Check out this awesome list of screen-free activities that your kids will enjoy throughout the summer or during a screen-free week!
If you’re looking for some ideas for screen-free activities for kids that don’t require tons of time and effort to put together, you are in the right place.
Here at Jen Bradley|MOMs we are all about simplifying motherhood, so we’ve been careful to choose ideas that are practical for real moms on an everyday budget who want their kids to have some time away from a screen more often.
If this sounds like you, keep on reading!
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Why are screen-free activities important?
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, kids ages 8-12 in the United States spend 4-6 hours a day watching or using screens. This includes all types of screens: smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, TVs, and computers.
On the flip side, kids today spend less time outdoors than any other generation, devoting only four to seven minutes to unstructured outdoor play per day, according to the National Recreation and Park Association.
This is alarming because studies show that too much screen time can have a negative effect on our kids, potentially causing things like:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Getting lower grades
- Reading fewer books
- Decreased face to face interaction
- Not getting enough physical activity
- Childhood obesity
- Increased moodiness
- Spending less time outdoors
- Deveoping poor self-image
- Comparison issues
One of the best ways to help your kids avoid these issues is to start the summer with lots of ideas for screen-free activities your kids enjoy!
Keep reading to find 101 awesome ideas for outdoor, indoor, and out and about screen-free activities.
Outdoor Screen-Free Activities for Kids
Of course, you’ll need a bit of a windy day, a big open area, and a kite. We’ve had our fair share of cheap kite disasters, so grabbing a well-made inexpensive kite like this is highly recommended!
2. Blow bubbles
Kids of all ages love bubbles! Our favorite way to make lots of bubbles fast is with bubble wands, which are easy for kids to manipulate than the bubble wands they have to blow. This awesome 12-pack of bubble wands comes with refill solution too!
3. Water fight
Turn on the water hoses, pull out the water guns, fill up some small buckets – anything goes!
4. Sprinkler time
If you’re not in the mood to go swimming, but it’s definitely hot outside, have your kids throw on their bathing suits (and some sunscreen!), and run through the sprinkler instead! This adorable turtle-shaped sprinkler is one your kids are sure to love!
If you don’t want to jot down all of these great ideas for screen-free activities for summertime, grab the free printable from the Jen Bradley|MOMs Free Printable library!
5. Water table
For little ones, playing with a water table is a great way to spend a summer afternoon! We owned this one for years and loved it.
6. Water balloons
Water balloons can be hit or miss (literally!) because they can take a long time to fill. That why these water balloons that automatically seal themselves get a huge star of approval in our book!
7. Hula hoop contest
For a great hula hoop contest, all you need is a couple of hula hoops, some fun music, and a few willing participants. (And if you have some mad hula-hooping skills, don’t be afraid to show them off!)
8. Jump rope
We had to include jump rope because so many kids no longer know what a jump rope is or even how to do it! This 2-pack of soft beaded jump ropes will take you back to those elementary school days for sure.
Related article: How to Have an Awesome Screen-Free Week with Your Kids
9. Bike parade
While you might think of a bike parade for a patriotic holiday like Memorial Day or the 4th of July, your kids can stage a fun bike parade anytime during the summer!
Get the neighborhood kids involved, give them some crepe paper streamers or shiny ribbons, and let them go to town decorating their bikes.
10. Family backyard campout
Your kids will the chance to set up a tent and have a campout – even if it’s only the backyard!
In fact, if your kids are small and have a hard time going to sleep in the tent, there is no shame at all in taking them inside to their own bed if needed!
11. Cloud gazing
Cloud gazing is probably the very easiest screen-free summer activity for kids EVER. Just lay a blanket out in the grass on a warm sunny day, and lay down with your kids to watch the clouds drift by.
You can look for funny shapes, identify different types of clouds, or tell stories about the different clouds you can see.
12. Star gazing
Star gazing works best on a cloudless night. Depending on where you live, you may be able to see lots of stars in the night sky without a telescope. If you do need a telescope, this one is a fairly inexpensive telescope model that our kids have been able to use with a little help.
Whether or not you use a telescope, we highly recommend using the app called Star Chart that can help you to easily identify what you’re seeing in the night sky!
