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Pieces of colored chalk scattered on black pavement

Looking for some fun outdoor activities to get you and your kids through the long, hot days of summer? Preferably ideas that don’t cost much, or better yet, anything? 

Kristin Demery has put together a great list of activities to do with your kids outside this summer. From sidewalk chalk, to water balloon fights, to an outdoor scavenger hunt, your kids will have no shortage of outdoor play ideas this season. 

“Mom, I’m bored,” my daughter said with a sigh as she entered the room. Looking up from my computer screen, I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. 

Bored, really? With a room full of books and toys, an overloaded craft closet, free rein to bake something, a bike and outdoor swing set, and two sisters to play with each day—how could she possibly be bored?

Though I actually think a little boredom is good for my kids—and certainly don’t go out of my way to entertain them at every moment—I dread hearing the words “I’m bored.” 

One way to ward off boredom is having a list of ideas available in advance. Even small twists on mundane items—like eating a picnic lunch outside instead of our regular lunch at the table—can remind my kids that if they’re feeling bored, there are plenty of ways to create their own fun. 

To that end, here’s a list of 10 fun, frugal outdoor activities to help bust kids’ boredom this summer. Though some ideas require leaving the house, many are free and easily accomplished at home.

 

1. GET CREATIVE WITH CHALK 

We have a big driveway that’s mostly flat, and in the summertime we fill up every square inch with chalk. Some of our favorite activities are elaborate hopscotch trails that twist and turn and number in the hundreds, race car tracks for cars (or full-sized ones that can fit kid bikes), or life-size versions of games like Chutes and Ladders, Checkers, or Twister.

 

2. PITCH A TENT 

Even if kids don’t end up sleeping outdoors, a tent feels like a brand new space in which to play and can encourage kids to dream up new games or activities, spend time reading outside, or eat meals outdoors. 

 

3. ENJOY A PARADE—OR HOST YOUR OWN 

Weekend festivals abound in our area, and many of them feature parades. If you’d rather not brave the crowds, consider hosting your own mini-parade. As children, my best friend and I loved parading up and down the sidewalk on our bikes, wagons full of stuffed animals trailing behind us while our parents watched. You could even invite the neighbor kids to participate or throw candy at the sidelines.

 

4. PAINT WITH YOUR FEET 

Simply get a big roll of paper (the ones used for art easels are perfect), unroll it, and anchor it with rocks. Next, get out paint (we used tempera which worked well) and let the kids walk all over the paper. Once the paper is dry, roll it back up. You can easily cut it up and use it as wrapping paper for gifts. 

NOTE: Make sure you spray the paint off the driveway immediately afterward, or it can be a pain to remove even though it’s technically washable.

5. TAKE A DAY TRIP SOMEWHERE NEW

A community or state park, a splash pad, or a playground are great starting points. Our family lives about 30 minutes from Minneapolis/St. Paul, and we’ve often packed lunch and headed to a different suburb or city to try out their parks. It’s fun to go with someone else, too, so your kids have built-in playmates.


6. HAVE A FRIENDLY WATER BALLOON FIGHT 

Not everyone appreciates the mess of broken balloons scattered around their yard, but there are other options available. A few years ago, friends gave us a crocheted set of ‘water balloons’ that can be soaked in water and thrown with abandon, yet easily picked up and put away for another day.


7. PRINT OFF A SCAVENGER HUNT 

My kids love a good scavenger hunt, and thanks to the internet, there are scads of them available for free. Simply search “printable nature scavenger hunt”—or a more specific theme like camping, county fair, road trip, city—click on images, and print off a list. With three kids, I like to print off a few different lists and allow them to choose their favorite. Invariably, they end up doing all of them.


8. VISIT THE FARMERS MARKET 

On Thursday afternoons, the kids and I love to wander up and down the aisles of our local farmers market. It’s fun to choose a fruit or veggie that we then make for dinner. Many farmers markets—including ours—have special kid-focused programs that allow kids to spend a certain dollar amount or special activities like live music and entertainment.


9. GET CREATIVE WITH A NEW PROJECT 

Search for home science experiments online, pull out blankets (or towels for easy washing) and let kids make an outdoor fort, or paint kindness rocks and take a walk to scatter them around the neighborhood or a local park. 


10. DON’T FORGET ABOUT CLASSIC SUMMER FUN

Let kids play in the rain (with the plan to throw them in the bathtub afterward), run through a sprinkler, or have a tea party outside.

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Sometimes, all it takes is having a list of activities posted on our fridge to give our kids the push they need to try something new. And if it means hearing the dreaded phrase, “I’m bored” a little less often, we’re all a little happier with that outcome.

10 fUN, FRUGAL OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES FOR SUMMER

10 fun outdoor activities

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1 comment
  1. The farmers market visit is such a great idea! I can see where so many other teaching moments would spring from this activity!

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