Whether it’s day 1 or day 48 of summer break, there always comes a point where I run out of ideas for keeping the kids entertained during the summer. You too?? We put together a list of fun activities to do at home, and most require little or no preparation. Because let’s be honest… mom wants a break too.
Read on to find things to do at home with kids during the summer, but also anytime during the year when you need ideas for new things to keep your kids busy!
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Table of Contents
Play Like a Kid Again
- Play indoor hide & seek. Play at night and turn off the lights and use flashlights.
- Build with Legos. Last summer we spent a day (or two) building every single Lego set we own. (I am a Lego lover at heart and am perfectly happy to sit and build them on my own, kids or no kids)
- Create a timed obstacle course out of cushions and furniture
- Have a No TV / No Electronics day
- Have a dance party. Get wild and turn off the lights and add glowsticks, glow jewelry, or flashing/light-up toys to the mix.
- Learn a new dance via YouTube
- Exercise as a family with these free online exercise videos for kids
- Build a fort– Grab some old blankets and sheets and spend the afternoon creating a super cool hideout, or check out the tents and forts on Amazon that you can leave up for days
- Play Board or Card Games– my kids are 12 & 14 and our current favorites include:
- Ticket to Ride
- Codenames (we play the original but apparently there are now MANY different versions!)
- Exploding Kittens Card Game
- Uno Attack
- Apples to Apples
- Risk (my husband loves this game, and he’s so good at it I don’t like playing!)
- Check out our post on our 10 Favorite Board Games with more details on some of the games listed above.
- Favorites when they were a bit younger:
- Teach your kids a new card game like Rummy, Solitaire, or Spoons
- Work on a puzzle. Find a spot to leave it out and make it a weeks long project.
- Have a puzzle race – pick 100 piece or less puzzles and see who can finish each one first (Dollar Tree is a great place for these)
- Find Free Harry Potter Games Online or take a Hogwarts House Quiz
- Play rock paper scissors
- Play Simon Says or Red Light, Green Light
- Play Charades
- Have a “King/Queen for the Day” and let that child choose what to do. Really get into it with a crown they can wear.
- Let the kids do your hair (yes, I’m talking to you moms!)
- Have a family slumber party complete with sleeping bags for mom and dad (or snag the couch)
- Let the kids play in the bathtub. Optional bath accessories include bath bombs with a toy inside, bath color tabs, bubbles, bath crayons, bath finger paint, shaving cream, glowsticks, or the animal sponge capsules you can get at Dollar Tree.
Quiet Time – Books & Movies
- Sign up for a Summer Reading Program through the local library or check out one of the online programs that allow kids to earn prizes and rewards!
- Set aside some quiet time to read each day (mom included!)
- Need new books? Check out our list of 15 places to get books for free
- Looking for new books to explore? Sign up for a free subscription to Epic! – an ebook subscription for kids with over 10,000 books to choose from. Kids can read anytime, anywhere on a laptop, tablet or mobile device.
- Have kids listen to books read aloud
- Read a book to your kids
- Take a NAP!
- Stay in pajamas ALL DAY
- Clean out closets and old toys and donate them
- Movie Night – My boys LOVE to have movie night. We get all the sleeping bags, blankets, & pillows in the whole house and get comfy on the floor, then pop popcorn (and add M&M’s), make chocolate milk or hot chocolate, and settle in to watch their movie of choice
- Show the kids one of your childhood favorites. My kids already love Back to the Future, Goonies, Sandlot, and Big. (Note that PG ratings in the 70’s, 80’s & 90’s were a little more lenient – if you haven’t seen the movie as a parent, visit Common Sense Media for details on anything that might be inappropriate.)
- Have a family movie night sing along to Hamilton, Frozen, Aladdin, Lion King, or other movie full of catchy tunes.
- Make cereal jewelry – perfect for a snack while reading or having movie night
- Create sock puppets and put on a puppet show
- Make paper airplanes – have a contest to see which one goes farthest
- Color together – find online printable coloring sheets in your child’s favorite theme.
- Get out the paint and paintbrushes. Pick up an inexpensive canvas at the store for a true masterpiece! Pull up a picture and try and recreate a famous painting. Finger paint. Paint on rocks or shells.
- Create art projects using “found” objects, glue and a canvas. Add a unique twist by adding a coat of spray paint to the entire thing when you’re done.
- Have kids write and illustrate their own book. If they can’t write yet, have them tell you a story to write down, and then hand it over to be illustrated.
- Learn a new skill or do a science experiment (check out our Online Summer camp list for some great ideas to get you started)
- Play dress up with old Halloween costumes or make your own
- Have a fashion show where everyone puts on the craziest outfit they can find
- Have the kids create their own skit and perform it for the adults
- Make miniature boats – sail them in the bathtub, sink, or plastic bin
- Find a large cardboard box and create a car, castle or other playspace
- Make musical instruments out of household objects or recycled bottles
- Make homemade play doh (I LOVE this stuff – it doesn’t dry out like the stuff you buy at the store, AND you can easily make a huge batch!) I don’t remember which recipe we used, but this one is no-cook, just mix dry ingredients and add hot water.
- Bake Cookies
- Freeze your own popsicles
- Eat dinner outside on the porch, in the treehouse, or in the backyard
- Make homemade lemonade or limeade
- Make Jello or pudding
- Whip up some homemade ice cream
- Make indoor s’mores in the oven or get an indoor s’mores maker
- Eat breakfast for dinner
- Plant an herb garden to use for cooking
- Pick up some icing and store bought cookies and have a cookie decorating contest
- Play restaurant and let the kids make and serve lunch
- Let the kids make a dinner plan and fix as much as they can do on their own
- Eat ice cream or popsicles. Daily.
- Play hide & seek
- Go for a bike ride around the neighborhood
- Have a picnic in the backyard, driveway, or in the garage (the garage is especially fun if it is raining)
- Go for a walk around the neighborhood
- Play I Spy
- Camp out in the backyard (Amazon has a 4 person tent for under $50)
- Make art with sidewalk chalk
- Play sports – baseball, basketball, soccer, football. For old school fun play a game of trash can football.
- Make your own frisbee golf course with targets found around the yard.
- Plant an herb garden, flowers, or other type of plant
- Scavenger hunt around the house or the neighborhood. Click here for our Google image search “neighborhood scavenger hunt” and find one that works for your neighborhood. Make it a competition by splitting into two teams and taking photos as you go! Meet back at home at a certain time and see what each team found.
- Fly a kite on a windy day
- Play in the rain, splash in puddles, make mud pies (just not in a thunderstorm)
- Have a super soaker squirt gun war in the yard
- Set up a slip n slide
- If you have a pool, create pool games – my kids love to do “themed” jumps and have me rank them. (Air guitar, fly like a bird, cannonball, hit a baseball, etc)
- Wash the car
- Have a water balloon fight. Check out these awesome self-sealing water balloons (can also be found at Target and WalMart). Yes, they are more expensive than a normal pack, but worth every penny to save my fingers from water balloon tying misery!
Whether you are looking for activities for weekdays, weeknights, or weekends, summer is a great time to slow down and enjoy time together as a family. We hope we’ve made it easy to find something to do from our HUGE list of ideas.
Happy Summer y’all. Enjoy it!
Summer Fun Guide
Be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Summer Fun for Summer Camps, Things to Do Around Lakeland, Things to Do at Home, Open Playgrounds, Places to Play Outdoors, FREE Bowling, Swim Lessons, 4th of July Events, Reading programs, Online Camps, and much more!