100 Activities For A Successful Summer With Your Kids

100 Inexpensive Ideas to Keep Kids BUSY This Summer
The lazy days of summer are upon us. Popsicles, swimming, sprinklers, late nights, and s’mores are coming! Be prepared for those long days when the kids say they’re bored with 100 ideas to keep you all busy and sane! You won’t be pulling your hair out and counting down the days when school starts. And wouldn’t it be nice to find some activities and crafts that are inexpensive? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

Here is a list of ideas to keep your kids busy:

  1.  Reading incentive program – create your own. Our reading incentive program will be worth some cash because that motivates our kids. If they read biblical books or missionary autobiographies, they are worth double! Yep, you got me. We’re not above bribing them. And if you don’t want to make your own, there are programs available – check your local library.
  2. Sprinklers – check out Pinterest for new and fun ideas on making your own sprinklers, like the bike wash I made my kids a few years ago. If your kids are older, give them some old 2 liter pop bottles and pvc piping and a drill (you may want to supervise this part) and let them create their own sprinkler systems.
  3. Scavenger Huntscreate some scavenger hunts for your house, yard, a hike, camping, drive, etc. We have done scavenger hunts for breakfast items. The kids have to go find their individual box of cereal, an orange, a small carton of milk, etc. It’s a fun way to start the day! Try this alphabet scavenger hunt.
  4. Hide the ____ – Pick a toy or stuffed animal and hide it. Have the kids take turns hiding and seeking your toy.
  5. Cook Something – Let the kids look through Pinterest and find some fun things to cook with them. Older kids can plan and prepare a meal for the family.
  6. Create a Summer Bucket List – We sat down and created a summer bucket list one night. We told the kids to keep it reasonable – Disneyland is not in the cards for us unfortunately. They were so excited to tell us the things that would be fun to do. Now they can’t wait for school to be out so we can start checking the list off.
  7. Make and Play Outdoor Games – Scrabble, pool scrabble, yahtzee, twister, dominoes, etc. There are SO many fun games you can make together and then enjoy for hours of fun with your kids. How fun would it be to have some of these giant games for your next bbq or family reunion?! Need ideas? I’ve got you covered.
  8. Science ExperimentsScience Experiments can include simple and inexpensive items like baking soda and vinegar can provide hours of entertainment for kids. Or get more complicated and get some learning time in.
  9. Play School – Let them take turns being the teacher. Give them some real printable worksheets if you want and let the play begin.
  10. Play Games – Pictionary, Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, What’s Your Problem?, Hang Man (we often do hangman with bible verses), Bingo, Lego Tic Tac Toe, Lego Game,
  11. Abstract Coloring PagesEven adults enjoy this one! Have fun coloring together! Mix up the mediums you use to do your coloring. Or have everyone choose two or three colors only. Get creative.
  12. Create Your Own Board Games – Get the kids involved and come up with your own board games.
  13. Random Acts of Kindness – Come up with ways to bless others. Let your kids help decide what they want to do and for who. It could be as simple as bringing a snack (make it a silly snack for extra fun) to your next door neighbor. Doing for others makes everyone smile!
  14. Upcycle Old Furniture Into Play Items – You’ve probably seen them on Pinterest and Facebook. Make this a fun family project! If you create a kitchen, invite grandparents over and let your kids “serve” a meal from their new kitchen.
  15. Make A Teepee – Get enough materials so each child can have their own teepee. Tell them they are for reading and quiet time if you want!
  16. Theme Day or Week – Surprise the kids with a theme – Dr Seuss, Disney, Camping, Their Favorite Cartoon, etc and create decor, snacks, meals, games, crafts, etc around your theme. Or let the kids pick the theme and help create the items for their week.
  17. Forts – Top sheets are perfect for forts. Don’t want your sheets ruined, go to a thrift store and snag some big sheets. If you make it outdoors, grab and old tv and the dvd player and run it outside to the fort and have a movie night outside in the fort.
  18. Make Bath Crayons –  Bath crayons are easy and they’ll keep the kids busy in the tub for longer.
  19. Water Gun Painting – Your kids will have a blast with water gun painting.
  20. Glow in the Dark Night – Glow in the dark necklaces are my thing. I take them to every evening event in the summer. My kids have more fun with these on 4th of July than they do with fireworks. We take them camping. I put them on the dogs at night when we camp so everyone can see our dogs – it really helps so our black dogs aren’t tripped over or kicked. Get a ton of them and let the kids go crazy. Create games in the dark. Make glow-in-the-dark chalk.
