Summer has finally arrived and the kids might be getting restless already. Here’s some screen free summer activities to keep your kids engaged and busy! I’ve picked activities that help develop motor skills, inspire creativity, and get those imaginations going!
I’ve written previously on the benefits of reducing your child’s screen time and how to reduce screen time. I’m not by any means a “no screen time” mom but limits are good for kids, especially when it comes to technology.
Summer time is notoriously a time when kids might get a little too much screen time…so let’s change that! Here’s 28 Screen Free Summer Activities! Let’s dive in!
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Outdoor Summer Activities for Kids
1) Tricycle or Bike
There’s nothing quite like enjoying a bike ride! My kids spend a great deal of time riding bikes up and down our driveway. Our 3 year old has a tricycle and she holds her own with the older kids! Our 4, 5, and 9 year olds all have bikes of varying sizes. If you are able to buy a gender neutral color, that makes passing down to siblings easier!
2) Water Table or Sand Table
One of my son’s favorite activities is playing at our water table. He loves to scoop water and water my plants. Every time we fill it up, he spents at least an hour playing.
We also have a sensory table that we leave outside and fill with sand. I like to put little dump trucks like these in it to create an outdoor sensory table.
Parenting Pro Tip: Sand is MUCH less messy when your child can’t sit in it!
3) T-ball Set
A T-Ball Set is a great toy to keep your child engaged outside and to promote hand-eye coordination! Your lil slugger will be a pro in no time!
If you kids are older…go for the real thing! You can get a bat/ball combo super cheap here. Add these bases and your kids will be all set to play ball!
These Parachute Toys are great for encouraging outdoor time! My kids love to run in the wind with these. They also like to throw them down from the top of the slide.
I love that these come in a pack of 4 (perfect for sharing with friends or you know, for big families like mine!) They are also easy to pop in your bag to take along to grandma’s house or the park.
5) Ribbon Twirlers
My kids LOVE playing outside with Ribbon Twirlers! I’ve been known to use these as party favors when we host a birthday BBQ. Our kids and their friends love to dance, run, and watch the ribbon fly in the wind.
These gorgeous ribbon twirlers are made by Honey Pot Treasures on Etsy.
6) Toss and Catch Set
Nostalgia will hit you when you get out these ball and mitts to play catch with your kids. I’m pretty sure every child of the ’80s had one of these!
My husband and I have been known to play catch together outside while the kids take a popcicle break. LOL If you are looking to spend time as a family in the backyard, this is the perfect toy!
7) Fairy Gardens
Creating and maintaining a fairy garden can be an excellent way to get your child outside and into nature. My daughter loves to create a fairy garden each year by planting flowers in a large pot and then adding decorations including a house, a bridge, small fairies, woodland creatures, etc. You can also buy a set that includes everything you need including soil, seeds, fairy house, etc here.
Our kids have enjoyed having a playhouse for many years! They enjoy pretending to play “house” and often use it as a bit of shade from the sun. We have a Little Tikes house, but this Backyard Discovery Wooden Playhouse is super cute!
9) Scavenger Hunts
If you are looking for something out of the ordinary for your kids to do outside, try one of these FREE Scavenger Hunts! There’s an nature hunt, a color scavenger hunt, an alphabet hunt and a 5 senses scavenger hunt!
Simply print out a copy of the hunt and decide if you are going to do it together or form competing teams. Either way, it’s a great way to get your kids outside and enjoying nature!
Kite flying is another nostalgic activity that you will enjoy with your child! Our kids love to watch their kites go soaring up! Granted, they need supervision for this activity, but it is a fun one!
Money saving tip: I often buy kites after they hit clearance prices after Easter. You can grab them for $2 or less. My kids often break a kite, tangle the string, or lose a kite, so having muliple kites is a win. Also, this is a great item to add to their Christmas wishlist so that they are all set in the spring!
11) Sidewalk Chalk
My kids have recently re-discovered Sidewalk Chalk and they have been having a blast with it! They draw roads, obstacle courses, and drawings. They make maps, towns, and self-portraits. The list is endless! To extend the fun try this sidewalk chalk spiral art set or this chalk holder that allows you to stand up while you draw!
12) Wagon or Wheelbarrow
Our kids love pulling this mini wagon around the yard with all of the treasures they find. This is not a full size wagon, but rather a smaller version.
Here’s a fun wheelbarrow we also own and love! Add a toy shovel and a bucket and they will be all set to collect clover flowers and “make soup!”
13) Bubble Blowers
Bubble Blowers are another great outdoor toy for screen free summer fun! Kids absolutely adore them and it keeps them busy. These bubble blowers are the absolute best because they are inexpensive and don’t require batteries! A true parenting win!
