Go for a Hike – If you don’t have it already, AllTrails is an amazing app that will show you local trails along with ratings from people who have hiked the trail, maps, difficulty ratings, trail lengths and a lot more.
Play in the sprinklers – Is it really even summer if you haven’t played in the sprinklers, yet?
Have a water war – Use things you have on hand. Water guns, plastic cups, buckets, sponges, old rags… But while there may not be rules in love and war – you may want to set a Geneva code just so we can all be friends afterwards.
Play kickball – Aahh the childhood classic. Play it with the full set of rules or modify it for younger kids.
Go to the park – Spice it up and find a park you either haven’t been to yet or one you haven’t been to in a while.
Go to the library – The library can be a wealth of summer activities for both kids and adults from summer reading programs, to craft days and movie nights. Check with your local library(ies) to see what’s going on this summer.
Ride your bike – Or if your child doesn’t know how to ride a bike, this could be the summer they learn!
Make a fairy door/garden – Totally stole this from my sister-in-law who probably stole it from Pintrest. You can get tons of ideas and how-to instructions online.
Go on an epic quest to find a lizard/butterfly /whatever – To aid you on your quest, research the time of day your chosen beast is out and about along with their habitat, eating habits etc. Take a photo of your quarry as a trophy.
Make DIY popsicles – This is another one where Pintrest and a simple Google search comes in handy. There are 100s of recipes online or you can do what I do and pour whatever juice you have on hand into icemolds, plop in a few fruit pieces, stick it in the freezer and call it a day.
Attend a parade – With all the festivals, fairs, and summer holidays going on there is bound to be a fun parade to watch. Colorado is full of fun parades such as the Florence Wet/Dry parade on July 4th, the Colorado State Fair Fiesta Day Parade in August.
Attend a local (free) festival – This kinda goes along with the parade activity above but the world is full of fun summer festivals that have something for everything. Just make sure and research for cover charges to attend.
Check out nearby free museums – Or look for a list of free days.
See if your library has a park/zoo pass program – A lot of times, your local library will have a pass program for a local park or zoo that you can check out for a weekend. Otherwise if you happen to be the proud parent of a fourth grader, there is a park pass program where you can get into national parks for free.
Read a book – Summer is a great time to find a book that your kids actually want to read. This is especially good for late elementary and middle school students. Listen. I loved To Kill a Mockingbird as much as the next lit major. Truly. But there is something soul sucking about having to read these books round robin style in front of the class.
Write a story – If your kids are too young to write their own stories, help them write the story and have them illustrate it.
Make art. – Gather your craft supplies and go nuts. Or, take your paints outside for a mommy and me Plein Air session.
Redecorate/Reorganize a room – Enlist your kids to help redecorate their room. Have them help move things around and maybe hang up your new art piece from #17.
Go through unused clothes and toys to donate – Summer is the perfect time to do this as its well after Christmas and Easter and before back-to-school shopping
Make no-bake cookies – Keep the house cool (and little hands burn free) by making no bake cookies. Yum.
Visit the splash pad – Even I have fun at the splash pad. Slather your kids in sunscreen, take a few towls, a swim suit and a few snacks and make an afternoon of it.
Walk around a Riverwalk – Go for an easy breezy walk around your local waterway. Don’t have a nearby Riverwalk? Stroll down a pretty shady street in your town
Camp in the backyard – Camping in the back yard is a great way to spend time together. Pitch a tent in the backyard or just grab a sleep pad and some sleeping bags and sleep under the stars. The best part is if you start to feel too uncomfortable, you can just go back inside.
Cook dinner over a firepit – This is a great activity to go with #23. Grab a hot dog, steak or go check out a fun recipe online and grab some roasting sticks and have fun! Make sure that if you have little kids to watch them like a hawk as burns can easily happen.
Play basketball – I always forget that this is even an option, but I found myself playing with some neighbor kids one afternoon and we had a blast for an hour or two!
Plant an indoor herb garden – Mint is a great option for those living in the front range of Colorado. It grows like a weed so you will probably have friends who are itching to get rid of some and once you get yours good and propagated (in an indoors container so it wont take over your yard) then you can go about using it in the literal 1000s of recipes that call for it. A great option is a summer watermelon tomato salad or muddle some in a glass of ice water with lemon for a cool refresher on a hot day.
Take your dog or a neighbor’s dog for a walk – I love taking my dog out for hikes on a cool summer morning for multiple reasons. One is that we all (me, my dog, my daughter) have fun, but the best reason is my dog is so tired by the end of it he doesn’t get into trouble the rest of the day! If you don’t have a dog, bless yourself and a neighbor by offering to take Fido out for the morning.
Write and preform a play – Let your kids write a play and put it on for you. You can help them get started by putting slips of paper in three bags. Label one “characters”, label one “setting” and label the other “conflict”. It’s a great way to get the kids to use their creativity over the summer and to stay away from the t.v.
