53 Fun Family Summer Activities Checklist

53 Fun and frugal summer activities for children

This is always about the time of summer when despite the abundance of great weather for being outdoors, the delicious seasonal produce and the wonderful long days… kids start to get bored.

At least my kids have.

School is still out, I’m not a fan of letting them watch TV and we’ve already made many library runs.

I decided it was time to make a checklist of fun summer activities that we could do in the weeks before we start school again. The kids helped me brainstorm, and this is the list we came up with. The best part? Most of these are free or very low cost.

Add your ideas in the comments!

Family Summer Activities Checklist:

  1. Take a hike.
  2. Create a nature scavenger hunt.
  3. Visit our local nature center.
  4. Camp in the treehouse.
  5. Finally go check out the state parks near our house that we’ve never visited.
  6. Have a water fight in the backyard (use sponges, not balloons, to avoid choking hazards and plastic waste!
  7. Go to a drive-in movie.
  8. Pre-make a bunch of frozen meals for friends who are expecting babies in the next few weeks.
  9. Blow bubbles.
  10. Even better, make bubbles in a kids pool and use a hula hoop to surround ourselves in bubbles.
  11. Make a (healthy & homemade) lemonade stand.
  12. Catch fireflies.
  13. Make popsicles from fruit and chia seeds.
  14. Have a luau for neighbors and friends.
  15. Have a picnic.
  16. Stay up late and try to find constellations.
  17. Go wildcrafting for herbs and plants with our local expert.
  18. Go fishing and learn how to clean the fish.
  19. Play frisbee
  20. Play outside in the rain.
  21. Turn on some oldies and have a dance party in the living room.
  22. Make a slip and slide in the backyard.
  23. Go to a baseball game.
  24. Play wiffle ball in the backyard.
  25. Make homemade ice cream.
  26. Learn how to make simple origami.
  27. Finger paint outside.
  28. Draw with sidewalk chalk.
  29. Have a puppet show
  30. Make necklaces with homemade clay beads.
  31. Make a bird house.
  32. And a bat house.
  33. Visit the fire station.
  34. Go to the zoo.
  35. Play in the sprinklers.
  36. Visit a retirement or nursing home and make cards for the residents.
  37. Learn how to score a baseball game.
  38. Go to the lake.
  39. Go to the free kid’s workshop at Home Depot.
  40. Have family game night.
  41. Learn new card games.
  42. Have a backyard campout.
  43. Teach kids how to jump rope (and practice it myself)
  44. Make these healthy ice cream sandwiches.
  45. Take a nap!
  46. Fly a kite.
  47. Build a fort.
  48. Play capture the flag.
  49. Climb trees.
  50. Join the library’s summer reading club.
  51. Make paper airplanes and race them.
  52. Let the kids plan and cook dinner.
  53. Play flashlight tag.

I want to hear your ideas now! Share below!

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Reader Comments

  1. There was a spread in Real Simple this month with ideas…we bought balloons and fly swatters and it kept us busy for awhile!

  2. Choose different countries (1 for each week of the summer) and have a cultural night.. I.E. dinner,
    dress, games, customs, music.

  3. We are learning to hoola hoop and turn cart wheels:)

  4. I read this in a magazine once and have always wanted to do it. Make a list of people in your neighborhood who might need help or friendship. Write each name on a slip of paper, and put them all into a special jar. Every week, draw one or two names (or one per kid) and decide as a family what you are going to do to brighten that person’s spirits. You could make a card, help with yard work (for older kids), take over some snacks, or just drop by for a visit. You could brainstorm a list ahead of time and let them pick from things on the list, issue your own challenges, or let the kids talk it out each time a name is drawn. The kids may surprise you with their thoughtfulness and insight. At the end of the summer, with any luck you will have some wonderful experiences to reflect on as a family, and your kids might have a new appreciation for their neighbors and the power they have to bring good things to their community.

    • Wow, thanks so much for sharing this! Summertime, with all the added schedule freedom, is a great time for reaching out. And I love the idea of getting the kids involved! It’s so easy to miss them with some things…they can do so much more than we think.
      Just the other day my mom was reminiscing about how her father took her with him when she was age ~6yr. to hand out flyers when he was running for political office. That was about 50 years ago and she still looks back fondly on it…hanging out with her dad and also entrusted with real and important work.
      Greetings to you all! Happy Summer!

  5. Thanks for this list!
    We did #5 last year when it was free to visit a state park with donated books.
    I love #8! (partially because we’re expecting)
    So far this year we’ve done #25, #26, #28, #45 (my favorite during pregnancy especially!), #49, #50, and my oldest daughter is getting better and better at #52 – yummy!
    Lowe’s might have free projects for children, too.

  6. After dark go on a spider hunt.
    Take a flash light and look around for beautiful webs that the spiders have just spun. Kids can bring their drawing pads to draw the pattern of the web or take a picture to study and then scrapbook in their nature notebook.
    After finding spiders in their webs, hold your flashlight down and shine over the grass across the yard.
    You will see lots of little lights shining in the dark. Spider eyes! Makes you not ever want to walk barefoot in the grass again! 🙂

  7. Great ideas Katie!! Thanks!!! We love family hikes followed by a picnic. We are doing that today! I am going to pitch the game night idea to the family. That sounds like fun!! We also love to ride bikes.

  8. My grandkids live next door and so we do lots of fun outdoorsy things together:

    Look for insects and butterflies. Get a butterfly net. Let them go when done looking at them.

    We have a milkweed patch that we are going to watch for Monarch butterflies and their eggs and chrysalis.

    Watch birds and identify them.

    Help Gram pull weeds.

    Help harvest the garden.

    Give kids old plates and cups and let them make mud pies or “dirt food” and decorate with a few flowers.

    Go barefoot in the grass and let the kids water my plants with watering cans.

    Save squirt bottles, ketchup bottles, and such for “squirt guns” or watering cans for little hands.

  9. I am personally against #34. I think zoos are depressing and they also cost quite a bit and shouldn’t be considered “frugal”. Consider replacing that one with something inexpensive, like going to local activity centers that offer free classes every month. My city. for instance, has free yoga classes and art classes every month. You could also go to a donation based yoga class if your city offers that.

  10. Wonderful list! Definitely will be doing some of these with my littles 🙂

  11. Hi Katie. Got any ideas for fall/winter activities now that it is coming.

  12. Great! Thanks!……………..

  13. Thanks for the ideas Katie! Do you have a post or suggestions about a summer routine. This is my first summer as a stay at home mom and want to have some daily structure and routine. Anything you recommend we incorporate each day or things you take a break from with your kids over the summer?

  14. Super helpful! Thanks for the almost immediate response! You rock and God bless!

  15. Great ideas …….. But please add more ideas as most of these aren’t possible for me to try ^_^

  16. Early morning bike rides (before eating breakfast),
    Go to a local splash pad
    Visit a puppy store – and play with them
    Go paddle boating
    Find caterpillar eggs on a milkweed plant and raise and release it
    Listen to the Chronicles of Narnia on audio cd.
    See a 4d show at our zoo
    Learn how to make your own breakfast
    Learn how to tie your shoes (for the 6 yr old)
    Learn 1 scripture put to song each week