Kid summer activities are often exhausting to plan and cost a fortune by the time you’re done! Trust me, I know the feeling. But these 30 ideas are different! All these ideas are either free or require nothing more than a quick trick to the dollar store! I’ve also made a free, “Summer Bucket List” printable to print at the end so that you can make sure to try them all!
This post is all about the best cheap and easy kid summer activities that won’t break the bank!
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Kid Summer Activities
1. Make Ice Cream in a Bag
Believe it or not, ice cream is actually super easy to make yourself! All you need is a gallon ziploc bag and a few ingredients! Check out this awesome recipe for easy ice cream in a bag! You’ll be your kids’ hero.
2. Stargaze in the back yard
Once the sun sets, grab a few blankets and snacks and head out into your yard! There are plenty of phone aps that shows you the constellations and planets in the sky wherever you point your camera too if you want to add an educational component to this activity! You might even be lucky enough to make a wish on a shooting star! And if your kids go to bed too early to wait for dark, create your own starry sky inside with some glow in the dark stars.
3. Go Have a Picnic
You can have a picnic anywhere, whether it’s a gorgeous park or your backyard! Throw together a quick meal or make a pit stop somewhere for some food and have a yummy meal outside in the sun!
4. Try This Stain Glass Chalk Art Idea
Sidewalk chalk is one of the best kid summer activities for any age! This stained glass sidewalk chalk idea is a great addition to your usual sidewalk chalk drawing. With just a little bit of painters tape and sidewalk chalk, both you and your kids can have fun for hours.
5. Camp in Your Backyard
Camping trips are one of the fairly obvious kid summer activities, but formal camping trips take a lot of planning and preparation. So instead of packing all kinds of gear, just set up a tent in your backyard and make s’mores in the microwave. Best of all, if anyone gets cold or scared, you can head back inside easily!
6. Go Park Hopping
Once you find a park you and your kids love, you probably don’t visit many others. So take a day this summer, pack a lunch and some snacks, and spend a day park hopping! Make it your goal to go to at least three different parks! You may just find one that you love even more than your usual park!
7. Go to the Beach and Look for Beach Glass
If you live anywhere near a beach, this is a must for summer. Beach glass is a beautiful part of nature that often gets overlooked at the beach. But, it’s just like a treasure hunt! Challenge your kids to find as many colors as they can! You can even make crafts from the beach glass you find when you get home!
8. Have a Sandcastle Contest
Summer isn’t complete without a little healthy competition! Whether at the beach or in a sandbox, a sandcastle contest is always a good addition to summer.
9. Paint Rocks
Find a few fun rocks outside and grab some paint at the dollar store for one of the simplest (yet super fun) kid summer activities! This is a great activity for kids of any age and you may just have a little fun yourself too.
10. Go On a Scavenger Hunt
While most scavenger hunts require a ton of preparation, a nature scavenger hunt requires almost none! All you need is a few markers, a piece of paper, and a place to play outside! This is a great activity to help young kids practice identifying and matching colors too.
11. Draw a sidewalk chalk city
As a kid, one of my favorite things to do in summer was draw a sidewalk city with roads, stop signs, speed limits, pet shops, fast food places, etc. and then ride the roads on my bike or roller skates. This summer activity is a great way to grow your child’s creativity and keep them entertained for hours!
12. Make Your Own Wind Chime
Every mom loves displaying their kids art work. What better way than a craft wind chime for the front porch! Young kids may need a little extra help putting their chime together, but they will still love the painting portion of this craft!
13. Have a Marshmallow War
Marshmallow wars are some of my favorite childhood memories to this day! These PVC marshmallow guns are super easy to make too! If you don’t want to make the full PVC marshmallow gun, you can also use a cup with the bottom cut off or a toilet paper tube with a balloon on one end to launch the marshmallows!
14. Make Your Own Slip N' Slide From a Tarp and Some Dish Soap
For a cheap and quick solution to summer heat grab a tarp, a hose, and some dish soap! I promise you’ll have tons of fun!
15. Buy a Few Cheap Kites and Go Try to Fly Them
Even if your kids have never flown kites before, summer is a great time to try new things! Grab a few kites at the dollar store and give it a try on the next windy day!
16. Play glow in the dark ring toss
This fun spin on glow sticks is one of the most insanely fun kid summer activities! Grab a few of the sturdy large glow sticks or rubber band a few regular glow sticks together to make the post for your ring toss game. Then use the connectors in the package to make rings for your ring toss! Wait until it starts to get dark and then enjoy your game!
