25 Free Ways To Keep Your Kids Busy This Summer

Now that the kids are out of school and the warm days are here, finding ways to keep your kids busy can be challenging. Finding cost effective (free!) ways to keep them busy can be even more challenging.

However, if you’re a stay at home mom, you need to keep busy to preserve your sanity and need to keep the cost down to preserve your bank account. Having the kids around again all the time is a big change in the schedule and life has to be adjusted to make room for a new, daily routine.

If you’re a working mom, by the time the weekend arrives, the kids might be bouncing off the walls due to being inside with a sitter or at a daycare.

Either way the warm weather, blue skies and extended daylight hours are just calling out for non-stop playtime. Check out this list of 25 free ideas to keep your children entertained this summer.

The Everyday Mom Life - 25 Free Ways To Keep Your Kids Busy This Summer


Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt

You can do this on your block or in a local forest preserve. Make a list of items for your kids to find outside and collect. The items can include flowers, different type of leaves, pinecones, stones, etc. You can also go on walks to look for different kinds of the same item. My grandfather and I used to go on feather walks and see how many different kinds of feathers we could find. It’s a special memory I now cherish as an adult.

25 Free summer activities for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

Outdoor “Old School” Games

When’s the last time you play hopscotch? I was probably about 7. This is such a fun game for kids though and is one that keeps them moving. You can use chalk and draw it on the driveway or sidewalk. You can also make your own Tic Tac Toe board and use painted rocks as your Xs and Os. My daughter loved painting her own rocks.

25 Free summer activities for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

Science A Home

Just because school is out doesn’t mean the kids have to stop learning. Try a couple of science projects at home. This rain cloud experiment is perfect for rainy days or teaching kids about weather. All you need is a glass, shaving cream and blue food coloring. Drip the food coloring on top of your “cloud” and when it gets too heavy for the shaving cream, it starts to “rain.”

25 Free summer activities for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

Neighborhood Book Club

Start a neighborhood book club with the kids. Create a reading list and have one book a week that that can read and then discuss over snack time at someone’s house. Or, if they are preschoolers, you can read them an early reader book during the snack time and then have them discuss. If it’s a longer chapter book carry it over from week to week and give them something to look forward to. You can find a list of preschool chapter books here.

25 Free summer activities for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

Bug Hunt

Depending on how adventurous your child is, you can go on a bug hunt. Similar to the Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt, make a list of the different kinds of bugs you want to find. Talk about each of the bugs as you find them and use it as a learning experience to talk about how ants can lift objects much heavier than themselves of how wasps (Don’t get too close!) are different from honey bees. My daughter was so happy each time we saw a butterfly.

25 Free summer activities for kids - The Everyday Mom Life



Make a list of all parks in your area. Check out a new one each week so you and your kids don’t get bored. You might make some new friends and discover some fun places in the neighborhoods right around your house.

Make Your Own Slime

Kids have so much fun just playing with squishy things and it’s great sensory play for them too. Use this recipe to create your own neon slime for your kids to play with. You can store it in a plastic bag or use it to make these cool slime planets.

25 Free summer activities for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

Make Crayons

Use old pieces of broken crayons and make new crayons of various colors. My kids loving playing with these new, rainbow color creations we made. You do need a silicone mold to make this happen. I’ve used this one and this one from Amazon on different occasions for this, but any silicone pan will do. You can find step-by-step instructions here.

25 Free summer activities for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

Bubble Play

Turn a water table or a large bowl into a bubble table and see how big you can make the bubbles. You can make bubble wands out of pipe cleaners. Check out this bubble recipe on Pintrest here.

25 Free summer activities for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

Animal Preserve

We have a local animal preserve near us that takes care of animals that have been found injured or baby animals that have been abandoned. Our preserve has an indoor and outdoor area and includes things like owls, foxes and even an eagle! If you don’t know where your local animal preserve is, see if you can find one close to you online. These are usually run on donations so while you could go for free, we usually try to help them out with a donation.

25 Free summer activities for kids - The Everyday Mom Life


Hey Mom, you'll enjoy these too!

Hiking Excisions

If your kids are a little older, hiking can be a great way to get outdoors, spend some time together without a screen and get some activity in. We have a state park about an hour away and it has some beautiful hiking trails. We have packed a lunch and spent the day there. We also have a bike path about two blocks away from our house that we use if we don’t feel like making the drive somewhere else.

25 Free summer activities for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

Sprinkler Fun

If you don’t have a pool or a membership to a pool, cooling off in your backyard can be just as easy. Think old school here. The kids will have just as much fun as you did when you were a kid running through the sprinkler on steamy days.

