Tuesday, July 12, 2011

20 Free or Cheap Activities to Combat Summer Boredom

Summer is half over and I am starting to hear those familiar words, “Mom, I’m bored” or “There’s nothing to do.”  You would think that with a room full of toys and a big backyard there would never be a dull moment.  My kids are perfectly willing to let me take them to the movies or amusement park every day but who can afford that?  

Here is a list of 20 free or inexpensive activities to counteract the “I’m bored” syndrome.
  1. Look to the outdoors:  picnic at the lake, hike to a waterfall or play in a creek.
  2.  Backyard game of wiffle ball or kickball.  Our Aunt Catherine created a squirt gun/wiffle ball game where you squirt the person to get them out.  Very cool.
  3. Play Ultimate Frisbee at the park.  My teens enjoy this with their friends.
  4. Squirt gun or water balloon battles
  5. Swimming --- Neighborhood pool, YMCA pool, Recreation Dept. pool.  Just make sure you pack lots of sunscreen.
  6. Family movie night. Don’t forget the popcorn!  Two good kid’s movies that also incorporate money concepts --- "Richie Rich" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory".
  7. Visit grandparents.
  8. Look through recipe books and let you child select a recipe to try.  Buy the ingredients and let the kids help cook.  If you are really adventurous, let them invent a recipe!
  9. Look for free tours.  We just took three of our kids to the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta.  The tour was free and they each got a bag of shredded money to bring home!
  10. Let your kids have a friend over to play.  Or, if you have a teen, let them have a friend over to “hang out”. 
  11. Have your child pick a career and try out some skills related to it.  Check out Earn My Keep for a year’s worth of ideas!
  12. Movie theaters and libraries will often have free/cheap movies during the summer.
  13. Visit the library for a fresh supply of books.  My boys just recently checked out books about simple science experiments.  That reminds me….I need to buy more baking soda and vinegar!
  14. Help your kids plan and set up a lemonade or cookie stand.  Planning the business, buy supplies, deciding what to charge and selling the product are great business skills.
  15. Plant some quick growing seeds.  Marigolds, basil and cilantro are great choices.
  16. Make bird feeders.  A quick online search will show lots and lots of different methods.  Of course, you can’t beat the old fashioned pine cone, spread with peanut butter and rolled in birdseed.
  17. Bubbles and outdoor chalk are always a hit with younger kids.
  18. Let your kids pick a charity that they would like to help.  They can earn money to donate or buy/gather products to give to them.
  19. Family game night.  Favorites at our house are:  Scrabble, Monopoly, Apples to Apples and Uno.  However, I was recently “whooped” at Monopoly so it may be awhile before I recover.
  20. Roast marshmallows.  You don’t need a giant bonfire to do this.  We build a small fire in our charcoal grill in our backyard.  Keep the water hose nearby for safety reasons.  
I am sure there are many more ideas out there.  What are some of your favorite summer activities with your kids?  Leave a comment below and tell us all about it!


  1. Only comment is about #14 - be careful, as depending on how friendly your area may be, you could get asked to get/show a business license, or even get fined. Something to do, specifically to selling *food* (including lemonade) - if you google, there are also many news about kids who get stopped by health inspectors.

  2. @takabanana Excellent point. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  3. Such a fun list! Here's one to add: Kids love planning things, so put them in charge of an "evening under the stars." This can be just a picnic dinner with flashlights or a backyard sleepover with sleeping bags & a tent. They can plan the food, create a ghost story and maybe do some online research about native nocturnal animals to share. And by all means, just use whatever you've got already in the house! :-)

  4. @Alisa --- Love the "evening under the stars idea" and I am sure my boys would love it as well. We may just have to give it a try. Don't forget the bug repellent!