102 Summer Activities

Summer vacation is looming right around the corner and while the first few days are filled with the excitement of actually being out of school it will not be long before the summer "I'm Bored Blues" will kick in.  In order to help you conquer the boredom, I decided to create a list of 102 things that you can do with your kids all summer long to keep them entertained.  Most ideas will either be free or low cost so no need to worry about spending a lot of extra cash this summer.  I plan to post 10 to 15 new ideas every Monday all summer long.  If you missed a week look for the tab at the top of my blog to access the prior weeks.  Let's unleash the creativity:)

1.  Sign up for the summer reading program at your local library.

2.  Write a letter to a penpal.  This could be somebody that you know such as a family member, teacher, or classmate or a faraway friend’s child.  If you cannot find anybody on your own click the link below to sign up for a penpal program.

3.  Be a tourist in your own town.  Visit a fun, local tourism spot that you may overlook or neglect because it is around the corner.

4.  Get outside and get in touch with nature by taking a nature walk and recording it in a nature journal.

5.  Gather up old magazines and create a collage.  It can be random or you can pick a theme.  Kids love to cut and glue!  Cover it with Mod Podge in order to preserve it and make it shiny.

6.  Make pizzas and have a decorating contest (just make sure to use ingredients that the kids will eat).  Make your own dough or use bagels, English muffins, or pre-made Boboli doughs.  You could have categories such as most creative, funniest, yummiest, etc.  Once they are cooked everybody can share and sample each others creations.  My favorite trick is to cut pepperonis into fun shapes before placing them on the pizza!

7.  Scrapbook!  If the thought of doing a whole scrapbook is overwhelming and costly consider just doing one page on a topic that interests your child such as a particular vacation, a birthday party, sisters, a beloved pet, etc.  My daughters love to do these single pages and then we put them in a clear cover and hang them on the wall.   They even sell 12x12 frames perfect for hanging a scrapbook page.

8.  Start a collection.

9.  Go camping.  If you are not adventurous enough to pitch a tent in the woods, don’t worry there are other options.  The cheapest option is to consider camping in your backyard.  This is the perfect starter for young kids or parents who have never camped.  If things go downhill at night, it is a hop, skip, and a jump back to the comforts of home.  Another option is renting a cabin.  Lots of campgrounds offer cabins…some look like rustic sheds with just one room, some beds, a light, and if you are lucky air conditioning.  Other cabins can be “deluxe” and include a private bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and more.  Both options are affordable and worth investigating.

10.  Remember all of the fun you had as a kid jumping ropes and chanting the rhymes?  Well, now would be a great time to teach them to your kids.  Can’t remember them?  Never fear…click the link below for an extensive list of all the jump-roping rhymes you could imagine.

11.  Host a slumber party!  This is great fun for boys and girls, but if your kids are too young for a slumber party (or if the thought of a large group of giggling girls or rowdy boys gives you the chills) consider a faux sleepover.  This could be done in the early evening hours with the kids being picked up at 9pm.  Do all the fun slumber party activities and end the night watching a movie camped out on the floor with pillows and sleeping bags while the kids wait for their parents to pick them up…the best of both worldsJ

12.  Create an outdoor art gallery in the driveway or on the sidewalk using sidewalk chalk or sidewalk paint.  Draw out picture frames and have the kids fill them with their own art.  Invite neighbors and family to come view your gallery.  Click the link below for a sidewalk chalk paint recipe. 

13.  What kid is not amazed by magic tricks?  They will be even more amazed if they learn how they work.  Pick out one or two and teach them how to be the magician.  If they are feeling really adventurous host a magic show for family and friends.

14.  Declare a “bored” game day!  Pull out all of your old favorites and spend the whole day playing some old board games and learn some new.  Card games can be fun and easy to play also.  If you do not own many board games be sure to check out local garage sales.  You can usually pick them up for less than $1.

