Summer is finally here! It’s that time of year to plan for a season of exciting activities, ten weeks packed with both fun adventures and days of relaxation and family time. Summertime is sometimes the only time that families have to really spend together if children are in school and activities all year, so we believe in making the most of the time together in fun, memory-building ways that your kids will always look back on as some of the best times of their lives.
I love doing things together as a family, and compiled a list of things to do that can make summer super-entertaining without costing too much or wearing the parents out with planning. It really doesn’t have to cost much at all to have family fun, and it’s not enjoyable to schedule every single day to the brim, so we compiled a list of things to do what can be spontaneous. Check our ideas out below, and download our free printable (scroll to the bottom) to create your own list of fun summer family activities to accomplish this summer for a most magical, memorable summer.
20 Summer Family Fun Ideas (that don’t cost much)
1. Have water balloon fights. Fill a bunch of water balloons with water from the hose on a hot day, and chase each other around to cool off. This is a great activity to invite other neighborhood kids to join in on.
2. Draw an entire chalk town or city on your sidewalk and driveway… become creative and cover every inch of the concrete canvas. Everyone who passes your home will feel happy ♥︎
3. Read a picture book a day together. We recently went on a library binge of reading biographical picture books that are made for children 7-12, and they are amazing! It’s wonderful to learn about people throughout history who discovered phenomenal things or did something important that still impacts use today. A few I really recommend:
4. Have a bubble blowing contest… kids really get a kick out of this one, and blowing those humongous bubbles takes patience and practice.
5. Build a lemonade stand and sell homemade lemonade. Some areas don’t allow this (which is weird, right?) but if your area does, it’s really fun to children to start their first “business”, make something to sell, collect money, offer a service, etc. They love making the stand and selling to passersby, and after reading “The Lemonade Wars” with my son, I realize they learn a lot from it too.
6. Take your family movie night outdoors by setting up a backyard picnic with a laptop or large screen tablet, snacks (s’mores are good if you have a firepit, and popcorn is always awesome), and blankets.
7. Make a family time capsule and bury it in the backyard. Be sure to include things that are current, such as a popular toy or asdffasd. To be honest, your kids will have to most fun digging a hole for it and burying it, but one day the most fun will be looking back on what was important to them as kids.
8. Have a joke telling contest, and made up jokes get extra points. My sons love to make up their own jokes, and some are pretty good, and kids definitely get silly when they have to make up their own jokes, so this can be lots of fun. Make sure there are yummy snacks around too.
9. Have family game nights, and let a different person pick the game each time. Make lots of snacks, let it go on for hours into the night, and make sure you turn all your phones off! Undivided attention for family game nights will make them that much more special.
10. Make makeshift ring toss games with little sticks or poles stuck into your lawn, and toss household items like plastic headbands or bangle bracelets on them to score. Another idea is to cut holes into cardboard and toss bean bags through from a distance… for some reason, I find myself with a stick and plastic rings
11. Put notes on helium balloons and set them free. Add your email address to ask whomever finds the note to write to you and share where they found it, or if you’d rather not, just add a happy “Hope the person who finds this has a nice day!” messages to spread sunny cheer. We once learned one of our balloons made it three states away!
12. Have a card building contest. We were inspired by a popular Brady Bunch episode for this one, and it’s always fun to do (though I have to admit, we never made it past three levels so those Brady kids had some skills!)
13. Stargaze and draw what you see, or take pictures of the sun setting and rising. Both my sons love to draw, paint, and take pictures, and love being outside and running around twilight and before dawn… this is a lot of fun for kids!
14. Go on lots of bike rides. Rollerblade. Ride scooters, skate board, drive in ride-ons. These are the threads of a child’s summers, connecting them all together as one of those leisurely, “summer things to do”.
15. Try a new craft, like knitting or wood carving, with your children. It should be something unique that isn’t generally taught in school or art classes, so they can have a talent in a creative area that is uncommon. Being able to knit a beautiful sweater for a baby, create gorgeous chess pieces from wood, or create home decor lovely enough to be sold are all distinctive skills.
16. Let everyone make dinner one day a week by themselves- each kid makes an entire dinner alone (you can cheat and teach them to cook a bit in advance since that is an excellent skill for children to have) for the whole family. This teaches them independence and confidence too!
17. Make a home movie. Not just a home video, but a family home movie. Create a story, give out parts, memorize lines, and tape it all! Making costumes, props, and stage sets (from things you already have) is all part of the fun.
18. Make outdoor decor together. Some people like to make fairy dreamlands for their garden, others simply make gnomes or stepping stones. Either way, you child’s creative side can come out and beautify your home at the same time.
19. Build an indoor maze or obstacle course, using toys, furniture, cardboard boxes, etc. Make it epic! Multi-room obstacle course that require kids to jump, climb, hop, and crawl can be a monumental undertaking if you don’t have a plan, so check out these sites for some ideas, and keep the clean-up easy by using a basket full of rolled up socks as a trap instead of a bucket full of goo or sand or anything that is way more trouble than it’s worth. This is a grand venture so plan it to take an entire day… and it will be worth it.
20. Have after-dark fun. It’s beautiful and warm on summer evenings, and once it’s dark the lightning bugs come out and the crickets chirp. Toast s’mores over a firepit, play flashlight tag, sit around and tell stories, or just go for leisurely walks together. These late nights are ideal for kids having their friends over, because there is something about running through grass with only the light of the moon and a couple of flashlights that bonds kids for life ♥︎
* If you are on the road a lot, need to take your children with you to appointments, enjoy eating out, etc one of my favorite tips is to create a FUN BAG filled with things to do on-the-go. As long as they aren’t too noisy (don’t want to annoy other patrons or patients), add creative things your children love to do to a canvas tote, like origami, coloring books, Rubix Cubes, Sudoku puzzle books, a travel-sized magnetic chess board, etc.
* You can also create bags for specific adventures to store in your trunk so you can be ready for possible adventures- a canvas bag filled with beach supplies (like sand castle building supplies, sun block, and a beach ball) for days you want to spontaneously head to the beach, another bag filled with park toys (frisbees, badminton set, balls) for surprise park days, and a third for backyard play (bubbles, sidewalk chalk, croquet set) for last minute playdates. Now you’re ready for where ever the day takes you!