Here are 8 screen-free activities for your kids to try this summer. Some of these they can do by themselves, some will need your adult supervision and help. But they are all healthy, wholesome activities that will build your kids’ minds, skills, emotional health, and physical health.
It is so easy to let the kids just entertain themselves during summer break, I get it. We are tired from all the hurry and scurry of school. But then, we also want our kids to do worthwhile things with their time. TV and video games all day is not healthy, we know, so what can our kids do?
This one is an obvious choice for a bookworm like myself! I do realize that some kids find it difficult to read, and some just plain don’t enjoy it. But for the ones who do enjoy it; provide them with lots of good books!
Libraries are good friends. Not only do they have any book you could wish for, they are also air-conditioned, so you can go spend several hours reading in the cool air! They have toys for the toddlers, usually, and story time or craft time.
Tips for reluctant readers
- For older kids who don’t enjoy reading, make a book list of some you want them to read. Tell them to read one per week, and then write a one page report and turn it in by Saturday or whatever day you choose. The report should NOT be graded in any way; it is simply a tool to ensure that the child is actually reading the book.
- For younger ones, make a sticker chart, or pay them a dollar for every book read. Money and stickers are great for motivating kiddos! Or even hand out a piece of candy after each book is read. Have a young child tell you orally what the book was about. (again, to ensure that they are indeed reading!)
2. Run through the sprinkler
This one is as old as water hoses themselves! Grab a cheap sprinkler for $3 from Walmart and attach it to the water hose. Let the kids dress in their swimsuits and send them out to play in the water for several hours!
For little ones, you can fill a mini pool or even a large dishpan with water and set it out on the grass and let them splash! But whatever you do; STAY OFF THE PHONE. Kids can drown so fast, it’s extremely important that you do not become distracted.
3. Make art with nature
This one is great for winter too! You can adjust to what you have, depending on the season. Spring can be baskets, summer can be berry painting, fall and winter can be leaves or dried legume art.
If you harvest twigs in the spring, before leaves come out, they are easiest to harvest and use. Just soak and weave into baskets. Find tutorials on YouTube or Pinterest.
In summer, you can use wild berries to create ‘paintings’ on piece of scrap lumber or rocks. Just place several wild berries in a small dish, and dip a stick into them, stir and crush the berries a little, and use the stick to draw things on the rocks. Make sure you have the kids wear old clothes for this, because berries stain clothes!
In fall and winter, get several kinds of legumes or other grains, and create art. Just spread glue on a piece of card stock and arrange beans as desired.
4. Cooking and baking
With fewer schedules, summer is a great time to get in the kitchen with the kids in a relaxed atmosphere, and help them learn to make things!
- 6-12 year olds: Grilled cheese sandwiches, PB&J sandwiches, Ham and cheese sandwiches, fried eggs, ramen noodles, smoothies, simple cookies or cakes, are all things they can learn to make.
- 13+ years old: These teens can make anything! If they haven’t tried cooking before, you will need to give some instructions at first, but they should soon be able to find a recipe and make it without much help.
Try this simple BBQ Chicken recipe.
5. Flower and vegetable gardening
Getting their fingers into the dirt is probably one of the most therapeutic activities kids can do. Even if you hate gardening, I encourage you to give them a corner of dirt to play in! If you don’t have access to dirt, buy a bucket and a bag of topsoil and let them go to it! Remember: dirt washes off.
Lettuce, beans, zinnias are all easy things to grow. If you live in a warm area, tomatoes grow really well. It will encourage them to eat veggies too, if they watch them grow!
6. Learn about a topic they are interested in
Whether it’s dinosaurs, race cars, parakeets, sharks, or how computers work; help them study their area of interest. Check out books on the topic at the library, go visit a local museum or mechanic shop, ask DQ for a tour, whatever they want to study – make it happen.
But do not, I repeat: DO NOT turn it into a school course! (I’m looking at you, homeschool mama!) Yes, keep track of hours spent, and track it as part of school, but let it flow. Just do what they think sounds fun; don’t start creating displays, checklists, plans, lap books, etc. Let it be FUN. Kids learn best when they are having fun.
7. Visit local history spots
Most kids will balk at this. But often they enjoy it more than they think they will! I have taken mine to the local museums, old forts, historical prison, wagon-train ruts, battlegrounds, and more.
Tips for kids who hate history:
- Take a picnic lunch and eat on the grounds, or at least, some fun drinks and snacks. This helps associate history with fun in their minds.
- Don’t force them to do a treasure hunt, or look at the things you ‘think’ they will like. Just take them and let them focus on what they want. Don’t force the learning.
- Keep taking them to different places. 1-2 places each summer. Eventually, they will get used to it and learn to enjoy it. If you don’t fight with them, they will have good memories of these times.
Volunteering doesn’t have to be super intensive. You can make it relaxed and stress-free. But volunteering is an awesome way to get kids to think of someone less fortunate. We are all rather self-absorbed, and volunteering can help change that. Here’s some ideas:
- Clean up a section of the highway, or a park.
- Sing or play instruments for the local seniors. It doesn’t have to be good – seniors get very lonely and appreciate any interaction.
- Bake cookies for the police officers or firefighters.
- Help at the local pet rescue.
- Mow or rake for a neighbor.
- Bake cookies for a neighbor.
- Fill a box with fun items for a friend going through a hard time.
The main thing I want to stress, is not to stress! This is summer, after all. Don’t plan too many activities for one day. Take time to rest. Take time for leisurely meals, slow walks, swimming, fishing, sports just for fun and not competitive. And try something new! Give your kids some memories of a relaxing summer.
What screen-free activities do you like to do in summer? How do you get the kids off their devices? Share in the comments! And pin this post so you can read it later.