Oh freedom! It’s the part of summer we all look forward to, right? While the freedom to do anything sounds fantastic, the long days of summer are more likely to lead to the freedom to do nothing. It’s a sure ticket to boredom for most kids. Luckily, you’re not most parents. You have a long list of summer activities that will encourage creativity, improve physical well-being and release pent-up energy. To help preserve your sanity, we’ve gathered this list of 29 things to do with your children this summer.
Make Art On The Lawn
Step one: take a big, old sheet out onto the lawn. Step two: paint, paint and paint some more. This creative idea is simplicity at its finest and, chances are, you already have everything needed to do this right now.
Make art on the lawn with Mama Leisha.
5-Minute Bird Feeders
Just five minutes is all you need for this fun summer craft. Paint the pinecones with peanut butter and roll them in birdseed. Hang them on a tree and watch your kids be amazed when they come face to face with nature.
Build bird feeders in five minutes with this tutorial from Dana Made It.
Giant Ice Cube Excavation
Boys and girls love to dig for treasure. Let them use their tools to excavate and cool off at the same time. Simply freeze small items in a tub of colored water for an hour or two of entertainment.
Create an ice cube excavation for your little ones with CrumbBums.
Make a hideout with toy hoops and sheets. You can even save time and make your hideouts weather resistant by using a shower curtain instead of sheets. However you build these backyard cabanas, your kids are sure to enjoy having a place to play.
Make an outdoor hideout with The Craft Nest.
You don’t need fireworks to light up the night with games like glow-in-the-dark hopscotch. Just wait for the sun to go down and use glow sticks to set up a hopscotch court.
Play hopscotch and other glow in the dark games with Momma Did It.
Recycled Bottle Bowling
Build a bowling alley in the backyard with recycled bottles and a tennis ball. A few coats of paint are all you need for a quick and easy game that everyone can play.
Gather the family for a game of recycled bottle bowling with Moonfrye.
Homemade Balance Beam
If you have a kid that loves to “walk the line,” climbing and balancing on anything that will hold still, you will love this completely safe, homemade balance beam. It’s really just a wood plank laid flat on the ground — perfect for toddlers. For older kids, increase the challenge by turning a single plank into a maze.
Build your child’s motor skills with a homemade balance beam from Hands On As We Grow.
Make abstract art with chalk-filled balloons. Mix up a batch of liquid chalk from food coloring, cornstarch and water. Fill the balloons and watch the colors explode!
Get started sidewalk painting with Growing A Jeweled Rose.
Nature Scavenger Hunt
Encourage your kids to explore nature with a neighborhood scavenger hunt. Give them a container to collect their treasures and send them off with instructions that allow for creative selections. Find something soft, a beautiful rock and two different types of leaves.
Go on a nature scavenger hunt with this list from The Taylor House.
Make your own game of kick croquet with kickballs and toy hoops. It’s easier for youngsters to take aim at the oversized hoops and you don’t have to worry about a backyard full of kids with mallets.
Set up a game of kick croquet with this tutorial from The Crafting Chicks.
Oh no! It’s The Blob! There’s no reason to be afraid of this outdoor activity. The Clumsy Crafter walks you through how to make this fun water toy with plastic sheeting and tape. You can save time by using an old waterbed mattress, if you can find one. Either way, it will be hours of outdoor fun.
Make a water blob with these instructions from the Clumsy Crafter.
Make Paper Airplanes
A paper airplane race is another game that incorporates crafting with playing. Start by having kids build and decorate their own plane. Next, take it outside for the real test: will it fly? Have them test various designs to see how the shape affects flight capabilities.
Teach your kids to make paper airplanes with TinkerLab.
Play games outside with a set of easy-to-make yard dice. Don’t worry if your children are too young for Yahtzee, these dice can also be used for all sorts of outdoor activities like a life-size board game.
Make a set of yard dice with The Pinning Mama.
Ice Cream in a Bag
It’s hot and the ice cream man hasn’t been by for days. What’s a Mom to do? Make this homemade treat in less than 15 minutes. This recipe for ice cream in a bag is easy enough for even the smallest hands to help out.
Whip up some ice cream in a bag with this recipe from Tasty Kitchen.
