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39 Awesome, Inexpensive, or Free Summer Activities for Kids

This shop is sponsored by Kohl’s. All opinions are my own.

summer activities for kidsI’m so glad there are so many summer activities for kids out there! We all look forward to summer time, but with kids out of school, summer can sometimes feel really long. There’s nothing that annoys me more than when my kids tell me they’re bored. Not this summer! I’ve come up with 39 free and low-cost summer activities for kids that I am sure will keep us busy all summer. I’ve chosen ideas that should work for any family, regardless of where you live or your summer budget.

To keep my kids comfortable, stylish and play-proof, I’ve teamed up with Kohl’s to dress them from head to toe. No matter what activity we do this summer, they are prepared. Kohl’s is helping families take playtime up a notch by providing kids gear proofed for play. I found some really great looks for both of my kids. I especially love the Jumping Beans and Sonoma brands for my toddlers. Both kids also got their first pair of Nike shoes, which I think their dad was the most excited about. I think the quote was “Nike’s are always cool”.

summer activities for kids{Rocco’s Looks: Jumping Beans Captain America T-Shirt and Shorts; Nike Shoes; Sunglasses (similar)}

summer activities for kids{Gigi’s Looks: Disney by Jumping Beans Dress; Nike Shoes; Sunglasses (similar)}

summer activities for kids{Stacey’s Look: Chaps Cardigan; Apt. 9® Dress; Necklace (similar); Sandals (similar); Sunglasses (similar)}

If you’re looking for great summer clothes for your kids at excellent prices, definitely check out Kohl’s. They are offering 20% off sitewide with code SUMMER20 (6/7-6/11). When you’re looking for activities to keep them entertained, check out my 37 free and low-cost activities that are sure to keep them playing hard all summer long.

summer activities for kidsFree and Low-Cost Summer Activities for Kids

1. Play with Bubbles

Blowing bubbles is a classic kids activity. It’s inexpensive and fun. Why not take it up a notch and have a bubble fight? You can make a giant bubble wand or just give each child their own bubble set.

2. Skate for Free

Many indoor skating rinks offer free (or discounted) days. Check out their website or give them a call for more details.

3. Watch Planes at the Airport

Most airports have areas you can sit in your car and watch planes go by. Look for a spot where you can watch planes go over your head. My dad used to take my nephew to watch planes for hours as a toddler.

4. Create your own Photo Shoot

My kids love to pose for the camera. They also love looking at photos of themselves (are all kids so vain?) 🙂 But seriously, it’s a ton of fun to get them dressed up in their best (or favorite) clothes, find a fun spot, and let them run around, acting silly, posing for photos. My husband recently did one while I was traveling, and he captured some of my favorite pictures of them. These impromptu photo shoots really capture their personalities.

5. Visit a Different Park Every Day

If your city is anything like Phoenix, there are so many different parks to choose from. There are some very big ones, and very small ones. I keep the kids’ sand toys in the car along with a soccer ball and some other toys, so we’re always prepared to check out a new park in a different part of the city. It feels like an adventure and they love it.

6. Have Water Gun Fight

You can find really inexpensive water guns at the dollar store or the dollar bin at your local store. Kids love guns, and water guns are a fun way to keep cool in the summer.

7. Bowl for Free

Kids can bowl for free this summer. Here is the link for more information.

8. Stop by a Splash Pads

In Phoenix, nearly every mall and park has a splash pad. I bet your city has one too. Many splash pads are free and a fun way for kids to cool off in the summer.

9. Visit Local Museums

Most museums offer free (or discounted) days. Check their website or social media to find out when they offer discounts and free days.

10. Visit the Mall Play Area

Most malls have play areas that work great for toddlers. You can have your hubby watch the kids while you run into some of your favorite stores.

11. Watch Movies in the Park

Many cities offer summer movies in the park. In Phoenix, they usually happen in the spring, but I’m sure you can find some free movies in the park in your local town.

12. Visit your Local Library

One of my favorite summer activities with my kids is to take them to our local library. It’s nice and cool inside, they like the change of scenery and they love to read. Many libraries also offer free programming, like story time, so check out your local library’s website.

13. Play Dress Up

One of my favorite things to do is find little costumes for my kids at Goodwill or in the dollar bin at different stores. They love playing dress-up and it’s always fun to get mom and dad in on the action too.

14. Build a Fort

When all else fails, I suggest we build a fort. I create a really simple one for them with two blankets draped over two chairs, but it keeps them busy for at least a half an hour every time.

15. Write Your Own Children’s Book

Even if your child can’t write yet, she can still use her creativity to create a story. Most nights, my son tells me a story before bedtime. It’s always some made-up tale based on something that happened that day. It would be very simple to turn it into an actual children’s book. He helps me illustrate while I write it out for him.

16. Visit an Indoor Park

I won’t name the name, but there is a restaurant that has a very fun indoor play area. Sometimes, we’ll take our kids there for a little ice cream cone and let them run around in the tubes to get out some of their energy.

17. Go Camping in your Backyard

But if you live in a nice summer climate, going camping in your own backyard is a great way to entertain the kids and create a fun little staycation at your own home. If you live in a hot climate like Phoenix, you might want to keep the camping inside.

