School’s out for summer and moms everywhere are ripping out their hair! Jk, maybe. But it can be a lot to handle when you’re used to your kids being gone for a few hours a day. And in their defense, it’s also a huge change for them to go from a completely structured day to total freedom.
I’ve read articles before about how it’s good to let your kids be “bored” in the summer. That you shouldn’t plan things to do everyday or structure their time. How it teaches them to use their imagination and create fun for themselves. And while I’m totally up for doing that, I do feel that I need to give them some activities to choose from or they fight ALL DAY LONG. And this mama can’t be having that.
I’ll be honest, I’m not one of those moms that plans out a curriculum each week and makes lesson plans everyday. Honestly, I wish I was. But that’s just not realistic for my schedule right now so I do the best I can.
So here are 15 activities to keep your kids busy this summer that don’t require a ton of planning (or money!)
Pool time- We live right down the street from the pool so we head there frequently. Even if it’s for an hour or two a day, they love spending time in the water.
Color Scavenger Hunt Bingo- go on a nature walk and have the kids find different items for their color bingo boards. Then get home and play Bingo! Double the fun 🙂
Fruit Painting- Cut up different types of food, dip the fruit into paint and stamp them onto paper.
Make cookies- Make a few different kinds and let the kids help. I know, the mess can be overwhelming. Pro tip: pre-measure the ingredients into bowls beforehand and then they just have to pour the bowls in.
Activity books– we’ve made it a habit to sit down every night after dinner to do “homework” and the kids love it. I found these books at the Dollar Tree but Target has a TON right now. I used to make copies so we could do pages multiple times but these are only $1 and it’s less paper wasted and less papers laying around.
We made a chart and they get a sticker for every night their “homework.” Then at the end of the month, they get to pick out a prize!
Build an indoor fort: Blankets, furniture, etc… make it a princess castle or a monster hideout. Let your kids use their imagination and assist them in bringing it to life.
Finger paint– I know, it’s messy… but they love it. Not pictured here but PRO TIP: buy a shower curtain or plastic table cloth from the dollar store and lay it down before painting. OR let them paint on it. Then easy peasy clean-up!
Library/Bookstore story times: There are usually story times or other activities at stores like Barnes and Nobles and local libraries. Some kids have a hard time sitting still for story time (cough my kids cough) so this is a good opportunity to encourage sitting still and listening.
Make your own movie theater: When I was babysitting in high school I would go all out; I would give the kids a few choices for a movie, make fake tickets, a concession stand, etc. Now that I have my own kids, I do the same thing! Whatever the theme of your movie is, have them draw movie posters, make tickets to get in, set up a concession stand with fake money and let them buy their snacks.
Car wash: Bring out the hose and dish soap and let them go to town on washing all of their vehicles (cars, trikes, scooters, whatever!) Even more fun, let them help you wash your car. Free labor? I didn’t say, you did…
Hands on activities: A few of our favorites include, Playdoh, Kinetic Sand, and Water beads. These will usually keep them entertained for awhile. Stock up on accessories and tools and you’ll be good to go!
Water stations: Set up a sprinkler, water table, water balloons, etc. Here are a few fun ones I found:
Scavenger hunt: Plant clues and watch your kids find the buried treasure, matey! This doesn’t have to be super intense either; draw pictures to the refrigerator, washing machine, bathtub, etc. Maybe the prize is a popsicle or a trip to the ice cream store. No need to go overboard!
Crafts using whatever you have around the house: I always keep a stock of paper, paint, markers, crayons, and stickers and give them free reign to design whatever they want. Sometimes if I have extra time, I’ll look on Pinterest and find some sort of cool craft or activity to go with the time of year. But other times, just giving them the supplies and seeing what happens is good enough for them!
Summer camps- Look for local camps; sports, dance, theater, whatever. It gives them a chance to socialize with other kids and gives you a break too!
Parenting is tough. It’s hard to find a balance between planning their entire day and letting them get bored and be terrors. SO I try and find a happy medium between the two. These are activities that don’t require a ton of supplies or planning and will help everyone have the best summer EVA!