Are you excited for summer, but overwhelmed at the idea of keeping your kids busy? Are you looking for activities to do in summer vacation? You’re not alone. While summer is a lot of fun, it’s also a lot of work! This list of summer activities for kids is a great jumping off point as you plan your summer fun.
Summer Activities for Kids at Home
- Make Your Own Ice Cream: While ice cream may sound complicated, I promise it’s simple and fun! Our toddlers love making ice cream and cooking as a family is a great way to encourage kids to try new foods. Let your kids take turns picking the flavor, or come up with crazy new options together.
- Read a Book Together: Reading aloud is great for kids of all ages. Pick a book or favorite series and read to your children over the course of the summer. Some great options are The Chronicles of Narnia, classics by E.B. White, The Ramona Collection, or The Complete Adventures of the Borrowers.
- Try a Science Experiment: Whether you choose to make slime, or a tornado in a bottle, there are tons of easy science experiments you can try at home with your kids. Summer activities for kids that are fun and educational? Sign us up!
- Build a Fort: Drape a large sheet over your dining room table, or let your kids get creative with couch cushions and pillows. Kids love to build and the novelty of building a fort indoors may keep them occupies for hours.
- Put Together a Puzzle: pick out a difficult puzzle at the start of the summer with your kids. Set up a table in an open corner and work on it together over the course of the summer. Working on a puzzle provides lots of time to chat and gives kids the chance to challenge themselves mentally, develop greater focus, and accomplish something slowly over time.
- Make Paper Airplanes: Try different designs and have a competition to see which type flies the farthest.
- Paint Rocks: Let your kids gather up rocks that appeal to them during the summer. When you have a day you need to stay in, give them paint and let them paint patterns, faces, or animals onto all of their treasures.
- Set Up a Sprinkler: Put the kids in swimsuits, give them buckets, watering cans, and other vessels to collect the water and they’ll be busy running, pouring, and splashing for hours.
- Have a Movie Night: Make popcorn, bake your favorite snacks, and gather together for a family movie night. Watch summer classics or the latest blockbuster – whatever appeals to your family.
- Make Popsicles: There are a ton of cool molds available, (We love this classic set by Zoku) or you can use paper cups and disposable popsicle sticks.
- Have a Dance Party: Work with your kids to pull together a playlist of summertime songs. Have a dance off, try out some new moves, and get silly.
- Create a Time Capsule: Gather small items that have meaning to your kids, write letters, draw pictures, and add a few photos. Seal it all up in a waterproof container and bury it in your yard to dig up in a few years.
- Make a Cardboard Castle: Gather up a bunch of cardboard boxes and build a castle. Let your kids decorate it with markers and crayons.
- Set up a Tea Party: Serve real tea, finger sandwiches, and little desserts. Put on dress up clothes or fancy dresses. Invite your child’s favorite dolls or teddy bears to join the fun.
- Play a Card Game: You can find directions online for a ton of different games. Learn something new to play as a family, or teach your kids solitaire.
- Have a Yard Sale: Most kids love anything that feels novel and grown up. You may have trouble getting them to clean their room, but letting them sell their unused toys for money will get them moving. They’ll practice math skills to figure out pricing and calculate change without realizing they’re learning.
- Tie-Dye T-Shirts: Tie-dying is simple and a ton of fun. Stock up on cheap t-shirts, pick up a package of rubber bands and let the kids create custom clothes.
- Make Friendship Bracelets: Kids will spend hours crafting these with friends at camp. Stock up on supplies to make your own at home.
- Set up an Ice Cream Sundae Bar for Dinner: Your kids will love it. Just make sure you’re okay with a late bedtime after the sugar rush!
- Have a Watermelon Eating Competition: See who can eat the most, or who can eat a slice fastest without using their hands.
Summer Activities for Kids Outdoors
- Go on Bike Rides: Bike rides are a great summer activity for kids of all ages. Take your little one around the block, let your older kids venture out on their own in pairs, or gather up the whole family for a longer bike adventure.
- Color with Sidewalk Chalk: Create a giant mural on your sidewalk or driveway. Let little ones practice their letters and numbers. Trace your children and have them color in the outlines.
- Plant a Butterfly Garden: Butterflies are gorgeous and so beneficial to the environment. Their habitats have been decreasing, causing all sorts of problems. Make a small difference by planting your own little butterfly garden with your kids.
