Tuesday, June 28, 2016

85 Totally Awesome Summer Activities for Kids + a Printable

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When I was asked the question for the 874th time that day, I blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

"Well, if you're so bored, go clean your room!"

Yeah, that went over well with the child who had posed the question. *insert sarcasm here*

About 1 1/2 days into summer break, I realized that I needed a plan which meant that I needed a list.

85 Totally Awesome Summer Activities for Kids with a Printable

So, I grabbed a notebook and brainstormed a list of 85 activities for the kids to choose from when they complain about being bored.  Then, being the awesome person I am, I put the list on a printable for you guys too.  You're welcome :)

You can also see more detail on each of things on the list below the printable with links to help you out.

85 Totally Awesome Summer Activities for Kids with a Printable


85 totally awesome activities for your kids to do this summer + a free printable

1. Paint with water on construction paper
Give your kids a cup of water and some paintbrushes and let them paint with water on construction paper.  The best part is that you can re-use the paper after it dries!

2. Paint with water outside
Get a pack of big paintbrushes (the kind you'd paint your house with) and have your kids "paint" the house, toys, car, etc with a bucket of water.

3. Play in a sensory box filled with dry beans, rice, or noodles
 Our sensory box is a 9x13 cake pan filled with dry beans and a few random kitchen utensils such as measuring cups and a funnel. The Jenny Evolution has a list of 100+ sensory box fillers with some awesome ideas!

4. Play with playdough
 This one's a classic.  This Play-Doh fun tub is a great way to get started with your play-doh collection.


5. Play with kinetic sand
Honestly, kinetic sand is so much fun that I spend as much time as the kids do playing with it
Kinetic Sand
6. Cut pictures out of magazines
Save a few old magazines or catalogues for the kids to cut up with safety scissors.

7. Play a board game
Here are a bunch of really fun games for kids.  Just make sure that whatever game you choose is age appropriate for your kids.
8. Dust the house
This is a total win for you.  But seriously, my kids beg to dust the house.  I love the reusable dusters that fit on Swiffer duster handles.
Reusable Swiffer Dusters

9. Make paper airplanes
Get a book that shows how to make different types of paper airplanes and then have a "race" to see which one can fly the farthest.

10. Have a snowball fight with balled up socks or crumpled paper
Just make sure the kids know they have to pick them up afterwords :)

11. Make a cardboard slide on the stairs
Save some big pieces of cardboard and make a slide on your stairs.  Shannon from Milk and Cuddles shows how to do it.  

12. Baking soda/vinegar/food coloring
Sprinkle some baking soda liberally on a plate or baking dish and let your kids drop colored vinegar on it with an eye dropper. Chelsey from Buggy and Buddy has a great post about this.

13. Play “Is it magnetic?”
Have your kids use a magnetic wand to find out of things are magnetic or not. 

Learning Resources Magnetic Wands
14. Pipe cleaners and colanders
Thread pipe cleaners through the holes in a colander and then take them back out.  Parents magazine has a great article about the benefits of this, even for older kids.

15. Put up the card table tent
You can either buy a tent like the one here, or make your own with a bedsheet.
Table Fables Fabric Play House (Yellow School Bus)
16. Build with marshmallows and pretzel sticks
Kids get to build something and then eat their creation afterwords!  What's not to love?  Malia at the STEM Laboratory has a great post telling how to do this.

17. Use masking tape to make roads, a hopscotch mat, or a tight rope
There are so many things you can make with masking tape on the ground!  Mama University has a post with a bunch of different games you can play using masking tape.

18. Build with pipe cleaners
Have your kids make a person, a house, or anything they want out of pipe cleaners.  Here's a great starter pack with a variety of pipe cleaners for even more fun.
Assorted Pipe Cleaners
19. Make a cardboard box train
Save a couple of large cardboard boxes and line them up to make a train.

