Looking for some memorable things to do this summer?
Need some new ideas on easy & fun things to do with the kids?
Try a few of these quick, FREE or low-cost, have-fun-at-the-drop-of-a-hat ideas.
The kids will think you're the coolest parent ever!
We've provided links to some of those not-so-familiar ideas and affiliate items that we mention to help along the way. And we know how creative parents can be -- once we push aside all those daily tasks -- so leave your own ideas in the comments too!
Activities for the Backyard or Park
1. Have a picnic
Make some quick PB & Js, grab some fruit, cookies and drinks - toss it all in a bag, cooler or basket. Grab a blanket or beach towel and head for the backyard.
2. Race Hot Wheels cars
Get some chalk, draw a cool track on the sidewalk or driveway and see who wins the race. Bonus if you have a driveway with a downward slope ;)
3. Teach them a game that you played as a kid
4. Catch bugs with them!
Fireflies, butterflies and large bugs are really cool :) Worms rank pretty high too (even if they aren't bugs).
Wondering where to put the bugs? Try an old coffee can, jar or this cool Adventure Bug Catcher Set (which also makes a great birthday gift). Kids love to observe the doings of bugs (just make sure to send them all home at the end of the day).
5. Let them help you fix something
Any small projects around the house that require the use of 'real' tools is great! Or better yet, put some extra screws into an old board and teach them how to use a screwdriver.
Bonus if you have kid-sized tools around the house!
6. Play flashlight tag (at night)!
Kids always think you're cool when you say 'Hey, let's go run around the yard in the dark with flashlights!" For some reason playing in the dark equates with staying up late to them ;)
7. Teach them how to take photos.
You can use a camera or your phone. Talk to kids about light, how close or how far you should be from your subject, how to center an object, etc.
Here are some great tips from National Wildlife Federation.
Exploring Around Town
8. Visit your local hardware store or home store and let the kids 'ride' on all the mowers/tractors.
You know that's the only reason they 'offer' to go with you, right?
9. Find a new park to visit
Check your city's website for the 'Parks & Rec' section and they will probably have all city parks listed. Or make it a mission to visit a new park every week all summer long(now that's something they'll remember!).
Here's a fun printable Playground Scavenger Hunt -- see if you can play on each of the 33 different types of equipment this summer.
10. Take them to a FREE workshop or craft event
Home Depot, Lowe's, Bass Pro Shops & Michael's have great workshops that allow kids to build, explore and create cool projects.
11. Go fishing on a FREE fishing day
Almost all state and national parks are FREE entry days, and offer free fishing days when no license is required. If you don't have a pole, borrow one from a friend.
12. Explore a new museum
Almost every town has at least one free museum or free entrance days! Try that art museum you've wanted to see or visit a new living history attraction. Lots of fun indoor places to explore this summer.
13. Let them do something daring
Something really fun and outgoing that they really want to do (even if it scares you!)
14. If they don't already have one, get them a library card.
You can also get them a wallet or small purse to carry it in. Then visit the library - free books, free movies, free programs!
15. Give them 3 or 4 quarters and tell them they can use it on the next gumball machine or toy machine they find when you're running errands.
They may buy junk but kids love those small surprises!
16. Go on a Surprise Ice Cream Run
Get them all ready for bed one night - pj's on, teeth brushed, lights turned out - and then go back in the room and yell "Ice Cream Time"!
Have everyone pile in the car and go out for a quick ice cream (find a drive thru if they're too embarrassed to be seen in their pj's :)
Fun Activities At Home
17. Have breakfast outside in your pj's.
Who cares what the neighbors think -- and yes, parents have to wear pj's too!
18. Make a Cool Fort
Make a pillow fort. Or a blanket fort. Or turn the closet into a fort!
19. Get Creative with a Cardboard Box
Find a large, cardboard box (many local hardware or grocery stores will have them) and create something fun - spaceship? a castle or reading nook? a pirate ship?!!
Or find a lot of small boxes and see what the kids can do with them.
20. Freeze something!
Kids love to try this - try frozen blueberries, bananas that you can then cover with chocolate syrup and nuts (via the Food Network), grapes, watermelon - they all taste great!
Or maybe they want to freeze a small toy and see how long it takes for the ice to melt (great summer science). Try freezing sidewalk chalk to see how it writes! Here's 23 Ideas for Frozen Fun this summer!
21. Have a Tea Party
Take down that china that you never use because you're saving it for a special occasion (time with kids is special - break it out!).
22. Make homemade popsicles or ice cream.
23. Host a Dress-up Day
Sort through all your old accessories (jewelry, hats, ties, shoes) and let them have a dress-up day!
24. Create your own Maker Space
If your kids are older than 7, let them take apart one of your broken electronic items, such as an old radio, VCR or clock.
Make sure you remove the electric cord first - kids love trying to discover what's inside. (warning: you may need to supervise them -- and remind them not to take apart any of the working items in the house :)
25. Paint them!
You don't need to go to a special event - use washable paints or try this Face Painting kit at home and create something beautiful. Added bonus -- let them paint you too!
26. Make something amazing out of duct tape
With all the cool colors and designs, the kids can make so fun things - flip flops, wallets and more!
27. Have a camp-out
Pitch a tent in your backyard or spend the night in sleeping bags in your living room one night. Here's a few tips on hosting your own indoor camp-out.
28. Pop popcorn the old-fashion way
With a little olive or canola oil (about 2 tbsp.) in the bottom of a large pot, heat on medium-high for a few minutes, drop in 1/2 cup of popcorn seeds, cover and shake back and forth over the burner.
This is a great science activity if you have a pot with a glass lid!
29. Make smoothies
Experiment with any fruit you have - if you add vanilla yogurt or ice cream with a little ice, almost anything tastes good!
30. Play cards
Invent a new game, have a card tournament or build a card house!
While You're On Vacation
31. If you're at the beach, build an amazing sandcastle!
Make sure it's close enough to the water for a moat - every kid loves putting a moat around a sandcastle.
32. If you're vacationing near water, teach them to row a boat or canoe.
It's a life skill worth knowing! Or better yet, teach them to swim or body surf!
... and Teach them to hold something from nature very carefully.
33. If you're in the mountains, hike as high as they can and take a great photo!
Then tell them how much higher they are than the roof of your house at home ;)
34. Visit a type of building that they've never been in before
Try exploring a lighthouse, old ruin, or fort!
Mostly, just know that all those little things add up to BIG memories so enjoy a few adventures together this year.
Have a great summer!
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