15.  Bowling!  Have you signed up for the Kids Bowl Free program yet?  This is the perfect activity to save for a sweltering hot summer day when the kids are sick and tired of being outside.  Enjoy the cool comfort of the bowling alley while your kids play a free game.  Even if your alley is not eligible for the Kids Bowl Free program many alleys offer summer specials during the day for kids making for a fun and affordable afternoon of bowling.
Kids Bowl Free

16.  Build a fairy house.  Did you know that fairies wander your backyard every night, and if you build them a house they might just stay for an extended visit.  Fairy houses can be built out of anything you find in nature (although when we built ours I cheated a little and used a glue gun to hold it all together).  A fairy house can be as elaborate or as simple as you choose.  My daughter likes to leave little gifts in the house such as berries or little flowers for the fairies. 

17.  Bake a cake, or cupcakes, or cookies, or, well, anything!  Kids love to help in the kitchen and nothing is better than baking up a sweet treat to enjoy.  Younger kids can help with stirring and licking the bowl and older kids would be great at measuring ingredients and reading the recipe…what a fun (and sneaky) way to practice math and reading this summer.

18.  Take photos.  Nowadays many of us have old, unused digital cameras.  Why not let the kids use it to learn the basics of digital photography?  Taking pictures can keep a kid busy for hours.  Once they are done taking pictures load them up on the computer and let them edit their photos.  You can even have a couple of the good ones printed for them.  This could go hand and hand with scrapbooking.

19.  Water Gun Battle.  Stock up on some cheap water guns at the dollar store, fill ‘em up with water, and set your kids loose in the back yard.  Might be a good idea to set out a big bucket filled with water for easy refills on the water guns.  If your kids are older, you might want to come up with detailed battle games such as capture the flag, etc.

20.  Make a car wash kit and then wash the cars.  This is a fun activity for the kids while saving you the chore of washing the car yourself.  If your kids are older and do a good job, they could have a neighborhood carwash and earn a little extra money washing cars for the neighbors.  If your kids are too young to wash your car or you do not feel comfortable allowing them to, consider setting up a matchbox car wash.  This is fun and less likely to scratch or dent your vehicle J

21.  We have all seen the video on Youtube, but have you ever thought about making your own Mentos Diet Coke geyser.  This will keep the kids talking all summer.  Just make sure you do this one outside.  Using diet coke will make the mess a little less sticky!  This science project is so fun the kids will not even believe that they were learning something scientific!

22.  Learn about fireworks.  It is almost impossible to go the entire summer without at least catching a glimpse of fireworks, if not actually going to watch an entire fireworks display on the 4th of July.  If your kids are anything like mine they will probably end up asking, “how do fireworks work?”  And if you are anything like me you will probably look at them and try to come up with some sort of answer to satisfy their questioning even though you have no idea whatsoever how the heck fireworks actually work.  So grab a box of sparklers and have fun with them outside and then impress the kids with your knowledge of how it all works…or at least let them check out the website below so they can impress you with their knowledge.

23.  Start a summer journal.  Most kids already do this at school throughout the year so it would not be a stretch for them to journal over the summer.  You can purchase a fancy journal or just print pages and put them in a folder…whatever works best and is most inspiring for your kids.  Some kids will just like to write whatever pops in their heads, but others would probably enjoy journal prompts to spark creative ideas.

24.  Has your child played one too many games of Angry Birds this summer?  Harness that fascination and teach them about the real birds in your backyard.  Click the link to learn more about birds and consider getting a bird field guide from your local library to start identifying the birds that you see in your own backyard.

25.  Make a bird feeder.  This goes along with #24 and would be a great way to attract birds to your backyard.  Making a bird feeder is a fun and rewarding activity for kids.  Not only will they enjoy making the bird feeder, but they will also have a blast watching all the birds feasting on their project.

26.  Design your own t-shirts.  This could be as simple or as elaborate as your choose.  Many times you can get plain t-shirts on sale at craft stores for less than $3.  Now you have an empty canvas for your creativity.  Use puffy paint, tie-dye, iron-on transfers, be jewelers, or fabric markers to decorate.  Let each kids design their own shirt or come up with a “family” design.  No matter what they do, I bet your kids will be begging to wear this shirt all summer long.