17. Paint Bird Houses
Crafts are always great kid summer activities for both sunny and rainy days. Painting craft bird houses is a simply prep free craft. These kits even come with the paint and brushes that you need! If you end up inside, I highly recommend using a clear shower curtain for super easy clean up afterwards!
18. Plant something together
You can quickly pick up some gardening pots and seed packets super cheap at the dollar store to start creating a garden with your kids. Gardens are great kid summer activities to learn responsibility and to teach your kids a love of nature from a young age!
19. Go Strawberry, Blueberry, or Apple Picking Together
Picking strawberries, blueberries, or apples is a great summer activity for the whole family! You’ll have to pay for the fruit you pick but it will definitely be cheaper than the grocery store! Plus everyone gets a snack in too since they definitely don’t all make it in the bucket.
20. Bubbles....of All Kinds
There isn’t really any explanation necessary on this one, bubbles of any kind are the perfect summer activity for kids of all ages! Before you go playing with bubbles though, check out my mom hack to stop losing the bubble wand in the bubble juice!
21. Have a Water Fight
Grab some water guns and a bucket from Dollar Tree for a cheap water gun fight! But if you want to add a little extra fun to your water fight, you can also break out the water balloons with this easy self sealing water balloon filler! The Bunch O’ Balloons fills and ties off 100 balloons in a minute! You really can’t beat that.
22. Sensory Walk
Grab a few bins from the dollar store, line them up in your yard, and fill them with anything you can think of that has a fun texture! It can be anything from water beads, to spaghetti, to sponges, to sand, to water, to pom poms! Then let your kids walk through the line of bins! You can even have them close their eyes and guess what each one is if you want!
23. Pick Flowers and Make a Fun Craft
Every kid loves picking flowers, including dandelions of course! Aside from making a beautiful bouquet for your dinner table, you can also make awesome crafts like this Lion craft or press flowers into a book to keep!
24. Make a Squirt Gun Painting
Fill some dollar store squirt guns with liquid watercolor paint and let your kids make a masterpiece! I, of course, recommend that you do this one outside!
25. make Your Own Rock Candy
Not only is ice cream easy to make at home, so is rock candy! It’s actually so easy to make and it is incredibly delicious! Click on the pin above to find out exactly how to make it!
26. Go Ice Excavating for Toys
Use a few small toys your kids already have or pick up a few at the dollar store. Fill any size tupperware container with water and a drop in a few of the toys you collected. Let the water freeze overnight and go ice excavating for toys the next day! Give your kid a spoon, small kid shovel, and any other tools they might be able to use to chip away at the ice! If you don’t have any of these, you can also give them a squirt bottle of warm water to melt away the ice and find the toys!
27. Play Tic Tac Toe or Checkers With Paper Plates and a Cheap Sheet or Tablecloth
Grab an old sheet out of the closet or pick one up at a thrift store for this summer activity. I suggest an old sheet and a bottle of spray paint! You can easily spray lines for checkers on one side and lines for tic tac toe on the other! You could also use duct tape too if you are in a hurry and don’t want to wait for spray paint to dry! The only other thing you will need for this game is paper plates to draw your X’s and O’s onto! You can also get two different colored plates if you want to play checkers!
28. DIY Your Own Sprinkler with a Hose and a Pool Noodle
If you don’t have a sprinkler for summer, you can easily create your own with a dollar store pool noodle and a hose!
29. Create Leaf Drawings with Crayons
Go for a walk with your kiddos, collect a few leaves, and come back for some amazing nature inspired art! I always loved making leaf crayon drawings as a kid! All you have to do is put the leaf underneath the paper while you color very lightly with a crayon over top of where the leaf is laid. It works best if you take the paper off the crayon and rub the crayon on it’s side overtop of the leaf.
30. Catch Lightning Bugs or Other Fun Creatures
Summer time is when all the lightning bugs, butterflies, and other creatures make their appearance! You will probably find that your kids befriend these little creatures all summer long (especially if you have little boys). Rather than keeping them in a jar or a container, pick up a bug holder in Target’s dollar section when summer hits or this bug jar with a magnified glass off Amazon!
This post was all about cheap and easy kid summer activities to keep you busy on a budget this summer! So make sure to download and print my Summer Bucket List from the “holidays and special ocassions” section of my Free Printables page.