What are you looking for?

Photography by Celia D. Luna
Family Activities

50 Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer

Written by Erin Feher


Summer is officially here, and it likely looks way different than years past. No sleep-away summer camp, cross-country trips to see the grandparents, or international family adventures. So, faced with nearly 90 school-free days ahead (and maybe more), what’s a family to do? We have created the ultimate to-do list tailored to Summer 2020—when friends still have to keep their distance, and keeping kids busy, engaged, and having a good time can seem more challenging than ever before. From family big-wheel derbies to getting schooled on the night sky, we’ve got 50 ideas of things to do, right here.

Attend A Protest. All fifty states continue to stage protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and there are bound to be family-friendly options in your area over the summer. Making signs, talking to your kids about the cause, and getting out to safely protest is a great way to move the cause forward and show your kids that our own actions are what bring about change.

Make Cardboard Creations. Getting items delivered right to your door is the new normal, which means that most of us are swimming in cardboard boxes. Get creative with tape and paint to create whatever your kiddos can dream up—a rocket, a boat, or an ice cream stand.

Volunteer. From stocking and organizing local food pantries to doing drop-off meal delivery to stepping in to lighten the administrative load (kids love to stick stamps!), find out which organizations in your area could use some socially distant assistance, and then do the work as a family.

Make Gifts For Neighbors. Whether your crew loves to bake muffins or paint pictures, send some of those creations out into the world. Drop off care packages in front of your neighbors’ doors, and make sure to include the ones you don’t know well or haven’t met yet!

Look Up and Learn About The Stars. Stay up a little past bedtime and make a habit of learning some basic astronomy. Some of our favorite kid-friendly books are Astronomy For Kids: Planets, Stars and Constellations and The Faces, or Phases, of the Moon – Astronomy Book for Kids.

Take A Historical Walking Tour. Check out your local historical society and dig up some interesting neighborhood history. Then take your fam on an easy walking tour to help history come to life for them.

Go Running. A morning run may seem like an adults-only pursuit, but try dedicating one day a week for a family run. You might be surprised how much the kids take to it!

Play Flashlight Tag. Once the sun goes down, play flashlight tag in the backyard or in the neighborhood. If the other side’s flashlight “gets” you, you’re out. This is also a fun social distance game with other friends!

Stage A Glow-In-The-Dark Treasure Hunt. Try a nighttime version of the classic with glow-in-the-dark items.

Install An Indoor Swing. This one may not be for everybody (space-permitting, obviously), but installing a simple rope swing or even hammock chair can provide a fun way to burn off steam on a rainy day, or for families without a yard.

Have A Big Wheel Derby. Basically, when the kids are getting wild, join in the fun instead of playing referee. It’s a refreshing change for everybody!

Start A Family Yoga Routine. Getting kids into yoga can have countless benefits, from helping them get moving in the morning, break from screen time midday, or chill out before bedtime. Cosmic Kids Yoga is a fun one to get kids hooked.

Make S’mores On The Grill. Even if camping is cancelled this summer, the desserts don’t have to be.

Build A Neighborhood Mailbox. A simple wood or cardboard box with a slot will do! Then encourage friends and neighbors to leave notes for your family—ideally by writing letters to them first!

Make A Little Free Library. Another way to encourage community and connection while we have to stay apart. Build a Little Free Library and stock it with books you’re ready to pass on, and watch it fill up with new titles!

Take A Hike. Whether you live near the woods or are in the middle of a concrete jungle, map out some heart-pumping treks near you. Conquer city steps, local trails, or even take a drive to find something new to you.

Plan A Future Trip. Do your kids dream of visiting the Eiffel Tower? The fish markets of Japan? The beaches of South America? Pick a locale and start planning a future trip by researching, making collages of must-see places, and watching travel shows.

Visit Some National Parks…Virtually. Since many National Parks have been forced to close for the time being, they are offering up super-cool virtual tours. Explore Yellowstone’s most iconic sites, and check out 5 other major parks, from Alaska to Hawaii, right here.

Take A Vacation…To Another Room. Pack your bags and check-in to another room for the night. Whether you swap bedrooms with the kiddos or host a family slumber party in the garage, the change of scenery will be fun for all.

Make DIY Popsicles. The ice cream truck is likely not coming around much this summer, so keep your freezer stocked with homemade frozen treats. Go wild with flavors, or flip through a fave smoothie recipe book for inspo.

Upgrade Your Kiddie Pool Game. Most of us won’t be heading to the community pool this summer. So, if you have a backyard, deck, or patio space, scoop up one of the cool new models on the market. We personally love the modern designs of Mylle Shop, Liewood, and this minimalist Target number.

Have a Water Balloon Battle. Gone are the days of stretching those pesky balloons over the faucet nozzle. Advancements in water ballon technology now mean you can fill 100 balloons in 60 seconds, and we are here for it.

Camp Out In The Backyard. Sleeping in a tent is still excitement central for most kids, so don’t let closed campgrounds stop you. Pitch your tent in the backyard and snooze under the stars. Just pretend the street noise is a wandering pack of bears.

Invite Some Birds Over. Buy (or make!) a bird house for feathered friends to make their nest outside your window or in your yard.

Subscribe To Some Quality Kids Mags. From classic titles that have been publishing since before their parents were born, to modern, artsy zines that have style for miles, these 20+ magazine for kids have something for every age and interest. Plus, what kid doesn’t love getting snail mail?

Learn to Dance. From TikTok challenges to dozens of newly launched Zoom or YouTube dance tutorials, there is something out there for every style and skill. Learning together promises to be a bonding experience…and super silly.

Set Up An Obstacle Course. In the backyard or living room, use pillows, balls, pieces of wood, or anything else you can find to create a challenging skills course for your kiddos.