Make Your Own Animal Tracks

Kids love animals and you can make your own animal tracks with sponges and talk about how the tracks are different from each other. Talk about size, shape and the animal that makes them.

Farmers’ Market

Find your local Farmer’s Markets and make it a day with the kids to get fresh fruits and veggies. The one in our town is on Saturday mornings, but surrounding towns have them during the week so this can be a great way to get out of the house mid-week. Think of a veggie recipe you want to make during the week and have your kids pick out the perfect veggies for it.

25 Free summer activities for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

Flower Press

My daughter absolutely loves making these. We find flowers on our Nature Walks and then press them between two pieces of wax paper to preserve the color. Heat it with an iron to seal it altogether. It’s simple, but it’s a fun activity every time we do it. Try to find flowers in a variety of shapes and sizes. You can then hang them in front of a window and let the light shine through. It’s also an activity that works in spring, summer and fall.

25 Free summer activities for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

Free Museum Days

Most museums and/or zoos are required to have a certain number of free days each year. Check out the local museums and zoos near you to find the dates and plan a special day out. Pack a lunch so you don’t have to worry about buying the expensive food at the venues and enjoy the day!

Paper Airplane Flight Contest

Make paper airplanes with your kids or a couple of other kids from the neighborhood and see which ones go the farthest.

25 Free summer activities for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

Library Programs

Your local library will have a summer calendar. Check it out! If you younger kids there will be programs and maybe even events they can get involved in. For older kids, they might have craft classes or book clubs.

Check out Children’s Work Shops

Your local home improvements stores or craft stores will usually have free classes and workshops for kids. During the school year these generally happen on Saturday, but during summer the stores sometimes revise their schedules. Each store is different so be sure to check with your local retailer.

Start Your Own Garden

Whether you have a single family home or an apartment, you can make a little garden with just a few pots and seeds. Even if you only have room for one pot, plant a pea plant and together watch it grow. You can use the garden as an area of learning for so many different things – nature, farming, bugs, nutrition, etc. My daughter loved to eat the peas from our garden last year and she loved that she helped plant them too. She was a huge fan of helping me. If you have a large garden, check out this list of must-have garden items for your kids that will help keep them safe and make it feel special.

25 Free summer activities for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

Picnics in the backyard

Make this a weekly thing at your house where you put together a picnic lunch and just eat in your back yard, or on your patio if you live in a condo. Your kids can help put fruit in bowls or use cookie cutters to make shapes. They will look forward to this change in the routine. If it rains, then bring the fun inside and have a carpet picnic!

Splash Parks

Check with your local park district for splash park playgrounds. These have begun popping up all over and are a great alternative to a water park for younger kids. They are usually free and you can spend a morning of afternoon just letting the kids get their fill of water play. If you don’t know where to find one, Google can usually help you out. I just typed in, “free splash park,” and got a list of 14!

25 Free summer activities for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

Visit Your Local Fire Station

Call your local fire station and see what days they allow visits. They will be happy to show kids around the firehouse and the firetruck. If there is an emergency, you’ll have to wait, but usually they are really good about having little visitors.

25 Free summer activities for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

Visit A Beach or Local Lake

While I know everyone doesn’t have a beach near them, you can usually find a lake that allows swimming. Just remember to be safe in the water. Soak up the sun or build a sandcastle and enjoy a day of water play.

Potato Stamp Art

Use potatoes or any veggie to create fun works of art. With potato stamp art you can talk about shapes and colors too! Just be sure that a parent is the one to cut the shape out of the potato. Then let your kids stamp away!

25 Free summer activities for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to add to this list! What are some of the fun ways you are planning to keep your kids busy this summer? We would love to hear your ideas too.

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  • La Shell July 20, 2017 08.55 pm

    These are some really good ideas. Thanks alot. My niece and nephew will surely enjoy.

  • Cassie Liz July 20, 2017 09.56 pm

    This is so helpful – I took my niece and nephew out recently just to the movies and it set us back a quick $50!! I couldn’t believe it! No one can sustain that over the entire break!

  • Jane July 21, 2017 12.16 am

    These are great ideas! I don’t have kids of my own but I’m often spending time with my friends kiddos and so now I know what to do with them! Lol

  • dailymomtivity July 21, 2017 12.35 am

    I love these ideas! It’s SO HOT here in Texas so we do lots of indoor things. We’ve made slime several times and been to the library! I wish we lived in a cooler location to go on hikes!

