We’ve made the decision—the proclamation even—that our child will be having a “no commitment” summer. It seemed like an amazing idea when I was in dream land thinking of all the beautiful quality time we were about to embark on—all while saving a ton of money. Then, reality set in. If I was going to take on full-on summer fun, we needed a plan—a flexible plan, but a plan all the same. Because you know what happens in our house when there isn’t a plan? Too many hours on end of television and computers. That is what happens. Although our phone jar has been amazing, I know us and how we work.
To ward off this situation, I have come up with 25 stay-at-home ideas for things to do this summer. My one goal for the summer is to go with the flow—to stay open and not fill every single day with stuff. Instead, I’d like to have fun options to go to when we are tired of parks and zoos and farms and waterfalls. (Wait….is it even possible to get tired of waterfalls?!)
Nature/Shape Scavenger Hunt
Have your child draw different shapes on a piece of paper (or do it for them if they are younger), and search your yard or neighborhood for objects in nature that resemble those shapes.
Summer Egg Hunt
Dye eggs, use natural ingredients, and have an egg hunt! I have done this for four years in a row now, and it’s always a hit.
Pack lunches, set up a blanket, and have your kids help select the perfect spot in your yard.
Have a Movie Morning
Let your kids pick out their favorite movie, make french toast sticks instead of popcorn, lay out a blanket for them to eat on, and push play!
Buy a roll of craft paper. (You can easily find this at Staples, Michaels, or Amazon.) Tape it your wall, and allow your kiddos to draw or paint. This is an easy, fun way to pass some time. Do you have older kids? Come up with a theme ( Circus, Park, Neighborhood) and take turns with your child. For each turn, you each add one thing until your theme is complete.
Create a Summer Book
I did this with our son when he was three. Take standard letter-sized paper or craft paper. Staple the sides. Keep it simple. A few days a week, have “book” time and let the kiddos draw their memories for the week. We ended up with three-year-old’s drawing of Lake Michigan, camping out, and eating corn on the cob. It’s fun to see at the end of the summer. I even framed his memory of “Fireworks” from that summer.
Create a Ninja Obstacle Course. You can keep this simple. Hoola hoops, a blow up pool, a sprinkler, and a few things for your kiddos to jump over will keep them entertained for hours! Come up with a pattern for them, and see who can do it the quickest. For example: 1. Jump through hoop. 2. Roll in the pool. 3. Get out, and jump rope ten times. 4. Run through sprinkler. 5. Throw a ball through the hoop.
Ice Cream Bar
Get three different toppings and two flavors, and let your kids use as much of the toppings as they want. Before you freak out over “as much as they want,” I am going to suggest you put as much as you are OK with them having into separate dishes. If you have more than one child, this means they each get their own dish that has the amount you are OK with in them.
Get some sidewalk chalk, and let your kiddos go crazy creating a chalk city or a “road” for their bikes. This can be washed off at the end of the day with a hose if you need to do that. Or, you can leave it there, and let them add to it the next day!
Wash the Cars!!
Hear me out. I know this doesn’t sound like fun to us as parents (or does it?!), but your kids will LOVE it! Buckets of warm sudsy water, big sponges, and a hose. At least an hour of fun!
Find a Pen-pal for Your Kiddos if they are of writing age. There are a lot of different organizations that offer this service. Some have small fees, but some are free. You can look up “pen pals for children” and see what organizations feels right for your family. We have used students of the world, but it took a while to get assigned a pen-pal. You can even ask friends and family if they have cousins abroad that would want to be penpals with your child.
Make Toilet Paper Roll Friends
Collect toilet paper rolls, and let your littles create robots, people, monsters, and princesses. Whatever they love, they can create. You will need glue, construction paper, paint, and/or markers, and google eyes. If they are really young, you can cut out the pieces for them (mouths, hair, etc) and let them add wherever they think is good.
This one is SO FUN!!! Set up your tent in your living room. Let the kids sleep there all night! It switches up bedtime routine. To make it even more fun, make “camp” food for lunch, and let them eat in the tent!
Indoor Obstacle Course
I saw this one last year when I was scouring Pinterest for birthday party ideas. Use crepe paper streamers and tape them diagonally down your hall in a pattern that your kids have to make their way through them.
Create a Field Journal for Bugs
Make sure your explorer has a magnifying glass and a net to catch and release bugs, a pencil or pen, and a sketch book. Go searching in your yard for bugs, and let your little artist draw what they see.
Create Your Own Pizza
KIDS LOVE THIS! Buy or make single serve pizza crusts, get all the toppings, sauce and cheese and let the kids decorate their own!
Colored Spaghetti Search
*This is MESSY* but SO fun!! I used to do this with our son when he was a toddler. Make spaghetti as normal, separate the cooked noodles into 4 bags. Add a dash of olive oil and 6-10 drops of food coloring! Mix bags with hands, and you have fun, colored spaghetti that the kids will love! I used to let Liam hide his little dinosaurs in the colored spaghetti, and then go on a dino search!
Use fly swatters and blow up balloons. Let the kids hit them all over the house.
Pom Pom Drop
Use paper towel and toilet paper rolls. Tape them vertically to your door in a pattern, and let the kids drop pom poms through them. This is a short game, but the set up is fun! Let your kids decorate the plain rolls before taping them up to add more time to the preparations.
We all know this one! I used to do it with my sister when I was little. Cut out squares of paper or card stock, let your kids draw objects and animals, then mix all the cards up and play a game of charades.
Unsweetened organic juice and fruit slices are great for these treats. Put them into molds in the freezer, and wait!!
All Day pjs! Self explanatory, right? We make this a goal at the beginning of the week so its something to look forward to. Friday is all day pajama day!
Build a Birdhouse
You can find a ton of easy plans for birdhouses that just require nails, a small amount of wood, and some paint! It’s so fun and then the kiddos can watch the birdies all summer!
The Toy Freeze
Small toys, a larger plastic container and a small wooden hammer are all you will need. Let the kiddos take the block of ice outside and chip away until they reach their toys,or it melts!
Recyclable Bird Feeders
Roll toilet paper rolls in peanut butter then in sunflower seeds. Use string to hang. Watch birds all summer!