It’s official….summer is here! When I sit down to envision my summer, it’s always filled with endless pool time, late bedtimes, and dinners outside with our family. In these visions, my two children are always eager to get outdoors, read books inside, and play together without arguing. But then reality sets in.
I don’t know about you, but being home with my two children over summer vacation can be frustrating. It seems all they want to do is wake up and immediately play on the iPad or jump on a video game. Seriously, it’s become a problem. (confession: they are on their iPads now as I write this post. Ugh.)
Thankfully, summer just started for us and I’ve decided that this will not be the summer where they master the art of the iPad. Instead, I’m planning to encourage my kids to embrace screen-free activities. And when they don’t want to let go of the iPad, I’m going to force them to let go of it. Because I’m their mom and mama knows best (well, most of the time).
This summer will be one of balance. We will master the balance of outdoor time, reading, screen-free fun, and add in a small amount of screen time. Won’t you join our family in this challenge? To help get you started, here are 17 easy and budget-friendly screen-free activities for kids!
1. Play sports outside
Grab a basketball, soccer ball, (or any sports ball!) and take your kids outside to play! Even at a young age, sports are perfect for gross motor development and hand-eye coordination. Try a different sport each week! You never know which sport your child will enjoy the most!
2. Read together
As a former teacher, I can’t stress enough how important it is for kids to continue to read over summer vacation! So many students regress in their reading over the summer months. To help combat this “summer slide” take your children to the library regularly and find books that they love. A good book series can turn the most reluctant child into an avid reader!
3. Build, build, build
Turn off the tv and give your child an opportunity to use their creative mind! It doesn’t matter if they build with legos, blocks, or even vegetable cans that they find in the pantry! Encourage your child to build the tallest tower, a castle, or even a bridge. The possibilities are endless!
4. Plant a garden
When I was growing up, my parents gave me a section of our yard that was just mine. I pulled up all the previous plants, laid down mulch, and planted beautiful flowers that I picked out myself. I even painted a large rock at summer camp that took residence in this special space. Give your child the same opportunity to plant a garden (even if it’s just in a large pot)!
5. Explore a new park
One of our favorite screen-free activities is to discover a new-to-us park or green space. This is a wonderful FREE option that will keep your kids entertained. If your children are older and don’t want to go to a traditional park, then search for a local water park or trampoline park. No screens allowed!
6. Play a game
Head to Target or Walmart and pick out a new board game for your kids or family to enjoy. In fact, you can choose one night a week and declare it Board Game Night! Turn off the tv and put all phones away. Enjoy a new board game or one that your family absolutely loves. These are the moments that your children will remember!
7. Make homemade ice cream
Although I’ve never made homemade ice cream in a bag, my kids have! My mom taught my boys how they can make ice cream at home and it was a blast for them! Here’s a fun recipe that will get your kids involved in the process.
8. Have a water balloon fight
Water balloons are an incredibly cheap and FUN way to get the kids out of the house and making memories. Fill up an entire bucket and then let them have a water balloon war!
9. Enjoy at home science experiments
Kids love science! Help foster that love of learning by completing an at-home science experiment each week! This is a great way to use a few ingredients that you already have at home to encourage learning and fun!
10. Invite friends over for screen-free fun
Have you noticed that your kids know exactly what to do to get on each other’s nerves? The more they are around each other, the worse it seems to get (or is that only my kids?). Sometimes it’s nice to invite friends over to break up the routine of summer vacation. Don’t want to host? Then plan to meet up at a community pool or park!
11. Paint or draw a picture
Get your children’s creative juices flowing with drawing or painting a picture. My oldest son loves the Art For Kids Hub Youtube Channel. I’m amazed at how this boy will spend so much time learning how to draw pictures that he’s proud of!
12. Sell lemonade
What better way to encourage the young entrepreneur spirit than opening up a lemonade stand on a Saturday morning? Use the funds that your child makes and take them to the store to pick out a special toy (or better yet, save the money!).
13. Go camping
You don’t have to have reservations at a state park to get your kid camping! When I was growing up we would set up the tent in the living room or backyard. Whether you spend an afternoon reading in the tent or camping overnight in the backyard, this screen-free activity is sure to be a lasting memory!
14. Try out a new recipe
There are SO many good kid’s cookbooks at your local library! Check out a few and allow them to try out a new recipe. Not only will they learn the skill of following directions in a recipe, but they will be away from the screen and in the kitchen creating!
15. Fly a kite
Grab an inexpensive kite next time you’re at WalMart or Target and get your kid outside! Pair the kite with a few outdoor activities and you’ll have a full afternoon of screen-free fun!
16. Get creative with sidewalk chalk
Our city hosts an annual sidewalk chalk contest. People from all over come to the downtown square and create the most beautiful scenes, images, and portraits on our city streets. Who says you can’t do the same on your driveway? Grab an inexpensive bucket of sidewalk chalk and give your child the freedom to draw and fill the entire space!
17. Bake and decorate cookies
I’ve never known a child who doesn’t enjoy baking cookies! You can even decorate them with different icing and deliver to a neighbor or friend!
Try one a few of these screen-free activities for kids each week and your children are sure to not only make memories this summer but also step away from the iPad!
Need more inspiration?
Check out the articles below for more inspiration on budget-friendly activities!
- 25 Free or Inexpensive Summer Activities
- 16 Inexpensive Or Free Date Ideas
- Groupon Coupon Challenge: How To Save Money Using Groupon