13. Make s’mores
Grab some graham crackers, chocolate bars, and marshmallows and gather around a fire or fire pit for a favorite summertime treat!
These awesome telescoping roasting sticks have different colored handles so everyone can easily keep track of which marshmallow is theirs!
You can take your s’mores to the next level by trying different types of chocolate, like Reese’s peanut butter cups or raspberry-filled dark chocolate Ghiradelli squares!
14. Fire pit stories
While you’re roasting your marshmallows, take some time to tell some stories around the fire pit!
Each person can tell their own made-up story or you can play a game where each person has to add on to the story after a few sentences.
15. Sidewalk chalk
Give your kids a big pack of sidewalk chalk and let them have a blast! You can work together to make an awesome chalk mosaic, draw out an old-fashioned hop-scotch game, or draw your favorite caricatures.
16. Corn hole
This fun backyard game is so easy to learn and can be played by kids and adults of any age!
Badminton is a simple game that is a mix of tennis and volleyball. Kids will need an adult to help them set it up, but after that, they’ll be able to play and practice on their own. (This outdoor set here is perfect for badminton and volleyball!)
18. Trampoline tricks contest
If you have a trampoline, have everyone in your family participate in a trampoline tricks contest. Family members can show off their best moves one at a time or you can have each person try to copy the moves of the person before them.
19. Frisbee/ frisbee golf
Many kids can develop their throwing and catching skills by practicing with a frisbee! You can make this more exciting by learning how to play frisbee golf with this fun at-home frisbee golf set, too!
20. Collect bugs
If you have a nature enthusiast, encourage him or her to get outside and start a bug collection!
21. Plant a garden
Planting a garden is a lot of initial work, but you can easily scale this up or down, based on the amount of time and space you have. If you’re short on time and space, consider a simple one-pot herb garden.
22. Go on a walk
When was the last time you went for a walk around your neighborhood? Get out the stroller for your littles or bikes or scooters for your big kids, and go for a stroll.
23. Play hide and seek
This perennial favorite is a perfect for a pretty summer afternoon outside!
24. Play in the rain
Often we head inside when rain starts to fall, but if you have a warm summer day, encourage your kids to splash in the puddles, get wet, and have a blast!
25. Have a picnic
You can choose to picnic in your own yard or take your picnic to a nearby park. Pack a quick lunch, some paper goods, drinks, and a big blanket to spread on the ground.
26. Play croquet
Another great backyard game for kids, croquet is lots of fun whether you play by the official rules or make up your own! This croquet set is ideal for up to six players!
27. Eat dinner al fresco
Choose a pretty day and eat dinner outside – either at your backyard picnic table or by spreading a blanket on the ground. Your kids will love doing something out of the ordinary!
28. Go swimming
Whether you visit the neighborhood pool, set up your own inflatable kiddie pool, or have a large pool of your own, summer is the perfect season for swimming.
29. Play catch
Grab some baseball or softball mitts and throw a ball back and forth. Many kids need practice with this important physical skill!
30. Set up a bird feeder
Setting up a simple bird feeder can bring lots of great entertainment during the warmer months. Whether you attract birds or squirrels, you’ll be in for a treat.
31. At-home Olympics
You can carry out a very simple at-home Olympics event for your kids. Time them while the run races, measure their throws, have a handstand contest, and a team tug-of-war!
32. Scavenger hunt
Kids of all ages love scavenger hunts! Write down a simple list of things for your kids to find in your backyard – things like ants, spider webs, acorns, birds, butterflies, dandelions, and more – and give them a time limit to find them all.
33. Wash the car
Have your kids use their water guns to “wash” your car! They’ll love it!
34. Have a Nerf war
Bust out all the Nerf guns you own, gather a ton of Nerf bullets, and let your kids run wild for awhile!
35. Rock pictures
Gather small rocks and arrange the rocks to form different pictures of people, animals, and things.
36. Run relay races
Invite the neighbor kids over to run some relay races, such as the three-legged race, potato sack race, or a classic relay race.
37. Rock painting
Get out the acrylic paint and some old paintbrushes and let your kids go to town painting rocks. When the rocks are dry, add them to your garden or put them outside the neighbor’s house as a fun surprise.
