Inside: 50+ screen-free summer activities for kids that will get them outside and foster their imagination and creativity.
It’s so tempting for kids to turn to technology on slow summer days. (And let’s be honest – so tempting for parents to use the electronic babysitter!)
But getting kids to explore interests, get outside, and stretch their imagination and creativity over the summer can do so much more for kids than a video game or TV show ever can.
Here are some favorite summer activities to keep kids occupied and off of tablets and TVs.
Screen-Free Outdoor Activities
Kids are inside for most of the day during the school year so summer is the perfect time for kids to connect with nature and take in the fresh air. And did you know experts recommend kids get three hours outside every day? Here are a few ways kids can connect with nature and spend time outside this summer:
- Build a fort out of sticks
- Begin and cultivate a garden
- Lay a blanket on the ground, have a picnic and read a book
- Go for a hike
- Have fun geocaching
- Gather frogs, butterflies or other bugs (and then set them free)
- Try to identify bird songs
- Go for a swim in a local lake
- Toss water balloons (try these eco-friendly ones)
- Go camping – either at a campground or in the backyard
- Go fishing
- Set up sprinklers and a slip and slide
- Climb a tree
- Play an outdoor sport
- Take bike rides – check out local bike trails near you
- Try out canoeing or kayaking
- Hold a hula hoops contest
- Play hide-and-go-seek
- Jump rope
- Blow giant bubbles (use this easy DIY bubble recipe)
- Take part in a scavenger hunt
- Create a backyard obstacle course
- Set up a water slide or slip & slide
- Set up a water table for toddlers and preschoolers
- Go berry or fruit picking at a local farm
- Visit a playground at a local park
- Visit a local splash pad
- Visit a National or State Park
Screen-Free Art for Kids
Summer is the perfect time to let kids use their creativity and be artistic. Here are a few ways kids can get involved in arts and crafts over the summer:
- Create chalk creations on a sidewalk or driveway
- Get messy finger painting, oil painting or watercolors outside
- Use a squirt gun to make some unique art
- Create necklaces and earrings with beads
- Create friendship bracelets
- Learn to sew
- Use aluminum foil to mold into sculptures
- Draw with sidewalk chalk
- Try out photography
- Make a kite and then fly it outside
- Have fun creating with clay
- See what you can create from a cardboard box (see the book Not a Box)
- Gather a few things from the recycling and see what you can make
- Sit down outside and draw what you see – tree, flower, etc.
- Dig into one of these arts and crafts subscription boxes especially for kids
Click on the image below to sign up for my weekly-ish newsletter and get a copy of my list of Kids’ Summer Activities for free.
Screen-Free Imaginative Play for Kids
The benefits of imaginative play for kids are well documented – it helps kids’ social/emotional skills, language skills, and problem-solving skills. Kids have a great opportunity to engage in deep imaginative play with all the free time summer has to offer. Here are a few suggestions for how kids can use their imaginations:
Related: 25 Easy Pretend Play Ideas
- Play dress-up
- Put on a play
- Build a fort with sticks and fabric
- Build fairy houses outside
- Build creations with Legos or blocks
- Create an obstacle course for friends and family members
Screen-Free Educational Activities for Kids
Sure kids get a break from academics during the summer but that doesn’t mean we can’t sneak in a few learning activities every now and then. It’s especially beneficial to have kids continue to read and practice math over the summer to avoid summer slide.
- After building a fort, gather books and read inside
- Take a tour of neighboring libraries
- Visit an art museum
- Visit a science museum
- Learn about history in your city or town
- Visit historical sites
- Play counting games
- Play addition and subtraction games
- Have kids begin a business – see: How to Make Money as a Kid
- Have kids take a cooking course
- Make (and eat!) ice cream
- Make your own musical instruments
- Begin a summer book club with friends
- Play board games that enhance literacy skills: Scrabble, Boggle, or Super Sleuth.
- Play games that deepen math knowledge: Math War, Tri-Facta, or Equate
- Dig into one of these twenty educational subscription boxes for kids
Tired of hearing your kids say “There’s nothing to do!”? These printable 101+ Boredom Buster Cards can help. Each card contains a suggested activity kids ages 6+ can do with little or no guidance from you. And they use materials found in most family homes. Click here to learn more and get your own.
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What to do next…
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3. Get your kids started on chores.
Learn how to get your child started on chores (& keep them motivated + avoid power struggles) by enrolling in my Get Your Kids Successfully Started on Chores course. Click here to learn more and sign up.
About Kerry Flatley
Hi! I’m Kerry, the mother of two girls and a certified parent educator. I believe it is possible for parents to have a supportive, loving, and warm relationship with their kids while raising them to be independent and ultimately self-sufficient. Over the years, I’ve read numerous books and articles that support this belief and I’ve put these ideas into practice with my own kids. Read more about me and Self-Sufficient Kids here.