When school is out, your kids need something to keep them from going too stir crazy at home. The dog days of summer are long, and if you want your kids to stay out of your hair, you need a plan. These 30 summer activities for kids at home can help pass the time and stave off the inevitable cry of "I'm
so bored" from kids who claim they have nothing to do all day.
When school is out, the usual stash of toys and screens can only keep your kid occupied for so long. Of course, summer camps can help give kids something to fill their days with, but the cost of camps can add up quick. This is especially true when you have multiple kids, and even then, most camps don't last all summer long. You need things you can do with your kids at home that don't make you want to call their teacher and beg for summer school projects.
Having a few activities like the ones below at the ready to do each day can help keep summer days from dragging on and fill up those seemingly never-ending stretches of time each day where your kids act like they have absolutely
nothing to do. 1 Scavenger Hunts
Scavenger hunts are ridiculously simple to set up for your kids. Make a list of odds and ends for your kids to look for around the house and then let them have at it. The weirder or more obscure the item, the better. Asking them to find a penny from 1997 could have them scouring couch cushions, sorting through the change jar, or rummaging your minivan's floorboard for a huge chunk of the day.
You can also add outdoor items to the list and have your kids look outside or do their scavenger hunt while on a walk around the neighborhood. Have your kids hunt for things like a tree with a broken branch or even cars with certain numbers on their license plates.
To keep your kids busy this summer, have them learn how to cook a special meal or bake their favorite dessert using summery ingredients like berries or fresh produce. Even kids who have never cooked before could learn how to whip up something special.
You could even challenge your chef-in-training to host their own cooking show. Have them set up a tablet to record themselves cooking their favorite treats and share the video to family and friends.
3 Catching Bugs
One of my son's favorite activities in the summer is using a butterfly net to snag anything that flies (dragonflies, moths, etc.) and get a closer look at them. If your kiddo is into crawling critters, letting them collect a few bugs outside in the yard with a
bug catching kit is an excellent activity to keep them occupied during the summer. Older kids can even do some research to learn about the bugs they catch. 4 Crafts
When it comes to crafting, I like to take to
Pinterest and let my imagination run wild. Popsicle stick houses, tissue paper art, crocheted pot holders — any craft activity that will hold my kid's attention for more than 10 minutes goes. A quick trip to the craft store or a few clicks on Amazon can get you everything you need to keep your kids crafting all summer long. Better yet, let your kids clear out your craft cabinet and make their own creations before you stock up on specialty supplies. 5 Have A Lemonade Stand Clarence Martin / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images
Working your own lemonade stand is basically a childhood summertime rite-of-passage. Kids can set up a table in your driveway, make up a batch of lemonade, and sell cool, refreshing drinks to all of your neighbors. It's a fun way for your kids to learn about entrepreneurship and earn a bit of petty cash while they're at it.
6 Water Play
Who says you have to have a pool to enjoy a refreshing romp in the water on a hot day? Your kids can cool off in the heat of summer playing on a water table, a slip 'n slide, or in the sprinkler in your yard. Also, a water hose, kiddie pool, and some bath toys work in a pinch.
Feeling extra inspired? Invest in a giant sprinkler (like
this ginormous corgi-shaped one) and watch every single kid in the neighborhood flock to your back yard. 7 Puzzles
With ample time on their hands during the dog days of summer, kids can become puzzle masters. Some may protest at first because puzzles seem so antiquated in comparison with their flashy electronics, but most kids can get in the zone with a good puzzle with just a little encouragement.
Break out those puzzles stashed way back in your closet with a seemingly insurmountable number of pieces for older kids and have them get to work sorting through and creating a 1,000-piece masterpiece. Little ones can be just as easily entertained with
simpler puzzles that feature fun themes and fewer pieces. 8 Sensory Bin
A sensory bin is basically a box filled with rice or dry beans, some cups for scooping and pouring, and a few small toys. It's easy to set up (use a sheet or towel underneath if you're worried about a mess), and uses things you likely already have on hand at home. This activity is probably best for younger kiddos, but it can definitely keep them occupied for quite a while during summer days when you're running low on things to do.