- Go Camping: Whether you choose to head to a local state park, or camp out in your own backyard, camping is a great way to expose kids to nature. There’s nothing like building a campfire and sleeping out under the stars.
- Fly a Kite: Pick up a kite and head to a park or open field. Little ones love watching kites fly and big kids will enjoy learning how to fly a kite.
- Visit a Farmer’s Market: Check out all the colorful fruits and vegetables together and pick up a favorite item, or one they’ve never seen before, to cook together. Let the kids talk to the farmers about growing food. Our local market even offers live music and a space for children to run and dance.
- Visit All Your Top Local Playgrounds: Make a list of all the nearby playgrounds you’ve either been to, or have been meaning to explore with your kids. Challenge yourselves to hit up them all over the course of the summer. The kids will get exercise and if you’re feeling ambitious, they could work on putting together a guide for other kids, or take a silly photo at each spot and create a photo album of their adventures.
- Have a Picnic: Most kids love the chance to eat outdoors. Let them participate in selecting the food and choosing the destination. Sometimes we’ll have a picnic in our backyard just to shake things up a bit.
- Jump Rope: Try some of these jump rope games for kids.
- Take a Hike: Start with an easy trail and if your kids enjoy it you can add more advanced hikes to your plans as the summer progresses. Local state parks are a great, often underutilized resource.
- Create an Obstacle Course: Set one up in your yard for your kids, or challenge them to come up with their own. Spin around in circles, race between trees, do a summersault, jump over a log, etc.
- Make S’mores: Set up a firepit in your yard, or go someplace that allows campfires. Roasting marshmallows is a childhood favorite and you can stick with classic toppings, or get creative with their favorite candies.
- Try Stargazing: Download an app, or pick up a stargazing guide. Let your kids stay up late on a clear night and work together to locate constellations in the sky.
- Climb a Tree: Spending time in nature is hugely beneficial to kids. Encourage them to climb and explore.
- Set up a Scavenger Hunt: Whether you go all out with a local adventure, or keep the clues local to home, kids love a scavenger hunt.
- Visit a County Fair: if you do some digging, you’re likely to find a local county fair or carnival in your area. Ask other moms, check with your local recreation department, and find a few free or cheap local activities to add to your plans. Kids love eating cotton candy, playing little games, and listening to the music.
- Play Flashlight Tag: Organize a neighborhood game, or invite a bunch of friends to meet up at a local park. The novelty of playing tag in the dark will keep the kids busy for hours.
- Tend a Vegetable Garden: plant a small container or raised bed garden together at the start of the season. Have your children tend to the plants over the course of the summer and try new recipes with the veggies they grow.
- Dig for Dinosaurs: Pick up a package of little dinosaurs, or raid your kid’s toybox. Bury them in containers of dirt or sand and let your kids dig to find them.
- Set Up a Lemonade Stand: Let the kids bake cookies and mix up the lemonade. Entrepreneurship is a great skill to foster and they’ll gain experience talking with adults and other kids.
- Go Berry Picking: Check with nearby farms in your state to make sure you know the growing season. Take your kids to pick blueberries or strawberries and then come up with fun ways to eat them together. Bake blueberry muffins or pancakes, make homemade jam, or just eat them plain by the bowlful.
- Have a BBQ: Invite friends over, or meet up at a park. Encourage the kids to help plan the menu and gather some games to play with their friends.
- Play Frisbee or Frisbee Golf: pick up a couple frisbees and invite friends over to join in the fun.
- Make Fairy Houses: Gather moss, bark, and leaves to create little homes outdoors.
- Watch Fireworks: Make plans to check out a local firework display over Independence Day or your town’s Homecoming celebrations.
Water Activities for Kids
- Make Sponge Bombs: This easy craft will keep kids entertained and they’ll play with them all summer.
- Visit a Swimming Pool: Do you have a local community pool, or a private pool that sells day passes nearby? How about a friend with a pool? Offer too bring ice cream or pizza for the kids and plan a play date at a pool.
- Organize a Water Balloon Fight: Invite over a few friends and let the kids have a water balloon fight.
- Spend a Day at a Beach or Lake: Pack lunch, shovels, pails, towels and sunblock and you’ll be good to go. Your kids will easily entertain themselves for hours with access to water, sand, and other kids to play with.
