This epic list of 101 screen-free summer activity ideas will help you strengthen family bonds, stay sane and stop your kids from saying “I’m bored” all summer long!
Summer brings with it lots of opportunities….including opportunities for LOTS of screen time!
I’m not completely opposed to my kids watching TV or playing on the Nintendo Switch of course, we’ve set up some screen time rules for our whole family that everyone can be happy with!
But I do know that it’s easy to just say “yes, you can use the iPad,” and then 90 minutes later they’re still at it because you lose track of time and don’t have a plan for anything else to do when they’re done!
I grew up on a farm in rural North Dakota in the 80s and 90s. We had no access to the internet, seven TV channels (most of which were Canadian) and 20 acres where we could roam wild and free, getting into all sorts of safe trouble :)
My kids don’t have that kind of childhood though (we live in town), and maybe yours don’t either!
So sometimes then, as “modern” parents, we have to be purposeful about finding screen-free alternatives for our kids in the summer compared to all the readily available electronic devices out there!
That’s where this huge list of 101 screen-free summer activities for kids comes in!
Some of these ideas are my own, but many came from polling my local friends on Facebook who are parents too! (I’ve noted their names by the respective idea!)
Don’t feel like you have to do them all, of course! Ain’t nobody got time for that! ;)
But I think if you try even a few of these alternative activities to screen time when you’re at home with your kids this summer, you’ll find that you’ll have a lot less whining and a lot more fun memories with your family :)
101 Screen-Free Summer Activities for Kids
- Visit 3-4 local parks and take pictures at each one.
- Have a competition and see who can blow bubbles through a hula hoop (it’s hilarious on a windy day!)
- Go on a bike ride as a family on a trail you’ve never explored! (from Diana)
- Order a 3 month subscription to Kiwi Crate and pull out their STEM based activities on a rainy day.
- Paint on the deck or in the yard–doesn’t matter if things get messy!
- Complete a summer reading challenge.
- Pick out a new kids Bible storybook and read a bit from it each day throughout the summer!
- Try your hand at camping (from Ashley). Just an overnight trip (or even in your backyard) is totally ok!
- Paint rocks with an encouraging word and hide them around town for people to find.
- Play mini golf (from Laura).
- Find a local ropes course (I wish we had one of these near us!). From Laura.
- Build a water table together (or just buy a kids water table if you have a little more to spend!)
- Have a competition and see who can blow bubbles through a hula hoop (it’s hilarious on a windy day!)
- Host a backyard art party for your kids and their friends!
- Go on a bike ride as a family on a trail you’ve never explored!
- Take a nature walk.
- Write Bible verses or draw pictures with chalk on your driveway.
- Make a DIY bird feeder. Take a toilet paper roll, spread some peanut butter on it and roll it in seed! Hang it on a branch for the birds!
- Visit a splash park.
- Plant a garden.
- Near the end of the summer, bring some of your extra garden produce to a food bank.
- Make treats for your local firefighters (from Robin).
- Go to the farmer’s market.
- If you live in a small town, go on an evening walk and do your community a favor by collecting trash from the ditches, which is a great way to serve others! (from Alisa)
- Visit a local lake/beach.
- Make sidewalk chalk stencils and stencil your driveway.
- Have a water balloon toss with friends.
- Go on a nature walk and look for different kinds of plants or flowers (from Vanessa).
- Many cities have spaces where they have planted flower gardens you can walk through–so pretty! See if you can find one where you are!
- Make a bonfire and roast marshmallows for Smores!
- Find a PVC pipe building project on Pinterest and give it a try! (from Robin) I attempted this once and failed, but maybe you’ll have more success!
- Regularly visit an elderly couple–they will love it! (From Carmen)
- Check out the local county fair, my kids love the animals at our county fair!
- Make homemade ice cream. (from Samantha) I did this a lot growing up and my dad still makes homemade ice cream for us :)
- Play water balloon baseball on a hot day!
- On a rainy day, play the game of Hullabaloo. (from Jill)
- Get a huge roll of paper (check your local newspaper office) and tape it to your fence for a giant painting canvas! (from Carmen)
- Compete in the National Bible Bee.
- Take part in a summer reading program from your local library.
- Visit the downtown area of a nearby town. If you search their city’s website, you’ll likely find free events going on!
- Ask your local shelter if they need anything for the summer. Many times a big need is for soap, shampoo and diapers. Buy a few things and drop them off. This is a great tangible way for your kids to serve others.
- Spend a rainy day puddle jumping! (Mom too!) ;).
- Go outside at night and watch the fireflies–so cool!
- Have a national park nearby? If you have a fourth grader, you get in free!
- Buy glow in the dark bracelets from the dollar store and play tag in the semi-dark (as in, make sure there are streetlights or some other ambient light source on to prevent injury!) ;)
- Find a local “frolf” aka Frisbee Golf course for a great Sunday afternoon family activity (from Angie).
- Play in the sandbox. Bring out some water and make sandcastles in it too.
- Play laser tag! (from Steve)
- Have a toy “car wash” or a “bike wash”
- Sell lemonade and homemade cookies.
- Bake together.
- Make some sandbox creations. “Grate” roads, dig tunnels with old cans (that you’ve taped around the edges) and have some messy fun.
- Go kayaking. (from Ronna) Some cities have programs where you can rent a kayak or even borrow it free for an afternoon!
- Have a watermelon eating contest.