18. Be a Hometown Tourist

No matter where you live, I bet there are things in your city you’ve never experienced. Just a couple weeks ago, we took our kids to the top of South Mountain for the first time. Be a little adventurous and check out some local history or other things you’ve never done in your hometown.

19. Swap Toys with a Neighbor

You know how your kids are so bored with their own toys? Well, why not swap them with one of their friends or a neighbor? This is a great way to create some newness without any cost. Every time we go over to our friends’ house, it’s amazing how much our kids love their toys. But it’s just because they are new and different.

20. Bake Something

Get busy with your kids in the kitchen. Whip up a batch of cookies or muffins. Pick a simple recipe and make sure they can help. I suggest cookies or muffins because they are pretty full-proof and your kids will enjoy the end result. For an extra layer of action, try making sugar cookies so they also get to ice and decorate them too.

21. Go Bird Watching

No matter where you live, even if it’s in a big city, you’re going to be able to find a place that has birds. Get yourself a bird book guide and spend time trying to find different types of birds in your area.

22. Create a Backyard Water Park

Break out the water guns, water balloons, make a water balloon piñata, or create a DIY slip and slide. Kids love water, so find ways for them to enjoy themselves in the comforts of your own backyard.

23. Attend a Workshop

There are a lot of companies that offer free or low-cost summer activities for kids. Lowe’s offers Build & Grow workshops on Saturday mornings. The workshops are geared to ages 5 and up, & are free. Registration is required. Home Depot offers Hands-on Learning workshops on Saturday mornings. They are also geared for kids 5 and up. Michael’s offers Passport to Imagination for kids.

24. Create a Play

Just like the children’s book, let your kids create a play. This can be a full-day activity from writing the play, creating the backdrop and costumes, and acting it out. Make it into a big deal. Video record it and watch it as a family once they’re done.

25. Collect Bugs

I forget sometimes how interesting something like an ant can be. Set your kids free in a wilderness area or even a grassy park and let them search for bugs. We found little bug catcher gear at our dollar store. Having little scientist’s gear makes it even more fun.

26. Take a Hike

Even if you don’t live near mountains, you can hike at a nearby nature trail or by a river or lake. Nature is good for kids, so get them out there! (Here are the 10 benefits of nature for kids)

27. Create a Scavenger Hunt

You can create a simple scavenger hunt by hiding items in your home or backyard. Give your kids a list (if they can’t read, use simple pictures) and see what they can find. It might even be fun to create a treasure map.

28. Go on a Picnic

There’s something special about going on a picnic. Just pack up their lunch, grab a blanket, head to the park, woods or even your backyard, and enjoy.

29. Have a Tea Party

Pull out your fancy silver trays that you never use, pile up some cookies or little sandwiches, and get dressed up (or play dress up) for your very own high tea.

30. Visit a Construction Site

If your kids like construction vehicles as much as mine do, drive to a construction site and watch big machines while they are at work. My kids even love going to inactive sites just to look at the machines.

31. Throw a Dance Party

When our kids are grumpy, we turn on some dance music and we boogie down. It always brightens their mood and they love dancing with mommy and daddy.

32. Make Musical Instruments

You can make simple instruments with things you have right at home. For example, you can make a rain stick by filling a paper towel roll with rice and covering the ends with paper and tape.

33. Practice another Language

My kids love speaking Spanish. They already learn Spanish at school and since my husband and I both speak a little Spanish, it’s fun for us to practice Spanish words with them. If you don’t already speak a language, why not learn it with your kids? You can download a free language app or even just use the translate function on your web browser to learn new words in another language.

34. Travel around the World from Home

You can teach your kids about other places just by using Wikipedia or maps. You can create country themes in your house where you eat foods from other cultures and learn about other cultural practices.

35. Stargaze

When I was little, one of my favorite things to do in the summer was to lay on the driveway and stare up at the stars. Of course, I could see a lot more of them because I lived in a pretty rural area. However, even in a more populated area, you can see some stars. Kids love outer space, so let their imagination soar.

36. Learn about Money

It’s never too early to teach your kids about money. You can spend time looking at the different sizes and colors and shapes. Another fun idea is to let them paint or decorate their own piggy banks so they can start taking pride in saving their own money.

37. Make Homemade Playdough

There are tons of different recipes for homemade slime and playdough, but this one is great because it is edible. I’m not suggesting your kids should eat it, but if they do, it won’t harm them.

38. Invent Something

Let your kids create something using items from the recycling bin. As one idea, you can create a problem and tell them they need to invent a tool or machine to solve the problem. All they need are old boxes, toilet rolls, tape, glue, crayons and scissors and I bet they will come up with something really creative.

39. Practice Yoga

If you have trouble fitting in your time at the gym, why not do yoga with your littles? Set up some yoga mats, turn on a YouTube video, and you can all practice some om in the comfort of your home.

I hope you find these ideas useful this summer when you’re looking for something fun to do with your kids. I personally find these summer activities for kids super helpful when my kids are acting bored or driving me crazy. Enjoy your summer!

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