  • Amy Lu. Making Motherhood Matter July 21, 2017 02.07 am

    This is a great list. You included two of our favorites, science experiments and hiking.

  • Jeanine July 21, 2017 02.28 am

    These are great ideas to keep children busy and their minds filled with learning and seeing new things. Helps make summer fun and not so boring staying indoors so much.

  • Terri Steffes July 21, 2017 02.57 am

    I love all these ideas, but I am especially drawn to the farmer’s market. There is so much going on there and all the lessons about money that can be shared!

  • Kim@Team-Cartwright July 21, 2017 03.29 am

    Great ideas! We adore library programs. Seriously we are there 2 or 3 times a week. And yes to science projects! Summer is a great time to really dive in to your kids’ interests! I’m going to try pressing some flowers, that sounds fun.

  • Rhian Westbury July 21, 2017 09.25 am

    If you look around and get creative there’s enough you can do which doesn’t have to cost the earth. Great activity list x

  • Jessica Joachim July 21, 2017 10.53 am

    These are wonderful ideas. My oldest is 4, so she has a short attention span lol. We love playing outside and doing crafts and experiments though

  • Chanel van Reenen July 21, 2017 11.32 am

    Ahhh I need this! My 5 year old is the king of being bored!

  • Nancy Johnson Horn (@themamamaven) July 21, 2017 03.47 pm

    Great ideas. Camp ends August 11 and I’m going to need some good ideas to keep my kids occupied.. school starts September 8th here in NYC.

  • Joleen Pete July 21, 2017 03.54 pm

    I love, love, love this round up of ideas! So fun and so many options of things to do with my son. Thank you!

  • Simply Mom Bailey July 21, 2017 06.42 pm

    Awesome Ideas! We are keeping busy by checking out a new playground in our community every week! So far we have found 3 really awesome playgrounds and one not so great one! Its been an amazing adventure.

  • caitcance July 21, 2017 06.43 pm

    Awesome ideas! My favorite is the homemade crayons, they look so cool and I know my kids will love making them!

  • kikidavies July 21, 2017 08.21 pm

    Thanks for these great ideas! 3 weeks into summer vacay and this momma is in a rut!!

  • Discov. Parenthood (@discoveryparent) July 21, 2017 10.24 pm

    I was just thinking about putting together a scavenger hunt, love that idea.

  • Sheila July 22, 2017 12.39 am

    These are awesome ideas! I’ll totally keep them in mind 🙂

  • Momma Addict July 22, 2017 11.04 am

    This is an incredible list that I would have loved when my kids were young. I think I did maybe 25% of these. This will be useful to many parents.

  • courteneynoonan July 22, 2017 01.18 pm

    I love the idea of making your own slime. My brother and sister would really enjoy it too

  • Journa Liz Servito Ramirez July 22, 2017 01.49 pm

    Too sad, summer is over here in our country. Wish these ideas were posted last few months. But I’ll remember these. Thanks!

  • Krystle Cook July 22, 2017 07.31 pm

    These are all such great ideas! My kids can definitely get into the summer boredom slump.

  • Amber Nelson July 22, 2017 07.33 pm

    Those are great summer activities! I am all about free! Going to do a couple of these.

  • reesann723 July 22, 2017 09.47 pm

    We are knee deep in summer here and I am starting to run out of ideas! Thank you for yours!

  • Heather Riccobono (@BrieBrieBlooms) July 23, 2017 12.02 am

    These are great ideas! I love the bug hunt idea, you found a giant caterpillar!

  • Anna July 23, 2017 02.32 am

    Love all these ideas!

  • Jasmine – LoveLifeLaughMotherhood July 23, 2017 08.15 pm

    I sent this to my sister for her kids who are older,but i can even do some of these with my toddler. great list!

  • Sara July 23, 2017 09.49 pm

    There are some pretty crafts and artistic activities here! I’d probably start the garden and have him join a book club.

  • raisingjayandabel July 23, 2017 10.01 pm

    Love these ideas! Thanks for sharing:)

  • Courtney July 24, 2017 12.05 pm

    Omg! So many fun ideas. We’re all about getting outside during the summer. Nothing more fun than a family hike!

  • coppeliamarie July 24, 2017 08.59 pm

    I’m all about free museums and library days! I also love checking sites like Houstononthecheap.com for more free and cheap ideas. It’s one of my favorite blogs!

  • ranganr July 25, 2017 05.15 am

    Great points to keep kids active this summer.

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