It’s that time of year again! The sun is shining and the kids are out of school. If you’re hoping to avoid hearing “I’m bored!” on repeat, then you are going to love this list of screen-free summer activities for kids. Inside you’ll find tons of great ideas to keep them busy that they will actually enjoy and ask to do again.
Summer has officially arrived! As a parent, you know that your kids would be totally content rotting their brains on YouTube and video games all day if you let them.
As a busy mom, I completely believe that a reasonable amount of screen time each day is perfectly fine. In fact, my own kids will be watching some of these clean Netflix shows and YouTube channels….but not ALL DAY LONG.
That’s why it’s crucial to have a wide array of Screen-Free Summer Activities your kids will actually enjoy and want to do instead of sitting on a phone or tablet.
Below, you’ll find an entire list of engaging (and inexpensive) options for you to keep your kids busy all summer long.
The list includes indoor activities that are perfect for those hot summer days as well as outdoor activities to get them moving and burning off all that extra energy.
These ideas can be used spontaneously or plugged into a Printable Summer Schedule if you like a little more structure and routine.
No matter what, I know you’ll appreciate these simple ideas for screen-free fun.
Benefits of Screen-Free Activities
You don’t have to be a child-development expert to figure out that it’s not good for kids to spend too much time sitting in front of screens. This is especially true for younger children.
Whether your family has established screen time rules or not, we all know that screen-free time is important so kids can take brain breaks to move their bodies, get creative and develop social skills.
We also love screen free summer activities because:
- They’re Inexpensive
As I’ve shared with you before, our children don’t have countless toys stuffed in every spare corner of our house. I’m a big fan of activities that utilize what you may already have in your home or that require very few extra supplies.
- They Encourage Curiosity
What I love most about many screen-free activities is that they are natural doorways for your child’s ever-present curiosity. Each simple activity could go in endless directions, all steered by their innate desire to know more about the world around them.
- They Nurture Creativity
Activities that draw your child’s attention away from the screen and into the world around them don’t have to be awe-inspiring or particularly ingenious.
The best part about screen-free play is that the child becomes responsible for their own entertainment, which is always more fun than watching the same Wild Krattz episode for the 100th time.
The Best Screen-Free Summer Activities for Kids
#1 Take a Dip in the Pool
If you’re lucky enough to live near the neighborhood pool, take advantage of that as much as possible during the summer. Swimming is excellent exercise, and if you have young children, you’ll be grateful for the restful night’s sleep that’s sure to follow.
#2 Dust Off the Trampoline
Sometimes we think that if we buy that big, expensive trampoline, our kids will automatically jump for hours and then stumble inside for a spectacular, two-hour nap. The truth is, they often need a little push in the right direction, and these trampoline games are sure to rekindle their love of jumping!
#3 Learn New Clapping Games
Clapping games for kids provide a host of cognitive benefits, and all you need are your hands! You really can’t get more minimalist than that, my friends. With practice, your child’s self-confidence will increase as they become more familiar with each game. Check out my previous post for a variety of tutorials and lyrics.
#4 Visit Your Local Park
If you have one or two local parks in your area, take advantage of the open-air and playground equipment every chance you can get. Pack a few PB & J’s, some fruit snacks, and juice boxes, and have a picnic. Then, play a rousing game of Park Bingo to top it all off.
#5 Get Creative With Sidewalk Chalk
Sidewalk chalk is cheap, portable, and easy to clean up (all good things for parents). The best part is, your kids can use sidewalk chalk to create all kinds of masterpieces and games. Before your next outing to the pavement, glance over these 30 Easy Sidewalk Chalk Ideas for inspiration.
#6 Have a Squirt Gun Battle
Any game involving water is an instant favorite during the hot and steamy summer months, and most kids will jump for joy at the suggestion of a squirt gun battle. If you have toddlers, I suggest these soaker squirt guns and a more super soaker for older children.
#7 Complete a Summer Bucket List
I’ve always found that kids can get behind a goal-oriented activity, which is why this summer bucket list from Lil’ Tigers is such a great idea. You can pick and choose which items work best and create some of your own.
#8 Create a Paper Bag Scrapbook
Help your children preserve their best summer memories with a few paper bags, rubber bands, and other household items. Then have them fill the pages with pictures from family trips, drawings, and their favorite stickers.
#9 Visit the Local Library
If you want to add some variety to your kids’ schedule, check out your local library’s list of activities. They often have storytimes for a wide range of ages as well as weekly programs you can enroll in. The best part is, most–if not all–of them are free.