9 Talent Show
Every summer when we were kids, my sister and I used to put on talent shows for my parents. We would beg my mom to have a couple of friends spend the night and then get to work on creating a show filled with singing, dancing, and all around "high quality" entertainment. We would charge my parents a quarter or two for show admission, sell popcorn and drinks, and just have an absolute blast.
This works with any group of kids — siblings, cousins, neighborhood kids — whoever is around. Even if it's just two or three kiddos, having your kids plan and prepare to put on a show that showcases their unique abilities can help keep them occupied for quite some time.
10 Board Games
board game might be something your family already does on a regular basis, but if not, summer is the perfect time to introduce the beauty of board game play to your kids. Set up a standing family game night, or have your kids pick a different game to play together each day of the week.
Classics like Monopoly or Clue are fun for families to play all together, but siblings can also play traditional games like checkers, chess, and Go Fish to keep themselves entertained without parental oversight. Once your kids really get into these games, you can kiss boredom goodbye.
11 Summer Reading Club Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision/Getty Images
Does your local library have a summer reading club where kids that read a certain number of books during the summer can earn fun prizes? Even if they don't, you can create your own summer reading program right at home. Use books you already have, check out library books, or use
online libraries to help encourage your little bookworms.
Have your kids come up with a list of prizes and choose how many books they have to read to achieve each prize level. For example, 10 books read could equal a trip to get ice cream, or 20 books could earn them a new video game. The choices are endless, and the benefit of keeping your kids reading throughout the summer is priceless.
12 Bathtub Play
For little ones, a bath in the middle of the day can be a welcomed surprise and a fun way to break up an otherwise boring summer day. Give your kids something outside of their normal bath toys to keep them occupied for a while in the tub — bath paints, Lego bricks, and miniature farm animal toys all work great.
My youngest son used to love playing with a Tupperware container filled with shaving cream and a plastic spoon in the bathtub. Whatever holds their attention will work here. You can even turn off the bathroom lights and throw a couple of glow sticks into the water to make a glow-in-the-dark bath.
13 Sidewalk Chalk Art
Summer is the perfect time to get outside and soak up some sun. If your kids have even the inkling of an artist's streak, they can take to the driveway to create incredible works of art with sidewalk chalk. The sky is truly the limit here. They can draw, write inspirational messages, or even create games to play with each other.
Maybe it's just the writer in me, but journaling feels like an ancient lost art that I absolutely must teach my kids how to do, lest the skill dissipate with my generation. Summer is the perfect time to have your kids pick out a fancy notebook and snag a package of pens in every color of the rainbow to learn how to journal.
Having a journal to look back on at the end of summer can help your kids answer the inevitable "What did you do this summer?" question when they go back to school in the fall. Plus, if you teach your kiddos to spend a little time each day writing in their journal, you've got a built-in activity to take up some of the time each day that they would otherwise spend complaining that they're bored.
15 Science Experiments
Do your kids love
making slime? What about experimenting with homemade bath bombs that explode right before their eyes? There are so many science experiments kids can do right in the comfort of your own kitchen (or backyard if things get too messy) while school is out for the summer. In addition to all of the fun they'll have, they'll be learning in the process, which is a win-win for parents everywhere. 16 Cardboard Box Play skynesher/E+/Getty Images
How many things can your kid do with a cardboard box? Give them one (or a few) and find out this summer. With a large box, they can decorate it like a race car, sit inside, and "go for a drive," or make it into a space ship and "fly to the moon." With smaller boxes, your kids can create entire cities to drive their toy cars through or build a homemade doll house for all of their little figurines to play in. They can entertain themselves for literal hours with something as simple as a cardboard box.
17 Build A Fort
My kids absolutely love building forts. They tie blankets to kitchen chairs, turn couch cushions into walls, and spend hours hanging out in their makeshift cave reading books and playing games. Kids can get super creative when you allow them to let their imagination run wild.
Your kids could even use cardboard boxes or a clothesline and sheets to make an outdoor fort and then camp in it. Older kids can also build outdoor forts with scrap wood if you're brave enough to let them go at it with a hammer and some nails.