20. Play with shaving cream
Spray shaving cream on your table (use a plastic tablecloth if you don't want it directly on the table) and let the kids use their imagination to play in the "snow."

21. Read books
Reading is always a good activity.  If your kids are old enough, introduce them to the choose your own adventure books.  If your local library has a summer reading program, be sure to sign up.  You can also see a list of free reading programs here at the Jenny Evolution.   

22. Color in coloring books
An oldie, but a goodie.  For older kids, have them add detail to the background of the picture in a coloring book.

23. Write a letter or color a picture for someone
Doing this will teach your kids to empathy for others.

24. Play restaurant
Set up a table in your living room and let the kids play restaurant.

25. Play with paper dolls
You can find a lot of printable paper dolls for kids online.

26. Have a treasure hunt
Hide something and draw a map to it so the kids can go on a treasure hunt.  

27. Look at picture albums
My kids love looking at old picture albums.  I even bought an extra set of Chatbooks so they can look at them without me worrying that they'll wreck them.

28. Play school
Have the kids take turn being the teacher to avoid fights.

29. Make a giant ice cube with toys inside and watch it melt
Fill a bucket or other container with water and drop a few water-safe toys in it before freezing it.  When it's frozen, let the kids take it outside and work on melting it to get to the toys.  Jody at Premeditated Leftovers has a fun post about this.

30. Wash dishes
This may seem like a strange activity for kids, but my kids love doing it!  Anything with water is usually a hit.  You may have to re-wash a few dishes after, but the kids will have fun and learn an important life skill.

31. Sort change
If you have a change jar, dump it out and let the kids sort the coins.  For older kids, ask them to count it as well.

32. Play hot lava with paper “rocks”
Put pieces of paper (bonus of you use black construction paper!) around the room and tell the kids that they can only step on the paper or they'll end up the hot lava.

33. Color on butcher paper on the wall or floor
You can get colored butcher paper rolls on Amazon or just save some of those big pieces of paper that come crumpled up in packages for the kids to color on.  You can either lay the paper on the floor or tape it to the wall.
Butcher paper in different colors-great for kids to color on!

34. Sweep or mop kitchen
Another win for Mom!  My kids love these chores, especially since I got them a small broom that they can easily use.
Little Helper Broom Set

35. Wash toys
Yup, more housework that kids have fun doing!  Take a bunch of water safe toys outside with a bucket of soapy water and let them wash them all.

36. Make rainbow crayons
Start saving those little broken pieces of crayon to melt them into a bigger rainbow crayon.  You can melt them in the oven at a low temperature or in the sun like Rachel from Don't Call Me Supermom did.

37. Play legos
If you don't have legos yet, you can get a good starter pack here.  No fancy sets needed, just a bunch of legos and some imagination make for a fun time for kids.


38. Make macaroni necklaces
Tie a knot in the end of some string and let the kids string macaroni on them for necklaces.  For edible necklaces, they can string cheerios or fruit loops instead.

39. Play with puzzles
Puzzles are a great way for kids to work on a whole bunch of skills!

40.Bake cookies
Chocolate chip cookies are always good, but here are some fun new cookie recipes.

41. Ketchup and mustard in a sealed ziploc bag
Squirt at tablespoon each of ketchup and mustard in a ziploc bag.  If you want to be extra safe, tape the top shut with duct tape to be sure there are no leaks.  Have the kids draw and write on the bag.  Amy from Let's Explore shows how to do it with paint instead. 

42. Play with crepe paper
I had a couple rolls of crepe paper leftover from my wedding and finally decided to just give it to the kids to play with.  They had a blast and it was a pretty easy cleanup afterwords.
85 Totally Awesome Summer Activities for Kids with a Printable
Davy having a ball with some of the crepe paper
43. Blow bubbles
If you're like me and get dizzy after blowing bubbles for 30 seconds, a bubble machine is a life saver.

