Without the structure of a school routine, it can be hard to find ways to fill your kid's time throughout the summer months. Luckily, the weather allows for plenty of activities to enjoy outdoors (and indoors when your kids need to get inside and cool off).
This season, turn off the screens and make some memories instead. These fun summer activities for kids are not only entertaining, but they can help them beat the heat and even learn something during this season of play.
Make Sidewalk Art
Need a good free summer activity for kids? Send your kids out to decorate the pavement! All you need is some chalk and creativity. This easy art project can be done in your driveway or at the park!
Parents who want to keep a pristine deck can also grab some old paintbrushes and a bucket filled with water. Challenge your youngsters to paint their masterpieces before the sun makes them disappear!
Play Disc Golf
You can find disc golf at most local parks. Grab your discs and head to the park for a fun game together. It's an exciting activity that can keep kids going for hours.
Go for a Bike Ride
Kids love to ride their bikes, but the driveway can get a bit boring. So take them to a local bike trail and allow them to spread their wings! This gives them some much needed time in nature and helps to get some of that pent up energy out.
Visit a Local Park or Playground
You can find local parks all over the nation. These spots have playgrounds, wooded trails, and other fun things for kids to do. Take a book for yourself or take a trip on the merry-go-round. You can't go wrong when it comes to this classic summer activity for kids.
Go for a Walk on Rail Trail
Do you have a local rail trail near you? You are in luck. Grab the kids, snacks, and your walking shoes. Rail trails are ideal for kids since nature typically surrounds them and they offer several areas to stop and rest or picnic.
Do you have a little skateboarder or rollerblader on your hands? Find a local paved trail, pump track, or skate park and take them skating. They are sure to love it.
Go for a Hike
The trail system in the United States is vast and waiting to be discovered. Trails are ideal for family hiking because they are conveniently marked by level of difficulty and the type of trail. This marking system makes it much easier for families to decide on what they can handle and what they should avoid. While exploring, see if there are any geocaches or letterboxes on your trail.
Become a Park Ranger for a Day
While at one of the nation's amazing national parks, consider enrolling your kids in one of their Junior Ranger Programs! These hands-on experiences can let them further explore nature and even investigate careers that might interest them in the future.
Build a Fort
Kids love forts. These spaces can serve as a calming spot during stressful moments and they can transform them into anything they want them to be! Best of all, making your own fort in your backyard is easier than you think! Give your kids some old sheets, help them find sticks or poles, and have them create their mini castle.
Go to Berry Festivals or Visit Fruit Farms
Take your kids for a day of 'berry' fun at family-friendly fruit festivities. Most of these events offer kid-friendly entertainment, craft shows, fruit-themed cook-offs, amusing eating contests, live music, and vendors to shop.
Find a Pick-Your-Own Berries Farm
Is there anything better than a bite of freshly picked fruit? Summer is the best time to find berries that are ready for the picking! Find a berry farm near you and take your kids for a day of picking and good old-fashioned fun. Before heading out, you'll want to call the farm and make sure there's something to harvest. And be sure to bring your own containers if the farm will allow them!
Berries aren't the only thing growing in the summer months! Also, check out budding flower farms to enjoy picturesque views, pick some beautiful blooms, and try out some natural flower products.
Make Homemade Jam
Making homemade jam is a great activity to do with several generations. While the kids probably shouldn't boil the fruit, they will definitely get into the mashing and preparing of the produce. Pick up pectin at your local grocery store for a simple homemade jam recipe. Since pectin is a critical ingredient in a jam, there is always a recipe for easy-to-make jam on the back.
Go to the Beach
Looking for an activity to fill your whole day? Hit the beach for some fun in the sun! Kids can swim in the ocean and play in the sand for hours. Plus, it doesn't cost you a dime. You might also want to bring a picnic and check out beaches with fun lighthouses and other seaside attractions.
Grab some cups, containers, and other items to mold sand and create spectacular sandcastles! Don't have a beach nearby? No problem! Head to Walmart and snag a cheap blowup kiddie pool, some play sand, and beach toys! You can set up your sandy spread in the backyard and then pack it up when the fun is done!
