With the school year coming to an end and summer break just around the corner, the thought of being home with my 6 kids all summer long brings such joy to my heart (and by joy, I mean the pure terror of trying to find things to keep them occupied for an entire day without plopping them in front of the TV!)
I can’t tell you how many times I hear “I’m bored!” every summer when I tell them to turn off the screens.
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Or how many times I find myself saying, “it’s nice out, go outside!”
I try to keep the kids outside as much as possible during the summer, but I also like to make sure they are actually still learning things and have a little bit of structure rather than just running around like a pack of wild animals.
While I would love nothing more to sit in the sun ☀️ while they jump around in the pool all day, that isn’t always a reality with a baby and toddler in tow.
This is why I absolutely love the Summer Brain Quest books! The older kids can work on fun projects and worksheets while I take care of the younger ones. They enjoy the activities and I feel like a true Pinterest mom! For the little ones, I always have some preschool printables on hand.
The only downfall is they only go from Pre-K up to 6th grade. So if you have kids older than those going into 6th grade, you are kind of out of luck there. But these are great to keep the kids learning all summer long. Plus they have fun little outdoor activities to complete as well, with a map and stickers!
Here’s an example:
They know when summer is about to start that these are on their way from Amazon and they will get to work on them everyday.
Now onto the activities…
Frugal Summer Activities for Kids
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Real Life Angry Birds
Kids love angry birds, but why not try and kick it up a notch with a real-life version? Gather up your random boxes (from all those things you ordered during lockdown), balloons, homemade slingshot and stuffed animals and knock down your builds.
Water Balloon Pinatas
Water balloons are always a great option for kids in summer. This puts a fun spin on having a water balloon fight and rather than pelting each other with, they can use them as pinatas instead.
Don't want to fill each balloon one at a time? Grab these quick fill balloons. Perfect for a summer birthday party or when they have friends over.
Squirt Gun Cup Races
Need more ideas to add to your outdoor obstacle course? Check out these squirt gun cup races! Who knew you could do so much with squirt guns!
This is an especially fun thing to add if you have a pool that you can tie into the obstacle course. Another alternative to squirt guns are these fun water blasters that shoot up to 34 feet!
DIY Giant Bubbles
Who doesn't love bubbles?! Bubbles, especially huge bubbles, are a great activity for any age. There are so many ways that you can make these bubbles, challenge your older kids to come up with different ways to create the bubbles.
One ingredient that you might have to get in advance is vegetable glycerin, but don't worry, a little goes a long way, so this bottle should last you a LONG time.
Colorful Squirt Gun Painting
The messier the better! Ok, so this activity doesn't actually have to be that messy, but what fun for kids (and adults) of any age!
While we have a couple large squirt guns (that my husband likes to hide and attack the kids with) I always try and keep some smaller, cheaper ones on hand for when friends come over.
This activity does call for liquid watercolors, which you can find here. I love the variety of bright colors! And if you don't have an easel, no worries. We have done this activity with the paper tacked to a tree as well.
Backyard Obstacle Course
This backyard obstacle course uses dollar store pool noodles and other stuff you probably have sitting around in your overstuffed garage! Get creative with it, let the older kids use their engineering skills to build some cool obstacles while the younger ones run around and tear them all down...I mean run the course!
This is also a really fun idea to set up for a kids birthday party during the summer. Don't forget to include the water table!
Foam Sidewalk Paint
I swear I should buy stock in sidewalk chalk. We seem to go through so much of it during the summer.
This stuff is SOOO fun! Our sidewalk is decorated with chalk and drawings pretty much all the time and this is a great addition to the outdoor art arsenal!
While you can pick up most of the supplies at the dollar store, the squeeze bottles really make it a lot easier! I highly suggest the ones with the attached cap, cuz my kids lost the caps to the other ones in about 2 seconds! 🤦♀️
How to Make Frozen Sparkly Watercolors
This is another one that could be an indoor OR outdoor craft, but I would probably keep it outside in an attempt to keep the house clean (haha!). The older kids can help to make the craft while the younger kids actually paint with them.
You can switch up this "recipe" quite a bit. Use glitter paint, large craft sticks, and some dixie cups. The kids love watching the cool designs that come out as the ice melts.
Giant Reclaimed Wooden Blocks
My toddler loves to build with blocks and both my 5 and 10 year old daughters loves to paint, what a perfect combo! The great thing about these is that you can put them together for practically free! Ask around for wood scraps and grab the paint from your art center, badabing badaboom!
I have a ton of this Apple Barrel paint on hand at all times for quick projects like this. Just be sure if you are going to leave these outside all the time to seal them with some kind of varnish so all of the paint doesn't wash off. I use this UV varnish for practically all of my projects!
Giant Dry Erase Mat
I really love this idea! It is great for both indoor and outdoor and kids of pretty much any age. We have a dry erase door at home and our kids from ages 3-16 draw on it all the time!
You can easily pick up one of these liners at the dollar store or order from Amazon here. I also like to stock up on chisel dry erase markers for this project and for printing out sheets for the preschool age kids that I then laminate so they can use them again and again.