Skip to main content

Cheap DIY Summer Activities for Kids—Have Fun This Summer Without Going Broke

Meagan is a mother to two young children, a freelance writer, and a waitress. She has spent countless hours trying to stretch a dollar.

Inexpensive Things To Do With Children This Summer

Looking for some cheap crafts and activities for kids?

Looking for some cheap crafts and activities for kids?

Ask any parent in the world and they will tell you, a bored child is an unhappy child. Idle hands and all that, and it could not be more true! My daughter is amazing, seriously, I could not ask for a better child—when she is entertained. However, the minute she starts to get bored, she begins trying to make her own fun, and that never ends well for Mommy! It's completely understandable though, imagine playing with the same toys everyday, watching the same shows over and over, even us adults find ourselves in ruts from time to time when we start craving something more stimulating. Why should children be any different?

It is important to engage your little one in age appropriate activities, otherwise they may become frustrated or even upset with themselves because they do not understand what they should be doing. Playtime should foster creativity and good feelings, not leave your child with feelings of inadequacy or even guilt that they ruined your fun because they could not do something you were excited about. Personally, I am extremely fortunate that my children are so close in age because they are both interested in the same activities. However, someone with children of all ages may find it hard to come up with ideas that everyone may enjoy. The ideas below are targeted for younger children around preschool age but some of them are suitable for older children as well.

One last quick note before we get to the super duper fun ideas, never force a child to do something they are not having fun doing because you are excited about it. This sounds simple but is sometimes not as easy as it sounds. If you find an activity you are excited to do, get the materials together etc, and then your child wants nothing to do with it, that can prove frustrating. However, it is not beneficial to anyone if you become upset or show frustrations, or worse, punish your child for "ruining everyone's fun". Children (especially younger kids) are creatures of impulse, and what may be fun today could bore them tomorrow or vice verse. If they do not want to participate set them aside with another project, but don't make them feel guilty or bad because they did not find something interesting. They need to learn how to be their independent selves and part of that process is learning there likes and dislikes, if they are forced to conform to your interests or the interests of their siblings they are being robbed of their independent selves. So try a few, try them all, tweak them to fit your interests, but try the ideas "together" and have fun!!!!

Wanna beat the heat? Try a game of Drip Drip Splash!

Wanna beat the heat? Try a game of Drip Drip Splash!

How to Make Lawn Art

This one is a lot of fun, even for older kids or "kids at heart"! Everything you need you can either find in your home or get inexpensively at your local Dollar Store. You will need:

  • old sheets,
  • paints,
  • paint brushes
  • any item you want to use to paint with and your imagination!

Spread the sheet out on your lawn and weigh the corners down with rocks or other heavy items, and then let your inner Picasso shine bright like a diamond! Afterwards you can cut out your favorite parts to frame or hang it as a tapestry in your little ones room to admire! I thought about hanging it on the ceiling so they can look at all the different pictures while falling asleep!

How to Play Drip Drip Splash

Get on your swimsuits and head out into the sun for an interesting twist on the old standby Duck Duck Goose! For those of you who are unfamiliar with this classic game, the rules are quite simple:

  • Everyone sits in a circle and one child starts the round by walking around the outside of the circle touching everyone on the top of their head.
  • Every time you tap someone you say Duck and when you get to your chosen victim you smack em on the head and yell GOOSE!
  • They have to then jump up and chase you, with the objective being to tag you before you can run around the entire circle once and sit down in their now unoccupied spot.
  • If you are tagged you have to go again, but if you manage to make it without being tackled then it is now their turn to be "it".

So you can imagine how the game could be made much more refreshing by adding some water! Either use a bucket filled with water or (my fav.) the garden hose! Walk around but instead of tapping the other on the head, Drip water lightly on them saying Drip instead of duck. When you get to the goose dump the bucket over them and get running! (Or squirt them with the hose!) Remember to yell splash not goose!

Homemade Hula Hoop

DIY Hula Hoop

DIY Hula Hoop

How to Make Homemade Hula Hoops

Whaaaat? Yep, you heard me right! It is unimaginable that something as simple as a shiny hoop can keep a child's attention for hours, but it does! You will need:

  • some irrigation tubing,
  • a tool to cut it with,
  • a connector,
  • small stones,
  • and colorful tape.

Simply make a ring of appropriate size from the tubing, have your child put the stones (beans, dried peas or rice work great too), connect it with the connector, and then let them decorate it however they want! Hours of fun, and it's something they can show off and keep using in the future! Watching a child pridefully showing off something they have made is a reward in itself!

Ready, Set, Tape!

Okay, this person had a little too much colorful tape!

Okay, this person had a little too much colorful tape!

Scroll to Continue

How to Make Tape Roads

You know all that decorative tape you see everywhere now? Emoji tape, cheeta print tape, neon duck tape and many other designs that have promoted many a person to ask, what the heck would you ever use that for? Well, now you can be the proud owner of an odd color roll of tape, and have a purpose for it! Grab your roll of tape and go to town building tape roads for your little ones cars. The catch is that it only really works on carpet that won't be ruined and cannot be left on long enough to leave that sticky residue behind, but it is good for a couple hours of amusement and relaxation time for Mommy while they play on it!

A cool twist on finger painting!

A cool twist on finger painting!

Paint By Number With Glue

You probably already have all of these needed items but even if you do not they are inexpensive to acquire.

