I have to be honest with you… I cringed a little every time the kids’re having a long break from school. I believe I’m not the only one who struggle to search for ideas of summer activities for kids, or for any holiday in general. Do you?
Yes, I want them to enjoy their holiday. And I want to spend happy meaningful time with them. But I often ran out of ideas before end of first week. “Mooomm I’m boooreeed!”
So let me think…
Option 1, the easiest and cleanest, is letting them watch movies/shows on iPad.
Nope thank you very much.
I’m not against screen time, I’m just trying to avoid having their eyes glued to the screen all.day.long. Watching shows/movies is ok, within limit and rules.
Option 2, to bring them outside.
Frankly, once we’re outside, it’s actually easier to get them to play by themselves, without much preparation. I’ll talk about some options below.
And, it’s healthier to get their daily dose of morning sun and physical activity.
Option 3, to do activities at home.
“Activities??? You mean like those artsy craftsy stuff they posted in Pinterest??”
Ermm.. could be. But I’ll warn you, never browse Pinterest for ideas with your kids ALREADY nagging at you. (Ask me how I know that haha!)
Instead, I’ll pick some activities ideas which are SIMPLE, and QUICK to set up.
Means, I can use common items that most likely I already have on hand, or easy to get. LET’S JUMP IN.
In this article:
Summer Activities for Kids With Minimal Preparation
Activities at Home
This is my go-to activities at home when it’s raining, or when someone’s sick, or when I really need to finish things, or when it’s just not so convenient to go outside.
I’ll go grab some common toys/stuff and play a game. Usually after a while then the kids wouldn’t mind to continue playing by themselves.
I now have two girls aged 5 & 8 so they pretty much can play together. If you have children younger than 4 years old, I’d strongly suggest you play WITH them as long as they want 🙂
And also, I think some of these would work well either for indoor or outdoor too! So the choice is yours.
1. Playing with Balls Indoor
Balls are sooooo versatile and gender-neutrals. Some things I would consider when playing with balls indoor;
- no hard ball (tennis ball, soccer ball, basketball, etc are for outdoor), so I’d pick soft ball, beach ball, pit balls, or those sensory balls would work nicely,
- rolling the ball is generally safer then throwing them across the room,
- if throwing is involved, try to keep a distance from any breakables.
What can you do with balls?
- Old style throw/roll n catch
- Bowling! U can use empty water bottles, toilet paper rolls, or character toys as the bowling pins
- Play basketball with empty basket/dust bin. Tips: you can also used crunched old newspaper as the ball!
- Fill & Pour pit balls (perfect for toddler!) and other 9 more ball games ideas here (via FrugalFun4Boys)
- Sensory balls free play, for babies and toddlers. Just roll ’em, pass ’em, watch the kids enjoy ’em. Here’s my 13mo boy with his sensory balls, he loves the bumpy ball!
2. Playing with Ice
Play with cold ice during the hot day! Ok for this one, do keep in mind that you’d need to make the ice a day/few hours before.
- Ice rescue games
Put some of their toys inside a plastic/ziplock bag and freeze it.
Then ask the kids to spray it with water until it melts enough for them to pull out the toys inside! You can use warm water to melt it faster.
For some learning, you can replace the toys with plastic/wooden alphabet or numbers.
- Rainbow fizzy ice chalk (via Growing A Jeweled Rose) Crystal used a corn starch+baking soda+food coloring for the ice, plus a vinegar spray.
- Easy Fizzy Ice sensory + science experiment (via Things to Share And Remember). Stacy’s version is simpler that you’d just need to prepare plain ice cubes, baking soda to be sprinkled on top of the ice cubes later on, and vinegar mixed with coloring in a container.
- Colorful Ice lollipop Painting (via MommysBundle) Here Ana’s using colored packet of Kool-Aid, but you can also use just water+some flour+food coloring.
You may choose to cut the popsicle sticks in half like Ana above, or use the whole stick inserted in an angle like Nicolette’s version here from PowerfulMothering.
- Painting Ice Cubes activity (Via BusyToddler) This would need a load of ice cubes. Perfect if you have ice maker, or you might get a bag of ice cubes.
3. Playing with Toilet Paper Roll
Don’t throw away those toilet paper rolls, because the kids can play with them! Here are some ideas with toilet paper rolls…
- Stamp painting
- Vertical race, or like this pompom drops fine motor play (via Teach Me Mommy)
- Build a robot or tower
4. Playing with Masking Tape
You can use the normal paper-y beige masking tape or the colored painter’s tape (do note this is stickier).
5. Playing with Wooden Blocks
Nuff said. Just pull out any kinds of building blocks you have and let them build anything.
6. Sensory Play
- Squishy Bag with hair gel. Toddler approved. You can fill a ziploc bag with hair gel, then put small items in it (colorful buttons, etc) and let them squish squish. Great for color sorting too!
- I Spy sensory bag (via Hands On As We Grow). You’d need a big ziploc bag and another smaller one, rice, paper with marker/pen.
It’s highly customizable that you can replace the alphabet/word hunting for other things, like hunting for small objects, shapes, etc.
Activities in the Park or Backyard
Truthfully, ideas for outdoor can be ENDLESS!
But sometimes our mommybrain just can’t think of what else we can do the next day, right?
So I’ll throw some easy activities for you to have more ideas.