  21. Ice Ice Baby – Have some fun with ice shapes! Surprise your kids with fun fish ice cubes in their drinks! Or come up with a game using your fish ice cubes.Fish Ice Cubes
  22. Cardboard Boxes – Give each kid their own cardboard box. Give them some art supplies and let them create something. Will it be a house, a theater, a photo op, doll house? Christmas lights strung inside the house add more fun and creativity. Check out these amazing ideas from cardboard boxes! Cardboard is also one of my favorite items to paint on.
  23. Nerf Guns – Create a shooting range, target, or a game. Nerf guns will keep them busy for hours. Join in the fun!
  24. Paper Crafts – Origami is a fun activity your older kids will really enjoy. Tutorials abound on Youtube. Or make a folding doll house. Paper dolls are fun to create. Or a garage for matchbox cars. Or how about an origami firework? The ideas are endless.
  25. I Spy GamesNature I Spy , I Spy Letters, or create your own for where ever you are. Easy and everyone can play.
  26. Movie Bingo – So it’s movie night and you want to add something new? Create a bingo game for the move you’re about to watch.
  27. Gratitude Jar – Use a large mason jar and some marbles and every time someone is grateful put a marble in the jar. When the jar is full, give a reward. The kids have to tell you what they are grateful for before a marble can be added.
  28. Jokes – Can your family come up with some new funny jokes to share at the dinner table? Snag a kids joke book at the library. Or search for some online. There are tons of resources and who doesn’t love to laugh? This is the perfect activity if you’ve all had a rough day.
  29. Perform – Act out a bible story, a book, or make your own, but let the kids perform their own little plays. If they’re shy, make some sock puppets or shadow puppets. For a quick and cheap theater curtain, pick up a suspension rod for a shower curtain and put it in a doorway with some fabric draped or hot glued over it.
  30. Hop Scotch – Not just your regular old hop scotch. Take it up a notch and try this shape hop. Better yet, let the kids each create their own and challenge their siblings to try theirs.
  31. Jump Rope – I was on a jump roping team in elementary school and I still remember the team routine. My kids think it is the coolest thing to watch me perform for them. Get on youtube and learn some fancy foot work with a jump rope! It’s healthy for all of you and fun! Can your kids do double unders? Or triple unders?
  32. Bubbles – Seriously, Pinterest has created a whole new world of bubbles for our kids. There are so many fun choices: glow-in-the-dark, reusable bubbles, giant bubbles, rainbow bubble snake, bubble painting, etc.
  33. Water Blobs – I’ve had this pinned for several years now and we’ve yet to try it. This is on the bucket list for our summer. I think we’ll make one of the giant ones and then let the kids each make their own.
  34. Water Balloons – Add water balloons to a slip n slide or fill them with shaving cream. Or hang them from the trees or patio and let the kids go at it like a pinata.
  35. Sponges – Sponges are cheap. Grab a few stacks from the dollar store. Play pool scrabble, jenga, create a target to throw at – that target could be someone’s face – cut a hole in a shower curtain from the dollar store and have them stick their head through it, or create water bombs with them.
  36. Quiet Books – Create or buy some quiet books for your little ones. If your kids are older, have them create some quiet books to deliver to someone with a toddler/preschooler or donate to a ministry – orphanages in developing countries would LOVE these items. Call or email and ask if there is a use for them. Please make sure the items you use are age appropriate for who you give them to.
  37. Flannel Boards – Create flannel boards for your kids or to donate. Older kids can help create them! This Monster board looks like a ton of fun!
  38. Puppet Fun – Create your own puppets. Sock puppets, kleenex box puppets, tin can puppets, shadow puppets, cup puppets, sponge puppets, etc. Set out all your craft stuff and go to town!
  39. Snow Globes – Create your own snow globes. Pinterest has really easy ideas and complicated. You decide.
  40. Weaving – Yes, even boys will enjoy weaving. My boys really enjoyed learning to finger knit. There are a ton of different weaving activities you can do too. Make a rug, a headband, scarves, dish cloths, etc. You’re not limited to yarn. Try knitting with t-shirts.
  41. Sensory Bins – Make sensory bins for your kids or have your kids create some for their little friends! So many fun ways to do this.
  42. Crazy GlassesCreate your own silly and crazy glasses!
  43. Photo Op – Have fun creating your own photo op or photo booth! Let the kids help design it and come up with and create the props! Hey, maybe the pets need in on it too? Just have fun and let your kids be the photographer as well! Invite friends over! Make a party out of it.
  44. Pool Noodles – There are practically a million things you can do with pool noodles. Grab some from the dollar store and go crazy! Make an obstacle course, a human sized croquet game, crafts, etc.
