10 Summer Activities for Kids that Don’t Involve Screens
We bet that some of your most cherished childhood summer memories are the ones where you were outside getting dirty! When you think of past summer breaks, you think of ice cream by the pool or a bike rides through the neighborhood and most likely, not the movies or games you played in front of a screen.
Make your child’s summer one for the history books with an activity plan that you can use all summer long. Limit screen time and promote together time. Break the screen habit this summer with these 10 cheap family activities that will make memories for years to come.
Rocks are the perfect canvas for making beautiful art! Rock painting can be just as educational as it is fun by adding colors, letters, and numbers. You can also use rock for storytelling and other fun pretend-play activities. “A set of alphabet rocks is a wonderful and fun way to teach letters. They can also be used for early readers. I suggest doing both capital and lowercase letters with one on each side, or multiple sets. If you create multiple sets, you can use the rocks for upper and lowercase letter matching. To create a quick alphabet set, simply use foam stickers for the letters.” – Samantha Sarles, Rock Art Handbook.
Typically, when people think of creating art on rocks, they imagine using a brush and some paint. But did you know that almost anything you can do on paper or canvas can also be done on rocks?! In the Rock Art Handbook, Samantha Sarles will take you through more than 30 different techniques for fun and creative ways to decorate rocks. Sample the Rock Art Handbook with this free DIY Mandala Dot Rock Painting tutorial!
Soap carving is a great way to introduce children to the art of carving! With a few inexpensive items, a bar of soap and popsicle sticks, you’ll be on your way to an afternoon of imagination. Carving bars of soap with wooden tools made from Popsicle sticks gives kids a safe alternative to knives and wood. And making soap boats that float in the bathtub is good, clean entertainment during bathtime.
Try this simple whale soap carving tutorial from the Complete Guide to Soap Carving. Author Janet Bolyard’s soap brand of choice is Ivory, however, before she purchases new soap, she gives it a “freshness squeeze,” by gently pressing in one corner of the soap. If the corner of the bar is hard as a rock, the soap is too dry. In the Complete Guide to Soap Carving, Janet will walk you through on how to make wooden tools and patterns, carving techniques, and 22 projects from quick carvings to more elaborate figurines.
Bring back the 90s’ summer camp tie dye t-shirts with a tie dye party! Tie-dying requires creativeness and a little bit of messiness. This is an activity that is ideal to get the kids outside and works well for large groups at outdoor family reunions, scouting events, parties, and fundraisers.
Crumple-dyeing is one of the easiest way to try tie-dying by adding subtle color changes and interesting visual texture. Click here for a free introduction to crumple dying from the Totally-Awesome Tie Dye. The simplest way to get started is with a tie-dye kit, which includes dyes, any necessary chemicals, applicator bottles, gloves, rubber bands, and a dust mask. They’re available for anywhere from 6 to 100 garments. Our Totally-Awesome Tie Dye book will walk you through techniques from 22 projects including chevron, polka dot, watercolor effect, spray dye, resist, and stitched techniques.
Learning with Activity Books
Did you know that wolves can hear other wolves howl up to 6 miles away in a forest? Or did you know that the eyes and nose of a frog are on top of its head so it can breathe and see when the rest of its body is underwater? These fun facts can be found in our BigFoot Activity Book! Activity books are a great learning tool while on summer vacation.
“The BigFoot Activity Book is my daughter’s new favorite book. She has been completing the puzzles and the activities whether we are at home relaxing or on the go. I love that there are a great variety of stickers included inside of the book and the coolest sticker page is one she can color of her favorite character, Bigfoot!” – Blogger, Momee Friends of Long Island
Keep writing skills fresh over the summer break with fun and silly writing prompts! Journaling provides an outlet to compile all those thoughts and emotions swirling around. Try thought-provoking prompts like, “If you could take a month-long vacation to anywhere on Earth, where would it be, and why?” or “Describe how you look in words, as if you were a character being introduced in a book.” Throw in a few silly prompts like, “Ice cream vs. pudding: Which is yummier?” or “If you could have named yourself, what name would you have picked? Why?”