7. Playing with Balls Outdoor
Of course bigger kids can play with a more ‘sporty’/team ball games; with soccer ball, basketball, etc. For preschoolers and younger, I usually prefer to bring our softer balls.
You can think of a beach ball, ball softies (warning, you may need to wash it afterwards), or sensory balls.
Or bring the whole bag of pit balls! These can be used in a lot of different ways and most likely would be a hit among young kids.
- Kids soccer. You can use a large used carton boxes for the goalie, or a portable goal net if you have one.
- Basketball. Bring a laundry basket, or a big dustbin. There’s a kid's version of basketball hoop stand like this too.
- Ball relay race. This is perfect if you’re trying to entertain a large group or kids (like more than 6), where you’ll divide them into 2 teams to race by passing a ball to a finish line.
- Rollin thru tunnel. Can be done even among 2-3 kids. One child would try to roll a ball into a designated place, while the other stand up in a row with both legs wide open so the ball can pass the “tunnels”.
- Bottle/carton bowling. Reuse your empty bottles/juice/milk cartons to be the pins for the bowling game!
8. Playing with Bubbles
Who doesn’t love bubbles! But don’t just stop with just the usual bubble activity. Try these instead;
- Rainbow bubble snake (via Housing a Forest) You’ll need an empty water bottle (cut the bottom opened), unused sock to slide around the opening, then dip it into dish soap solution!
9. Playing with Water
- Water balloon bash, pinata-style! (via Fireflies and Mudpies). You’ll need balloons, water, string/pole/tree branch to hang, and a stick/bat to hit, or use a toothpick for easy burst!
- Splash war water party. Grab your waterguns, and water bomb balloons, and get wet!
- DIY backyard sprinkler (via Housing a Forest). Use a sturdy plastic bottle, drill/anything to make holes, tape, and garden hose.
- DIY water slide (via Happy Hooligans). You’ll need a large camping tarp or clear plastic sheet (can be found in most hardware store), a water hose, and some shampoo/dishwashing liquid to make things slide easily!
10. Playing with Chalk
- Chalk obstacle course (via Toot’s Mom is Tired)
- Tic Tac Toe or hopscotch
- For preschoolers, try this Chalk Letter Painting/Tracing (via The Preschool Toolbox Blog). You can also do number/shape tracing too!
In the area where we live, it’s usually very hard to find a place to draw with chalk outside, since most of the sidewalks are state owned and we can’t simply draw on it without permission.
But, we can do it at home without any sidewalk!
Some time ago I found this chalkboard contact paper roll, it’s like a sticker that you can stick on a surface and turn it into a blackboard. Think of sticking it on a wall, closet door, a coffee table.
Or you can stick them on a thick cardboard like I did below. So we can move it around and keep it when not in used.
11. Treasure Hunt
My simple version of treasure hunt, bring a ziploc bag (or any bag/basket) for each child, and collect interesting things along the way; sticks, different leaves, different flowers, small rocks, and so on.
12. Birds & Butterfly Watching
Watch and feed (if you’re allowed) the birds, or watch butterflies and other insects in the park. Great activities to talk about different varieties of animals, and creatures of God.
13. Ride a bike/tricycle or scooter in the park
This is when you have extra bandwidth to prepare a trip a little bit further. Perhaps you’ll need to pack the kids water bottle, diapers, snacks, and some clean change of clothes.
Bonus: Challenge yourself not to bring the iPad/tablet along. The kids would practice to find other fun things to see & do along the trip. 🙂
14. Going to nearby kids playground
15. Going to the pool (or beach!)
Have fun in the water! I’ll admit going to the beach would need extra preparation, but that would pack extra fun too; bring your sand-play mould and spades, beach ball, frisbee, and extra big towels.
16. Going around the city with public transport
For our kids, this alone is usually sufficient to keep them excited. Just take the train or bus to some place (better if it’s somewhere we seldom/never visited before), do sightseeing and have a family lunch together.
17. Visiting Local Museum
Check your local museums, some of them probably are having a things or two that are suitable for a family day out.
18. Visiting Local Park
Check out for any new park you have not been there yet, bring a picnic mat or just go for a leisure stroll.
19. Visiting Farm or zoo/animal park
Veggie farm, fish farm, animal farm, all of them can be a great learning journey and fun for the kids!
20. Visiting Free Seasonal Events
Too bored to visit those local tourism attractions? Check again! Chances are, there might be a seasonal or special events happening the family can enjoy. Maybe an exhibition, art & craft market, live performance, and so on.
Fancy an overnight stay but doesn’t want to budget an expensive flight ticket? Enter: staycation.
Go check out your local hotels, you might be lucky to find some last-minute booking deals. Double win!
Some tips for your staycation:
– Set a budget for your accomodations AND an activity highlight you want to do during your stay.
– Find somewhere that have a place for kids to play nearby (playground, kids zone, water park)
– Pack light! (ok just try as much as you can..)
– Schedule a house cleaning before your trip so you don’t come back and still need to do a heftier tidying up & laundry.
Related Posts to Summer Activities for Kids:
- Quick Prep Activities at Home for Preschoolers
- A big list of crazy easy toddler activities at home
- Another list of simple home activities for toddlers with common household items
Phewww. What a list! I hope it’s helpful to give you more ideas to spend time with your kids during this holiday.
Know a friend who might need these ideas? Share away!
Now tell me in the comments below, which one do you want to try first?
Summer Activities Ideas with Quick Prep