Five affordable summer activities

Mariacristina with her husband and son

Mariacristina – CAFOD’s email marketing guru and high-level Neapolitan food Jedi – almost manages to start the book she’s been waiting months to read, but instead shares five brilliant summer activities and some delicious recipes.

That time of year has finally come; summer and all the exciting adventures that accompany it! A lovely glass of cider or gin and tonic in hand, the book I have been meaning to read for months, the birds singing in the background: the ideal setting for a peaceful afternoon and the sublime high-pitched voice of my four year old boy who firmly believes that there is no joy in peace and quiet.

And so I put that glass of special gin aside and say goodbye to my book, and begin to draw a list of all the summer activities my husband and I will be choosing from to keep our little one entertained at weekends and during our busy work days. This task would be relatively easy if we were not going through a cost of living crisis that forces us all to really get creative. So I asked my amazing and more experienced parents – colleagues at CAFOD about what they do with their little ones during summer time.

Here is a list of my top five summer activities which will be my best friends over the next few weeks:  a mix of active ones for the weekends and more quiet ones for the days of the week when those admin tasks and house chores must be completed and some “me” time is necessary.

Ping pong at home or in a park

Anke told me: “Ping Pong bats and a portable net have been a life saver at times to keep our boys entertained. Table Tennis England has a map where you can find tables to play on, but with a portable net, any dining or outdoor table can turn into hours of fun. It’s great fun, good for hand-eye coordination, and of course records – like how many times you can bounce the ball in a row – are meant to be broken”

Smoothie and ice lollies making

Nothing better than rocket lollies!

I come from Naples and food making has a big place in our lives. Teaching Emanuele the importance and fun of making good food at home is a big part of his education. And the reward and excitement on his face from eating what he made is priceless. We focus on the easiest recipes but you can go choose slightly more elaborate ones depending on their age. Strawberry ice lollies and water melon smoothies are our favourites to make.

You can find the recipes at the bottom of this page. Use our prayers on food and grace before meals when it is time to enjoy these yummy treats.

Games from around the world

Working at CAFOD, I have the advantage of being in the know when it comes to new children’s resources being produced and published. My source was Caroline from the theology team who told me about the games I am going to show Emanuele this summer. Hopefully we can organise a playdate and his friends can join, too, while us parents enjoy that much desired G&T.

Just one of the many library books we took to a day trip to the beach

Library exploring

Keep libraries on your mind! This may sound unusual for a summer activity. However our local library is our best friend when it comes to affordable entertainment: you can find all you need for organised fun outside: from craft activities, writing competitions, coding, reading challenges, gardening projects, the options are endless. Why not borrow a few books and read them in a special den built by your little ones?

Screen time

Whether it is summer or not, we all need a little quiet time every now and then. A few minutes to make a nutritious and healthy meal or to make that phone call to a friend who is having a tough time. So I try to make screen time educational and into a bit of a game. Watching these videos about children living in other parts of the world can be a great topic for a game to play at lunch or dinner time: “What are the 4 facts you learnt about Ruben”? A little treat for every right answer….

I really hope some of the summer activities I mentioned above can be a source of inspiration and help over the next warm (hopefully!) weeks.

Beyond the activities mentioned above, for any garden focused entertainment, I recommend the app Oil where people give away slides, sand pits and much more for free!

Summer fun really does not have to cost a fortune. The simplest activities will be the ones our children will remember as the most amazing fun they ever had.

Quick and easy recipes

Watermelon smoothies



Blitz the watermelon in a blender with the banana and apple juice until smooth.

Strawberry ice lollies



Use a blender or mixer to blits all ingredients. Pour in ice lollies moulds and freeze overnight.

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