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22 Screen-Free Summer Activities for Kids and Families

Brace yourself for a truly memorable summer! The sun is shining, the days are long, and the opportunity for your kid to explore, learn and have a blast is right at your fingertips. It's time to step away from the screens and dive into a world of fun, creativity, and real-life experiences with these 22 screen-free summer activities.

Stefanie Parth
6/28/2023 • 10 min
Kids laughing and playing in water at the seaside

Summer is here, and it's bringing warm, sunny days perfect for your kid to have a good time. No school or homework means a world of fun and exploration is waiting for them. But! Having a structure during the summer can help make sure your kid isn’t spending too much time staring at screens and instead is creating memorable, fun experiences.

As a parent, this is your golden opportunity to lead by example. It’s a good time to reflect on your own screen time and see how you can cut down. Join in on these real-life activities with your kid to show them how fun it can be to switch off devices. After all, your actions highly influence how your kid sees and uses technology.

One of the best parts of summer is making happy memories. These memories do more than just make us feel good. They help build positivity, improve emotional health, and bring your family closer together. And interestingly, our happiest memories usually don't involve screens. True happiness and lasting memories come from being fully involved in activities, not just passively watching them on a screen.

To make things even more fun, we've come up with an idea we're calling the Jar of Fun. Write each of the activities listed below on a piece of paper and put them in a jar. Then your kid can pick out an activity daily or weekly, giving them a fun goal to work towards.

closed glas jar with stickers inside with a painted heart, family pictures in the back

It's super easy to create your own Jar of Fun. (Source: Shutterstock)

Ready to dive in? Here are 22 screen-free summer activities to get your summer rolling.

1. Start a Garden: Gardening isn't exclusive to big backyards. Even in small spaces, like balconies or patios, your kid can start a garden. They can plant flowers, herbs, or vegetables in pots or other containers. Gardening helps kids understand nature's life cycles, and it encourages patience, responsibility, and an appreciation for the environment. It's rewarding to see the plants they cared for bloom or bear fruit.

2. Make Homemade Ice Cream or Popsicles: Hot summer days call for refreshing treats, and what could be better than homemade ice cream or popsicles? Your kid can help select flavors, measure ingredients, and mix them together, learning practical culinary skills in the process. It's also an opportunity to teach them about patience as they wait for their creation to freeze. Once ready, they get to savor a sweet reward, which tastes even better because they made it themselves!

3. Create a Scavenger Hunt: Scavenger hunts are exciting, whether in a big backyard, a local park, or your neighborhood. Your kid will enjoy following clues and solving riddles that lead them on a thrilling quest. It encourages problem-solving, physical activity, and imaginative play. You can tailor the hunt to your surroundings, incorporating items or landmarks that are available in your area.

4. Visit a Local Museum or Historic Site: Museums and historic sites provide a wealth of knowledge that goes beyond what kids learn in school. Whether it's about dinosaurs, ancient civilizations, works of art, or local history, these visits can inspire your kid's curiosity and open their minds to the vast world around them. They can ask questions, engage in interactive exhibits, and bring back knowledge to share and explore further.

5. Take a Bike Ride Together: Family bike rides are a fun way to combine fitness, exploration, and quality time. Choose different routes to keep each ride interesting, discover hidden gems in your community, or simply enjoy the feeling of the wind on your faces as you pedal together. It's a chance for your kid to improve their cycling skills, develop a love for outdoor activities, and understand the value of staying active.

6. Go Camping: Camping, whether in your backyard or a local campground, offers your kid a taste of outdoor living and adventure. They can learn how to pitch a tent, cook over a campfire, and observe the night sky. The simple pleasures of roasting marshmallows, telling stories under the stars, and waking up to the sounds of nature make for unforgettable summer memories and teach them to appreciate the natural world around them.

