For some of you, summer is already in full swing. If you are a parent, summer marks the beginning of very busy days trying to keep your kids occupied so they don’t drive you insane during the next three months. Don’t get me wrong, kids are great! But sometimes when they are at school, you get a much-needed break to make you realize how much you truly appreciate having them around. But when summer hits, it’s a bit of a shock since you are used to having a little bit of alone time during the day. To help ease the dog days of summer, here are 30 summer activities for kids that can be done at home. The best part about these 30 activities is that most of the materials needed can be purchased at a dollar store near you. It’d be an interesting challenge to see how many of these you could provide for under $100. You may surprise yourself.
1. Bike Basket – Get a basket at the dollar store and zip tie it to the handlebars of your child’s bike. They’ll be able to store all sorts of cool stuff in it like rocks, grass, treasures they find while riding around, and if you’re lucky enough, they’ll probably fill it with a ton of insects that you don’t want anywhere near your house.
2. Shower Curtain Coloring Paper – If you have a child that loves to scribble or draw, get a white shower curtain along with some dry erase markers. Lay it out on the ground and there will be hours of endless fun. The really great thing about this is that they are drawing with dry erase markers so all you have to do is wipe it off and they can do it all over again.
3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shells – If you have a child who is a fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, this is super easy and cheap way to make them happy. Take a roasting pan and spray paint it green. Poke holes in the top and bottom on each side, so you can put fabric through them like a backpack. Then at a local fabric store, grab a little bit of solid fabric and you can turn your child into their favorite turtle.
4. Chalkboard For Car Rides – Take a baking sheet and paint it with chalkboard paint. Then on your next road trip, give your child some chalk and magnetic letters to keep them busy for hours.
5. Road Trip Organizer – Keep your car clean by hanging a shoe organizer from the back of the driver’s seat. Fill it with the essentials that your child will need to stay happy including a drink, snacks, activities, etc.
6. Color Mixing Station – All you need here is food coloring, water, cornstarch, and a vegetable tray from the dollar store. In the vegetable tray, put 1/4 cup of cornstarch into four compartments. Then slowly add 1/8 cup of water into the compartments and add the food coloring using the primary colors (red, yellow, and blue), slowly stirring each one to mix the colors. Have your kids wear play clothes since the food coloring could stain their clothes. Then they can add colors to the 3 empty compartments, mixing as they go to see what colors mixed together make what.
7. Vegetable Tray Mold – The vegetable tray from above can also be used to make a flower mold using sand, dirt, or cement.
8. Art Tub – Go to the dollar store and buy a small plastic tub. Once you have the tub picked out, go up and down the aisles looking for art supplies to fill up the tub with. This can be anything from crayons, markers, glitter, paint, and more.
9. Busy Bags – This is a great idea for kids who constantly run up to their parents and say, “I’m bored!” These busy bags each have items in them that can be used for a specific activity. Some of my favorites are A Hungry Giraffe, Popsicle Stick Puzzle, and Springtime In The Garden.
10. Colorful Archery – Be careful because this one can get MESSY! Take a poster board and draw a target on it. Hang the target from a tree or somewhere you won’t mind a little bit of paint. Then take suction cup arrows dipped in paint. To make it a game, have each kid pick a color to use so you can tell who hit where on the target. Then use the bow that comes with the arrows and have the kids shoot it at the target.
11. Nutella Pops – My kids love to help out in the kitchen, even if I don’t want them to. But here is an easy thing for them to make. You can buy the popsicle molds at the dollar store, and then mix together 1 cup of Cool Whip, 1/2 cup of milk, and 3 Tablespoons of Nutella. Put it all in a blender, then pour into the molds. Place them in the freezer for at least a few hours before eating. You can find the full recipe HERE.
12. Mason Jar Table Lanterns – You’ll need glow sticks, mason jars with a lid, glitter, dish soap, and water. First crack the glow sticks and shake them to ensure they are fully glowing. Put them in the mason jar. Fill the mason jar with water. You can add glitter and a few drops of dish soap at this point too. Shake the jar and the dish soap helps the glitter slowly float down to the bottom. I want to make these just for my next BBQ!
13. Backyard Olympics – Visit the dollar store with the Olympics on your mind! You can use hula hoops to make hurdles or Frisbees to make the discus. You can also buy plastic medals at the dollar store to award the winners gold, silver, and bronze.
14. Carnival Games – We all remember ball toss as a kid when we went to the carnival. Well make one at home! All you need are a few different size jars, glasses, and vases, along with soft plastic balls. You can determine how far back people need to stand, but you can also find some pretty great carnival gifts at the dollar store too.