14) Cozy Coupe
Lastly, in the outdoor fun category is the classic Little Tikes Cozy Coupe. These things last forever! In fact, ours was a hand-me-down and it has lasted through all 4 of our kids! We also have this adorable Little Tikes Fire Engine as well! It’s played with nearly every day!
Alright, let’s move on to those
Indoor Screen Free Activities for Kids
1) Pretend Cooking
This Grilling Set by Learning Resources is one of our family’s favorites! Kids can serve up burgers, steaks and veggies fresh from their very own pretend grill! Pretend cooking is one of those activities that all my kids enjoy…even my 9 year old!
2) Board Games
Board games are an excellent screen free summer activity. Older children can play by themselves or you can enjoy a family game night! We’ve really been enjoying Carcassonne and Lost Cities lately at our house. You can read all about our 12 Favorite Board Games here.
3) Sensory Bins
When you can’t go outside because of rain or mud, sensory bins are exactly what you need! You can use items you find around your house and create a bin to help build creativity and activate the imagination! Be sure to check out these 4 Sensory Bin ideas from my blog.
All of my children enjoy creating necklaces with beads. This rainbow bead set has a beautiful array of colors that instantly injects creativity into the room! My kids also enjoy the bead sets by Melissa and Doug as well. (Keep in mind that beads should not be given to children who still stick things in their mouths).
5) Sticker Books
Another great option for indoor summer fun are these Melissa and Doug Sticker Books. My kids especially love this Make-a-Meal Sticker Book because they love to place the food stickers on the plates! You can also find a cupcake version, an animal faces version, and many more!
6) Cooking for Kids
My 9 year old has been learning to cook this year. She’s having a ton of fun and is learning valuable skills like following a recipe and how to measure. A Children’s Cookbook can be a great asset and source of inspiration to the new cook in the house!
7) Build a Fort or Tent
Break out the blankets and pillows and allow your child’s imagination to run wild as they build a fort or tent! This fort making kit makes it even more fun as they can build structures that will last a bit longer than the typical blanket fort!
Reading is an excellent screen free summer activity! We have made it a point to challenge my daughter each summer, ever since she learned to read. Together, we come up with a prize and a reading goal.
Last summer, she read over 1,000 pages to earn a meal at a restaurant of her choice with a friend. This year, she has already completed her first challenge of 1,500 pages to earn a decorative item for her room.
I’m sure we will be making another challenge for her soon! I love that she’s reading and she loves that she’s getting a prize! Here’s a chapter book list for new readers and here’s a list of funny picture books my family recommends.
I’m not sure how many times I have recommended Magformers on my blog, but I know it’s been A LOT! Magformers are the one toy I don’t think my kids will ever outgrow and we probably will never have enough of them! We love to play with them as a family and the kids are completely engaged with them by themselves. They love to build, stack, and create with these! If you want to extend the fun, check out this Magformer Robot Car set.
10) Playdough Mats
Playdough can get a bad reputation for being messy and chaotic. Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to make that better. 1) Let your kids mix colors 2) Stop worrying about loss of dough -it’s going to happen 3) Invest in a few small broom sets so the kids can clean up.
Dough play can be excellent for building fine motor skills, creativity, and building attention spans. I have some free playdough mats that can help engage your child here.
11) Animal Doctor Kit
My kids LOVE playing doctor and vet. Doctor Kits like this Pet Vet one by Melissa and Doug are perfect for building imaginative play. I love the durability of this set and the realistic look of the kit!
Painting is always a hit with my kids! There are so many great options too! You can do a simple watercolor set, do a dot paint markers, paint with water for the younger ones, or a cool rock painting kit for older kids! Whatever you choose, kids love to paint!
13) Duplos or Legos
Duplo blocks are another item that I recommend over and over. My kids could play with these every day! I love that Duplos engage my children for long periods of time, lengthen their attention spans, and of course build their creativity! You can find Duplo sets in so many styles there is sure to be the perfect one for your child! If you have older children, Legos are the older kid equivalent!
14) Cut and Paste Activities
Lastly, cut and paste activities are a fun way to keep kids screen free in the summer! These Melissa and Doug Scissor Skills books are our favorites! The high quality paper and fun projects will motivate even the most reluctant learner!
My son adored the first cut and paste book Melissa & Doug release and I hunted for more for several months afterwards. I mentioned to Melissa & Doug that they should create more of these…and what do you know!?
They came out with 2 new sets this spring! Coincidence? It’s possible, but I am totally taking credit for these new books…you’re welcome!
That’s it! 28 Screen Free Summer Activities for kids! I hope you found some fun ideas to add to your back pocket this summer!
Which one is your favorite? Leave me a note in the comments section!
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