20 Cheap or Free Summer Fun Ideas

We are on our 2nd week of Summer here in Southern Utah, and I want to make sure we fill it with lots of fun activities and little to NO screen time. I don’t mind if my kids watch cartoons first thing in the morning while we all wake up and snuggle, but after that, I want outside play time and active kids.
So, each year our family sits down and writes our summer fun checklist. It’s never fancy, but my kids LOVE it and check it every day for ideas. They also really like checking off the activities after they’ve done them.
Your list will be unique to your family and the things you like to do together, and where you live. But, in case you need a little inspiration. I thought I’d share some of our family’s ideas.

  1. Sidewalk Artist- Use chalk outside. Either draw a masterpiece or play a game of hopscotch. The possibilities are endless, and it you have budding artists in your home, this will keep them busy for hours.
  2. Play in the Rain- It’s been raining a lot here, so we’ve been jumping in big puddles, having races in the rain, and making ‘mud world’ in a section of our unfinished yard. Just make sure you have clothes on that you don’t care about!
  3. Sunset watching- Now that the kids don’t have to be up early for school, find a time when you can all sit down and enjoy the sunset together.
  4. Volunteer- This might not sound like fun at first, but helping others always leaves you with warm fuzzy feelings. Find an elderly person that needs help with yard work, or simply bring treats to a friend or neighbor.
  5. Cloud watching- Lay a blanket out on your lawn or porch and watch the clouds roll by. We like to make up stories that go along with the shapes of the clouds. It’s a good way for me to take a much needed rest after a long day of playing, without plopping the kids in front of the t.v.
  6. Visit a museum- Even in our small town we have a few museums to choose from. If you don’t have any museums in your town, learn your town history online and become your own tour guide.
  7. Make a Fort- If it’s too cold or hot to be outside, set up a fort or tent in your front room. Use blankets, sheets, and kitchen chairs. Pile all your comfy pillows inside and spend the day reading inside your fort.
  8. Rock Collecting- My kids are obsessed with finding cool rocks. I make them keep them outside, and then, if you’re feeling generous,  you can paint them and make little works of art.
  9. Do a craft- It doesn’t need to be an organized craft. Just break out the scissors, glue, and markers and the kids will be busy for hours.
  10. Star Gazing- Stay up late exploring the stars.
  11. Visit the library- Sign up for the summer reading program, or go to story time.
  12. Swim- What kind of summer would it be without a little fun in the pool? If you don’t want to visit the local pool, you can always set up a cheap pool in your backyard!
  13. Play night games- Capture the flag, sardines, and fugitive are all fun games you can play with buddies in your own yard or at a local park.
  14. S’mores- Buy a cheap fire pit at Home Depot and roast s’mores or hot dogs in your back yard. Or head up the mountain for a fire.
  15. Bug Hunting- I personally hate bugs, but the kids love them. When we see a new one, we draw a picture of it and try to find information about it online.
  16. Make a Nature Book- After exploring your backyard, or taking a nature hike make a record of what you saw. You can collect leaves, draw pictures of bugs, trees and shrubs.
  17. Summer Journal- Sneak a little learning into your kids’ summer. Have them write in a journal every morning or night. It doesn’t need to be long, one sentence will do for young kids, or even a picture describing what they did that day.
  18. Park Explorer- Visit every park within 20 miles of your home throughout the summer, even the small ones.
  19. Play catch- Find a Frisbee, softball, football, or dodge ball and play catch outside!
  20. Sleep outside- Either go camping, or simply sleep on your back patio! We don’t always last the whole night outside with our small kids, but as long as we don’t have to be anywhere first thing in the morning, it’s a really fun thing to do in the summer!

I hope you feel motivated now! Summer time is the best, and I’m hoping we can stretch it out as long as possible. Especially since we’ll be welcoming a new little baby right before school starts!
What does your family like to do in the summer? Please share your ideas with us!!
Jessica

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