15. Gardening – The dollar store is a great place to get garden essentials ranging from seeds to tools and everything in between. Clear out a small place so your child can make their own garden. You may need to teach them how to take care of it, but they’ll take great pride in this small piece of land when they are the ones in charge of it. If you don’t have the space for an actual garden, try planting some vegetables in containers that can fit on your deck or porch.
16. Homemade Bird Bath – For this cheap and easy project, you’ll need to get a serving tray along with a plastic bowl and some stones. Glue the bowl to the tray. Once it has dried completely, add the stones and fill with clean water. Put it in a place that is easily accessible to the birds in your yard, but also try to find a place where the kids can observe the birds from a distance.
17. Soccer Croquet – Who knew that hula hoops could be so versatile? Take 2-3 hula hoops and cut them in half. Through the holes, string through wiring that is thick enough to hold them up, but not too thick to bend. Once the wire goes through both ends, put them in your lawn and give your kids a soccer ball (any kickable small ball will do). Whoever gets through first, wins!
18. Giant Bubbles – To make this really work, you’ll need 5 gallons of water, 10 cups of dish soap, 5 cups of glycerin, a kiddie pool, and a hula hoop. Mix the water with the dish soap in the pool. If you want the bubbles to be a little stronger, add glycerin. To make it the best it can be, it’s best to let the mixture sit overnight. Once it’s ready, place the hula hoop in the water and quickly but steadily lift the hula hoop straight over the child’s head. You can find a ton of activities with different back drops HERE.
19. Water Balloon Catch – Attach a dollar store colander to a bike helmet. Have kids take turns seeing how many water balloons they can catch without them popping.
20. Outdoor Necklaces – Do you ever worry about your kids over heating while they are playing? You can turn sponges into a necklace using string. Just cut the sponges into one inch squares, take a needle, and string them onto a string, tying it off once it’s big enough to go over your child’s head. Soak the sponges in cold water then put them on your child while they play.
21. Outdoor Bullseye – With sidewalk chalk, draw a target on the driveway. You can also write a point value inside of the circles to make it a little more competitive and fun. Using wet sponges, have your kids see how many points they can accumulate in five throws. After five throws, add up the points and you’ll have your winner.
22. Doll Swing – Take a stackable bin from the dollar store and turn it into a doll swing using duct tape and string. Your child will LOVE pushing their doll in the swing all summer.
23. Ice Eggs – Hide little trinkets inside of water, then freeze. Let your kids chip away to find the surprise.
24. Chore Baskets – Rather than keeping your kids entertained all summer, have them do some work around the house. Get these baskets and some of the cleaning supplies at your local dollar store, then make a list of what should be done. These chore baskets will keep your kids busy and will definitely stop them from telling you that they are bored.
25. Outdoor Tic Tac Toe – This activity will be so much fun. All you need is a large sheet or shower curtain, painter’s tape, and Frisbees. I’d recommend getting a total of 10 Frisbees in two different colors, just in case the board gets full and there isn’t a winner. Pick a spot to stand at and try to beat the opposing playing.
26. Sundae Station – Be the coolest parent in the neighborhood with this ready to go sundae station. Use a sugar shaker from the dollar store and fill it with fun sundae toppings like sprinkles or crumbled cookies. You’ll always be ready for a party with this set up.
27. Pool Noodle Sprinkler – This one is super easy and so fun! Just take a pool noodle and poke holes throughout the entire thing. This may be easier to do if you have an ice pick. Once there are plenty of holes in the noodle, stuff one end of the noodle with more foam or plastic, then duct tape it into place. Put the hose into the end of the noodle by pushing it in a few inches, then decide where to hang it. Usually a tree or swing set works best, but also letting your child run around with it would be fun too.
28. Backyard Obstacle Course – Using the same technique you did with the hula hoop croquet, stick the pool noodles into the ground. Then create an obstacle course for your child where they have to run through them, jump over them, kick a ball through them, etc.
29. Mystical Backyard Getaway – For this, all you’ll need is a curtain, a hula hoop, and some string. Cut the hula hoop then put the curtain on. Close up the cut by using a small amount of tape. You can use two curtains if you’d like to make it a complete getaway. Then hang this from either a patio, a tree, or swing set giving your child a little privacy while enjoying the great outdoors.
30. Backyard Organization – Keep the outdoors organized with these dollar store baskets and chalkboards. The kids will know exactly what goes where without having to ask!
I really can’t wait to try some of these. I’m looking forward to the mason jar table lanterns, the pool noodle sprinkler, and also the outdoor tic tac toe. All of these will keep my kids occupied for hours this summer. What are some of your favorite activities you did when you were a kid? And which one of these are you looking forward to trying this summer?