  45. Snow Play – Make your own play snow or snow paint. Eat snow cones for snack. Create snowmen out of marshmallows. Have a snowball fight with fluffy stuff!
  46. Temporary Tattoos – Make your own temporary tattoos. Super easy and you’ll win mom of the day!
  47. Roller Skating – Such a fun family activity that is dying out. Buy some roller skates so your kids can practice at home. Our kids used to skate through the whole house all the time. So much fun and don’t forget to bring your socks for the rink!
  48. Sewing and Embroidery – Your kids need to learn to sew, yes even the boys. If you don’t know how to sew, learn by watching youtube tutorials. This is a necessary life skill. I have created images similar to these and then had my kids sew around them. If you double them up, they can sew the two together and then stuff them with cottonballs.
  49. Hiking – Get out of the house and go hiking. We sometimes play a game where we take a brightly covered small toy and one kid runs ahead on the trail (not too far of course) and hides it and runs back. The rest of us have to find it. Once it’s found, someone else gets to go hide it.
  50. Lapbooks – Okay, this one is new to me and I’m just beginning to explore it. I can think of a ton of lapbooks I cold make myself. Fun! And one of my boys would really be into creating some as well. But you don’t have to make them yourself.
  51. Drawing – Do you have a budding artist? Find some creative ways for them to learn to draw something new. I love this drawing idea. Kids will find it fun and can come up with their own ideas.
  52. An Animal Day – Okay, specifically do an elephant day like this one! Or pick another favorite animal and come up with games, snacks, meals, crafts, word searches, etc around that animal. Learn some weird facts about that animal.
  53. Make a Winking Eye – Your kids will love this winking eye! And it’s probably a free craft/activity. You’ve got paper, crayons, markers, so get busy! Make up a story about your winking eye monster!
  54. Fabric Wall Decals – Make your own fabric wall decals! Trace what ever you want and follow this tutorial to get them on the walls. These could be fun for VBS, children’s church, or even as gifts.
  55. Zentangles and Doodles – Get your creative hats on and draw your own zentangle or doodle patterns.
  56. Puff Paint Jewelry and Window Clings – Puffy paint has a ton of uses. Have you ever made your own jewelry or designed a window cling? Try it!
  57. Fairy Houses and Tiny Gardens – I know as a little girl, I would have been over the moon to make my own fairy house and tiny garden for the fairies. Would your kids love this?
  58. Flower Impressions with Clay – Go out in the yard and find some interesting flowers, leaves, and plants and imprint them into some clay. Paint when dry. Enjoy.
  59. Paint – Okay, painting is fun but messy. Do it outside. Don’t just use a regular paint brush, instead go around the house and outside to come up with new “brushes” and experiment. What pattern does a branch from an evergreen make in the paint? Macaroni noodle ends make small circles. A cut end of a celery bunch looks like a rose.
  60. Popsicle Stick Chain Reaction – Make the chain of popsicles as long as you can! Then watch it explode!
  61. Spin Art With a Drill – This is a messy idea but super fun! Supervision is required but grab the drill and have fun creating together!
  62. Liquid Sidewalk Chalk – Make your own liquid sidewalk chalk and go nuts!
  63. A Kid Bar – A popcorn bar, an ice cream bar, a chex mix type bar, nacho bar, etc. Grab a bunch of snack items that will mix well together, give the kids their own container, and allow them to make their own creations.
  64. Shower Curtain Drawing – Shower curtains are available at the dollar store. You can create your own town by drawing with a sharpee on it. I used them for VBS last year to paint big murals with acrylic paints (I will warn, some of the paints flake a bit so this isn’t the best option for kiddos to play on). Such an inexpensive way to have a large area to create on.
  65. Craft Sticks with Velcro – add velcro rounds to both ends of craft sticks and let your kids get creative.
  66. Sidewalk Chalk Dolls – Trace your kids with sidewalk chalk and then let them dress their “dolls” with real clothes.
  67. Peg DollsDo it yourself peg dolls. Paint their favorite super heroes, cartoon stars, etc. Or let them do it.
  68. Sharpie DyingTie dye a t-shirt, skirt, shorts, etc using sharpies and rubbing alcohol. Easy and fun!
  69. Clapping Games – Do you remember doing these with your friends? Clapping games are free and fun for the whole family. These could come in handy for camps and VBS.
  70. Bake a Dog in a Dog – Seriously, adorable! Your kids will think you’re the bomb if you let them make a dog in a dog for lunch or dinner this summer!
    Dog in a Dog
  71. Spider Walking – Make a spider web to walk along or come up with your own walk. Older kids can do this on their own.
  72. Obstacle Courses – Give the kids some ideas for an obstacle course and then let them create their own. You may need to take turns in creating the course so each child gets a turn and there isn’t any squabbling.
