If you’re asking yourself, “what can I do with the kids this summer” then you are in the right place! These 155 Fun Summer Activities for Kids that are Free or Cheap will give you so many ideas to keep little kids and big kids busy with fun activities that won’t break the bank.
Fun Summer Activities for Kids and Family
Summer is such a fun season of warm weather, vacations, cookouts, family gatherings, and no school. But what to do with the kids in between those fun things can be a challenge.
This list of 155 summer activities is for kids and even the whole family to find ways to have fun without spending much money, or even without spending any at all!
155 Fun Summer Activities for Kids that are Free or Cheap
155 items is a lot! So to make this awesome list a little easier for you to navigate, it is split into 8 categories:
- Outside activities
- Indoor activities (for rainy days or those days when you just want to escape the heat!)
- Family night activities
- Local activities
- Charity work
- Neighborhood activities
1. Create a nature scavenger hunt and go for a hike to see what you can find.
2. Take a walk.
3. Ride bikes.
4. Play water games in the back yard.
5. Get cheap water beads and add them to a toddler size swimming pool for kids to play in. Click here to see the water beads we like that you can purchase from Amazon.
Showing you the water beads we bought for super cheap:
6. Have a cookout and eat outside.
7. Play Red-Light, Green-Light.
8. Use chalk to draw a tic-tac-toe grid on the sidewalk and paint x’s and o’s on rocks to play the game.
9. Make sidewalk chalk paint.
10. Fly at kite.
11. Play hopscotch.
12. Draw sidewalk chalk pictures. Click here to try my homemade sidewalk chalk paint.
13. Blow bubbles.
14. Make homemade bubbles.
15. Have a bonfire in the backyard.
16. Play jump rope.
17. Freeze toys in water and let the kids free them (LEGO Mini Figures in ice cubes is a fun option).
18. Play a game of frisbee .
19. Plant a vegetable garden and tend to it all summer.
20. Plant flowers.
21. Make a sandbox to play with all summer.
22. Play a yard game such as ladder golf, croquet, kickball, or volleyball.
23. Lay in the grass, watch the clouds, and call out any interesting things you see.
24. Make a giant slip-n-slide.
25. Wash the car together and be sure to get everyone really wet.
26. Try a “Couch to 5k” program.
27. Have a food fight.
28. Set up a back yard “water park.” Use inflatable swimming pools, slip and slides, and sprinklers. Add some water toys and balloons for extra fun!
29. Get up early and watch the sunrise.
30. Play in mud.
31. Dance in the rain.
32. Make frozen ice chalk.
33. Make a fairy garden.
Rainy Day Activities
34. Make indoor s’mores. Try my recipe by clicking here.
35. Pop some popcorn and watch a movie.
36. Read together.
37. Play hide and seek.
38. Build a fort in the living room.
39. Use Silly Putty to “copy” things from a newspaper.
40. Buy a newspaper and read the comics section.
41. Invite friends over for a playdate.
42. Build towers with a deck of cards.
43. Play Simon Says.
44. Turn out the lights, set up a flashlight and make animal shapes with your shadows.
45. Create a puppet stage with a blanket over chairs and allow the kids to put on a puppet show.
46. Play Would you Rather.
47. Play dress up.
48. Pretend to be different animals.
49. Put on a fashion show.
50. Have a dance party.
51. Put together a big jigsaw puzzle.
52. Play charades.
53. Write letters to friends and family members.
54. Have kids create a script and make a short video just using your phone.
55. Make “Cootie Catchers.”
56. Put on a short play in the living room.
57. Have a tea party.
58. Have a TV show binge-watching weekend.
59. Start a family blog.
61. Have a Minute to Win It game night.
62. Have a family talent show.
63. Have a karaoke night (check YouTube!).
64. Have a board game night.
65. Lay on a blanket in the yard at night and watch the stars.
66. Have a family slumber party in your living room.
67. Start a family band.
68. Hold an “un-birthday” party complete with cake, cheap decorations, games, and small presents from the dollar store.
69. Make homemade slime.
70. Make homemade play dough.
71. Paint landscapes.
72. Make puffy pain and paint pictures of clouds, ice cream cones, and balloons.
73. Build with marshmallows and toothpicks.
74. Make paper airplanes.
75. Make puppets with paper bags.
76. Build a house out of a large cardboard box.
77. Paint rocks.
78. Make sock puppets.
79. Make origami animals.
80. Keep a summer journal.
81. Make a time capsule.
82. Write an “All About Me” book.
83. Make things with clay.
84. Buy cheap terra cotta pots, paint them, then plant flowers and herbs.
85. Enjoy a “crafternoon.” Bring out all the craft supplies you have on hand and let the kids get creative.
86. Get cheap white shirts (or pull them from your kids’ closets) and decorate them with fabric paints or markers.
87. Start a collection.
88. Make giant bubbles.
89. Finger paint.
90. Try your hand at face painting.
91. Learn to make balloon animals together.
92. Create your own board game.
93. Make your own musical instruments.
94. Find free printables on Pinterest.
UPDATE: due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of these ideas are not an option at this time. Hopefully they will be again soon! But for now, do select from this list only those activities that can be done safely with social distancing in mind.
