101 activities to help you connect with your kids
With spring break behind us, summer break is just around the corner. These long, warm days are a fantastic time to step back from your usual schedule and slow things down a bit. It is easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the school year and endless after school activities – take the summer to reconnect and unplug from some of the outside world, even if your schedules don’t look that much different than during the year.
Filling up this time, however, can be tricky at first – here’s a list of 101 mostly digital-free and inexpensive ways to spend extra quality time with your little ones, before the summer is gone.
SUMMER FUN LIST
- Read aloud – Even older kids love the soothing rhythm of listening to you read. One of my favorite personalized books is the Radio Flyer I SEE ME Book – SO CUTE!
- Build a fort – Indoors, outdoors, as elaborate as you like. I personally like fort kits.
- Visit the dog park – Even if you don’t have a dog! You can also create your own dog park with these steps.
- Color – Kids love sharing their art time, space, and supplies with you too. UP your art game with this massive art set.
- Tell stories – Use story cards for inspiration or have each person take turns making up a part of the story.
- Do yard work together – Getting dirty and beautifying your home will make everyone proud and tuned in to each other.
- Go for a bike ride – Take a spin around the block or visit a new park or path together.
- Play outside – Play capture the flag, hopscotch or invent something new.
- Visit the playground – Don’t watch, join in! I also find having your own backyard play set or trampoline brings a lot of fun joy.
- Go to a museum – Check for free visit days to save a bundle.
- Write together – Share a story or poem. Write a letter to a friend or family member or simply be each other’s pen pals.
- Make and fly paper airplanes – This is great when it’s too hot to go out.
- Cook together – Try a new recipe (we like homemade baked macaroni and cheese), make dessert, or even bake a loaf of bread together. Picky eating fades away when kids are involved in meal planning and prep.
- Go on a scavenger hunt – Look for things in nature or plan something elaborate. Try our Flashlight night time scavenger hunt or the day time Free Scavenger Hunt Printable
- Watch clouds – Lay on your back and reinvent the shapes while you enjoy the cool grass.
- Make a movie – Plan it out or go with the flow – kids love performing! You can even get them to direct with this Kids movie camera.
- Run through the sprinkler – A summer classic you’ll love sharing.
- Visit the water park or community pool – Don’t forget your beach ball!
- Have movie night – Popcorn, lights out, and pj’s are essential. We recently did a family night with Moana!
- Play in the kitchen sink – Explore floating and sinking objects, wash play (or real dishes) or simply watch bubbles pop.
- Do a melted crayon project – Make use of those end-of-the-year crayon nubs with a fantastic upcycled project. Get inspired here.
- Clean under the furniture – This concealed chore will help your entire family find their lost treasures and inspire new play.
- Look at old art projects and school papers – You’re not saving all those papers for no reason! Pull them out and have your child tell you about their work again.
- Take out the photo album – Kids love listening to you talk about your past stories and adventures, with pictures to prove it!
- Take a class together – Find a painting, pottery, dance, sport or craft class to take together.
- Go fishing – Rent equipment and enjoy a lazy afternoon watching the water and the waves. No pressure to catch anything. Here is a fun fishing starter set.
- Try a new sport – Discover the lost art of four-square, tether ball, or another of your childhood favorites your kids may be overlooking.
- Put up the tent – Kids adore playing in this portable house. No one’s required to sleep out either.
- Tie-dye shirts – Kids love wearing their creations and seeing you pull yours on too! Here is a fun way we did that this past summer, with Tie Dye Water Guns
- Have a dance party – Crank up the tunes indoors or out.
- Go for a drive – Explore something new or visit new neighborhoods together.
- Visit the fire station – Most local stations are happy to chat with kids and families, and they may even offer a tour.
- Go to the library – Libraries are so much more than books! Explore the options of your local branch regularly. Here are some suggestions on books for your kids.
- Window shop – Visit a mall or new store just for fun.
- Do crafts – These can be as elaborate or straight forward as you like, try our Rainbow Jars for some fun
- Visit an unexpected attraction – Every local area has unusual attractions – odd museums or roadside stops. Find yours and visit!
- Schedule a playdate – Sometimes the best way to connect is to turn them loose with other kids while you appreciate some adult conversation or alone time.
- Practice school skills – Don’t forget about the summer slide! Working together can make this task less tedious.
- Wrestle – Kids love the physical contact, and you’ll be on hand to keep things friendly.
- Build a road for cars with tape – Painter’s tape plus a bucket of cars can fill an entire afternoon. Here is how we incorporate paint into our car play.
- Make an obstacle course – Use your furniture indoors and anything you can think of outside.
- Build with Legos or blocks – Your kids will remember playing together with you for a long time after. We make sure we have tons of Classic bricks on hand for creative play.
- Play in the sand – Drive trucks, dig a hole or simply let the warm sand sift through your fingers. Your childhood will seem like yesterday.
- Exercise together – Get your sweat on!
- Play board games – Perfect for a steamy afternoon or for a quieter time after dinner.
- Do a puzzle – Even little ones can work on complex puzzles with you to help. Here is a list of our favorite 5 puzzles.
