Ilene Jacobs @IleneJ

101 Fun Things to Do With Kids This Summer

Do you or your nanny need help thinking of kid-friendly activities for summer? Here are some great ideas to get you started.

Summer may be a time to relax, but tell that to kids who are bouncing off the walls or shrieking "I'm bored." As parents and nannies, we want each summer to be more memorable than the next, and with that comes the need for a few new ideas.

Jill Tipograph, summer expert and founder of Everything Summer, suggests that you: "Take advantage of those bright sunny days and warm summer nights and plan something new a couple of times a week." Jesse Koller, of Play, Create and Explore, holds regular art workshops for local kids. "We have a blast focusing on mostly process art and projects, as well as some sensory activities."

Here are 101 ideas for your summer bucket list -- to keep kids from being bored and create memories they'll have for a lifetime (or at least for that first day of school when they're asked "what did you do this summer?").

Hey families, want help making your way through this list? Print it out and give it to your nanny to do with your kids, or hire a new nanny or babysitter to entertain them this summer. 

Want more ideas? Check out these 62 Summer Crafts for Kids. And learn ways to implement these ideas in our Summer Activity Series.

  1. Bake cookies for ice cream sandwiches.
  2. Volunteer at a nature center.
  3. Make a photo journal or a family yearbook.
  4. Have a luau in the backyard.
  5. Visit the beach and collect shells.
  6. Make a fort out of cardboard boxes.
  7. Visit a farmer's market.
  8. Stage an A to Z scavenger hunt, where you have to find something that starts with every letter. Here are 8 more scavenger hunt ideas.
  9. Pick berries.
  10. Have a picnic at a state park.
  11. Make ice cream. Tipograph loves using YayLab's ice cream ball, which you fill with ice cream base and kick around until frozen.
  12. Go canoeing at a local lake.
  13. Build a sandcastle.
  14. Write and illustrate your own book and have it published into an actual hardcover book using IlluStory.
  15. Forget cooking -- set up an ice cream sundae buffet for dinner.
  16. Clean up trash at a local park.
  17. Have a backyard campfire...or just use the grill! Roast hot dogs on sticks, pop popcorn and finish off with s'mores.
  18. Make homemade pizza.
  19. Go for a walk and then make a collage from nature objects you find along the way.
  20. Head to a creek and look at the ducks. (See some duck games)
  21. Set up a lemonade stand.
  22. Have a water balloon fight.
  23. Practice your origami skills and make objects to hang from the ceiling.
  24. Go biking on a trail
  25. Interview an older relative about what life was like when they were young.
  26. Plan a picnic at a local park -- or in your backyard.
  27. Print out a list of children's books that have won Caldecott Medals. Visit the local library throughout the summer and try to read as many as you can.
  28. Create salad spinner art: Place circles of paper inside a cheap salad spinner, dab tempera paints on top, cover and spin away.
  29. Practice making interesting shadow puppets and then put on a show with your characters.
  30. Plant a garden of herbs and veggies.
  31. Make a sidewalk chalk mural.
  32. Go ice blocking (sledding) in the grass with a towel-covered block of ice.
  33. Have an outdoor painting party using huge canvases or cardboard.
  34. Visit a fish hatchery.
  35. Plant a butterfly garden with flowers.
  36. Pretend to be pirates for a day -- dress up in costumes, plan a treasure hunt and talk like a pirate.
  37. Make an indoor sandbox using colored rice: mix 4 cups of rice with 3 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol and a few drops of food coloring and let dry overnight.
  38. Turn the backyard into a carnival -- set up a face painting area and games like ring toss.
  39. Make totem poles out of paper towel rolls and decorate them.
  40. Visit a museum you've never been to.
  41. Make a giant hopscotch or Twister game on the lawn (with spray paint) or driveway (with chalk).
  42. String beads into jewelry.
  43. Make a bird house out of Popsicle sticks.
  44. Learn about stargazing and identify as many constellations as possible -- see if there are any local astronomy groups for kids.
  45. Create leis with wildflowers.
  46. Go fossil hunting near a lake.
  47. Break out your baseball gloves and start a game, sandlot style. (3 baseball games you can play without a team)
  48. Make paper boats and race them in a kiddie pool using straws to propel them.
  49. Play mini-golf -- or set up a course in your driveway by laying different size containers on their sides.
  50. Make your own colored sand and create sand art.
  51. Get a map of the United States and mark off all the exciting places you want to visit -- create the ultimate road trip.
  52. Set up a net and play badminton and volleyball. Or try one of these 11 Backyard Games for Kids.
  53. Visit an amusement park or water park.
  54. Wade through a stream and search for minnows or tadpoles.
  55. Go zip-lining.
  56. Have a tricycle race at the park.
  57. Investigate an ethnic grocery store and make lunch using interesting spices and kid-friendly international recipes.
  58. Visit a fire station.
  59. Collect rocks and paint them to use as paperweights or pet rocks.
  60. Go roller skating.
  61. Visit a zoo or aquarium to learn about animals.
  62. Run through the sprinklers.
  63. Blend your own smoothie.
  64. Set up a bike wash and raise money for a local charity.
  65. Batter up at a batting cage.
  66. Let kids paint the sidewalk or patio with plain old water and sponge brushes. When their creation dries, they can begin again.
  67. Bake cupcakes in ice cream cones and then decorate them.
  68. Assemble a family cookbook with all your favorite recipes.
  69. Go horseback riding.
  70. Make popsicles in Dixie cups using fruit juices.
  71. Catch fireflies in a jar (and let them go at the end of the night).
  72. Stage your own Summer Olympics with races, hurdles and relays.
  73. Create a backyard circus -- kids can pretend to be animals and dress up as clowns.
  74. Decorate bikes and have a neighborhood Fourth of July parade.
  75. Take a sewing/crochet/knitting class.
  76. Make Mexican paper flowers using different colored tissue paper.
  77. Go to a flea market.
  78. Volunteer at an animal adoption organization.
  79. Visit a retirement home and read stories to residents.
  80. Attend an outdoor festival or concert.
  81. Pick a nearby town to visit for the day.
  82. Visit a cave.
  83. Get a map of your area, mark off all the local parks -- then visit them, take pictures and vote for your favorite.
  84. Take in a fireworks exhibit.
  85. Make crafts with recyclable items like stickers using old photos, magazines and repositionable glue.
  86. Make your own hard-to-pop bubbles with 1 cup of distilled water, 2 tablespoons of Dawn dish soap and 1 tablespoon of glycerin.
  87. Paint canvas sneakers with fabric paint pens or acrylic paint.
  88. Create three dimensional buildings using toothpicks and mini marshmallows.
  89. Make bird feeders by covering pine cones with peanut butter and rolling in birdseed.
  90. Paint with ice by freezing ice cube trays with washable tempera paint.
  91. Create unusual s'mores by experimenting with ingredients like cookies, bananas, flavored marshmallows and white chocolate.
  92. Have a fancy tea party.
  93. Make a giant slip-n-slide with a painter's tarp and shaving cream.
  94. Go camping in the backyard or at a campsite. Follow these tips for camping with kids.
  95. Let kids paint each other with washable tempera paint, then wash it off in the sprinklers.
  96. Visit a national park and help the kids earn a junior ranger badge.
  97. Go to a ballgame and teach your kids (and yourself!) how to keep a scorecard.
  98. Set up a tent in the backyard to use as a summer playhouse.
  99. Take a free kid's workshop at stores like Lowe's, Home Depot or Pottery Barn.
  100. Have a game night with charades, Pictionary and bingo.
  101. Take a boring brown paper bag and have kids brainstorm creative things to do with it -- you'll be surprised at how many things you can come up with.

