20 (Nearly) Free Things to do with Your Kids this Summer

Cloud gazing selfie!  Just laying in the grass looking a clouds can be bliss!

So, I already mentioned that I wanted to do my own summer camp at home this summer, since all of the other summer camps are extortion, and that the first day of summer didn’t quite go according to my amazing DIY summer camp plans. However, I have done a little research and come up with some fantastic (and mostly free!) ideas for things to do in the summer with kids to keep the momentum going.

My Super Awesome, Amazing, Summer-fun List

  1. Camp in the backyard. Only free if you already have a tent, but camping in the backyard can be really fun. And if you don’t have a fire pit, then roasting hot dogs and making s’mores over the BBQ works just as well.
  2. Blow bubbles! Always a kid favorite. You blow the bubbles, they try to catch them. Endlessly entertaining.
  3. Water balloon/gun fight Invite over some neighbor kids and let them go nuts. Or better yet, see if it can be done in their yard so you don’t have to pick up balloon fragments. Not free, but balloons are cheap.
  4. Start an online family scrapbook and photo-document your summer adventures
  5. I like this one because you are forced to take and post pictures, which often falls to the bottom of the to-do list, usually causing you miss out on documenting or sharing moments. Hosting a WordPress blog is a nice and easy way to do it, especially with all-in-one packages like this one from 1&1, so you can document your scrapbook online with minimal hassle!
  6. Adventure nature walk Turn a normal walk/hike into an adventure by pretending to be pirates in search of treasure or on the run from something. An opportunity to use that wild imagination.
  7. Homemade slip’ n’ slide if you have a painting tarp, run your garden hose along it, and let the kids slide away. or just spring for one. $10!
  8. Sprinklers Easy, fun, and free. Throw the bathing suit on and get them running and jumping that energy away.
  9. Game night Either board games or Wii, take your pick. Perfect for a rainy-day in or evening, and it’s good family time!
  10. Bake cookies or cupcakes
  11. Ok, so you have to buy the ingredients, so not free; however, it’s another good rainy-day alternative to sitting there and watching mind-numbing TV. The decorating and eating is the part they will really enjoy the most, so put most of the time and effort into that.
  12. Sea shell gathering on the beach
  13. I still love to do this as an adult, and also with pebbles. It keeps them busy and focused (well…sometimes) and they get to take a memento home with them, other than the sand in everything that you will find in your house for no good reason after washing everything multiple times and vacuuming endlessly!
  14. Visiting the local lake in hunt of slimy things
  15. I’m not exactly sure how this upsets the ecosystem and all, but watching kids attempt to catch tadpoles and frogs is endlessly entertaining. It keeps them engaged, because they just have to catch one! And you get to watch and laugh. Is that mean?
  16. Picnic at a local park
  17. Parks are there for free entertainment people, so use them! If you’re extra ambitious, ride the bikes to a slightly further park, have a picnic, and then ride back.
  18. Scavenger hunt finding items from every letter of the alphabet
  19. We’ll see if this pans out, but I like the idea of it as a longer-term approach. This could actually last all summer. And then when you are out completing other things on your summer bucket list, you can competitively keep mentioning where you are in your alphabet scavenger hunt, re-engaging them to keep trying to find the items from theirs.
  20. Feed ducks and geese at a local pond
  21. Have stale bread? Perfect. Instead of throwing it away, head to a local pond and feed the ducks. Maybe it will be fun for only 2 minutes until the kids want to chase or catch the ducks, disturbing the tranquility, but your bread won’t go to waste and the ducks will get fed.
  22. Hunt for four-leaf clovers
  23. Again, we’ll see if this pans out. This might be better for older kids with more attention span, but it turns an ordinary boring field into a treasure hunt. And hey, bonus if you do find one!
  24. Try to catch fireflies
  25. I would only advocate this if you let them go after, but this is actually incredibly entertaining for both kids and adults. I still remember doing this as a child and they are very fond memories. Plus fireflies are just so cool.
  26. Learn constellations and star gaze
  27. Maybe learning the constellations is a bit of a stretch, but if achievable with your child, then trying to find them while stargazing can be a fun activity.
  28. Read-a-thon and local library
  29. Make a list of some of the biggest award-winning kids’ books and then head to your local library and pick them up, one at a time. Try to read through the whole list before the summer is over. The educational aspect cannot be denied here.
  30. Flashlight tag
  31. Good for when the kid just can’t sleep, head outside and play flashlight tag. Note, your neighbors may hate you, especially if it gets loud, but the running will eventually tire you all out for a good night’s sleep.
  32. Paper boat race
  33. Make paper boats and either bring them down to a stream and run along to see which boat wins, or put them into a kiddie pool and propel them with a straw. Surprisingly fun!

April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com