Summer can be long for your kids, but these FREE summer ideas for kids will keep your kids busy and having fun! These are all screen-free activities, so you can join right in!
When the weather is too hot (or rainy) to head outside and your kids are saying those 3 dreaded words… “Mom, I’m bored.” My husband and I have four kids, so I am always in search of some fun, low-cost activities to keep our little ones busy, engaged, learning and having fun!
Spending one-on-one time with your kids is important, but family time is equally as important. It is important to think of some ways that we can enjoy spending time together. These are all free, so you don’t have to worry about spending any money. They can be done just about anywhere, so it is easy to get started.
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1. Make a leaf or pine needle collage that resembles stain glass. This is a great activity! When I was a teacher, I used to do this with my students several times a year. I now do this at home several times a season!
How to do it:
First- go on a leaf hunt! Gather some leaves (about 10-15) and bring them inside. Set them aside.
Next- Plug in your iron.
Third- Get two sheets of wax paper (the size of printer paper works well) and set them on your table.
Fourth- Take old crayons and removed the wrappers (broken crayons work great for this).
Fifth- Take a cheese grater and grate some old crayons onto your wax paper.
Set the leaves on top of the crayons and then grate more crayons on top. The crayons will hold the two sheets of wax paper together, like glue. Put the other wax paper on top.
Last- Iron them together (you may want to use a towel on top of the wax paper to prevent it from sticking to to the iron) It makes a leaf stain-glass collage.
When it is dry, you can get a hole-puncher out and punch a hole in the top for yarn or ribbon. Hang it on a window for everyone to see!
2. Go camping (in your living room!)
This is fun and easy to organize. My husband plans on doing this in the next few weeks with our kids, my brother and his son. They will cook hot-dogs, make s’mores and have fun! If you don’t have a fire pit, my friend, Kristy, uses her grill for the hot-dogs and s’mores! Borrow a tent or buy one used, if you don’t have one. If the weather permits (where you live), you can sleep outside, but there is always the option to just “camp out” until bedtime and then move the ‘camp’ inside to sleep (no need for a tent).
3. Go on a walk & learn a little...
If you asked our six-year-old what he wanted to do right now, he would say “Take a bike ride.” We bike around the neighborhood, or we take our bikes to a nearby park.
If you aren’t up for a bike ride, just take a walk or go for a hike at a local park. Look for treasures (stones, leaves…). Make it a math lesson- take rulers & measure things. Record them in a journal. Our boys LOVE to do this!
** You can do this inside of your house, too. Take a “thankful walk” and pick out things that you are thankful for. You could also do a “shape” walk (looking for shapes), a “letter walk” (Looking for objects that start with a certain letter) or go on a color walk.
4. Time for YOU to PLAY at the playground (not just your kids!) Can you remember the last time that YOU went down the slide or tried to swing “as high as you can” on the swings? Join in on the fun with your kids!! Don’t just supervise- get involved and your kids will remember! (If it is winter time and snowy, go sled riding with your kids. Trust me, this is so much fun!)
5. I scream, you scream, we all scream for FREE Ice Cream! You can enjoy your ice cream while getting your kids a free cone. So many places do this. Brusters is our favorite one. The cones are small, so it won’t spoil any meals and they are eaten before they melt! 🙂 (a win-win!)
During our kid’s school breaks, we try to go there once a week and we either eat in the car (if its a cold day) or eat on the benches, trying to stay warm. You could even go for a healthier option like these yogurt fruit pops.
6. GET CRAFTY! Give your kids some materials and let them create! We love to pull our very favorite DIY gift for the creative child. It is our creativity box & our kids LOVE it (it gives them hours of solo time while they create and construct.) My husband also lets the kids use scrap wood to make things- like making little beds for their stuffed animals. The kids love helping him and then painting them and fixing them up with cotton balls (mattresses), tissues (used as their blankets), etc…!
7. Movie Night: Rent a movie from the library for free, or a Redbox movie. Use the code DVDonme to get a free first-time movie! Take a portable DVD player outside or to a special room in the house, lay on a blanket with some snacks and you have a full ‘movies on the lawn’. The kids think this is really fun and it is a special family time that you can enjoy any night of the week!
8. Volunteer together. It is so important to teach your children to volunteer and give back. I was taught this as a child, as was my husband. We continue to volunteer when we can and we want our children to do the same. It could be as easy as taking up your neighbor’s garbage cans when they are out of town or dropping off food at the soup kitchen. Just explain the reason that you are doing it and encourage your children to join in!
9. Take a field trip! Visit a local pretzel shop- they will let you make your own pretzels and see where they are made. You could visit a fire station, a school, a restaurant… Most places will let you do this without hesitation.
10. Put on your own puppet show! Use those socks that have lost their match to make a puppet for yourself and your child. Use paint, wiggly eyes, yarn and even cut up old clothes to make new clothes for your puppet! Put on a puppet show. Use your camera to tape it and watch it together. Our kids do this several times a week. They watch it over and over and laugh hysterically! Show your child how you use funny voices for different characters. Make up your own or follow someone else’s lead (“Three Little Pigs”)
11. Play a game of WAR (cards). By four years of age, each of our kids had learned to love the card game WAR. (How to play: Deal all of the cards- face down. Each player gets a pile. Each player will flip over one card. The person that lays down the card of highest value is the winner and keeps both of the cards. If there is a “tie” you have a war, where you get to do it again.) This is a wonderful way to include math in your fun activities!
12. Make Cereal “candy” necklaces. This is fun, easy, and the kids love it! Just take a piece of yarn and tape a little bit of scotch tape onto the end to make it easier for the kids to get the cereal onto it. Tie a big knot or bow at one side, to stop the cereal from falling off. Give your kids a bowl of cheerios or fruity cheerios or fruit loops. Teach them how to put the cereal on and when they are finished, tie the ends together for them. What could be better than a wear-able snack! (By the way…This would make a great snack for that walk that you are going to take! No need to stop to eat- you have that part covered!)
13. – Bake cookies.
Here are my two favorite recipes. I love to make funfetti cookies because it takes only three ingredients. I also love my healthy version of chocolate chip cookies. When in doubt, pick one in my huge list of 25 healthy cookies.
15. Do you need an activity that takes one minute to set up, but lets them play for an hour or more? Do this idea where I roll out paper and lay it on the table (the huge easel paper) and I let the kids go crazy! If you want to see pictures and more ideas that take a minute to set up, but give you hours of quiet play, visit this post: Quiet time ideas that just take a minute to set up.
16. Make a DIY creativity kit.
17. PLAY with them! Keep in mind that it doesn’t really matter WHAT you are doing, as long as you are spending that time with your child- focusing on them! Turn off your phone, the TV, the computer and just tune in to your precious, God-given child and enjoy the wonderful people that they have become!