200+ Ideas for Summertime (or Anytime) Fun!

by Deborah Taylor-Hough


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Since we don't use the phrase "I'm bored!" in our home, we never hear our kids complaining about being bored during those long days at home during the summer months. But I have to admit that we're still an incredibly normal family.

Even without the "b-word" in their vocabulary, there are still those times when my three children (ages 16, 12 and 8) just seem to be at a total loss for something constructive to do.

On one of those "I-can't-think-of-anything-to-do" days, I had my children sit down and make a list of everything they could do completely on their own without parental help. After they brainstormed about it for over an hour (which was a good anti-boredom activity itself), the kids had a list of about fifty activities. Surprisingly, they even included a few household chores like dusting and weeding! I decided to ask for input from some other moms, and now my children have a list of over two hundred ideas to beat summertime boredom, and the list just seems to keep growing.

Thanks to the suggestion of one mom, we've put each item on this list onto individual pieces of paper, placed the papers into a container, and when the children need inspiration for an activity, they draw two or three papers and then decide which idea they want to do, either as a group or individually. The mom who suggested pulling ideas out of a container told me she found this method more helpful than giving the kids a huge list of possibilities. By narrowing the choices down to just two or three, it was easier for the kids to pick out the one that sounded the best to them.

200+ Ideas for Summertime Activities

In no particular order, here's our current (but continually growing!) list of activities:

  1. ride bikes

  2. roller blade

  3. basketball

  4. play board games

  5. make a tent out of blankets

  6. squirt with hoses

  7. run through the sprinkler

  8. jump rope

  9. read books

  10. blow bubbles

  11. make homemade play dough

  12. play with play dough

  13. press flowers

  14. do crafts with pressed flowers

  15. write a letter to a relative, friend or pen pal

  16. clean bedroom

  17. vacuum livingroom

  18. clean bathroom

  19. make a craft

  20. draw

  21. color

  22. paint

  23. pull weeds

  24. watch a movie

  25. write stories

  26. use binoculars

  27. use magnifying glass

  28. use microscope

  29. bird watching

  30. write a play

  31. act out a play

  32. invent circus acts

  33. perform a circus

  34. play card games

  35. make art on the front walkway with sidewalk chalk

  36. play catch

  37. play baseball

  38. collect rocks

  39. collect leaves

  40. collect feathers

  41. play Frisbee

  42. make Frisbee's out of old plastic lids, decorate with markers

  43. dust the house

  44. brush the pet

  45. write letters

  46. read a magazine

  47. play dress-up

  48. play Cowboys

  49. pick vegetables

  50. play outside with the pet

  51. build a fort in your rooms

  52. build a fort in the backyard

  53. do a jigsaw puzzle

  54. play on the Geosafari

  55. play on the computer

  56. listen to a story or book on tape

  57. do extra schoolwork to get ahead

  58. do brain teasers (crosswords, word searches, hidden pictures, mazes, etc.)

  59. cook

  60. prepare lunch

  61. surprise a neighbor with a good deed

  62. play store

  63. prepare a "restaurant" lunch with menus

  64. hold a tea party

  65. have a Teddy bear picnic

  66. play with toy cars

  67. play dolls

  68. play house

  69. chase butterflies

  70. collect caterpillars and bugs

  71. plant a garden or a pot

  72. collect seeds

  73. hunt for four-leaf clovers

  74. learn magic tricks

  75. put on a magic show

  76. plant a container garden

  77. sprout seeds or beans

  78. make sock puppets

  79. put on a puppet show

  80. make Christmas presents

  81. make homemade wrapping paper

  82. make homemade gift cards

  83. make picture frames from twigs glued onto sturdy cardboard

  84. crochet or knit

  85. make doll clothes

  86. sew buttons in designs on old shirts

  87. run relay races

  88. make bookmarks

  89. take a quiet rest time

  90. take a shower or bath

  91. bathe a pet

  92. feed the birds or squirrels

  93. watch the clouds

  94. organize a dresser drawer

  95. clean under the bed

  96. empty dishwasher

  97. vacuum under the couch cushions and keep any change found

  98. write these ideas on pieces of paper and pick out one or two to do

  99. whittle

  100. whittle bars of soap

  101. practice musical instruments

  102. perform a family concert

  103. teach yourself to play musical instrument (recorder, harmonica, guitar)

