Looking for a fun and affordable way to keep your little one entertained this summer? These low-cost summer activities for kids can be done inside—or outside—the house. Whether you are a working parent or a stay-at-home one, you are probably looking for ways to stave off summer boredom. Once school is out and the kids are home, things can become chaotic very quickly. We’ve rounded up a dozen summer activities that can be done inside and outside the house.
1. DIY Chalk Bombs. Kids will have a blast with this idea from mom Lorie King Kaehler, author of Chalk on the Wild Side. Use a clean soap-dispenser pump to fill water balloons with a washable chalk-paint mixture (1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and a few drops of food coloring). Have your child draw targets on the ground with chalk or just let them go wild. Fire away!
2. Plan a Bike Parade. Encourage your kids to decorate their rides with streamers, stickers, flags, and more—then let them cruise around the neighborhood to show off their creations.
3. Enroll in a Craft Class. Many crafts stores offer hands-on activities for kids like scrapbooking, box decorating, bead stringing, pottery, and more. Some classes are free and others require a nominal fee (typically $5 or less). Call around to find stores that are offering such classes.
4. Organize an At-Home Picnic. You can host a picnic lunch without leaving your property! Choose a mealtime destination, whether it’s a patio table or blanket in the backyard. Prepare picnic staples like sandwiches, load them into a basket, and enjoy dining al fresco.
5. Camp in the Yard. No campground? No problem! Pitch a tent in the backyard and spend the night underneath the stars. This free and timeless summer activity for kids has one major benefit over normal camping: There’s a working toilet merely feet away! Bring out the s’mores supplies and gather around the bonfire. Kids can recreate the feeling of summer camp by telling stories, roasting hot dogs, and singing campfire songs.
6. Make Homemade Slime. Mix up a bowl of Oobleck, a mysterious matter that kids can shape into balls or let ooze from their fingers. Here’s how. Pour 1 cup of water into a large mixing bowl. Add a few drops of food coloring (any color). Slowly stir in 2 cups of cornstarch (use a spoon at first, but you may eventually find it’s easier with your hands). Your kids can do this fun summer activity either inside or outside the house!
7. Paint Outside. When painting outside, there’s no need to worry about making a mess. Just use washable paint and the medium of your choice, whether it’s construction paper, cardboard, or blocks. You can also create outdoor artwork with sidewalk chalk. The epitome of summer activities for your budding Picasso.
8. Tour Your Hometown. You don’t have to leave town to go on a vacation! Visit local landmarks, call the historical society for hometown trivia, and ask a neighbor for their favorite restaurant recommendation to try somewhere new. This is one of the funnest summer activities!
9. Check Out Wildlife Refuges. Lace up your boots, pack a bottle of bug spray, and play naturalist for the day at one of the nation’s wildlife refuges. These are public lands and waters set aside to conserve animals and plants. You can hike through lush forests, swim in pristine rivers and lakes, and identify hundreds of native species (including endangered ones). With more than 150 million acres to explore across the country, getting into the wild is easier than you might think. Click here to find one near you.
10. Arrange a Scavenger Hunt. What adventurous child doesn’t love a scavenger hunt? Whether you set up this free summer activity for kids indoors or outdoors, the objective remains the same: find hidden objects using clever clues. You can either hide items ahead of time or head into the woods for a nature-themed hunt.
11. Watch Movies Outdoors. Every Friday and Saturday, parks across the country sponsor free outdoor family film nights. Visit your parks department website to find if there are any summer activities screenings taking place near you. If you have a projector and a white sheet, you can also set up a DIY screening in your yard.
12. Build a Backyard Obstacle Course. Kids love obstacle courses. They build them in our homes, with blankets, chairs, and pillows. But this summer, you can construct a backyard obstacle course with hula hoops, jump ropes, sticks, stones, hoses, and other materials from around the house. Your kids can take turns completing it—and the person with the fastest time wins a prize!
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