- Volunteer in your community – Teach kids early on how good it feels to give.
- Visit your local fair/community festival – Every local town or neighborhood has one. Come out and meet your neighbors together!
- Grow a garden – Choose plants and tend your patch as a team. You may even inspire some new flavors for your table.
- Make origami – Use recycle paper or spring for fancy origami squares – kids love these magical creations.
- Learn/teach yarn crafts – Whether you have a skill to pass on or you’re learning together, yarn is trendy again!
- Make a latch hook project – These projects are easy enough for littler ones to learn and taking turns a huge project keeps moving.
- Do a project at Home Depot – Each month Home Depot offers a free project for parents and kids to do together – find your local schedule!
- Play pretend/dress up – Be a movie star or a chef, princess or a fire fighter.
- Cuddle – This one needs no explanation.
- Organize a forgotten storage area – Your helpers will love exploring this neglected area of your home.
- Plan a real or pretend vacation – Find a location, explore attractions online, and make your plan. Add the trip to your bucket list!
- Make a mosaic – Whether out of photos online, paper scraps at the dining room table, or tiles in the garage, you’re sure to create a masterpiece.
- Visit IKEA – Sit on the beds and pretend in the lavish kitchen displays.
- Draw with chalk – Your driveway is longing to become your canvas. Plus its art that easily rinses away.
- Play with shaving cream – Add cream to an inexpensive plastic bin or tray and little fingers won’t be able to stay away.
- Extract fossils – Freeze tiny dinosaur figures in plastic containers filled with water. Then hack away as you extract your dino fossils. You can also grab fossil kits if you prefer something easy.
- Paint – Finger paint or with brushes, whatever fits your style (and mess threshold). Perfect for outdoors.
- Press plant and tree leaves – Gather your collection and press for future projects or for hanging just as they are.
- Watch ants – Lay on your stomach and watch these busy creatures hard at work.
- Write a family newsletter – Share it with the world or just your immediate family. Kids will love playing reporter.
- Blow bubbles – I’m not sure anyone ever outgrows bubbles.
- Hula hoop – Show off your forgotten skills and be prepared to laugh!
- Go garage sale hopping – Explore other’s treasures and meet some new friends.
- Visit a thrift store – You never know what you might discover.
- Make a splash pad – There are countless DIY projects to make your own at home, my kids and I loved this “water blob”.
- Make and enjoy homemade Popsicle – Skip the chemicals and artificial flavors. A childhood classic. We like this Popsicle maker the most.
- Go to the movies – The dark coolness of the theater will keep you out of the heat and make an afternoon you’ll all remember.
- Visit the humane society – Teach a powerful lesson about responsibility to animals and cheer up some lonely pets.
- Tell jokes – Arm yourself with some online before embarking down this path.
- Build a diorama – Dig out an old cardboard box and create a custom scene. You can see how we did ours here in this Shadowbox DIY
- Create a fairy garden – Fairy gardens are all the rage these days. They’re perfect in that shady spot in the yard that just won’t grow grass.
- Have a picnic – An indoor or outdoor option. Kids can’t resist.
- Take a midnight walk – After dinner or twilight is fine too. Jammies!
- Browse a book store – No purchase necessary.
- Have quiet time – Sometimes the best way to connect is just to share space- if your kid cannot sit still, try one of these rainy day crafts.
- Watch a live music performance – Inspire the music in your kids by introducing them to the creation process, live.
- Have a marching band – Make your own instruments and wake up your neighborhood!
- Hold family Olympics – You make up the events, and everyone wins a medal.
- Play with dough or clay – Make your own or open the cans.
- Bust out the sewing machine – Choose a simple project like a bean bag to teach little ones this important skill.
- Draw self-portraits – Hilarity is sure to ensue.
- Make a vision board or collage – Pull out those old magazines and scissors for everyone.
- Set some goals and cheer each other on – Modeling goal setting and working towards goal progress is an important life skill for kids to learn.
- Visit relatives or elderly friends and neighbors – Cross-generational interactions are so important. Take advantage of the wisdom and humor of those around you.
- Do a good deed – Pay it forward or back. Make it unexpected and memorable for all.
- Play cards – Teach kids your favorites or unashamedly search for options online.
- Take photos/make a scrapbook – Commemorate a special occasion or simply an afternoon of fun.
- Call a family member on the phone – Keep long distance connections, teach kids how to use the phone, and make some memories.
- Climb a tree – Serve as the spotter or join in!
- Make a map of your neighborhood/city – Kids love understanding how geography is laid out and where they are in the world. Make a few stops like a trampoline park!
- Learn a new language – Check out a book from the library or try a free app to learn some new words and expand their horizons.
- Take finger prints – Compare the shapes and talk about individuality. This is the fingerprint kit we own.
- Do a project together – Involve them in your favorite hobby or tackle something new, like rehabbing an old piece of furniture.
- Play Pokemon Go – A digital option but lots of fun for all. Of course classic Pokemon works as well.
- Ask what they would love you to do together – Use them as your source of inspiration – you might be surprised what they come up with!