- Make a Water Blob: Building a water blob takes some crafting skills, but kids will love the novelty.
- Go Fishing: Pick up a beginner’s fishing real and find a local pond where you can teach your kids to fish. Fishing takes patience and focus and is a great way to get outdoors more often.
Summer Activities for Preschoolers
- Set Up a Water Table: Our kids adore their water table and use it daily during the warmer months.
- Jump in Mud Puddles: Wait for rain, or use a hose to create your own. Kids love playing in the mud and it’s a great sensory experience for the littlest ones.
- Make Your Own Playdough: Playdough is one of the simplest recipes to make at home. Whip up a batch with your kids on a rainy day.
- Nap Outdoors: Put your kids in a stroller around nap time and push them until they fall asleep. Let them finish their nap in a shady spot in your yard. The fresh air is good for them and you may find they sleep longer than they do in their cribs.
- Make Your Own Bubbles: Toddlers and preschoolers adore bubbles. Making your own is a fun summer activity for kids and an affordable way to spend a summer afternoon.
- Visit the Library: Not only will your little one find plenty of books and toys to entertain them, but if you’re lucky, the library may offer an outdoor story time in the summer.
- Make Your Own Birdfeeder: preschoolers love looking at birds. Create your own birdfeeder with a pinecone, some peanut butter, and sunflower seeds. Hang it outside your window, or in a nearby tree and watch the birds come to feast.
- Go to a Splash Pad: Splash pads have been popping up at playgrounds allover and toddlers adore them. Staying cool while engaging their senses for the win.
- Paint with Water: It sounds weird, but I promise your little ones will love it. Break out a bucket of water, paint rollers, and paint brushes and let them go to town painting the fence or the sidewalk. They’ll love getting to play with the adult tools and the water will evaporate as it dries.
- Throw Rocks into a Pond: Toddlers love hearing rocks plop into the water. Find a quiet spot and let your little one practice throwing.
- Play with Soap Foam: Put 1/4 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of dish soap, and a few drops of food coloring in a blender. Blend for 15 seconds or so, until foamy. Dump the foam into a bin or bucket and let your kids play.
Summer Activities for Kids at the Beach
- Build Sand Castles: Have a content to build the biggest castle, or work together to create an entire village.
- Look for Sea Glass: Searching for sea glass is fun for kids and adults. Save up your finds in a jar, or use them to decorate your sand castles.
- Hunt for Crabs: Kids will spend hours turning over rocks on the hunt for crabs. Give them a bucket and a shovel and see who can find the most. Just make sure the crabs don’t get too crowded.
- Have a Water Bucket Relay: Give each child a cup, spoon, or shell and have them race to fill their buckets.
- Organize a game of beach volleyball: Have the kids invite their friends to meet you at the beach, or ask other families to join in.
- Play with squirt guns: The kids are wet anyway, so you’re not creating a bigger mess.
- Have a Treasure Hunt: Ask each child to collect a shell, feather, crab, something round, a piece of driftwood, etc.
- Practice Writing in the Sand with Sticks: Little ones can practice the alphabet, or writing out their names.
- Gather Sea Shells: Use them to decorate your sand castles, or take them home for arts and crafts projects.
- Play Kids Games in the Water: Young kids will enjoy playing Ring Around the Rosie, or Heads, Shoulders, Knees & Toes in the surf
- Make Sand Angels: They’re the same as snow angels, just in the sand.
- Float Toy Boats in the Water: Make your own boats to race, or bring some bath toys from home.
- Jump Over the Waves: Little kids love standing in the surf and trying to jump over the incoming waves.
What are your favorite summer activities for kids? Do you have any must do summer traditions?
such an extensive list! I love it! we should always have activities stored up esp for the summer, just in case we ran out. We need to keep kids as busy and productive while still having fun during the break!
Thanks Mallie! I love this time of year.
Such a great list! Thanks. Sometimes I run out of ideas that will get the kids outside!
You’re not the only one! I’m constantly pinning new ideas to try.
Love these ideas! You are really a time saver. 🙂
What a great list! I can’t wait for us to try out some of these! We are definitely going to make Fairy Houses.
Thanks Claire! Our kids love looking for treasures to add to their fairy houses whenever we go for a walk.