Hunt for Seashells and Other Beach Treasures
Head to the seashore and bring a basket with you! Have your kids comb the sandy water line for shells, beach wood, stones, sand dollars, and more! Then, save your fin-tastic finds to use in an array of indoor activities and crafts for a rainy day.
Make a Sand Mermaid or Merman
Who doesn't love to bury their friends in the sand? Have mom and dad help, or gather your beach friends and create a beach mermaid or merman. You can bury a friend in the sand and give them a tail, or work together to create a sand mermaid, face and all.
Search for Coastal Wildlife
Wildlife is all around us, whether it's birds in the air, crustaceans hiding in the tidal pools, or seals or dolphins swimming just off the coast. With a sharp eye, you can find and even photograph some wildlife if you're observant enough.
Bring a camera for your kids to photograph those fantastic moments. Don't worry if the pictures don't come out perfectly. This is about the journey, not the destination.
Create a Beach Shadow Box
To create a one-of-a-kind shadow box, all you need is a thick frame! Some stores even sell them labeled as "shadow boxes." Have your kids arrange a few items you've collected on your adventures in the enclosed space. This can then be displayed and serve as a great memory from your day at the beach!
Make a Time Capsule
For this easy craft, have your kids put a few trinkets and items that represent the current era in the capsule and bury it. Make a note of where you buried it and agree on a time and date when you'll dig it up and have a blast from the past.
Few things in life are as relaxing as sitting by a calm lake waiting for a bite. Kids can enjoy this simple sport, whether fishing is an all-summer-long activity for the entire family or something you do once a year.
You can also check out TakeMeFishing.org, a website dedicated to promoting fishing for families. You can also find fun activities like a free printable coloring book at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.
While most states let kids under 17 fish without a license, it is also best to check your state website before heading out on the water. Also, parents and older teens will need to make sure that their fishing licenses are up to date.
Create a Nature Observer Kit
Nature is all around you. Have kids use it to their advantage. Pack a small backpack that includes binoculars, a camera, a sketchbook, and colored pencils. Bring along a few field guides for your area. Then, allow kids to explore and see what they find.
Play 'I Spy' Nature Style
When you are outside on a sunny summer day, play a game of I Spy. This is a great summer activity for kids to play on a nature walk in the woods or while out fishing.
Join the Great American Campout
While you can certainly set up your tent in your own backyard, sleep under the stars, and call it a night, the National Wildlife Federation sponsors the Great American Campout. Typically held in June, families can choose to register (it's free). This gives you the opportunity to raise funds, take part in a group campouts, and post your adventures online for families and friends to see.
Is your kid a lover of all things creepy and crawly? Give them a ventilated bug collecting container and have them search for bugs all over the neighborhood. It's an excellent opportunity to teach them good stewardship by releasing any bugs that they catch. Kids can also use bug investigation as a journal prompt to inspire writing.
While you're camping out, take the opportunity to stargaze with your kids. This is an ideal activity on a clear night that is not only educational but also incorporates fun stories. Many folks do not realize that the constellations all have stories based on Greek mythology. It's like science and storytelling wrapped into one stargazing adventure!
Sign Up for Mini Camps
Many parents don't realize that local colleges, museums, private schools, local art businesses, and sporting facilities offer mini day camps for kids! These are normally half-day programs that allow your children to explore various subjects and hobbies that they may have not considered before.
These can be fun summer activities for kids and a fantastic way for moms to get a break during the months when help is lacking.
Find Library Read Alouds
If your kids see reading as drudgery, use this summer to change their point of view. Give them a brief break from the sunshine and heat by retreating to your local library. Then, pick out a great read-aloud book that is engaging for your whole family!
Host a Neighborhood Book Club
Do your kids love to read? Get kids together and host a summer book club. You can focus on a genre, an author, or let your kids read whatever they want! Discussing books with friends is fun and it can help encourage your kids to read more often during the summer months.
If your school publishes a summer reading list, you can invite your kids' friends over to read the books on the list and take the boredom out of reading homework. Serve snacks and lemonade, and your summer book club will be a booming success!
Join a Summer Reading Incentive Program
The children's department at your local library is the first place to check for any summer reading incentive program. Many libraries across the United States host summer reading clubs, incentives, and other activities to keep kids reading.
If you want more, or your library doesn't have a summer reading club, check out Barnes & Noble. Each summer, local Barnes & Noble stores award free books based on how much you read.
