variety of pools nationwide.
- Free football coaching: Until 9 August (some areas end sooner) you can get free football coaching from FA Tesco Skills at 137 venues across England for 5-11 year olds.
- Free tennis courts and coaching: Free tennis coaching sessions on weekends, as well as free use of thousands of tennis courts across the UK, are available through Tennis For Free.
- Free DIY classes: Participating B&Q stores (book online or by calling 0845 600 5428) are running free DIY classes for kids aged 7-11 with all tools and materials provided. They'll make things like a bird feeder, a hedgehog house, weathervanes, toy boats and a CD storage rack.
- Geocaching: If you’ve got a sat nav, this is a giant treasure hunt of tupperware boxes filled with tiny treasures (aka plastic kids toys), hidden by other geocache fans. Just go to the website, type in your postcode and details pop up with all the geocaches near you. Do ensure you replace what you found with another toy for the next child though.
- Free Olympic screenings: BT London Live is free to get in (or £3.50 to guarantee pre-booked entry) to watch the Olympics on big screens at Hyde Park and Victoria Park in London. The BBC has also set up free big screens showing live coverage in locations around the UK.
- Free tickets to Olympic screenings for the following dates: 4, 5, 9, 10, 11 and 12 August, subject to availability are also available at 52 selected Vue cinemas. Register on the Vue Olympic Coverage website – tickets are going fast though. Cineworld also has free tickets for Olympic screenings at 28 of its cinemas around the UK.
- Free museums: And of course, there are 100s of free museums across the UK that you can go to. Check out what’s near you.
Kids' cinema and DVD deals
- Cineworld: £1 adult and kids tickets are available online and at the box office for selected Saturday morning screenings.
- Vue: Children aged 2-12 (and accompanying adults) can get £1.50 tickets to selected morning movies at weekends and in school holidays with the Kids AM offer.
- Odeon: Adults go free with £1-£4 kid’s tickets for selected movies on weekend/school holiday mornings.
- Sign up for a Blockbuster Kids' Summer Movie Rental Pass for £5. This lets you rent one of its 2,500 99p kids’ DVDs or Blu-rays at a time, in-store, as many times as you like until 16 September (2 September in Scotland).
Can you get theme park and attraction 2for1s?
There are not as many 2for1s available right now as usual (hopefully you saved up vouchers from earlier in the summer).
But the key place to check is National Rail’s Days Out Guide website. It offers 2for1s at attractions including Madame Tussauds, London Zoo, and Churchill War Rooms, plus theme parks like Drayton Manor, Thorpe Park, Alton Towers and Chessington World of Adventures. To get these offers you need to have a rail ticket to the destination. But as entry can cost up to £42 and rail tickets cost just a couple of quid, it’s worth buying one even if not travelling by train.
It’s also worth regularly checking websites which offer vouchers and deals, and if you’ve Tesco Clubcard points they can often be traded in for days out vouchers.