38. Play backyard games
Teach your kids how to play Freeze Tag, TV Tag, Sharks and Minnows, or Marco Polo. Of course, you can play these in the pool or in the yard.
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Indoor Screen-Free Activities for Kids
Sometimes the weather it too hot or too rainy to be outside – even in the summer. Check out these great indoor screen-free activities for kids ages 4+!
39. Play checkers
Checkers is an old favorite for so many reasons – it’s easy to learn, doesn’t take too long to play, and is a fun challenge!
40. Play chess
If your kids love logic games, don’t be afraid to introduce them to chess at a young age! This chess set for kids was a huge hit at our house and made the game easy to learn.
41. Learn card games
Go Fish, Old Maid, Solitaire, Crazy Eights, Uno, War – there are so many good card games to choose from!
42. Perler beads
Perler beads (also called fuse beads) are awesome for kids ages 5-9 who love to craft or who are working on developing fine motor skills. This bead set here is an awesome place to get started making some great designs!
Get out an old plastic table cloth and set your kids up with some paints, thick paper, and paintbrushes. Throw an old cruddy, adult-sized t-shirt over their clothes as a smock.
44. Make homemade play dough
If your kids enjoy play dough – try making it at home with this easy DIY recipe here!
45. Bake a treat
Pull out the cookbooks or browse Pinterest for the best brownie or cookie recipe you can find. Pull off a Great British Baking Show type contest to make this extra fun!
46. Declutter toys
Yes, honestly! Read this article about how to get your kids involved in decluttering. You may even find toys they’ve forgotten about to keep them occupied during your screen-free week!
47. Write a letter to grandparents
Many kids have never handwritten a letter and put it in the mail. Have your kids write a short note or draw a picture for their grandparents and show them how to mail it the “old-fashioned” way!
48. Play a board game
49. Build a blanket fort
Let your desire to have a clean living room rest for a day and pull out the big blankets, sheets, and pillows to make the best blanket fort ever!
50. Play with magnetic tiles
These awesome magnetized building tiles from Picasso Tiles are a hit with a huge variety of ages!
51. Dress up/ fashion show
Pull out the Halloween costumes or the dress-up box and let your kids go to town! Have them take turns walking out into the living room as you describe their outfits for an at-home “fashion show.”
52. Make a treat for a friend
Put together a little treat for a friend who may be having a tough time – a new mom, a friend recently in the hospital, etc. Doing something kind for someone else is always a great lesson for kids to be a part of.
All you need for an afternoon of stamping fun is some clean white paper, ink pads, a great set of stamps, and some colored pencils.
54. Play with dolls
Get out the Barbies, LOL Dolls, or American Girls and have a blast dressing them, doing their hair, and making up fun stories about them doing something your kids love to do!
55. Play with LEGOs
Create some quick LEGO challenges for your kids to do together! Have them try to build the tallest LEGO tower, the silliest Minifigure, the craziest airplane, or anything else you can think of!
Reading to your kids is one of the best screen-free activities ever! Start a fun summer book series together or join a local summer reading program.
Don’t be afraid to have your kids spend some screen-free time learning or reviewing academic concepts! Check out this post here for ways to help your kids avoid summer learning loss.
58. Deep clean bedrooms
Get your kids involved in deep cleaning their bedrooms. The free Bedroom Deep Cleaning Checklist in our Printable Library will give you a step-by-step plan to get it sparkling from top to bottom!
59. Play a family party game
60. Play minute to win it games
Kids love minute to win it games!
61. Have a dance party
Turn on a favorite playlist and get your groove on in the living room. And if you’re feeling extra – snag this inexpensive disco ball to really get the party hoppin’!
62. Host a home escape room
We’ve love the printable at-home escape rooms from Escape Kit! With some set up time, they’re easy to carry out and are tons of fun!
63. Do a puzzle
Pull out a old-fashioned jigsaw and spend an afternoon piecing it together.
64. Start a journal
Grab some inexpensive notebooks, have your kids decorate the front, and encourage them to write a little something everyday.
