During summer vacation, your kids may go to camp, spend time with friends or family, or take a specialty class, but no matter what your kids have planned, at some point they are going to be home in the summer, and they’re going to need something to do. These summer activities are perfect for kids of any age, and can even include other neighborhood families for backyard fun!
Most of these summer activities use items you likely already have in your house—and all of them can be combined with each other for an all-day adventure.
We’d love to know if you’ve tried any of these summer activities, or if you have your own favorites, too! Share your thoughts with us at the bottom of the post if you think we missed something.
Grab your tarps from the garage, set the hose up to spray on the tarps, and add a little soap for a quick slide! To really ramp up the fun, grab some innertubes for kids to slide down on. We recommend putting stakes in the ground at the corners of the tarp—or tying them down in some way—so the tarp doesn’t move as kids slide on it.
Pitch a Tent
Set up your tent (or borrow one from your neighbors) in the backyard for a sleepover. You can let your kids have friends over for a “parent free” night, or make it a family event with everyone sleeping under the stars. For a truly authentic evening outside, cook dinner on the grill, and end the night with a bonfire and s’mores.
Neighborhood Water Balloon Fight
Invite all the neighborhood kids over for a water balloon fight. Have everyone gather in the middle of the yard, and place buckets of water balloons at each corner in the yard. (Or at different ends of the yard, if your backyard has an unusual shape.) Then count down and let the kids race to get their balloons!
Water Balloon Wiffle Ball
This water balloon game is a little less chaotic than a balloon fight. Regular baseball rules apply—first, start by splitting the group into two teams. One team rotates the pitcher while one team rotates the batter. (Because water balloons will burst on impact, no one’s in outfield catching fly balls.) If the batter misses, that’s a strike. And if the batter hits it, they get the base. The batter and pitcher keep rotating until there are three strikes. Then everyone switches!
Neighborhood Chalk Mural
Choose someone’s driveway—or the street, if it’s a low-traffic area—and have all the kids draw their house or family or pet in a big mural. Have all sorts of chalk colors, and encourage the kids to trace themselves for life-size art! Be sure to take pictures of their hard work, too, and share with everyone who helps.
Everyone has 10-15 minutes to share their special skill or talent. It doesn’t have to be an outdoor talent, but hosting the performances outside gets them, well, outside. Plus, it’s much easier to clean if someone’s talent is messy. Be sure to plan this one ahead of time, so kids have a chance to practice!
This is one of the summer activities that will take advance planning, too! Once you have the course and clues, have the kids break into pairs or small groups to work together and solve the riddles. To keep the kids engaged, include a small prize for each clue they solve along the way—with a grand prize at the end. If you’re feeling extra bold, create multiple paths for the kids to follow, with different clues, so they don’t eavesdrop on other teams. After all, only the winning team gets the grand prize!
Make Up Your Own Version of Tag
Tag is a childhood favorite, but that doesn’t mean it can’t use a revamp! Challenge the group to make their own unique version of tag to play with friends. Or really stretch their creativity, and ask them to combine tag with another well-known favorite game–like hide and seek, or leap frog.
For example: Hide-and-seek, where everyone hides except one seeker. But when the seeker finds a hider, that hider becomes the new seeker and must find someone new.. (And the seeker stays put.)
For a younger group, you might choose to provide them with a fun, new version first to get them started. Highlights has some awesome suggestions in their Tag with a Twist article.
DIY Sundae Bar
After a day of water balloon fights and making up new games, who wouldn’t want ice cream? Let the kids create their own sundaes for a special treat. If you have the space outside—and the bugs aren’t too bad!—bring the ingredients outside. But if that won’t work, have the kids make their dessert inside, then take them outside to eat.
Homemade Bird Feeders
These super easy feeders use items you probably already have in your home! Scour the yard or neighborhood for large pine cones. Once you have a bunch, cover them with lard and peanut butter. If you have some seed mix, roll the pine cones in the mix after, and hang ’em up!
Project the movie on the side of the house, or get a portable screen for the viewing. Set up comfy seating and grab the snacks for the feature film! If you’re inviting other families, ask everyone to bring their own seat and one snack to share with the group. You provide the drinks, pillows, and blankets, and the festivities can begin!
The perfect way to end any summer night! After a day of hanging out in the sunshine, who doesn’t love relaxing by the fire? Have the kids gather sticks and kindling to keep them busy, and once the fire gets going, bring out the s’mores ingredients. (Because what’s a bonfire without s’mores?)