  73. Make Capes from T-shirts – Got some old t-shirts hanging around? Make some capes out of them! Watch a super hero movie and eat super hero snacks.
  74. Pet Rocks – Paint your own pet rocks and then have the kids make up life stories for their pets. Who is the pet rocks Mom and Dad? Where did the pet rock travel from to get to your house?
  75. Tent in the Hallway – Do you have a hallway? Get two spring loaded curtain rods and create a tent with the rods and some fabric or sheets. Instant fun.
  76. Memory Jar – Pick a large vase or jar and write favorite memories on a rock and drop it into the jar. At the end of the summer, go through and read them all! Very fun to see what everyone else treasured from their summer.
  77. Kids Garden Plot – Find a small area your kids can have to themselves and let them plant some items. Let them care for it and see the pride they have. Sweet peas are fun to grow because they grow quickly and yield food.
  78. Sun Melted Crayons – You’ve got gobs of broken crayons so why not throw them into a jar and let them melt in the hot sun. The kids will enjoy watching this transformation.
  79. Splatter Paint With RubberbandsTry this splatter paint idea and see what cool creations come from it.
  80. Masks – Create masks with these cool printables.
  81. Ice Dig – put some small toys into cups, add water, and freeze. Have kids find a way to dig into the ice and break the items free.
  82. Puzzles – Get out the puzzles and go to town.
  83. Play The Manners Game – Kids need manners and we get tired of nagging. Try this game to put a little fun in the teaching.
  84. Milk Painting – We have yet to try milk painting at our house but it is on this summer’s bucket list. The results are so cool!
  85. Foil Art – We’ve tried this foil art without the best luck but I bet some of you will do better than we did. It’s a fun experiment and it’s inexpensive.
  86. Hidden PicturesHidden pictures are fun and can be found for all ages. Turn it into a contest if you want. Who ever finds all of their list gets a little prize.
  87. Giant Candyland – What other game could you turn into a giant version? If you have a laminator you can make the game pieces last a long time.
  88. Pop Bottle Fireflies – These would be so much fun to take camping! Add a new glow stick each night to renew their lives. The kids will love flying these fireflies around at night!
  89. Inside Kiddie Pool Party – No, don’t fill it with water. Oh no, fill it with pillows and blankets and read a book or watch a movie!
  90. Pom Pom GameTry this blowing pompoms game when you it’s a rainy day.
  91. Glow In The Dark Slime – Make some glow in the dark slime and add it to your glow-in-the-dark party night!
  92. Mail a Hug – Someone you know, maybe a grandparent, needs a hug. Mail this paper hug from your kids! It’ll be a hit!
  93. Encourage Missionaries – Missionaries often feel forgotten by their home country. Have your kids write a note, letter, or card to a missionary thanking them for their service. Need a suggestion of who to send to? Give me a shout out over at our new ministry, Cups Overflowing.
  94. Send A Care Package – Send a care package to someone in the service or anyone else you know who might enjoy it. Cousins love getting things in the mail. I sent my nephew a box of sunshine similar to this one. I got the idea from Happy Money Saver. Huge hit! It doesn’t have to be expensive either.
  95. Giant Ice Marbles – We made these giant ice marbles a couple summers ago. It doesn’t get cold enough where we live in the winter to put them in the snow, so we used them as a way to cool off. The kids loved them and so did the dogs!
  96. Secret Service Mission – I love this secret service mission idea for kids. The secret part of the mission will create more excitement for the kids too.
  97. Make Your Own Angry Birds – Angry birds isn’t quite as popular as it was a few years ago but this angry birds game will be fun to make and play. I’ve also witnessed folks who draw on boxes and use a red rubber ball to attack the pigs. Use this idea as  jumping off point for a lot of ideas and fun!
  98. Self Portrait – Trace their hands and feet and let them create the rest of their self portrait!
  99. Bird Feeders – We’ve all done the pinecone with peanut butter and bird seed, but have you tried cheerios and pipe cleaners? Have some fun, make some new shapes, and watch the birds get a little snack.
  100. Magnetic Letter Fishing – Get some magnetic letters from the dollar store and a good magnet. Attach your magnet to a string and stick. Fill a kiddie pool, bucket, or the bath tub and let them fish. Easy. Challenge them by seeing if they can spell a word with the letters they pull out. Or can they fish for the letters of their name?

What ideas would you add to this list? What’s your favorite summer activity with your kids?

Please share this list with your friends and like it! We all need ideas now and then to keep the kids busy!


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