65. Make friendship bracelets
Grab a simple friendship bracelet making kit and lots of super inexpensive embroidery floss in your kids’ favorite colors to get started!
66. Do crosswords or soduku
Even though it’s summer vacation, help your kids keep stretching their minds with some good logic or crossword puzzles.
67. Learn sign language
Work together as a family to learn the sign language alphabet and some signs for basic phrases.
68. Play logic games
69. Indoor campout
If the weather isn’t cooperating, set up a small tent for an indoor campout instead! Get the sleeping bags, a few flashlights, and sleep in the living room. You could roll sheets of brown construction paper into logs and have an indoor “fire,” too.
70. Make homemade lemonade
All you need is a simple syrup and lots of fresh lemons! Let your kids squeeze the lemon juice themselves!
71. Build dinosaur models
If you have dinosaur enthusiasts, let them piece together these awesome balsa wood dinosaurs. Don’t forget the superglue!
72. Make homemade popsicles
Find a great popsicle mold and have your kids choose a fun recipe to cool everyone down on a hot summer day!
73. Make homemade chocolate fondue
Put together a charcuterie board of cut up strawberries, pineapple, oranges, pretzels, marshmallows, and more and let your kids have a fondue party!
74. Paper airplane contest
Fold paper airplanes together and fly them indoors and in the yard. Have a contest to see whose plane can fly the farthest, craziest, and more.
75. Make a collage
Let your kids leaf through old magazines and put together a collage of images and things they like on a small piece of poster board. (And then recycle those magazines!)
76. Write in code
If your kids love a good mystery, grab a book about how to write in different types of code. Spend some time writing out fun messages for each other to decipher.
77. Ask Would You Rather questions
Would You Rather questions are perfect dinnertime conversation starters, but you could also ask a bunch while you’re waiting in line at an amusement park, taking a break at the swimming pool, or cloud gazing on a blanket in the backyard.
Related article: 301 Would You Rather Questions for Kids
78. Play charades
We like to play charades with a specific category in mind. For example: Harry Potter characters, wild animals, or favorite movie titles.
79. Snowball fight
Yes, this is for real! These fun white stuffed snowballs are a hit year-round, but they’re especially fun in the summer when they’re unexpected!
80. Make mini pizzas
A screen-free activity that doubles as a meal? Yes, please! Let your kids choose their own toppings and add their own cheese!
Designate a day or an afternoon to read from the same book for as long as you possibly can. Switch readers from time to time and have plenty of snacks on hand!
82. Do an at-home workout or yoga
Let your kids join you for an at-home workout or a morning outdoor yoga session. There are lots of great yoga videos for kids on YouTube!
83. Kid meditation
You can also find lots of great guided meditations for kids on YouTube! Have everyone relax in the living room and turn on a short session to help everyone relax!
84. Have a backwards day
Eat dinner for breakfast, breakfast for dinner, wear your clothes backwards, and flip flop your morning and evening routines. Your kids will remember this forever!
85. Wacky hairstyles
Let your kids do each other’s hair – or if you’re super brave, let them give you a wacky hairstyle!
86. Tie-dye t-shirts
Get some white t-shirts (or socks, bags, scrunchies, etc.) and follow this easy-to-follow tie-dye tutorial here!
Fun Screen-less Activities and Outings
These are pretty self-explanatory, but are definitely worth a mention as great scree-free activities to do away from home!
87. Go on a hike
88. Visit a museum
89. Play mini golf
90. Visit a favorite park
91. Go to a trampoline park
92. Go to a pro or semi-pro sports event
93. Check out a local Farmer’s Market
94. Volunteer in the community
95. Visit the library
96. Visit a science center
97. Go to the garden store
98. Try a new restaurant
99. Watch a parade
100. Visit an amusement park or state fair
101. Go to a nature preserve or center
Final thoughts about screen-free activities for kids
On a scale of 1-10, we hope you are feeling an 11.9 when it comes to enjoying some screen-free activities with your kids this summer! Don’t forget to download the free printable with all of these great ideas from our Free Printable Library!
While screens are definitely a part of our kids’ lives, having some time to interact with and enjoy each other will be absolutely worth it.
Related articles about summertime fun for kids:
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