#10 Make Ice Cream
If you’ve never tried making ice cream in a Ziploc bag, you’ll be amazed at how simple and fun it is for kids to make. You only need a handful of ingredients and this recipe for homemade ice cream from Mom of 6, and the result will be some delighted children!
#11 Create Outdoor Squirt Gun Art
Who knew that you could create an artistic masterpiece with squirt guns? This fun art project from Family Focus Blog will keep your kids engaged for hours, and you can even use old sheets instead of poster board to cut down on waste. Repurpose the sheet for another art project or as the perfect fort-building cover.
#12) Complete a Lego Challenge
While Lego pieces can easily get lost under the couch or stepped on (I might have a few scars), they’re also brimming with endless creative opportunities. Lego challenges have become quite popular, so check out Disaster Island from Lego Librarian if your kids haven’t completed one yet.
#13) Make a Fort
My children love making forts, and this Inexpensive PVC Pipe Fort is the perfect solution to those cries of boredom on a rainy day. You can also easily break the PVC pipes down and store everything in a plastic tub, which is a plus in my book.
#14) Set Up an Outdoor Obstacle Course
What could be more exciting for kids than a backyard obstacle course? Setting up an obstacle course for kids doesn’t have to be elaborate or costly. You can grab most of the materials you need at the local dollar store or in your garage, such as the materials for a DIY Pool Noodle Obstacle Course.
#15) Go On a Backyard Scavenger Hunt
No matter your child’s age, they’ll love exploring their neighborhood with this Backyard Scavenger Hunt. I love that there are two versions of the printable–one for toddlers and one for older children who can read the items.
#16) Construct a Cardboard Treehouse
It’s always a good idea to keep sturdy cardboard boxes instead of throwing them out. Many moms know that a cardboard box is as good as gold when it comes to kids’ crafts, and this adorable cardboard tree house idea is the perfect example. Kids can decorate and paint them, and you can even create wooden peg people for them to play with.
#17) Hold a Paper Airplane Contest
I always keep misprinted and scrap paper specifically for paper airplane contests, and my kids love to create different models and decorate them for the competition. Encourage your children to try out different designs and folding techniques to see which ones fly faster, farther, and do the best loop-the-loops.
#18) Get Crafty With Crayons
If your kids have never created melted crayon art, they’re in for quite the experience. You just need a scorching hot day (or a warm oven), some smooth rocks, and a box of crayons. The finished products make for treasured keepsakes and gifts for the grandparents, and each one is unique and beautiful in its own way.
#19) Play Simon Says
Everyone loves an old-fashioned game of Simon Says, and you can play it anywhere. However, it can quickly get difficult to think of more commands! If you’re searching for a list of creative Simon Says commands, snag this free printable list of Simon Says Commands!
#20) Take Bubble Blowing To the Next Level
Blowing bubbles has always been a favorite family pastime of ours. They’re inexpensive, and you can take them anywhere to fill extra time or add some variety to regular activities.
If you want to try creating your own bubbles at home with some simple, on-hand ingredients, try your hand at these Unbreakable Bubbles from Two Pink Peonies. They outlast regular bubbles, and you can whip them up in about 5 minutes.
#21) Play Truth or Dare
Many kids thrive when challenged, and there’s nothing more challenging than being dared to peel a banana with your feet! Truth or Dare is a play-anywhere, completely adaptable activity that you can modify to suit almost any age group. If you’re looking for dares that are both giggle-inducing and appropriate, check out my post on 101 Dares for Kids.
#22) Jump Rope
Nothing burns off extra energy like jumping rope. Plus it’s a great activity for individuals or groups of kids. They will have a blast learning all these fun jump rope rhymes and chants.
#23) Play a Board Game
Board games are a great way for the whole family to enjoy screen-free fun together. From Chutes and Ladders to Guess Who, there are so many fun board games that are perfect to play whether you have young kids or older kids. There are even some great board games for toddlers.
#24) Ride Bikes
Kids love riding bikes! If you can’t ride in your neighborhood, just load up the bikes in the car and find a local park with a trail. The fresh air will feel good and it will be great exercise too.
#25) Play in the Sprinklers
No pool? No problem! Grab an inexpensive sprinkler (or two) and let the kids run wild for hours. You’ll be amazed at how much fun a simple backyard sprinkler can be on a hot summer day – it’s the stuff childhood memories are made of.
There you have it mama! 25 screen-free activities for kids to do this summer (or anytime).