Have a Reading Picnic
Pack up your picnic and head to the local park. Bring lots of blankets, snacks, and books for kids to enjoy. Lay out in the sunshine and read their favorite book or comic! Just remember to put on the sunscreen before you go!
Enjoying bowling this summer is easy with Kids Bowl Free. Register on the site and use the search tool to find a bowling alley near you that takes part in this program. Kids within the age limit can register to receive two free games per day at a participating bowling alley.
Play a Round of Mini Golf
Yet another summer activity for kids that is also fun for adults! Most mini golf spots have deals on their least busy days that allow families to go for half price. See who is the best shot in the family and enjoy some fresh air along the way!
Get Jumping at a Trampoline Park
When you are stuck at home for the summer, you may find that your kids have a lot of pent up energy. The best way to counter this is to let them work it out at a trampoline park! This is another spot that normally has great summer deals and since the play space is inside, you don't need to worry about the summer heat.
If you have toddlers in tow, call your local trampoline park to find out if they have a special toddler hour. Many establishments open early for their youngest patrons and cut the cost down, making for an outing that's many times under $10 for the kids and parents!
Summer is a great time to out a movie at your local theater. The national theaters offer summer movie series where kids (and sometimes their parents) can get reduced or almost-free tickets for kid-friendly viewing.
However, don't be shy about calling your local movie theatre as well. They may well offer discounted tickets for the summer for select shows to keep up with the competition. Cinemark's Summer Movie Clubhouse includes the Century Theaters group, which offers select kids' movies at a bargain price.
Go to a Pool
If you have a pool nearby, summer is the perfect time to jump in! You and your kids can cool off, play games, swim laps, and show off your best diving board moves, all while soaking in some Vitamin D.
Take Swimming Lessons
Swimming is a pivotal skill for any child.Use the warmth of the summer to your advantage and find a few swimming lessons in your area. Think your kids aren't old enough to start learning? Accidents happen every day around the home, at family member's houses, and while out in the community. It is never too early to start.
Children as young as six months can learn to save themselves if they were to crawl or fall in water. Infant Aquatics is an amazing program that teaches your kids remarkable lifesaving skills. I enrolled my oldest son and it was astonishing to see how capable he was at such a young age!
Play in the Sprinklers
Turn on the sprinklers and let the kids have at it. They will have hours of fun and cool off quickly. This is also a great time for you to relax. You might even throw down a tarp and create a little slip and slide.
Have a Water Balloon Fight
Think about a water balloon fight instead if you don't want your water bill to skyrocket. You can buy rapid-filling, self-sealing water balloons and start throwing in as little as sixty seconds!
Play With Bubbles
Bubbles are fun for all ages, and they make for one of the simplest summer activities for kids. Add some water and dish soap to a wading pool in your backyard. Use a hula hoop to create enormous bubbles for kids to play in and pop or invest in a bubble machine and head on a bubble chase.
Visit the Zoo or Aquarium
Looking to squeeze in a bit of education this summer? Visit your local aquarium and zoo! Chances are excellent that both of these spots have educational programs and happenings to help teach your future zoologists and marine biologists about conservation and animals. If your zoo or aquarium is vast, buy a membership. That way, you can plan to see certain animals on each visit.
Volunteer Your Time
Another great summer idea for kids is to give back to the community. There are a variety of organizations that can help you find a good match for your family or you can work to raise money for your own favorite cause.
In addition to local senior centers and hospitals, you can find volunteer work at Youth Volunteer Corps of America and VolunteerMatch.org. Be sure to look for kid-friendly opportunities so that your whole family can participate.
Start a Lemonade Stand
Alex's Lemonade Stand has become synonymous with summer fundraising. If you have no time to travel but are willing to set up a lemonade stand in your front yard, you can raise money to donate to a charity of your choice. This site gives you tips on getting started, lemonade recipes, and inspiration to keep you going all summer long!
Become a Citizen Scientist
Being a citizen scientist is a family activity that gives kids opportunities to learn unique aspects of their local habitat. In addition, it helps to hone a child's observation skills, which is crucial to the study of science. There are several citizen science projects going on throughout the summer months.