27.  Plant a vegetable garden.  You may cringe at the thought of this especially if your thumb is not all that green, but take a deep breath and bear with me.  Gardening can be fun and easy especially if you choose to do container gardening.  There is no land to dig up, weeds to pull, or seeds to grow.  Just grab a pot, fill it with soil, and stick a plant (purchased at Lowe’s or Home Depot) right in.  It could be anything from tomatoes to pepper to cucumbers.  Usually if you purchase your plant at your local garden center it is going to grow in your climate, but it would not hurt to talk to somebody who worked there just to make sure you are on the right track.  Go when your garden center is not busy and you can probably find an expert who will offer many tips and tricks to you and your kids.  Kids will love watering and watching their gardens grow and you will love having extra veggies to add to dinners and salads.

28.  You have probably heard of a pub crawl, but how about we make it kid-friendly… a Playground Crawl!!  Take a tour of your local playgrounds.  This can be done in one day spending 15 minutes at each playground, but it might be better to stretch this out over the entire summer…sort of like a playground “bucket list.”  Make a list of all of the playgrounds in your local area that the kids would like to visit and then spend the summer checking them off your list.  You can spend the whole afternoon at one playground or just a couple of minutes depending on your mood for that day….not only will the kids have a blast playing at different playgrounds but they will also love keeping track of the list and making sure it is completed before the end of summer.

29.  Make homemade ice cream.  This is so easy, fun, and tasty.  Forget about a fancy and expensive ice cream maker…I bet you have most of the items necessary right in your kitchen.  Your kids will be amazed that you can actually make ice cream in a couple of ziplock bags!

30.  Go to the movies.  Check the list and see if your local movie theater offers free or low-cost summer movies for the kids.  If not consider seeing a matinee showing for cheaper tickets or how about playing M&M’s movie cash game for a chance to win free tickets or get $3 in movie cash good towards the purchase of movie tickets.  I purchased three bags of M&M’s for 50 cents each and scored three movie cash coupons worth $3 each.

M&M's Movie Cash

31.  Have a picnic.  All kids love a yummy picnic.  Think of all the options, this could be a typical lunch picnic, a dinner picnic, or even a breakfast picnic.  It could be done in your backyard, at your local park, or maybe in the living room on a rainy day.  Involve the kids in the planning and making of the picnic food…packing the basket will be half of the fun!

32.  Make a time capsule.  Kids will love to fill a container with trinkets, pictures, letters, and other memories to be dug up at a future date.  If you do not want to go as far as burying the time capsule, it might be fun to save it in your child’s memory box for them to open at a later date (or even to be opened by your future grandchildren?!).

33.  Stargaze.  Summer time is the perfect time to get outside and teach your kids about the stars, planets, and constellations.  This could be as simple as laying out a blanket and just looking at the stars or for older kids you could print out charts, use a telescope, and learn about constellations and the phases of the moon.  If you know nothing about the stars beyond the Big Dipper no need to worry…click the link below for kid-friendly charts.

34.  What better time to experiment with hairdos than the summer?  Let the kids try out funky styles such as braids, faux hawks, and Kool Aid hair dye when they do not have to worry about going to school the next day.  Hair wraps can be fun also…have them done at the boardwalk or learn to do them at home to save some cash.

35.  Kids love poetry, especially funny poems.  Capitalize on your kids love for silly poems and not only read some silly poems together but also have them write their own poetry.  Kenn Nesbitt, who is a funny poet, has an entire website dedicated to reading and writing funny poetry.  Explore the site with your child, and they will have so much fun they will forget that they are learning.

36.  Have a garage sale.  Many of you probably live in neighborhoods that sponsor a neighborhood garage sale.  This would be the perfect time to allow your kids to go through their unused toys, books, games, etc., and put them up for sale.  Knowing that they can make some extra money for summer fun will surely motivate them.  If having a garage sale is more hassle than it is worth for you, how about spending a morning visiting other people’s garage sales.  Give your kids a couple of bucks each and let them have a “shopping spree.”  Once you get home have a mini-contest and give awards for categories such as “best deal”, “most useful”, or “most unusual” purchase.  The kids will have a great time competing for the best buys.

37.  Computer games are some of the best ways to let kids have fun while they are learning.  This is the perfect activity for rainy days or a distraction for the kids when you are trying to get some things done around the house.  There are many out there for different ages, interests, or levels, but these are a few favorites of my kids.