44. Have a dance party
Turn on some fun music and have a dance party! I'm enjoying this with my kids now since it won't be long before they are embarrassed of my dance moves :)

45. Make an drive in theater with cardboard boxes
Put a cardboard box for each child in front of the tv and let them have popcorn while they sit in the box and watch a movie.  Bonus points if they decorate them to look like cars first!  Stacy from Not Just a Housewife has a fun post about this.

46. Play hide and seek
For some fun variations on this classic game, check out this post from Jana at How to Run a Home Daycare.

47. Play with sidewalk chalk
I buy the biggest box of sidewalk chalk I can find at the beginning of summer and my kids have usually used it up before August hits.  For extra bright colors, have them dip the chalk in water before coloring on the sidewalk.

48. Make sock puppets
Give the kids some of those lonely socks hanging out in your laundry room and let them put on a puppet show.

49. Play Simon Says
Have the kids write down different tasks such as "jump up and down" or "pretend to be a dog" on slips of paper and then draw them out of jar to play the game.

50. Take pictures
If you have a digital camera that you're comfortable letting your kids use for a while, let them take pictures.  You can also get a digital camera specially made for kids here.  You'd be surprised at their perspective on some things.

85 Totally Awesome Summer Activities for Kids with a Printable
Picture taken by Katie at 3 years old
51. Play I Spy
Have the kids take turn spying something with a different color or shape.

52. Play dress up
You don't have to buy expensive dress-up clothes for kids-just hit up your local thrift store and buy some cheap clothes in different sizes.  The kids will have so much fun and will use their imaginations more than with regular dress-up clothes.

53. Have a lemonade stand
Help your kids set up a lemonade stand outside.  This is a great opportunity to teach kids business skills.  If no one seems to be stopping, text a couple of your friends and family and let them know they should "just happen to drive by."  Samantha from Le Chaim on the Right has a great printables pack to teach kids how to set up their lemonade stand.  

54. Melt ice in the sun
Dump a tray of ice cubes in a bowl and send the kids outside to play with them.  They'll have a lot of fun watching them melt in the hot sun.

55. Go to the library
If your library has a summer reading program, make sure you sign your kids up!  If it doesn't, check out this list of free summer reading programs from the Jenny Evolution that they can participate in.

56. Go to the park
Don't just go to the same park you always do though.  Try out a new one that you've never taken the kids to.

57. Shoot rubber bands at a target
Draw a target on a piece of cardboard and have the kids take turns shooting rubber bands at it.

58. Make ice cream in a bag
It's fun and the kids will love eating it when it's ready.  Christina from Two Little Hooligans has a great post about it

59. Sew buttons on fabric scraps
This is great for fine motor skills.  After they're done sewing, snip the buttons off and they can do it again later!

60. Have a water balloon fight
Use one of these to fill up the water balloons faster and easier.
Self Tying Water Balloon Fillers

61. Match socks
You know that basket of mis-matched socks languishing in your laundry room because you never have time to match them up?  Hand it to the kids and let them see how many pairs they can make.

62. Play “Will It Float”
Give the kids a bucket of water and some water safe toys or things like sticks, rocks, leaves, etc.  Have them guess whether each item will float or not before testing it.

63. Make a guitar with a box and rubber bands
This is easy to make with a shoebox or kleenex box and some rubber bands.  The kids will enjoy figuring out how to make different sounds by adjusting the rubber bands.  Amelia from Fun Family Crafts has a tutorial for several "guitars."

64. Make puffy paint with shaving cream and glue
Add some glitter for some extra fun.  Debbie from One Little Project has a tutorial on how to make puffy paint with just 3 ingredients.

65. Make a calming bottle
This post from Alida at The Realistic Mama has 11 fun ways to make a calming bottle.

66.Make sun art
Have your kids place a few small objects on a piece of construction paper and set them out in the sun for a few hours.  When the objects are removed, they'll see "shadows" where they were.  In the Playroom has a great post on how to make sun prints.