SciStarter is a website that lists hundreds of citizen science projects that you and your kids can participate in. You choose a location where you want to do your activity (i.e., at school, at the beach, etc.) and then the type of subject you'd like to study. SciStarter then gives you a list of websites of citizen science projects that meet your criteria!
Join Journey North
Journey North is an ongoing project that tracks migration and wildlife worldwide. To get involved, you only have to register on their site, and from there, you can get directions on a variety of projects based on your interests.
They even offer an online mystery class where students track data and find the mystery location based on that information. Whether you want to plant tulips or watch the migration of whooping cranes, Journey North is a great life science resource.
Watching fireflies is magical. Glowing bursts of light that illuminate a backyard appeal to big kids and little kids alike. With Project Firefly Watch, you register on the site, fill out a description of your habitat, and record your observations.
Parents looking for fun summer activities for kids that involve learning should definitely consider investing in a butterfly farm! All the supplies come straight to your home and you can watch your caterpillars go through their metamorphosis! While this occurs, take the time to go over fun facts about one of nature's best pollinators!
Visit a Bee Farm
Speaking of pollinators, did you know you can actually go through an immersive bee experience? Beekeepers typically harvest their honey in the late spring and summer months and some local farms welcome guests to come out and see how this syrupy sweetener is made! This can be a great way to learn and a fun excursion outside of the home!
Create a Fairy Garden
For the families who believe in fairies, this is a fun craft that spruces up your garden space and may lure in some magical creatures! Fairies gardens can be big or small and they are extremely easy to build! Let your kids each craft a house to display on your patio and see if they can spot a sprite flying by!
Dig for Fossils
Did you know fossils are everywhere? They could even be in your backyard. Give your kiddos a shovel and have them see what they can find. You can even bury treasures and have them dig them up.
Fly a Kite
On a windy day, there is nothing better than flying a kite. All you need is a kite and a little wind to get you started!
Grow a Garden
Gardening is a summer-long activity that makes for both fun memories and a good learning experience. If you've never grown a garden before, check out KidsGardening. It is a website packed with tips and ideas, and they also have a store that sells tools that are useful to children in particular.
Have a Potatoes Treasure Hunt
Obtain a 32-gallon garbage can and drill several holes into the bottom. Fill the garbage can with about 10-inches of compost. As potatoes sprout, keep filling the garbage can with more compost - about 8 to 10-inches each time.
Continue to do this throughout the summer. When you're ready to harvest, dump the whole thing on the ground and let the kids dig for their potato treasures.
Roast and Cook Food Outside Together
The word "campout" is practically synonymous with great food. Still, you can go beyond the roasted hot dogs, s'mores, and kabobs that your kids have come to expect and serve a gourmet picnic feast that is so simple to prepare that your kids can help! Here are a few recipes:
Roast Pigs in a Blanket
Use crescent dough and wrap up your hot dogs. Roast them on a stick over an open fire (after all, that is half the fun), and the dough will cook nicely over the hot dog. Purchase ketchup and mustard packets for easy cleanup.
Make a S'mores Bar
Why not try something unique with your s'mores this year? Purchase flavored marshmallows, use shortbread cookies instead of graham crackers, or Reese's Peanut Butter Cups instead of plain chocolate. Offer bowls of coconut, chopped nuts, toffee bits, and jelly to help round out what is sure to be a favorite dessert.
To make these treats, you'll need a cast-iron pot, refrigerated biscuit dough (one biscuit makes two doughnuts), tongs, and oil. Place your pot, halfway full of oil, over the fire and heat. Break each biscuit in half and dip it into the oil. The biscuits will quickly turn golden brown. Offer bowls of powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar for dipping.
Create Veggie Kabobs
Just because you're camping, it doesn't mean that you need to shirk your duty to get your kids to eat vegetables. Bring your kids' favorite vegetables, kabob skewers (you may have to carve sticks to get something long enough), and seasoning salt. Lightly salt the vegetables and roast them over an open fire.
Fun Summer Activities for Kids Will Bring Your Family Closer Together
Summer is a great time to play outdoors, but remember to offer plenty of shade, water, and sunscreen while you are out and about. Bring the games indoors if the weather becomes too hot. Indoors or out, these summer ideas for kids are excellent ways to pass the time and make memories that will have your children longing for the next summer vacation before the current one has even ended!