38.  Explore your child’s comedic side.  Go to the library and check out some joke books or look up jokes for kids online.  Just make sure you have found appropriate onesJ.  Have your child spend the day reading and picking out their favorite jokes and then host a comedy club after dinner.  Each child could stand up and perform for the family and see who gets the most laughs.

39.  Save items from the trash and set the kids loose to build a recycled sculpture.  If you are worried about the mess, do this activity outside.  Obviously you will not be able to save this sculpture as long as your kids would like so be sure to take pictures of each kid with their sculpture and hang them in a prominent spot for the summer.  Check out the link for some inspiration.

40.  Watch a sporting event.  This could be a major league ballgame or maybe a minor league team in your town?  If you cannot afford tickets to either a major or minor league game consider finding a local summer league to watch.  Your kids will probably love watching any type of game even if the players are only a few years older than them.  If the field allows it you could even pack a picnic lunch to enjoy food and drink while you are cheering on your favorite team.

41.  Shadow tracing.  This can be done indoors or outdoors, but in the summer it is more fun to get outside.  Wait for a sunny day and have the kids stand outside on the pavement and trace their shadows with sidewalk.  If you prefer to do this inside make sure you have some big pieces of paper.  Have them stand in funny positions to make this extra fun.  Once you trace their bodies the kids can then use the chalk to decorate and color in their bodies.  Take pictures with the digital camera and hang on the fridge so they are not too disappointed when the rain washes their bodies away!

42.  Build a marshmallow structure.  This is a rainy day favorite here in our house.  All you need are marshmallows (we prefer miniature), toothpicks, and a dash of creativity.  You could also use spaghetti noodles if you are worried about the kids using toothpicks. Set the kids free and let them build a structure.  Big or small, simple or complex marshmallow structures are a blast to build (and eat when you are done)!

43.  Learn about a foreign country and host a theme day.  It can be any country that your child chooses.  Spend the day learning about your country’s culture and customs, key phrases in your country’s language, watch a movie that takes place in your country, read a story that takes place in your country, and plan dinner based on that country’s cuisine.  For example if your child chooses France, you could spend the day learning French, researching facts about France on the internet, reading a couple of the Madeline Books, watching Ratatouille, and then eating quiche for dinner.  If you have a couple of kids and they are all interested in different countries consider hosting a “World Expo.”  Let each child set up a little booth with food, language, pictures, etc. specific to their country and family can take turns visiting each country.

44. Straw painting is a fun and easy way to paint that kids will just love.  I prefer to do this outside as it could get a little messy with younger kids, but if you have older kids who are more careful I am sure you could pull it off inside.  Grab a piece of paper and drip a couple of colors of watercolor paint on the paper in different spots.  Next give the kids a straw and let them go to town blowing on the paint to create different designs.

45.  Catch lightening bugs.  This is a fun and completely free activity with no explanation needed.  Although, feel free to click the link below to learn tons of information about lightening bugs before you go on the hunt.

46.  Have a spa day.  This works really well if you have girls…sorry, if you have boys you may want to skip ahead.  Plan a day to pamper yourselves.  Set up different stations that include nail/toe painting, facemasks, hairstyling, and maybe a relaxing bath.  Make it authentic by playing relaxing music and getting in your robes and cute flip flops, you can also plan a healthy spa-like lunch.  Click the link below to find some cheap and easy DIY spa recipes.

47.  So you had a spa day to pamper yourself and the kids…now what about your pets?  I bet your dog, cat, guinea pig, or lizard would love a day of pampering as well.  Of course, how much you can do will obviously be limited by your type of pet.  But for example, your dog would probably love a bath with some scented shampoo (I like to use kids shampoo because it is gentle but still has great scents).  Follow up the bath by some brushing and styling of the fur along with a scented spray.  If your pet is agreeable, toenails could be painted and bows or other fancy adornments could be added to their collars, fur, etc.  If you do not have any pets or your pet would never stand for this type of posh treatment, I bet your kids would like to set up a day spa for their stuffed pets.  This may require a little imagination, but they will have a blast!