- Go geocaching (you’ll need to use your phone for this one, but totally fine to make this a fun family activity!) From Carmen.
- Go to a science museum.
- Go to garage sales and find some treasures! (From Gracia) What I do is have my kids do a few small chores around the house and then give them some money to spend on whatever they want. It’s a good way to teach them to manage money!
- Institute “buddy time” where you pair your kids up (I have four, so this works well for me) so you have time to get a few things done on your own (from Deb). Set a reasonable time limit and give them a list of activities to do together or just send them outside if they’re old enough ;)
- Learn to jump rope! Remember doing that for the Presidential Physical Fitness competition in elementary school??
- Play hide and seek!
- Climb a tree.
- Play sidewalk chalk games (from Alyssa). Here’s a great list of sidewalk chalk activities and games!
- Go fishing.
- Pretend to be a pioneer (my kids love this–like they’re in the Little House books!)
- Have a Lego building competition (from Jill, whose husband does a Lego “camp” for their kids every summer)!
- Have breakfast outside.
- Check out a local children’s museum on a rainy day. Check Groupon for local deals!
- Read a non-fiction book (The Who Was and Who Is series is super engaging for kids!)
- Teach your kids to cook. This Kitchen Stewardship series of online kids cooking classes (pictured below) is fantastic and great for beginners. Or if you’re not a cook, you can learn how to WITH your kids!
- Play with paper dolls. We have these paper dolls for Little House fans!
- Make some Independence Day crafts. Here are a bunch of fun ideas for 4th of July on my summer Pinterest board!
- Make a grape toothpick sculpture.
- Read about a famous missionary. This book series about missionaries called Christian Heroes Then and Now is incredible–best for kids 7 and up.
- Mow an older person’s lawn (older kids of course).
- Get a membership to a local pool.
- Make a “bored” jar with your choice of summer activity ideas written on popsicle sticks.
- Write a letter to a friend or family member who needs some encouragement!
- Bike to a local restaurant for a treat.
- Create a “Field Day” challenge in your backyard and invite the neighborhood kids to participate with little prizes. (Safety first, of course!) Think things like you did on Field Day back in school: 3 legged race, jumping over small hurdles, hit a ball off a tee, egg on a spoon race, etc. Here is an idea for a sidewalk chalk obstacle course that looks fun!
- Build a fort.
- Play Bocce ball (more fun than it looks!)
- Go hiking (from Jennifer) It doesn’t have to be up a mountain!) ;)
- Have a playdate with a group of friends.
- Visit a state park (from Brianna).
- Sing at the nursing home.
- Go for ice cream! (from Larissa) Visit a new shop that you’ve never been to before.
- Check to see if there’s a summer Kids Bowl Free program near you (from Becky)
- If it’s really hot, make Solar Smores! Find the instructions here.
- Make a tornado in a bottle (great rainy day activity–I wrote about this SO long ago on my blog, the kids are so little!!)
- On a rainy day, have an indoor dance party! Have an Amazon Echo? Even more fun–my kids love to call out songs for Alexa to play on Amazon Music.
**Here’s where you can get a free 30 day trial for Amazon Music Unlimited to use during the summer–sweet!
- Feed ducks at a park (from Ronna)
- Play balloon tennis. Tape together paper plates and paint stirrers, blow up some balloons and bop them back and forth!
- Put on a play.
- Go berry picking!
- Go rollerblading (from Alyssa) Yes, they still make rollerblades! :)
- Have your kids to make their own snacks! Teach them with this free video series, 10 Snacks Your Kids Can Make.
- Go old-school and run through the sprinkler! (from Vanessa)
- Learn how to draw something. A couple of fun books your kids can use are How to Draw Unicorns (and other Creatures), How to Draw People, and How to Draw Animals! Many libraries have these types of books too :)
- Find a local community area where you can play baseball (from Jennifer). This would actually make a really fun neighborhood activity and give you a chance to get to know some families!
- Catch butterflies, bugs and frogs and then let them go!
- Make a summer bucket list with a bunch of these ideas and see how many you can check off! :)
One More Thing…
I don’t know about you, but I always approach summer vacation with excitement mixed with some nervousness.
I love the freedom and lack of routine in some ways, and in other ways it scares me that my patience won’t be able to survive unstructured time with all my kids home 24/7.
But, just like coming up with some great activity ideas to break up the days, I’ve learned a little summer planning can go a long way.
Summer comes with it’s own set of specific “planning” challenges though.
We need a routine for us AND the kids, we want the kids to pitch in with helping around the house and our schedule will be a mix of organized events and spontaneous fun (which is good!).
We need ways to get things done, but also space for last-minute ideas.
So to help with this, I created the Purposeful Family Summer Planner!
It’s a printable resource designed specifically for moms who are at home with their kids during the summer. (That’s my experience as a work-at-home mom, so I can only speak to that).
Not only will it help you organize your time, but it also lays out a plan for a strong devotional life for your family as well as a guide to making a “family strategy” for the summer, so you can all discuss your priorities and make plans together too.
I really believe that creating a “whole family” plan and not just individual plans for each person will help your summer goals, strategies and ideas to actually be accomplished, because they are a cooperative effort!
(I’ve created a video for you along with the planner explaining how to create a whole family plan for your summer!)
This summer, I want you to be ready with a plan, be a happier more patient mom and enjoy making lots of fun memories with your kids!
Want to see what’s inside the Purposeful Family Summer Planner?
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