67. Make playdough
Here are some fun recipes to make playdough with your kids.

68. Catch fireflies
Give your kids a jar with some holes punched in the lid and let them catch fireflies after dark. 

69. Play in the rain
Obviously, I'm not saying you should send your kids out in a thunderstorm, but a gentle summer rain is the perfect time to go outside and play.

70. Fold origami
Get a book on how to fold origami and teach your kids how to fold different things.

71. Make popsicles
I like these fun mini popsicle molds.  You can make them out of fruit juice, koolaid, or whatever you'd like!

Fish Themed Mini Popsicle Ice Molds

72. Watch the clouds
Lay out on the grass and watch the clouds change shape as they drift overhead.  Have the kids tell you what shapes they see.

73. Decorate a cardboard box
Give your kids a large cardboard box and let them go crazy with their imaginations.

74. Paint rocks
Find some big smooth rocks outside and decorate them for pet rocks.  You can use paint, markers, crayons, etc.

75. Wash the car
Give the kids a bucket of water or a garden hose and let them clean the car.  Just make sure your windows are rolled up first!

76. Have a reading party
Reading parties are one of my favorite childhood memories.  Have each of your kids pick out a book to read (or several if they read picture books) and have them find a cozy spot to curl up and read.  Hand out some snacks such as cookies and hot chocolate or lemonade.  This is a great way to encourage kids to read more.

77. Make binoculars out of toilet paper rolls
This is an easy craft that kids love made with supplies you probably already have around the house.  Rosandra from Mommo Design has a fun tutorial on how to make them.

78. Help plan the menu for a meal
Have your kids help you plan the menu, buy the groceries, make the food, and serve the meal.  They'll have fun and learn a lot too.

79. Make an obstacle course out of toys
Put some of your kids' bigger toys around the living room and have them jump, go around, or climb over them for an obstacle course.

80. Write and illustrate a story
Fold some paper and staple it in the middle to make a little book.  Have the kids write and illustrate a story and then read it to you.

81. Make homemade pizzas with fun toppings
I don't know any kids who don't like pizza and getting to make their own with their favorite toppings makes it even better.  You can use a packaged pizza crust or just use halved English muffins.

82. Put on a talent show
This is a fun way for kids to use their imagination and show off something they can do.

83.Play hangman
This is a great way to practice letters, spelling, and reading.  Here's a fun Hangman printable for your kids.
Hangman Printable

84. Play charades
You can either buy a charades game for kids here or make your own by writing things on slips of paper for them to guess.

85. Make root beer floats
Word to the wise...use caffeine free root beet.  I speak from experience :)

85 totally awesome activities for your kids to do this summer + a free printable

What activities do you like to do with your kids in the summer?  Drop a comment and let me know!  


  1. Thanks for the printable! This is a great post. Thanks so much for taking the time to sit down and write out the answer to that never-ending comment, "I'm bored!" Great ideas too. Definitely going to put some of these to use!

  2. This is a great round up post, Hannah. Thank you for sharing these fun summer ideas!

  3. we just bought some of those magnetic wands for our house. My kids love them. I would love to have you join us at Family Joy Blog Link Up party this week. Check us out http://thinking-outside-the-pot.com/?p=2711

  4. Wow! What a great list! Your kids have no excuse to be bored now;) My kids don't complain that often of being bored but more of wanting to go places. We love the outdoors but I am definately going to get this list out when they start saying they are bored! Thanks! Linking up with you at #socialbutterflysunday:)

  5. What a great list! So much here I hadn't thought of before. We're starting our winter holidays next week, and much of this will work here too, so thanks for sharing!!

  6. Can't wait to try some of these out on The Grands. On behalf of those who stay at home with the kiddos- 1000x Gracias! BB2U

  7. Thanks for sharing with #SocialButterflySunday! You are going to be one of the Featured Posts this week! This post is awesome! Love all the ideas! Hope you have a wonderful week :)


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