80+ Inexpensive or Free Summer Activities for Kids

Summer is almost here and you are likely looking for summer activities for kids that are affordable and will not break the bank.

Far too often we over-look the simpler things that children find entertaining.

I have a list of over 80 free or inexpensive things you can do with your kids this summer. All of these activities are perfect for the entire family and can be done with just one child or a larger family of children. These ideas are also perfect if you want to pull in a group of friends to join in on the fun!

There is a list of places to go, things you can make and places to play.

Ready, set, go!

summer activities for kids and preschoolers

Go:

  1. Go to the library once a week.  Check out books, join story time, see if there is a reading club you can participate in.
  2. Go camping. Front yard, back yard, in the living room, or make it a weekend trip in another town.
  3. Go to your local recreation center in your city and see what activities or classes they offer for super cheap!
  4. Go to the park.   Hello, that is hours of free entertainment. And at my favorite park, they have trails that we all love to walk after playing at the playground.
  5. Going on a road trip? Check out these road trip free printables for little ones.
  6. Go on a worm hunt.
  7. Go fishing.
  8. Go on a factory/plant tour.
  9. Go to Vacation Bible School (VBS).
  10. Go to your local home supply store or craft store and see if they are offering any free children’s clinics this summer.
  11. Go walk at the mall.
  12. Go to the lake-  swim or fish.
  13. Go to the local sno cone stand.

summer activities

Make:

  1. Make your own kite. Here are 27 different kites you can make.
  2. Make things out of cardboard.   Check out this awesome idea- filled- post on  cardboard creativity 101. Then, hop over and check out Tip Junkie’s list of  32 things you can make with cardboard.
  3. Make your own slime using this recipe, which glows in the dark!
  4. Make homemade play dough.
  5. Make goop.
  6. Make S’Mores- go traditional or make these Owl S’Mores. So cute!
  7. Make homemade marshmallows.
  8. Make soap on a rope.
  9. Make these bird treats and hang them in a tree near a window so you can watch the birds enjoy.
  10. Make bathtub puff paint.
  11. Bake these Mommy Cookies together.
  12. Make this cherry cake recipe together.
  13. Make an obsticle course (or hold an olympics)  in your backyard. So fun! You can make first place, second place, third place ribbons using construction paper and yarn.
  14. Make a sensory tub. Great for toddlers and preschoolers.
  15. Make a time capsule.
  16. Make homemade ice cream. Here is a list of tips as well as five recipes you can make!
  17. Make homemade bubbles.
  18. Make  liquid sidewalk chalk and then have a creativity contest.
  19. Make a pet rock.
  20. Make homemade finger paint.
  21. Make your own felt play mat.
  22. Make a busy tray. Super smart and practical.
  23. Re-purpose broken crayons into your favorite mold shape and print some free color sheets.
  24. Make a lemonade stand.
  25. Make homemade pizza together. Here is a list of ways to make pizza un-boring.
  26. Make your own board game.
  27. Make sock puppets and have a sock puppet play.
  28. Make finger puppets. Here is a free download.
  29. Make your own stick horse.
  30. Make homemade popsicle. Here is a great list of popsicle recipes.
  31. Make something origami. Here is a site with a bunch of  kid friendly origami ideas.
  32. Make an assortment of muffins together. Here are 28 muffin recipes you can indulge in.
  33. For your little toddler guys who want to be crafty, make ice paint. Pretty cool.

summer activities

 

Play & Do:

  1. Skip rocks. Simple, free, fun, lost art.
  2. Have  a bike parade.
  3. Have a day of watching movies. Utilize services like NetFlix or Redbox. You can even check them out for free at your local library.
  4. Fly a kite.
  5. Have a family board game party or game night.
  6. Feed the ducks. My children LOVE doing this!
  7. Shop garage sales. You can find board games, movies, etc for cheap, cheap!
  8. Have a picnic at the park, in your living room, or in your front yard.
  9. Go for a Sunday Drive any day of the week.
  10. Visit the nearest beach.
  11. Have a yard sale. Have your children help and learn the value of a dollar.
  12. Have a bon fire and roast marshmallows.
  13. Play in the water (sprinkler, slip and slide, kiddy pool, water balloons)
  14. Welcome the troops at the airport. I have been wanting to take the kids to do this for a long, long time.
  15. Play I Spy.
  16. Look into summer camps in your area. If you live in the DFW area (North Texas) here is a great 2011 summer camp list!
  17. Host your own summer camp. Here is an  e-book with practical ideas and suggestions for surviving the summer.
  18. Play frisbee.
  19. Volunteer some where as a family.
  20. Invent a new recipe together.
  21. Catch lightning bugs.
  22. Have a scavenger hunt.
  23. Play  Mad Libs and share your stories. So fun! If you do not have a Mad Libs book, here is an online knock-off.
  24. Play kickball.
  25. Play dodgeball.
  26. Play tug-of-war.
  27. Put a puzzle together as a family.
  28. Play hide and go seek in the dark.
  29. Call local theatres and see if they offer free showings of kiddy movies in the summer. Some do- I promise.
  30. Build a clubhouse or a fort.
  31. Plant something.
  32. Become pen pals with someone.
  33. Start reading a classic as a family read 20-30 minutes of it out loud a day. Huck Finn, Little Women, etc.
  34. Put on a magic show. Click the link for five easy and fun tricks your kids can do.
  35. Play dress up. (My boys love to play in old Halloween costumes.)