Rear view of silhouette of a father backpacker hugging two children. Tourists guys and dog stands beside camping on the top of mountain near tent at sunset under evening sky with clouds

Go on an outdoor camping adventure with your kid. (Source: Shutterstock)

7. Cook a Meal with Fresh Ingredients: Cooking together can be a nourishing experience in more ways than one. Start by visiting a local farmer's market, letting your kid help choose fresh, seasonal produce. Back home, involve them in washing, chopping, and cooking under your guidance. This activity fosters teamwork, introduces them to various foods and flavors, teaches them about nutrition and basic cooking skills, and culminates in a meal that they can be proud to have contributed to.

8. Create Your Own Obstacle Course: A homemade obstacle course in your yard or a local park can provide hours of entertainment. Using simple items like boxes, hula hoops, or even fallen logs and rocks (always ensuring safety first), your kid can design a challenging and exciting course. They can race against time, trying to beat their personal best, or turn it into a social event with a friendly competition amongst friends. It's a creative and active way to develop their agility, balance, and problem-solving skills, all while making the most of the great outdoors.

9. Create Sidewalk Chalk Murals: Unleash your kid's inner artist with an outdoor chalk art project. Whether it's your patio, a quiet stretch of sidewalk in the neighborhood, or a brick wall, chalk provides a vibrant and temporary canvas for their imagination. Equipped with a variety of chalk colors, they can bring to life stunning murals and playful drawings. This activity nurtures their creative expression while adding a pop of color to the local surroundings.

10. Make Homemade Lemonade: Making homemade lemonade is a delightful activity that introduces your kid to the basics of cooking while offering a tangible and tasty reward. They'll have fun squeezing lemons, measuring sugar, and stirring the mix, refining their motor skills in the process. They'll also learn about the taste balance between sweet and sour, and the joy of serving a delicious, refreshing drink they prepared themselves to family members or friends on a hot summer day.

11. Organize a Yard Sale: A yard sale offers a real-life learning experience for your kid, combining decluttering, economics, and social interaction. They can help sort items, price them, and interact with customers, learning about negotiation, money handling, and basic math. Furthermore, it's a fantastic opportunity to discuss the importance of recycling, reusing, and the value of possessions, teaching them that what's no longer useful for one person can be a treasure for another.

12. Make Your Own Bubbles: There's something magical about bubbles - the way they float and shimmer in the sunlight captivates kids of all ages. Your kid can spend hours blowing bubbles, chasing, and popping them. Try creating your own bubble mix using water, dish soap, and a bit of glycerin. Experiment with different tools such as wire hangers or slotted spoons to create bubbles of different sizes, even giant ones! This activity is not only entertaining but also offers a fun, hands-on way to learn about light, color, and surface tension.

Girl child, bubbles and backyard garden with mockup space in summer sunshine by trees for playing game. Female kid, blowing bubble and outdoor with soap, games and rainbow in nature, park and mock up

Creating your own bubble mix is easy and promises hours of fun. (Source: Shutterstock)

13. Write and Send Postcards to Family and Friends: Rekindle the charm of traditional communication by having your kid write and send postcards. It's a wonderful exercise for them to articulate their thoughts, practice their writing skills, and share their summer experiences with loved ones. It also teaches them about patience and anticipation, as they await replies. Plus, the joy of receiving a handwritten note in return is unmatched in our digital world.

14. Go Stargazing on a Clear Night: The wonders of the cosmos are not beyond your kid's reach - all you need is a clear night and, if possible, a telescope. Lay out a blanket in your yard, or drive to a spot with little light pollution, and gaze up at the starry sky. Teach your kid about constellations, planets, and the vastness of the universe. This activity not only ignites their curiosity and interest in astronomy but also offers a humbling perspective of our place in the cosmos.

15. Learn Origami or Another Paper Craft: Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, offers a mesmerizing journey of transforming a simple piece of paper into intricate designs. Your kid can start with basic folds and shapes, gradually moving on to more complex creations. It's a hands-on activity that enhances their concentration, precision, and patience. As they progress, they'll gain a sense of achievement and an appreciation for the delicate beauty that comes from simple elements.

16. Make a Time Capsule: Time capsules are a unique way to capture the present for future enjoyment. Your kid can pick items, draw pictures, write letters, or even make predictions about the future. If you have a yard, they can bury the capsule. If not, they can find a special spot in a nearby forest or park (make sure this is allowed and environmentally safe). Either way, it'll be a joy to open years later, providing a nostalgic link to their past self.