Ilene Jacobs is a freelance writier living in Dallas, Texas.


Oldest comments are listed first

  • Great ideas!!

  • Oh I love there ideas! definitely getting together with the family!

  • Love them!! I Will be using these ideas!

  • I have heard some of these ideas. I often go to museums and parks and shows with my family and I have so much fun with my mother and sister. Being 18 does not matter! The scavenger hunt idea will be done one day, it sounds so crazy yet unique.

  • These are all great ideas! Besides playing baseball this summer these activities will make entertainment and lack of boredom easier fand contribute towards a fun summer!

  • Love getting new ideas, so many creative things to do. When I worked at a School, I would encourage the kids to do creative art during there recess time, which could be almost anything. I brought some of the ideas and supplies they came up with some on there own, which is always great to see.

  • Love them i will be using some of these ideas!!

  • I enjoy all of these activities and I know the kids will too!! Love tea parties

  • many great ideas to add to my list!!

  • Love these ideas!

  • Love these ideas!

  • These are great because they are fun for the kids and the nanny!

  • Hope to have some fun with this great ideas from you! Thank's!

  • Love love love these ideas will defiantly have my mom gets some of these together for me and my brother

  • YES!

  • cool

  • I am always interested to see how parents organize their family for summer. Creating my family's annual \

  • Great ideas! I absolutely loved going to the flea market with my grandmother when I was little. :)

  • I love these ideas but there is only like 62 days of summer left so pick the best ones.

  • I can't wait to try these things! I'm totally going to use them!

  • I love this! So many cute and fun ideas!

  • I love the idea of dressing like pirates and creating a treasure hunt! I love being surprised at how creative and unique each child is!

  • I love these ideas. Can't wait to try them!

  • Simple, everyday things to to with your little ones. Love this!

  • By just going through ur blog,it helps me ease.great ideas to to make summers engaged.

  • Looking for exciting things to do with grand babies ages 3-7

  • Have fun

  • You mentioned a slip and slide. I have found that commercial grade (heavy duty) white plastic works great, does not rip. When my kids were in cub scouts, I found a contractor who was building a commercial building, stopped and asked for a two large pieces for Cub Scout fun day. The kids loved it. Baby shampoo works great, no burning eyes. Now that the kids are grown and out of the house, I still have the plastic and have used it last summer for another function. This slip and slide is still holding up after 20 years.

  • we are always looking for fun things to try

  • i love these ideas definitely gonna try slip and slide

  • Good ideas also thinking if u have boys u can find science project in the yard like soda bombs out side project

  • Lovely ideas

  • like it

  • These are great things to do

  • So I really like this but I have a 13 year old and a 10 year old daughter and since it's May we can't play with water do you know What to do because my kids wouldn't like these activites. Thanks, Michelle

  • I like the idea of going onto a trip because me and my family are going to a trip on the last 9 days of summer. Plus my brother is going to miss the first day of 6th grade and I am not because my brother is starting a day early and I am in 7th grade ,so, I am very happy that is not me. and if you are wondering what school i am going to and that is Clpms in Laporte. So I am going to have so much fun going on a trip!! And maybe when you are listing maybe not text has much. So, maybe list and when you are finish with the list than write what you are going to say. Like this: 99. fishing Fishing is fun because you get to go outside. Like that. To me that looks better. Than this. 99. fishing, fishing is fun because you get to go outside. That is better.

  • this really help best summer ever.:):):)

  • Like it is rightly said in the article it is good to have fun with kids, play with them at least once or twice a week. I suggest if any one is looking for a good play school/pre school visit the website of Planet Kids.

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