 

Tell me, what can I find for you?

Here are over 50 sites to search for and share projects  and tutorials on!

Comments

  1. says

    Those are great idea! Thanks for sharing! I am going to pass your link along to my friends that have kids so they can go over all these awesome ideas for the summer!

  2. Kim Idell says

    Thank you!! Sharing the list with the family on our way back from lunch……Skylar and Blake are all over making a pet rock. They want to buy one at Walmart. I had to explain you have to find it. That’s what makes it special.
    Going have fun with your list! :)

  3. says

    This is a wonderful list! It is so great that the list is made up entirely of suggestions for the type of activities that growing brains need most!! I can see lots of parents and kids are going to benefit from this!!! —

    Thanks for creating and sharing something so valuable!
    Deborah

    • says

      Justine- the ice painting is such a great idea for little ones! And anything ice related in the summer-time rocks! :)

      So glad you’re following!

  4. Cori says

    Oh my gosh, I think you just became my new best friend! Thank you so much for all of the awesome ideas.

  5. Rebecca D. says

    I love this BLOG ! I have two boys and I was just telling my husband I needed things to do with them. SO thanks for posting :)
    I am new to the blog scene and really am enjoying it because of blogs like yours !
    Rebecca D.

  6. says

    Wow! That is a wonderful list of great ideas! Do you happen to have a list for inexpensive cheap date ideas for summer? I mean I’m a college student who has a 3 year anniversary with my boyfriend this summer. I need some ideas for dates/gifts! :D

  7. Lisa says

    We planted a butterfly garden last summer. So we count the dragonflies and butterflies it brings to our yard. :)

  8. karen says

    I am always looking for things to do with my son. I would love it if you shared it at Workshop Wednesday

  9. says

    WOW this is a wonderful post just in time for summer! Thank you, Crystal for putting it together. I’m going to book mark this for those days when we are looking for something to do. Kelli

  10. Jacqueline says

    Thanks for all the ideas! I don’t have kids of my own, but I’m saving this site for when my friends’ kids come over!
    (found this via TT and J)

  11. Tara@Tales of a Trophy WIfe says

    Great list. I however found that I just sign up all my kids for swim team and all of our extra time evaporates:)

    • says

      We thought about doing swim lessons or activities at the recreation center, but with just starting homeschool I really did not want to spend my time running all over creation. I want simple and less stress. Know what I mean? Some of that running around gets tiring.

  12. says

    I love this fabulous list! Thank you so much for this wonderful collection of great activities to do with the kiddos :) I just pinned it and I need to print it out to get ready for summer! Krista @ A Handful of Everything

  13. says

    One thing I did last summer with my 4 grandkids was to make sandcastings (from kits available at beachandnatureco.com). It was inexpensive and easy- and we had keepsakes of the day we spent together.

  14. says

    Thanks for sharing this information. a museum our is also good activity..if you live close to an area with a museums, you may find that there is a summer program for kids to learn about subjects they display. Art museums may offer opportunities for hands on art work while natural history museums can lead kids to discover the world they live in and the cultures of other people. Local historical museums and societies may offer exploration of the history of your town or state through summer programs. Museums do normally charge a fee that covers materials and other costs.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] 80+ Inexpensive or Free Summer Activities for Kids I recently asked my readers to share a solution or resource they would like me to help them find. My friend Kim left a comment stating she needs a list of fun and inexpensive things to do this summer… so, I came up with. [...]

  2. [...] I recently asked my readers to share a  solution or resource they would like me to help them find. My friend Kim left a comment stating she needs a list of fun and inexpensive things to do this summer\”¦ so, I came up with a list. Since the list is so long, I broke it up into easy categories. If there is a link included for one of the activities, click-through because it is a tutorial to show you how to do it. There are over 80 mommy solutions here! Enjoy!                                                        http://www.crystalandcomp.com/2011/05/80-inexpensive-or-free-summer-activities-for-kids/ [...]

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