FREE Activities To Do With Kids

Once school is out, it won’t take long before your kids say “I’m bored.”

While some days, the solution will be to sit them in front of the TV or let them play video games, but we caregivers know that is not the best choice. This is a time when kids should explore, have fun, bond with their parents and caregivers, brothers, sisters, cousins, and neighborhood friends. Summer is the time when memories are made, that stay with a child through their adult like. Make the most of the opportunity to influence those memories in a positive way. Below are a few ideas for you to consider, many that cost you nothing, except time and maybe a little gas money. By no means is this an exhaustive list. Share ideas with other parents and build on this list so you always have some cool things you can do with the kids on a budget.


  • Bake. Let the kids help you make cookies, a cake, anything.
  • Build a fort. If you don’t have a big box, build a fort with sheets and blankets instead.
  • Collect bugs. Send the kids out at night with jars to catch (and release) lightning bugs, or set a white sheet in front of a lamp outside and watch the interesting moths and creepy crawlies that congregate on the sheet
  • Conduct a science experiment. My kids never seem to tire of the science experiments their dad conducts (even the simple “volcano” made with baking soda, vinegar and food coloring). So pick up a book on kid-friendly science experiments at the library or bookstore and amaze your children.
  • Create a water park in the backyard. Much cool fun can be had with a simple water hose, sprinkler, Turn on the sprinkler, baby pool, or Slip ‘N Slide.
  • Create comic books, then share them with the family.
  • Create obstacle course in the backyard and let the kids race.
  • Have a dance party. Play your kids’ favorite tunes and let them boogie.
  • Have a scavenger hunt. Hide items in your house or yard, then give the kids a list of the items and see who can find them the fastest.
  • Have a tea party. Pull out those fancy silver trays or plates you never use (or stick with plastic for toddlers), pile on some cookies and treats, and get dressed for high tea.
  • Have a water balloon fight.
  • Have an egg toss, then hose the kids down after (if your kids are squeamish, avoid this activity).
  • Learn and sing songs together
  • Learn first aid
  • Look at the stars. You can download an app that helps you identify constellations — or check out a book from the library. If there’s an observatory or planetarium in your town, see if it offers free shows.
  • Make a cardboard box house and let the kids decorate it with paint or markers.
  • Make a domino run – stack them up and watch them fall.
  • Make a marble run with marbles, empty paper roll tubes, and imagination
  • Make a movie with your video recorder, smart phone or iPad. If your computer came with free movie-editing software (most do), upload the video and add special effects to it.
  • Make a ring toss game and play it
  • Make homemade ice cream – everyone participates
  • Make homemade pizza.
  • Make instruments. Rainsticks are easy to assemble by filling a paper-towel tube with rice and crumpled wiring (or something to make the rice move slower) and covering the ends with paper and tape
  • Make mask
  • Make paper airplanes
  • Make pasta art (glue, cardboard, and past)
  • Make popsicles in Dixie cups using fruit juices.
  • Create and perform skits, or download some skits from a cub scout/boy scout/girl scout website and modify it to suit your little audience
  • Make sock puppets and put on a show
  • Make super hero capes and act in character all day
  • Pitch a tent in the backyard and roast hot dogs and marshmallows if you have a fire pit (or on the grill).
  • Plant a garden. Have them choose the seeds, tend to the weeds and tend to the watering.
  • Play board games
  • Play charades.
  • Play hide and seek. Work on puzzles
  • Play horse shoes
  • Play in rain. The kids will love the chance to do something that’s taboo.
  • Play mini-golf — or set up a course in your driveway by laying different size containers on their sides.
  • Practice making interesting shadow puppets and then put on a show with your characters.
  • Set up a spa. Paint your kids’ nails, do their hair and apply makeup — or let them provide spa services to you.
  • Start a book club. Create a summer reading list for your kids, then discuss the books after they read them. Invite their friends to participate, too.
  • Travel the world without leaving home. Learn about other countries (using Wikipedia) and make their traditional meals (with help from the kids) for dinner.
  • Watch birds – get an Audubon book on Birds from the public library and get your kids watching for birds in the backyard, and draw a picture of each bird type over the summer. This would be a cool thing to share once school starts back.
  • Work on puzzles


  • Fly a kite after your picnic (or anytime there’s a good breeze).
  • Go bowling
  • Go fishing
  • Go on a picnic. A meal is more fun on a blanket in the park, woods or even the backyard.
  • Go roller skating
  • Go to a museum. Check with museums in your hometown to see if they offer any freebies for kids. Some even offer sleepover nights.
  • Go to the community swimming pool (unless you have one at your house – then use it)
  • Listen to a concert in park. Many cities have free summer concert series during the day or evening.
  • Participate in a workshop. Home Depot has free workshops for kids ages 5 to 12 on the first Saturday of every month between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. Kids make a craft they can keep. Kids can build a wooden project at Lowe’s free kids clinics on weekends.
  • Participate in nature programs. City park systems that have nature centers usually offer free programs for children that let them explore the outdoor world.
  • Take a hike along nature trails or at a nearby forest.
  • Visit a retirement home and read stories to residents
  • Visit a zoo or aquarium to learn about animals
  • Visit the beach and collect shells.
  • Visit the fire station. My kids loved visiting the fire station, where fire fighters would let them sit in their big fire engines and load them up with stickers, coloring books and more.

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