9 Things Your Kids Will Love to Do

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Gear up for fun with these nine activities kids are sure to love.

9 things your kids will love to do

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As summer vacation approaches, my 18-year old me tends to think of lazy days by the pool, sleeping in, and otherwise relaxing in every way I know how. 42-year old me knows that those ideas are clearly not for my season of life with six kids to love on and care for.

I’m honestly not too worried about it. I can see far enough into the future that I know my nest will be empty before I’m ready for it. One of the things I forgot to report in yesterday’s weekly ramble was that FishBoy16 and I went to the DMV to get his driver’s permit this week. Oy! How did we get here?

He was just born, I swear it.

Regardless, if you like me, are thinking about summer and how to avoid the full-on, kids-veg-on-the-couch-watching-movies-and-playing-video-games phenomena, consider these tried and true screen-free activities that kids love.

Let’s add a disclaimer, kids 12 and under will love these.

While my 16 year old might not embrace all of these — he’s a little past fingerpainting and playdough — he certainly would enjoy some of them, especially if his buddies were over and they were making crazy tie-dyed tshirts or he got to eat all the cupcakes he wanted.

Older kids can be encouraged to help the youngers. And quite honestly, doing that is a great excuse for biguns to hold onto childhood just a little while longer.

Tie Dye

Tie Dye Tshirts

Most summers we’ve made a set of Tie Dye Tshirts or my sister has helped the kids while FishPapa and I went away for a weekend. Don’t go out and buy new tshirts. Dig out all the stained white shirts and dresses that your kids have mangled and give them new life with Tie Dye.

We’ve used this Tie Dye kit before.

diy gift, playdough kit, homemade playdough

Play Play Dough

Making homemade play dough takes about five minutes tops. You reap the rewards in saving money on store bought play dough and your kids can dye it whatever color they like. Make a play dough kit now  so you’re prepped for the summer.

Older children would appreciate being able to use real clay to create permanent works of art, like Fimo.

Fingerpaint Creations


You can make your own fingerpaint with regular pantry staples. Check out Janel’s tips for painting with kids so you don’t go crazy in the process.

Chopped for Kids knives

Play a Game of Chopped

My littles have loved playing Chopped where they get to make their own special creations in the kitchen. My older boys have always been bummed to miss out, so I think this is an activity that older kids would gravitate towards.

Mud Cupcakes

Decorate Cupcakes

The “cupcake craze” may be over, but it’s a classic activity that kids love. Decorating cakes is fun; decorating cupcakes is doable for more than one child. They can customize it with all their favorite toppings. Be sure to make a big batch of homemade buttercream frosting or the ultimate chocolate buttercream.

Try these fun cupcakes to make:

Kids dressed in costumes next to a fence

Play Dress-up

Kids love to play dress up. Gather up all their different ensembles into a tub so that you’re ready to pull it out on the next rainy day. Consider making some of these:

summer popsicles

Make Popsicles 

Most commerically made popsicles are full of junky additives and colors. Make your own to save money and feed your kids something better. Here’s my tutorial on how to make popsicles the easy way.

Star Wars characters drawn in chalk on the sidewalk.

Draw with Sidewalk Chalk

My kids have always loved to draw with sidewalk chalk, particularly when we make an effort to be extra creative and recreate their favorite movies and characters, like these Jedi.

keep reading skills strong

Read a Great Book

Summer is an excellent time for your kids to journey through books! Consider these great series books or a family read aloud and make reading hour a regular thing at your house. There are lots of ways to encourage your kids to read.

Grab a copy of my mom’s book, 50 Books to Enjoy with Kids. It’s a great resource and reading guide to help you choose good books as well as have extension activities to go with.

I encourage you to pick a couple activities to add to your routine this summer. These are all things that my kids have enjoyed over the years and that continue to liven up our summer days.

What do YOUR kids love to do?

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  1. It’s so easy to just let the kids veg all day and do their own thing, isn’t it? This is a great list of fun, frugal ideas that don’t take too much effort. Thanks for this post. Sometimes we need the reminder that there are other options than things that require electricity.

  2. Here is our recipe for play doh

    Mix in a large pot:
    2 cups water
    2 cups flour
    ¾ cup salt
    4 tablespoon oil
    2 packages unsweetened Kool-Aid

    Stir in pot until there are no lumps
    Cook on medium heat for approximately 10 minutes (until it is not gooey)
    Stir continuously while it is cooking
    Take out of pan and knead with a little oil
    Let cool and play!
    Store in a Ziploc bag

  3. Mine are grown and gone…you are right it happens in the blink of an eye, but when they were young they liked building forts inside if the weather was yucky and outside on nice days where they could read their books and have a picnic lunch. We also played a lot of board games, went for a lot of walks (scavenger hunts) and ran through the sprinkler. We didn’t have a television for about 4 years when they were young and there was no such thing as smartphones however they did have a nintendo.

    1. That’s how life was for my big boys. No TV, few videos, no gaming except a Nintendo 64. Thanks for the reminder about the forts. Great idea!