  104. fold laundry

  105. sweep kitchen or bathroom floors

  106. sweep front walkway

  107. sweep or spray back patio

  108. sweep or spray driveway

  109. wash car

  110. vacuum car

  111. vacuum or dust window blinds

  112. clean bathroom mirrors

  113. clean sliding glass doors

  114. clean inside of car windows

  115. wash bicycles

  116. clean garage

  117. play in the sandbox

  118. build a sandcastle

  119. work with clay

  120. copy your favorite book illustration

  121. design your own game

  122. build with blocks or Legos

  123. create a design box (copper wire, string, odds-and-ends of things destined for the garbage, pom-poms, thread, yarn, etc.)

  124. plan a neighborhood or family Olympics

  125. have a marble tournament

  126. paint a picture with lemon juice on white paper and hang it in a sunny window and see what happens in a few days

  127. finger paint with pudding

  128. make dessert

  129. make dinner

  130. give your pet a party

  131. paint the sidewalk with water

  132. start a journal of summer fun

  133. start a nature diary

  134. have a read-a-thon with a friend or sibling

  135. have a neighborhood bike wash

  136. play flashlight tag

  137. play Kick the Can

  138. check out a science book and try some experiments

  139. make up a story

  140. arrange photo albums

  141. find bugs and start a collection

  142. do some stargazing

  143. decorate bikes or wagons and have a neighborhood parade

  144. catch butterflies and then let them go

  145. play hide-and-seek

  146. create a symphony with bottles and pans and rubber bands

  147. listen to the birds sing

  148. try to imitate birdcalls

  149. read a story to a younger child

  150. find shapes in the clouds

  151. string dry noodles or O-shaped cereals into a necklace

  152. glue noodles into a design on paper

  153. play hopscotch

  154. play jacks

  155. make up a song

  156. make a teepee out of blankets

  157. write in your journal

  158. find an ant colony and spill some food and watch what happens

  159. play charades

  160. make up a story by drawing pictures

  161. draw a cartoon strip

  162. make a map of your bedroom, house or neighborhood

  163. call a friend

  164. cut pictures from old magazines and write a story

  165. make a collage using pictures cut from old magazines

  166. do a secret service for a neighbor

  167. plan a treasure hunt

  168. make a treasure map

  169. make up a "Bored List" of things to do

  170. plan a special activity for your family

  171. search your house for items made in other countries and then learn about those countries from the encyclopedia or online

  172. plan an imaginary trip to the moon

  173. plan an imaginary trip around the world, where would you want to go

  174. write a science-fiction story

  175. find a new pen pal

  176. make up a play using old clothes as costumes

  177. make up a game for practicing math facts

  178. have a Spelling Bee

  179. make up a game for practicing spelling

  180. surprise an elderly neighbor or relative by weeding his/her garden

  181. fingerpaint with shaving cream

  182. collect sticks and mud and build a bird's nest

  183. write newspaper articles for a pretend newspaper

  184. put together a family newsletter

  185. write reviews of movies or plays or TV shows or concerts you see during the summer

  186. bake a cake

  187. bake a batch of cookies

  188. decorate a shoe box to hold your summer treasures

  189. make a hideout or clubhouse

  190. make paper airplanes

  191. have paper airplane races

  192. learn origami

  193. make an obstacle course in your backyard

  194. make friendship bracelets for your friends

  195. make a wind chime out of things headed for the garbage

  196. paint your face

  197. braid hair

  198. play tag

  199. make a sundial

  200. make food sculptures (from pretzels, gumdrops, string licorice, raisins, cream cheese, peanuts, peanut butter, etc.) and then eat it

  201. make a terrarium

  202. start a club

  203. take a nap outside on your lawn

  204. produce a talent show

  205. memorize a poem

  206. recite a memorized poem for your family

Have a wonderful summer! (And for all you people in the Southern Hemisphere, feel free to save this article for December reading!)


Deborah Taylor-Hough (wife and mother of three) is a free-lance writer, editor of the Simple Times ezine, author of the bestselling book Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month and Frugal Living For Dummies® (Wiley, 2003). Visit Debi online and subscribe to her free e-newsletter at: http://thesimplemom.wordpress.com/.

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