29 Easy Summer Activities (That Are Almost as Fun as Camp)
For kids, summer is pure magic. But for parents, the prospect of filling the season with engaging activities can feel daunting. Fortunately, with just a few household items and a ton of imagination, you and your family can create wonderful memories. We’ve rounded up 29 awesome, easy, at-home summer activities that will get your kids moving, learning, and having fun…all at (or pretty darn close to) home!
Don't have a pool pass? Enter the DIY water mister! With a few pieces of PVC tubing and garden hose, you can create a fun and safe way for your kids (okay, and you too!) to cool off on blazing summer days.
Water balloons are so much fun but if just tossing them isn’t enough to get your kids laughing and playing then check out these awesome water balloon games that will have everyone soaked and smiling.
Rock painting is probably the oldest camp activity known to man but it doesn’t have to stay at camp. Bring the fun home with this quick and easy rock painting 101 activity. Create a mosaic or paint messages on rocks and then line your walkway with the brightly colored rocks. Another fun activity is to paint plant names and use them as garden markers.
Some of the best childhood memories are made sleeping in a tent in the backyard. Grab a tent, some sleeping bags, and be ready to look out for stars and lightning bugs as your kids learn the joys of snoozing al fresco.
Is it even summer if you don’t have a s’more at least a dozen times? We think not! Of course, backyard fires aren’t an option for everyone—especially if your kids are really little. So, instead adapt this summertime ritual for the living room by creating frozen s’mores bars, s’mores casseroles, and even oven s’mores.
You know what’s more fun than Twister? YARD Twister! Your kids will love helping to spray paint the lawn and then spend hours falling all over each other in a wild family game of outside yard Twister. If Twister isn't your game, you can make your own checker or chess board instead.
This one is fun even for grownups. Grab some bed sheets, duct tape, and a box fan and in a few short minutes, you can turn your living room into an amazing fort that doubles as a welcome cooling station during the oppressive heat of summer.
Squirt gun paintings are super fun and super messy, which makes them perfect for the backyard. If you don’t have canvas and paints, try food coloring in water and shoot at fabric or tee-shirts. The possibilities are endlessly fun and your child gets a neat piece of DIY art when they’re all done.
A mud pie station is a great way to give your kids a place to get dirty and have at the same time. You don’t have to have an elaborate set up, simply grab some old pots and pans and spatulas and let your kid’s imagination run wild. Don’t forget to hose off when you’re done!
Summer can get really hot…so why not put your fun on ice? Fill a plastic container or ice cube tray with water and some fun plastic toys like dinosaurs and let it freeze overnight. With the help of a grownup’s watchful eye, kids will have a ball using various toys and household items to rescue their trove of frozen treasures.
Bring the bowling alley to your backyard with this super cute and fun activity. With a few soup cans, some paint, and a ball, your kids will be knocking down “pins” in no time. Bored with rolling a ball at the cans? Try lining them up on a table and have your kids throw a ball at them and see how many they can hit.
These are definitely strange times so why not memorialize them? Gather your kids and create your own 2021 time capsule that you can bury in your backyard and dig back up in 10 years. Include things like a face mask, a diary entry about what it was like to learn remotely, and photos. Your kiddos can contribute pictures they draw of their favorite toys and books.
If leaving the house just isn’t an option (hello, summer thunderstorms!), try this fun activity that will get your kids talking and laughing. Create a list of goofy questions to interview your kids with and write the answers down. Save them for a future time— maybe a year later—their answers make for a sweet keepsake. For extra laughs, ask your kids questions about you and see how well they know you!
Sure, blowing bubbles is okay…but have you ever created your own GIANT bubbles? Yeah, they’re pretty cool and they will definitely wow your kids. Grab some craft supplies and have everyone make their own bubble wands and then mix together your own bubble solution. Then spend an afternoon seeing who can blow the biggest bubble.
Participate in a book, toy, or puzzle swap.