Make costumes for characters in a story or hand puppets – What goes better with a play than puppets or costumes? Use what you have available. If you decided not to do a play, let the kid re-enact their favorite book while you narrate.
Make a sidewalk chalk maze. – Create a maze on your driveway with sidewalk chalk and let your kids solve it. Then let them create one for you to solve. After you’re done, make a few drawings and then rinse it off with a hose!
Pull the mattress off the bed and have a living room sleepover. – My husband and I like to do this with our daughter. We grab some snacks, every pillow in the house to pile on the mattress and then camp out and watch a movie. (Hint: This is a great “date” as well once your kids go to bed!)
Build a fort – Get out some chairs and some sheets on a very hot or rainy day and create a fort. Make sure to stock it with pillows, snacks and some books.
Make a bike trail – Include some age appropriate hills and jumps for extra fun. If you have a large property this can be especially fun! Make it your own and maybe have a race on your newly created track.
Play a card game/board game – These can get heated, but the more you make a habit out of it, the easier it gets. Play a classic like shoots and ladders, monopoly or candyland or check out some of the recommendations here. Don’t own a board game already? Make one of your own.
Make some lemonade – Need a quick activity before snack time? Have your kids help with making fresh squeezed lemonade. Have your kids press the lemons, add the sugar and mix under your supervision. If you feel extra creative you can have a lemonade lab with other fun mix ins like fruit, seltzer, mint, spices or cucumbers.
Outdoor family game night – Pull out the yard jenga or yardzeee for a family game night. If you don’t own these things and have a few 4x4s or 2x4s handy with some simple woodworking tools, you can make your own in an afternoon. You can also opt for a backyard Olympics style game with some classics like a three legged race or egg balance games. Enlist your neighbors for more fun.
Roast fruit kebabs or marshmallows over a fire – Nothing says summer like roasting marshmallows over the fire. If you hate the idea of giving your kids sugar, try roasting fruit kebabs instead. Many fruits like pineapple and strawberries taste different (and delicious) when cooked so try it out!
Make a box playhouse or castle – Bring a large box outside along with some paint and some scissors and let your kids create their very own clubhouse. Looking for a longer activity? Let them create a castle. If you need inspiration do a quick google search… you may need a bigger box…
Go on a photo walk – Let your son or daughter use your old digital camera or your (heavily protected) phone and go for a walk in the park. Better yet, if you have a poloroid or old fashioned disposable camera, use that. There is something magic about developing film. Display the best of the photos around the house.
Download lego plans and make things – Lego company releases a new mini plan every month for free and they also give free access to their classic plans. There is also a wealth of creators online who will create plans for others to follow. One of my favorites is from a blog called littlebinsforlittlehands.com who incorporates learning into her child’s lego play time.
Go geochaching – All you need is a phone GPPS and access to the internet on your phone. Go to www.geocaching.com/play for more details. Its like a giant treasure hunt and what kid doesn’t like to go on a treasure hunt?
Learn to play a new game (shark tag, steal the bacon, etc) – One of my favorite resources is www.ultimatecampresource.com. They have TONS of games to play that require anywhere from 2 to 10+ players- so let your kids invite their friends over and have fun!
Check out a local farmers market– Not only do you allow kids to connect to their food and the people growing their food, there is typically fun local music, and fun activities for kids. Plus yummy local fruit and veggies. Win/win.
Go fishing – Speaking of connecting kids to food, take your kids on a fishing trip at a local (clean) lake to catch some fish for dinner. Not only is fishing a great skill to have in your back pocket, it teaches kids about patience and sitting quietly and concentrating – skills they wont necessarily get by watching TV or playing games on a phone.
Visit a local farm – Many local farms will offer a free or very low-cost tour.
Fly a kite – Kites can be made with paper, plastic, or fabric; string and a few sticks in practically no time at all. Have a competition to see who can make the highest flying kite, the quickest or the prettiest.
Do a puzzle – My child can spend the whole afternoon playing puzzles on a rainy day. Some libraries even rent them out or they can be purchased at the dollar store for a dollar. Not a bad return on an afternoon of peace and quiet!
Make an instrument and play it – Drums, simple stringed instruments or pan pipes can be easily made. Or you can have your kid learn how to play an existing instrument you own like a piano or guitar. You may want to start with a very simple song that your kids will want to learn rather than scales or even all the notes initially. Those things are important but if you aren’t able to put them into practice relatively soon into learning an instrument, many children will lose interest.
Freeze toys in water and excavate them – Take old toys and freeze them in a block of ice. Let your kids have some tools like a small plastic pick, a tub of water or a simple cloth to excavate them.
Paint rocks – Painting rocks and hiding them around town can be a fun activity for you and your little ones. Check out local facebook rock painting groups or create your own! These groups will have hints on where to find rocks that they have hidden as well as pictures of found rocks. If your kids have a special rock that they don’t want to give away, clear coat it and display it in your garden.