17. Build a Fort or Treehouse: If you have a suitable tree in your backyard, consider building a treehouse. If not, a fort made from blankets and furniture can be just as magical. But even without a tree or a backyard, your kid can experience the thrill of building a fort. They can construct it in a local forest or even in a less busy corner of a park. Of course, ensure you're respecting local regulations and not damaging the environment. Involve your kid in the planning and building process for a hands-on lesson in design, problem-solving, and teamwork. Once it's up, it can serve as a fun retreat for your kid to play, read, or just enjoy the outdoors.

18. Make a Kite and Fly It: Building and flying a kite is a two-part joy. First, your kid can enjoy the process of designing and assembling their kite, learning about shapes, symmetry, and aerodynamics. Then comes the thrill of seeing their creation soaring high in the sky. It's an outdoor activity that combines creativity, science, and physical play.

Smiling girls and brother boy with flying colorful kites - popular outdoor toy on the high grass mountain meadow. Happy childhood moments or outdoor time spending concept image.

It's amazing for kids to see their kites soaring high in the sky. (Source: Shutterstock)

19. Paint on Rocks: Embark on a mini adventure by going on a rock hunt with your kid. Look for smooth and flat stones that make the perfect canvas for a rock painting session. Back at home, clean the rocks and let them dry before bringing out the paint. Your kid can unleash their creativity by painting the stones with various designs, patterns, or even words. They might create a ladybug, a smiling face, or a rainbow. Once the rocks are dry, they can be placed in the garden, showcased on a windowsill, or given to friends as unique, handmade gifts. It's a great way to merge nature and art while encouraging fine motor skills and creativity.

20. Learn a Skill: Summer is a perfect time for your kid to delve into learning a new skill. It could be juggling, mastering a magic trick, or beginning to play a musical instrument. The process of learning a new skill helps to develop their focus, patience, and persistence. It also fosters a growth mindset, as they learn to embrace challenges, persevere through difficulties, and rejoice in their progress.

21. Start a Collection: Whether it's leaves, rocks, seashells, or something else, starting a collection can be a captivating and educational pastime for your kid. They'll develop observation skills as they hunt for new additions, and learn to classify and organize their collection, understanding similarities, differences, and unique characteristics. It's a hobby that fosters appreciation for the natural world and its abundant variety.

22. Create a Summer Scrapbook: Your kid gets to be the author of their own summer adventure with this activity. They can use a scrapbook to keep track of all the fun things they do over the summer. They can stick in photos, make collages, decorate with stickers, and write stories about what they did each day. This scrapbook will be a fun project for them to work on and a wonderful way for them to remember their summer. Plus, it’s a good way to use their imagination and be creative!

Now that we’ve explored these exciting, screen-free activities for you and your kid to dive into this summer, let us just say one thing: We understand that screens can sometimes seem like the easier option. They have become a part of our daily lives and offer immediate entertainment.
But while it's not always practical or even necessary to completely cut them out, screens should not overshadow the real-life experiences that help us create lifelong, happy memories.

Remember, the most treasured summer memories often come from simple moments spent together outdoors, exploring, creating, and learning. That’s why balancing screen time with screen-free time is so important. And we've got just the right tools to help:

With Ohana's Schedule feature, you can easily create a "Summertime" schedule, specifying how much screen time your kid can have each day and at what times. This way, the digital world becomes a part of your kid’s day but not the main activity, making room for real-world fun.

When it comes to specific activities, Ohana's Modes come into play. For instance, if you plan a visit to the local museum, you can set your kid’s device to Study Mode, allowing only the camera app. This lets them engage fully with the exhibits around them, maybe even snapping a few memorable pictures for their summer scrapbook.

And when it's time to assemble that scrapbook, you can set their device to Locked Mode to avoid any digital distractions. They can then give their full attention to sorting their photos, arranging their stickers, and recounting their memories.

With Ohana, this summer can be more than just a break from school. It can be a time for your kid to learn, have fun, and create incredible memories. Make this the best summer yet!