With this quick game, kids can have their soda and drink it too. Set up a ring toss game with soda bottles and let children “earn” their beverage of choice. A wide mouth Mason jar lid is just the right size to snag a soda.
See the ring toss in action at See Landee Do.
A hoop toss is exactly like a ring toss, only bigger — much bigger. Use whatever you have on hand to set up the targets: toys, paper plates or rocks. Then, let the kids practice their target skills while tossing the giant hoop.
Play hoop toss and other games with these ideas from Learn Play Imagine.
Sidewalk Chalk Letter Activities
These letter games will transform a box of sidewalk chalk into an afternoon of educational play that can be adjusted for children of varied ages. From finding letters to spelling words, these games make learning a cardiovascular activity.
Play a few letter games with sidewalk chalk with instructions from No Time For Flash Cards.
Water games are a great way to beat the summer heat. This bull’s-eye game offers an opportunity to cool off without breaking out the swimsuits. Just draw the target on the ground and let the kids take aim with wet sponges.
Start a game of sponge bullseye or check out the other water games from Mamas Like Me.
Backyard Bug Hunt
If your children aren’t quite old enough to go exploring on their own, a backyard bug hunt may be the next best activity for getting out into nature. A magnifying glass and butterfly net can come in handy, but the most important tool is a sense of adventure.
Lead a backyard bug hunt with Go Explore Nature.
Outdoor Memory Game
Use this free printable to make an oversized memory game that can be played outside on the lawn. This game will keep them entertained while exercising their mind and their body. Make it more challenging for older kids by adding a game clock to time each move.
Get the free printable for this outdoor memory game from Pink When.
Water Balloon Pinata
Water balloons and sticks. Really, does it get any better for an 8-year-old? That’s the secret to the fun of water balloon pinatas — it has everything kids want to guarantee a good time.
Tie up your own water balloon pinata with Little Bit Funky.
No time for a weekend away? No problem. Pack up the kids for a night under the stars in your own backyard. Grab the essentials (like these fold-up sleeping pads or other spring break gifts), pitch the tent and cook hot dogs around the campfire. You don’t need to climb a mountain to share quality time as a family.
Sometimes the best activities happen spur of the moment, like when you notice the wind is rather blustery and decide to build a kite. This summer activity is a twofer that combines arts and crafts with outdoor recreation.
Go outside and fly a paper kite with this post from Made by Joel.
Tic-tac-toe can be played anywhere. Take it outside with an adorable set of hand-painted stones. For even more fun, let the kids choose their own markers for X’s and O’s to decorate the rocks.
Create the pieces for outdoor tic-tac-toe with instructions from Thrive 360 Living.
Help your little ones practice their colors while playing this outdoor game. Draw “the board” with sidewalk chalk, then have the players make their way across by jumping in the colored circles.
Play some fun sidewalk games with Little Hands, Big Work.
Water Balloon Yo-Yo
This simple water toy will delight young children, and all you need is a water balloon and a rubber band. Fill the balloons with less water to extend their bounce-time and make the popping a true surprise.
Give the kids a water balloon yo-yo with these instructions from Green Owl Art.
DIY Hoop Toys
The plastic hula hoops sold in stores have many uses. However, if you’re planning to use them all summer you may want to upgrade to something more substantial. Hoop toys are actually pretty simple to assemble and the kids will have a ball decorating them.
Make your own toy hoops with Visions of Sugar Plums.
Outdoor Color Match
Next time you’re at the home improvement store, grab a few paint swatches for this outdoor game. Take your game boards to the park and see how many colors you can match. This skill-building game can also be played indoors on days when it’s too hot to go outside.
Play a game of outdoor color match with this tutorial from Inner Child Fun.
Bean Bag Toss Game
Beanbags and buckets are all you need to recreate this classic game. Label a few buckets with point values and spread across the toss zone. Don’t have any beanbags? Save a trip to the store by filling small socks with rice; secure the ends with a ponytail holder.
Set up a beanbag toss game with help from Smart, Blonde and Crafty.
How will you keep your children entertained this summer? Do you have any fun games and activities planned? Follow us on Pinterest to find creative ideas for your family.
Featured image by Chuck Rogers.