95. Go to the park.
96. Set up a visit to a fire station.
97. Visit the library.
98. Join a library “story time” or other free event for kids.
99. Go out for ice cream cones.
100. Visit the zoo.
101. Visit an aquarium.
102. Go swimming.
103. Make a picnic and go to the park.
104. Visit a petting zoo.
105. Go to the farmers market and try new local foods.
106. Attend a church VBS (Vacation Bible School) or community day camp.
107. Find free local community outdoor concerts to attend.
108. Attend a local festival.
109. Go mini golfing.
110. Search for a local rock painting group to join. Paint rocks and add the hashtag or group into to the back, then hide them around town.
111. Enjoy a day at the beach or lake.
112. Go fishing.
113. Go camping. Although a camp ground can be extra fun and not too expensive, setting up camp in your back yard is free!
114. Enjoy a local sports game.
115. Go to the county fair.
116. Go to a mall with an indoor play area.
117. Go to a fast food restaurant with an indoor play area.
118. Visit a park with a sand volleyball court.
119. Visit a parent or grand parent at work and take them a surprise lunch.
120. Go got a visit with family members in another town or out of state.
121. Visit a planetarium.
122. Find and visit free museums.
123. Go bowling.
124. Find free movie showings in your community. Check your library and parks.
125. See if your local movie theater offers cheap movies for kids during the day.
126. Attend events at bookstores to meet authors.
127. Sign up for summer reading programs through libraries and bookstores.
128. Find a group on MeetUp.com for playdates and other activities.
129. Collect all your coins, turn them in, then see what fun activity you can do with the money.
130. Have a dollar store shopping spree. Give each kid a small budget, such as $5.00 or $10.00 and let them pick whatever they want.
131. Thank your local heroes. Make cookies and take them to the police or fire station.
132. Go to a drive-in movie.
133. See a play.
134. Go see fireworks.
135. Feed ducks.
136. Check Groupon. There are often coupons and deals for local activities.
137. Find a local berry patch that allows self-picking.
138. Find a community charity to volunteer with during the summer.
139. Work in a community garden.
140. Foster an animal or volunteer at an animal shelter. This can be a lot of work and best for experienced pet owners, but also a great experience for kids.
Around the Neighborhood
141. Start a book club with other parents and kids to enjoy reading kids books together.
142. Set up a toy swap with friends. Everyone brings their best toys that they no longer play with and set up a free “shop.” It’s bring-a-toy-take-a-toy!
143. Do a bike parade with all the kids in the neighborhood. Allow kids to decorate their bikes, scooters, and wagons. Play some music and let the kids parade down the sidewalk showing off their decorated vehicles.
144. Have a yard sale. This is a lot of work, but also a great way to get kids busy with making some extra cash.
145. Play old fashioned outdoor games, such as the three legged race, tug of war, sack races, egg on a spoon held in your mouth race, and more.
146. Host an outdoor movie night. Set up a big screen and use a projector to show a movie. Have people bring air mattresses, blankets, pillows, and sleeping bags to sit on. Serve some simple snacks then sit back and enjoy the evening.
147. Buy ice cream and toppings at the store and set up a build-your-own ice cream bar.
148. Bake cookies together.
149. Plan a dinner menu that the kids will cook (with your help) and allow them to serve their meal to the family.
150. Make homemade popsicles.
151. Make sun tea.
152. Make homemade ice cream.
153. Make snow cones.
154. Make your own “ice cream truck.” Do you miss the old days when we would hear the ice cream truck music and run to get a frozen treat? Give your kids a taste of this experience! Decorate a cooler with a sign that says “Ice Cream Truck.” Fill it with ice cream novelties. On occasion, go outside to your lawn with the cooler and play ice cream truck music. Let your kids know this is the signal for them to come visit their very own ice cream “truck!”
155. Make homemade pizzas
Keep the Summer Fun Going
BONUS! Learn new things. Think of something new to learn with your kids over the summer. Maybe it’s a new language, a life skill, or learning about another place or culture.
What other ideas do you have for cheap or free summer activities for kids? Tell me in the comments below!
Be sure to tag me on Instagram @MomNeedsChocolate when you try some of these activities. I would love to hear from you!