18 Learn To Play An Instrument
Does your kid have a ukulele in the corner of their room just begging to be strummed? Could you dust off your husband's old keyboard from college, plug it in, and let your kids go wild? Even if you have to invest in a cheap guitar from your local pawn shop, learning to play an instrument is a valuable skill that your kids could carry with them long after summer is over. Have them watch some YouTube tutorials, learn from the teenager down the street, or take a few actual in-person lessons this summer to help pass the time and set them on a path to playing their own music.
Planting a summer garden can let your kids get messy and dirty with a purpose. Have your kids do some research to learn about what plants grow best during the summer in your area, make a list of items they'll need, shop for supplies, and get to work. They'll learn how to grow plants, be active outdoors, and reap the many
psychological benefits of gardening, all while staying boredom-free. 20 Obstacle Courses
You can build obstacle courses for your kids to play on this summer and let them spend hours trying to master it. There's really no right or wrong way to build an obstacle course. It can be indoors or out, feature hula hoops, jump ropes, climbing obstacles, couch cushions, or anything you have on hand. Better yet, you can invest in pre-made obstacles like
Riverstones or collapsible tunnels to help keep kids moving and entertained all summer long. 21 Seek & Find Bag
Similar to a sensory bin, you can fill a gallon-sized baggie with dry beans, and then add tiny toys and trinkets. Zip the bag up and give it a few good shakes to “hide” the toys within the beans, and hand it over to your kids. Younger kids especially love the challenge of moving the beans around without opening the bag to see what’s inside. This is also a great boredom buster to take in the car on long summer road trips.
22 Write Letters
Another way that kids can brush up on their writing skills over the summer is to write letters to friends and family. Even those who don’t live all that far away might still enjoy a surprise letter from your kiddo in their mailbox. Let them decorate the envelope with stickers, use markers, crayons, or whatever they please to personalize their letter and keep them occupied for a bit.
23 Make A Mud Kitchen
If you have a less-than-pristine area of your back yard where there’s a bit of dirt to dig into, your kids can play the day away in their very own mud kitchen. Grab some spatulas, bowls, measuring cups, or any old pots and pans your might have, run a water hose to the dirt to make mud, and let them have at it. If you happen to have an unused play kitchen to set up outdoors, even better.
24 Have A Camp-Out
Whether you set up a tent in the back yard or in your
living room, your kids will love having a good, old-fashioned camp-out this summer. Pull out sleeping backs, make s’mores, cook campfire-style, tell ghost stories, and read by flashlight to break up your summer routine a bit. 25 Exercise
Turn your living room into an at-home gym and let your kids burn off some of their pent-up energy. Similar to what they might do in gym class at school, you can set up hula hoops, do jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, or stream a
kid-friendly workout video. If your kids are less-than-thrilled about exercise, you can crank up their favorite music to get everyone moving. 26 Make Paper Airplanes
One of my oldest son’s favorite hobbies right now is making and flying paper airplanes. There are plenty of great
tutorials on YouTube to show your kids step-by-step how to make them. If you have multiple kids, they can make a contest out of it to see whose plane can fly the fastest or cross the greatest distance. 27 Rearrange A Room
This activity might be better for slightly older kids and you might need to help do the heavy lifting, but rearranging a room can help keep kids occupied at home. They can spend some time thinking it over, sketch out a plan, and then put that plan into action. If it’s their own bedroom, they could even create new works of art to hang on the wall or pool piggy bank money to buy new accessories.
28 Make A Time Capsule
One way to entertain your kids
and create some cherished memories is to make a time capsule together. Have them pick special items to include and write a letter to their future self, then pack it all inside of a box or container. They can bury it in the yard or pack it away in the top of a closet to be opened at a later date. It could be a year from now or 10, whatever they decide. 29 Learn To Juggle
My husband happens to know how to juggle today because he spent hours as a kid one summer teaching himself how. Small scraps of fabric or a pair of socks balled up together are great tools to learn how to get down the rhythm of tossing and catching before making the switch to something like a lightweight plastic ball. There are also some great
YouTube videos that kids can watch to learn how to juggle. 30 Paint Rocks
If you have a few garden stones at home (or can grab some from a craft or hardware store), let your kids break out the paint and create unique works of art on rocks. Even if you don’t want your kids getting too messy with paint, little ones can easily be entertained with a dry rock, paintbrush, and plain water to create designs.
This article was originally published on
April 16, 2020