Summer is under way! Keep your little ones occupied with these free (and almost-free) activities to do inside and outside of the house.
Backyard Obstacle Course Construct a backyard obstacle course with hula hoops, jump ropes, sticks, stones, hoses, and other materials from around the house. Your kids can take turns completing it—and the person with the fastest time wins a prize!
Camp in the Yard No campground? No problem! Hitch a tent in the backyard and spend the night underneath the stars. This free summer activity has one major benefit over normal camping: There’s a working toilet merely feet away!
Plan a Bike Parade Encourage your kids to decorate their rides with streamers, stickers, flags, and more—then let them cruise around the neighborhood to show off their creation.
Make a Bird Feeder Invite summertime birds to your yard with a DIY bird feeder. To make it, simply coat sticks with peanut butter and roll them in birdseed. It’s the perfect opportunity to teach kids about nature and animals.
DIY Chalk Bombs Kids will have a blast with this idea from mom Lorie King Kaehler, author of Chalk on the Wild Side. Use a clean soap-dispenser pump to fill water balloons with a washable chalk-paint mixture (1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and a few drops of food coloring). Have your child draw targets on the ground with chalk or just let him go wild. Fire away!
Learn Cooking Skills This fun summer activity for kids also has a practical purpose: Teaching little ones to cook. Choose a favorite food—such as grilled cheese or cookies—and make it with your child. She’ll feel proud while eating the finished product.
Organize an at Home Picnic You can host a picnic lunch without leaving your property! Choose a mealtime destination, whether it’s a patio table or blanket in the backyard. Prepare picnic staples like sandwiches, load them into a basket, and enjoy dining al fresco.
Paint Outside When painting outside, there’s no need to worry about making a mess. Just use washable paint and the medium of your choice, whether it's construction paper, cardboard, or blocks. You can also create outdoor artwork with sidewalk chalk.
Go Fishing Fishing is a classic free summer activity for kids. Brush up on the basics at takemefishing.org, teach the proper techniques to your young angler, and find a place to cast off. Make sure you check local laws about fishing; you may need a license.
Play Games Outside Designate one evening per week to some friendly family competition (think kickball, softball, and capture the flag). Keep everything fair by dividing into new teams for each round.
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