48.  Make a scavenger hunt.  Kids love to hunt…especially if there is a prize at the end.  It does not even have to be an expensive prize just as long as it is something fun.  Check out the dollar store from some cheap prizes such as water guns, jump ropes, or other outdoor toys.  You can click the link below for ideas on creating an outdoor scavenger hunt.  It would be even more fun to invite some of the neighborhood kids to join in on the hunt.

49.  Have a DIY greeting card session.  Make a list of your relative’s birthdays and spend the day making personalized homemade cards for each person.  Store them all together in envelopes by date and pull them out as needed.  Family and friends will love getting homemade cards from your kids!

50.  Publish a family or neighborhood newspaper.  Kids will love to hunt for news, interview friends and family, and write up stories.  If they are computer savvy they can use the Microsoft Publisher program to print up a newsletter, but writing it out on paper and making copies will work just as well.  If they write a family newspaper they can mail it to faraway family members to keep them updated on family news or if they are writing a neighborhood paper they can distribute it to your local neighbors.  Either way it is a fun project that can keep your kids busy for hours.

Newspaper writing for kids
51.  Visit your local farmer’s market.  This is a great way to score some fresh produce usually at low prices.  Let your kids pick out a new fruit or veggie that looks interesting and yummy to them and the incorporate it into tonight’s dinner.

52.  Celebrate a “silly” day such as backwards day, talk like a pirate day, cow appreciation day, etc.  Spend the day honoring your holiday of choice; create a special meal, design greeting cards, listen to music that you think would be appropriate.  Your kids will have a blast celebrating an unexpected holiday!

53.  Did you know that the television is on 7 hours and 40 minutes a day in the average American household?  How about having a “black out” day?  No television the entire day!  Spend the day making a list of alternative things to do besides watching T.V.  Plan a family fun night that takes place weekly or monthly.  This is a great way for families to stay connected.

54.  Test the power of the sun and learn to make delicious sun tea!  It is super easy to make and yummy on a hot, summer day!

55.  A favorite in our family is breakfast for dinner.  Take it one step further and invite some friends to come over in their PJ’s for breakfast at dinner.  If you prefer you could always have breakfast for lunch…get the kids in their PJ’s, eat a yummy meal, and then lay out the pillows and blankets on the floor and watch a movie for a quiet afternoon break.  If your kids are old enough involve them in the menu planning and cooking.

56.  Get outside with a sketchbook and let the kids pick something to draw.  It could be your house, a flower, a tree, or anything that catches their eye.  It would probably be best to pick a stationary object in order to make sure they will be able to complete their sketch before it moves.  If you have access to supplies you could even given them paintbrushes and paint to really add dimension to their drawings.  If they really enjoy drawing take it one step further and check out some drawing books from the library….they have tons of how to draw books for kids on all sorts of different subjects.

57.  Enter a contest!  There are many different types of contests such as writing, photography, drawing, etc.  Find one or two that interest your kids and help them to enter.  Your library would be a good place to look for kid’s contests…I know ours always has some writing, poetry, and drawing contest forms in the kid’s section.  You could also do a search online. 

58.  Do you have a Sonic nearby?  Nothing is more fun than surprising the kids with night-time run for ice cream at Sonic.  Keep it a secret and wait until they are in their PJ’s and then pile them into the car for an ice cream treat.  If you do not have a Sonic nearby, any drive thru that serves ice cream will do the trick!

59.  Bake a treat for a neighbor.  This could be for any neighbor, but I bet if you have elderly neighbors they would be so very appreciative of not only a home-baked treat but also a visit from the kids.  Whoever you decide to bake for remember to keep dietary restrictions in mind.  No bake recipes are great when the kids are helping out and you will appreciate not turning on the oven in this heat!

60.  The sprinkler, the running man, the electric slide…these are all fun dance moves that you probably remember from when you were a kid.  Spend the day teaching your kids some of your old favorites and then turn on their favorite music and challenge them to come up with their own dance moves.  Not only will they have fun creating the dance moves, but I they will especially love naming the new dance moves.  Record the moves with the video camera and have fun playing them back for friends and family.