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Free and easy: Great activities for kids that don’t cost a penny

We all want to treat the youngsters during the holidays, creating magical memories they’ll remember forever. But those days out, sports clubs, holidays and restaurant trips can really add up.

The Office for National Statistics’ 2016 Family Spending Survey found the average UK family spends £68 a week on recreation and culture, sometimes on just one outing. This includes package holidays, cinemas, theatre, museums, sports admissions and leisure class fees.

With that in mind, we’ve pulled together some no-cost, high-value activities to slash that spend. Stay cash-clever without sacrificing special family memories:

1. Best of British museums

Come eye-to-eye with a dinosaur at London’s Natural History Museum or set your mini engine-head’s mind alight at the National Railway Museum in York. Wherever you’re based, Blighty is bursting with fascinating museums and art galleries that keep both adults and kids entertained - and all for free. Check out Money Saving Expert’s handy regional list.

2. Garden rangers a go-go
Got a pond? See if you can find frogspawn or spot some backyard bugs. You could even get crafty and make a little home for hedgehogs or birds. Hunt down creepy crawlies, from ladybirds and spiders to woodlice and caterpillars, getting the kids to see how many they can find. If you really want to fire up the competition, set up a snail race.

3. Sports without spending
Whether it’s a kick around the park or taking rackets to an open court for your own mini Wimbledon, heading outdoors for free sports can save a fortune on leisure centre costs. Have everyone grab their bikes for a two-wheeled adventure - sites such as Sustrans are full of traffic-free, scenic cycling routes around the UK. But you don’t have to go far - inspire your mini sports champs by drawing up a hopscotch in the yard or having a hula-hoop contest. Ready, set, wiggle.

4. Winner bakes all
Get crafty by hosting your own Great British Bake-off. Channel your inner Mary Berry and spend the day baking cupcakes or biscuits, then hold a competition to see who can decorate them best. If your cupboard is bare, shops and sites such as Hobbycraft have an incredible array of inexpensive sprinkles and toppers. Alternatively, simply try melted chocolate or their favourite sweets attached with a dab of icing sugar. If you want to whip up something a little less sugary, try creating imaginative fillings for tortilla wraps. Spread, roll, slice, enjoy!

5. Love your local library

There’s always loads of things going on at your local library - it’s not just for books any more. From gardening groups to make-and-take craft clubs, free fun comes in truckloads. Many have kid-friendly computer stations, group stories, board games, and plenty of other activities to develop kids’ imaginations.