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. calculator iconCalculator: What It Takes To Save For College

  99. write these ideas on pieces of paper and pick out one or two to do
  100. whittle
  101. whittle bars of soap
  102. practice musical instruments
  103. perform a family concert
  104. teach yourself to play musical instrument (recorder, harmonica, guitar)
  105. fold laundry
  106. sweep kitchen or bathroom floors
  107. sweep front walkway
  108. sweep or spray back patio
  109. sweep or spray driveway
  110. wash car
  111. vacuum car
  112. vacuum or dust window blinds
  113. clean bathroom mirrors
  114. clean sliding glass doors
  115. clean inside of car windows
  116. wash bicycles
  117. clean garage
  118. play in the sandbox
  119. build a sandcastle
  120. work with clay
  121. copy your favorite book illustration
  122. design your own game
  123. build with blocks or Legos
  124. create a design box (copper wire, string, odds-and-ends of things destined for the garbage, pom-poms, thread, yarn, etc.)
  125. plan a neighborhood or family Olympics
  126. have a marble tournament
  127. paint a picture with lemon juice on white paper and hang it in a sunny window and see what happens in a few days
  128. finger paint with pudding
  129. make dessert
  130. make dinner
  131. give your pet a party
  132. paint the sidewalk with water
  133. start a journal of summer fun
  134. start a nature diary
  135. have a read-a-thon with a friend or sibling
  136. have a neighborhood bike wash
  137. play flashlight tag
  138. play Kick the Can
  139. check out a science book and try some experiments
  140. make up a story
  141. arrange photo albums
  142. find bugs and start a collection
  143. do some stargazing
  144. decorate bikes or wagons and have a neighborhood parade
  145. catch butterflies and then let them go
  146. play hide-and-seek
  147. create a symphony with bottles and pans and rubber bands
  148. listen to the birds sing
  149. try to imitate birdcalls
  150. read a story to a younger child
  151. find shapes in the clouds
  152. string dry noodles or O-shaped cereals into a necklace
  153. glue noodles into a design on paper
  154. play hopscotch
  155. play jacks
  156. make up a song
  157. make a teepee out of blankets
  158. write in your journal
  159. find an ant colony and spill some food and watch what happens
  160. play charades
  161. make up a story by drawing pictures
  162. draw a cartoon strip
  163. make a map of your bedroom, house or neighborhood
  164. call a friend
  165. cut pictures from old magazines and write a story
  166. make a collage using pictures cut from old magazines
  167. do a secret service for a neighbor
  168. plan a treasure hunt
  169. make a treasure map
  170. make up a "Bored List" of things to do
  171. plan a special activity for your family
  172. search your house for items made in other countries and then learn about those countries from the encyclopedia or online
  173. plan an imaginary trip to the moon
  174. plan an imaginary trip around the world, where would you want to go
  175. write a science-fiction story
  176. find a new pen pal
  177. make up a play using old clothes as costumes
  178. make up a game for practicing math facts
  179. have a Spelling Bee
  180. make up a game for practicing spelling
  181. surprise an elderly neighbor or relative by weeding his/her garden
  182. fingerpaint with shaving cream
  183. collect sticks and mud and build a bird's nest
  184. write newspaper articles for a pretend newspaper
  185. put together a family newsletter
  186. write reviews of movies or plays or TV shows or concerts you see during the summer
  187. bake a cake
  188. bake a batch of cookies
  189. decorate a shoe box to hold your summer treasures
  190. make a hideout or clubhouse
  191. make paper airplanes
  192. have paper airplane races
  193. learn origami
  194. make an obstacle course in your backyard
  195. make friendship bracelets for your friends
  196. make a wind chime out of things headed for the garbage
  197. paint your face
  198. braid hair
  199. play tag
  200. make a sundial
  201. make food sculptures (from pretzels, gumdrops, string licorice, raisins, cream cheese, peanuts, peanut butter, etc.) and then eat it
  202. make a terrarium
  203. start a club
  204. take a nap outside on your lawn
  205. produce a talent show
  206. memorize a poem
  207. 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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