  • Save the covers from cool whip, butter or other containers with flat lids so you can use them as canvases.
  • Pour some non toxic glue into the cover so that it covers the entire lid and is deep enough for the second step.
  • Grab some food coloring and put a drop anywhere in the glue.
  • Use a toothpick (I had better luck with hamburger picks or skewer sticks) to swirl or "paint" the food coloring into the glue.
  • Repeat until you have finished your master piece and then allow it to dry!

It's fun and if done with supervision not messy at all, which we all know Does matter Right Mamma's? Most kiddos want to display their art, and that is easily done by either poking a hole or two in the top once it dries and stringing a piece of ribbon through, or peeling them out of the lid to use as beautiful and unique sun catchers!


How to Make Balloon Rockets

I do not care how old or mature you are, balloon rockets never ever stop being fun! All you need is:

  • yarn,
  • drinking straws,
  • tapes,
  • and balloons.
  • Oh, and someone who is really full of hot air, Oh Daddy!?

String the yarn through the drinking straw and then attach both end to chairs or the wall. Make sure the yarn is strung so their is no slack in the line. Blow up a balloon but do not tie the end, and then tape the balloon to the straw. Now the fun begins! Let go! Sooo much fun, right?! Competitive kids? Party game? Why not race them? Attach them to toy cars, the possibilities are endless and only limited by your imagination!


How to Make Sock Bubble Blowers

All you need for this is:

  • an empty water bottle,
  • a mismatched sock,
  • water
  • and dish soap.

Cut off the end of the water bottle and slip the sock over that end. Secure the sock with duct tape or a rubber band. Once your bubble wand is finished, dip the end into a solution of water and dish soap, then blow your bubbles!

There are literally thousands of ideas that one can utilize to keep your small children entertained. Many of them are extremely simple and relatively inexpensive. Most can be changed or tweaked to suit your likes and dislikes, and the only limit to the fun you could have is your imagination! Let your child lead playtime and you will be amazed at the many ingenious ideas they can come up with on their own. Watch them play independently and take note of the things they seem to gravitate towards. If you are having trouble with your children getting into things or doing things you do not want them to do, try to come up with a fun way to incorporate those things into everyday ideas for playtime. Most important of all, remember that playtime is playtime and should not be a chore! Have fun!

More Summertime Activities for Kids!

Hundreds of things you can do with children, use your imagination!

Make homemade ice cream and cookies then build ice cream sandwiches!

Build a fort with sheets, cardboard boxes, tarps, etc. Then spend the afternoon reading all their favorite books inside!

Draw a map of your backyard and have a Dora style adventure. E.g. Go over the muddy puddle, through the tall grass, around the vegetable garden etc.

Place a cardboard box on a coffee table, cut a square hole in the side and allow your child to pretend they are on TV

Take a nature walk and talk about all the different things you see, what colors do you see? What shapes do you see? What animals, bugs, or flowers do you see?

Go to a farm, many of them will allow you to walk around for free and visit the animals. If you do not have one near you that will there is an open farm day in the summer.

Camp out in your own backyard, if you cannot safely have a real fire you can make one from paper towel rolls and led fake flame candles!

Draw a hopscotch game with sidewalk chalk it is an oldie but a goodie!

Make puppets from felt and popsicle sticks, build a small puppet show area from a cardboard box and small blanket, and let them put on a show!

Have a family talent show! Spend the day picking out outfits and practicing your talent, then judge and enjoy the show! Plus it keeps kiddos entertained for an afternoon of chores for mommy!

Ask your child on a date! Get dressed in fancy clothes, be picked up at a certain time, string some old Christmas lights up, make a comfy spot with pillows on the floor, "buy snacks at the concession stand (kitchen table) with fake money, and enjoy the show!

Cook together! Have your child make the menu, go to the store and buy everything they need, cook (with your help obviously) and serve the meal!

Set up a fake store with them selling there toys or household items, be the customer and use fake money (can be made from notebook paper if you cannot afford to buy or use from a game) and enjoy an afternoon learning money management and counting!

Make smoothies! Go to the grocery store and let your little look at, pick up, feel and smell all of the different fruits and vegetables! Allow them to pick a few to try and make healthy smoothies!

Make a family book! Have your kiddo interview the people in your family and make a family book! E.g. A page for Mommy including a drawn picture her favorite color, hair color, favorite movie etc.

Have a picnic! Grab a blanket and take your lunch outside!

Visit a local pond and check out the wild life! We found tadpoles in one and brought them home! The kids loved discovering the different bugs that live in water, crayfish etc.

Visit a field and admire the wildlife! Make a journal and have them draw pictures of the different things they see such as birds, bugs, flowers etc!

Take advantage of your local library! Most have daily activities for kids and adults and some of them are really cool!

Watch the clouds outside on a sunny day! Lie down and talk about what each cloud reminded you of, I see a bunny what do you see?

Color a picture with crayon and once your crayon picture is finished paint over it with water color paint. What happened? Why does the paint not color on the crayon? Psst, underwater scenes work really well for this!!!

Go on a nature walk and have your little pick up interesting things, when you get home allow them to glue these discoveries onto paper and make a collage!

Water balloon fights are a great way to beat the heat on a boring summer day!

Car color game! Sit outside and watch the cars go by! Each person picks a color and when their color goes by the count is as a point for them. Who gets the most? Can also be used as car, truck etc.

Make your own popcicles with an ice tray, tin foil, popsicles sticks and your fav beverage! We do sprit with bits of fruit in them, yummy!

Coloring contests! Print a bunch of the same picture and color away! Everyone is a winner but it gives mommy a few minutes of me time!

These are so easy and amazing, I wish I had thought of it before my kids got too big for them!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Related Articles