Is your kiddo sick of the same old activities? Make a trade with a nearby friend! Leave a bag of goodies on your neighbor’s porch, and they can leave one on yours.
Go on a neighborhood scavenger hunt.
Stroll through the neighborhood with purpose! Come up with a list of different items to look for in your neighborhood (like a squirrel, a bus, purple flowers…whatever you think might be fun to look for!) and try to find them all. There are lots of printables to get your creative juices flowing, and this activity could be adapted for inside or the backyard as well!
Play neighborhood bingo.
Put a twist on the neighborhood scavenger hunt: Use a printable bingo card like this—or one you make yourself—and try to get five in a row!
Dig for dinos.
Plan a sandbox excavation (a sand bin, bucket, or tray will suffice if you don’t have a sandbox!). Bury toy dinosaurs, or —if you’re feeling ambitious—homemade dino bones for your kiddos to dig up. You could, of course bury other treasures, too!
Think pom-poms are better suited for the craft table than the backyard water table? Think again! These fuzzy little orbs can be tons of fun with a little H2O. Kids can scoop and squish and stir and sort their pom-pom soup all day long. And if you don’t have a water table, you can use pretty much any big container or bin.
Do a summer reading challenge.
Sure, reading is plenty fun on its own, but for some kids, making it even more of a game can add a little motivation to curl up with a good book. For that reason, reading challenges have long been a summertime staple for libraries. You can hitch your family to an existing reading program, or come up with your own challenge. The challenge could be a star chart that you use to track time spent reading or number of books read. Or, you can use it to broaden your horizons. Come up with a list of types of books to read…it could be like genre, or it could be characteristics like: a book with no words, a book with a character that doesn’t look like me, a book with an animal on the cover, and so on!
Level up your sidewalk chalk game.
Chalking the ‘walk is a timeless summer activity, but day after day of driveway doodles can get a little, well, dull. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make this activity feel fresh again. Use painter’s tape to create a stained-glass effect, use chalk stencils to up your art, or play a sidewalk chalk game.
Are your kiddos dreaming of life under the big top? Bring the circus to your backyard with this summer activity. With very little prep work, you can create your own DIY tight rope that is safe for even preschoolers to play on. Try challenging each other to see who can make it all the way across.
If you’re looking for a way to get your kids excited about gardening, then check out this delicious idea: Plant the ingredients to make your own pizza! Not only will your kids love the idea of “growing a pizza” but this activity will bring them back to garden on the daily to learn about how food grows.
With a lot of imagination and little bit of stuff you can find in your own recycling, you can build an enchanted fairy forest in your own backyard. Make up a fairy story and create a little word where your kids can pretend that they have real fairies to take care of.
Summer camps might be closed this year but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring some of the magic home to your backyard. Even if you can’t play a guitar, you can still enjoy a campfire sing-a-long with your kids. Gather the family outside, under the stars, and belt out some goofy songs that will make some wonderful family memories.
Tell (gently spooky) campfire stories.
You don’t need a literal campfire to enjoy campfire stories! There are a ton of spooky, ooky, kooky stories for the preschool and elementary school set. Check out these stories and try them out while camping in your own backyard. For littler kids, a silly story can be just as much fun.
Stargazing and peeking at the surface of the moon is a mesmerizing way to get kids to fall in love with science. Try building this DIY telescope that will have your kids proving once and for all the moon is not really made out of cheese. Because it involves a glue gun, Mom or Dad will have to take the lead on crafting it, but little ones may still get a kick out of using it.
If you’ve built a telescope and you’re wondering what to point it at, try learning how to spot constellations in the sky with this fun marshmallow and toothpick activity for kids. Not only will your kids love the sticky, messy science lesson but they’ll learn some really great stories about what’s up in the sky at night.
Did you know that if you blend living moss with a few ingredients you probably already have on hand that you can make incredibly beautiful moss graffiti? Gather your kids and paint giant rocks or cement sculptures, paint your name on a tree or a wall, or let your imagination fly and turn your backyard into a wonder forest land.
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.