Have A Reoccurring Black History Movie Night. Make movie night meaningful by committing to watch one of these kid-friendly Black History movies that tackle racism on a regular basis.

Give Your Library a Make-Over. If your library is populated by mainly White faces, take the time this summer to stock it with new titles such as these Black History books for kids, kids’ books featuring kids of color just being kids, and books illustrated by wildly talented Black artists.

Build A Tree House. We know, it’s not that simple, but if there’s any summer where we have some spare time, it’s this one! No tree? No problem. A fun playhouse counts, too.

Take A Virtual Art Class. Since SIP hit, dozens of A+ artists and illustrators have taken to Instagram to offer up daily art classes for creatives of all ages. Find a full list here, and make them a regular part of your day!

Tie-Dye Something. Give those shabby old shirts, dish towels, and socks a new colorful life with DIY tie-dye.

Make Your Own Ice Cream. This super easy 5-ingredient recipe is a tasty activity to do with kids on a hot day.

Take A Road Trip. Rent an RV or van and take to the open road. Keeping yourselves contained to your own vehicle is one of the only ways to travel these days!

Create Some Chalk Art. Challenge the kids to create a sidewalk gallery (invite neighbors to join in!). Bonus: It will make neighborhood walks a cultural experience!

Become a Picnic Pro. Add some excitement to the regular breakfast, lunch, or dinner routine by taking the grub to-go. Pack it up and post up in a local park.

Bring Back The Bubbles. Kids of any age will get a kick out of chasing bubbles. Up your game with a bubble machine.

Get To Know Your Neighborhood Birds.  Download the Audubon bird identification app and get to know the birds hanging around your hood.

Make a Potion Station. Add a few drops of tempura paint to recycled bottles filled with water, then dole out a few little cups of water, flour, corn starch, jam, or whatever else your little scientists would love mixing up, and let them start creating.

Become a Botanist. Learn about your local flora and fauna by adding an app like PlantSnap to your daily walks.

Make a Nature Portrait. Send the kiddos out to collect sticks, grass, rocks, and flowers and ask them to create a self portrait from what they’ve found!

Write Letters to Grandma and Grandpa. Many of our favorite relatives are isolating themselves to stay safe. If you know anyone in a nursing home, it’s likely that visits have been cancelled and special activities postponed. Your child can take pride in drawing some heartfelt pictures for your loved ones, both near and far. Your little one could also make cards for neighbors and drop them off on their doorstep during neighborhood walks. Dropping off the artwork on the same day will give a younger child more immediate gratification as they learn a lesson in compassion.

Water Activities. Fill a plastic tub with some water and LEGO Duplos, and give your little one a strainer to fish them out. Only put in as much water as you’re willing to clean up!

Be A Florist. Collect branches, ferns, and a few blooms and arrange them in a pretty jar.

Take A Family Bike Ride. It’s a safe way to be outside when social distancing. It may even be OK to ask friends or neighbors to join. Just stay on your bike and keep pedaling!

Engage a Pen Pal. Pick a grandma, friend, aunt, uncle, or cousin whom you can’t see right now and write them a letter. Can’t write yet? Draw a picture. This could be expanded for older kids: how to address an envelope properly, what is your address, how to write a letter with “Dear Friend,” “Sincerely,” etc.

Plant Something. Snap peas are great because they grow fast and are yummy. And before you begin, consider reading these kids’ books about gardening for inspiration!

Jump Rope. This physical activity takes a lot of energy and can be done in a relatively small space. Come up with songs or movements to try. Got a big living room and a couple siblings? Double Dutch!

Take Photographs. Do you have an old camera sitting around that got forgotten after the iPhone moved in? Teach the kids the basics then set them loose. You can even print out the images and make a book.

Need more ideas on summer activities for kids? Check out these 100 Screen-Free Activities To Do At Home With Kids.

Write a Comment

  1. Donna Paget says...

    I was excited to see that you had a list of 50 things to do with your kids this summer. However, the VERY first thing you had on the list to do with KIDS is to attend a protest. REALLY? Not spend time with family telling family stories, play games, draw pictures for family far away, letters to the troops, help in The community. But attend a protest as your first item? Politics? We need to fix the nuclear family in order to start mending society. Jeez! I’m so disappointed that yet again, the media is sending out messages to be subversive instead healing. You may have a great list of things to do with your kids, but you alienated me with first item being politics and not a normal kid activity.

  2. Cheryl Chamberlain says...

    With all the rioting, looting, and other violence, I am astounded that you would recommend taking our children to a protest. Shame on you.

    • Liz says...

      Children absolutely belong at protests if their parents choose to bring them. My grade school children joined protests here in Minneapolis after the murder of George Floyd – they are just a little older than his daughter is. Shame on you for shaming this action.

    • Steph says...

      There are plenty of family friendly marches and protests out there, just google it for your location.

    • Kim says...

      I agree! Really? Attend a protest? There has been too much violence and you think children ought to experience that first hand? Destruction of pthe riveted and public property? Burning down of buildings and the destruction of peoples lives who where no part of the racial discrimination? Maybe catch a little Covid while they are at it. I was appalled to see Parents exposing their children to all of this in the crowds on the news. Teach them at home about racism and how destructive and hateful it is. Let them watch the news and have an honest conversation about this subject. Show them a better way! Almost forwarded this to my son until I saw that. Can not believe you would actually publish this as a good idea!

  3. Nancy says...

    I love the list! It has a twist that promotes reflection on current events! If you can’t attend a protest, make a sign and share it! If you want to promote social justice, update your library to showcase diversity! And I love the black history movie night idea! Movies are great storytellers and motivators! My kids and I have incorporated many items into our staycation plans!

Share this story