Jess Volinski’s guided Notebook Doodles journal series cultivates young writer’s dreams through positive messages and prompts to build confidence and self-esteem in young girls. Teens will learn how to discover themselves and interests more deeply and use their unique gifts and transform our world. Filled with whimsical art by best-selling coloring book artist, Jess Volinski, these journals encourage readers to develop their creative writing skills while they express their thoughts, hopes, and dreams.
Growing your Own Food
Get the kids in the garden this summer to disguise a science lesson as a day of outdoor activities! There’s a unique satisfaction of growing your own salad. It’s great fun— watching the plants develop, fighting off insects and bugs, harvesting—and then at the end of it all wolfing it down. By planting easy-to-grow kitchen crops, you will understand the life cycles of annuals— food plants that die down every winter and start again from seed in the spring—and what they need to flourish. The herbs and greens you grow will give you the chance to practice your chef skills in the kitchen. Get started with this spring salad box container tutorial.
Raising self-sufficient children is every parent’s dream. While teaching life skills and STEAM learning (science, technology, engineering, art, math), Eco Kids Self Sufficiency Handbook offers a wide range of ways to capture your child’s imagination while making a positive contribution to the world around us. Twenty-eight exciting projects support integrated STEAM such as building a wind turbine and a go-kart to creating light, growing vegetables, and making green gifts.
Keep a craft kit in your car during your beach week when you have downtime. You only need easy-to-pack or inexpensive materials available almost anywhere. For example, try this free fuse bead drink cover tutorial from Vacation Crafting.
The fast, fun crafts in Vacation Crafting are perfect whether you’re enjoying a summer afternoon at the kitchen table or you’re away from home without all your usual art supplies. And if you only have an hour free here and there, don’t worry—most of these 150 summer projects work just fine if you start them, put them down, and pick them up again later in the day.
Origami is a great low mess option for those rainy summer days. It combines problem-solving with simple geometry folding in some art for fun! “If your child is very young, help them by folding and unfolding the project yourself first. This way, your child won’t have to pay close attention to exact fold lines and will finish folding their origami in the blink of an eye. Work on a smooth, hard surface, and don’t forget good lighting.” – Mila Bertinetti Montevecchi, Author of Origami for Kids
Children can become interested in origami at a young age. But the diagrams and explanations provided often use advanced language that is directed toward adults, with symbols and vocabulary that are difficult for young readers to understand. Mila created her book, Origami for Kids, so that kids can also have fun following instructions and creating designs that are within their grasp.
Creating Friendship Bracelets
Bracelets knotted from embroidery floss likely bring to mind ’90s childhood memories. Friendship knows no boundaries – it covers the world and comes in all languages. “The legend of the friendship wish is that one person makes a knotted bracelet and ties it around the arm of a friend, who makes a wish. When the bracelet falls off by itself, the wish will come true!” – Friendship Bracelets 102
By incorporating updated colors and creative modifications to match your taste, however, you can transform these designs from middle-school memories to modern jewelry. There’s more than just one way to make a friendship bracelet with several knots and techniques to choose from. Let Author Suzanne McNeill guide you in Friendship Bracelets 102 or for her more advanced version try, Friendship Bracelets All Grown Up.
Reading a Book
The amount of time young children spend in front of a screen is an issue worldwide. Reading is your classic way of unplugging. Bringing books to life is a unique way to incorporate play and literacy while connecting to the characters in the story. As a family, you can create a piece of art centered around the book or act it out in a family play. It’s a chance to promote creativity and spark imagination development as your entire family unplugs.
Mario and the Aliens is a new book that tells a humorous story with some perspective about electronic devices. A sweet little boy named Mario learns to get off his computer and makes friends with space visitors. In addition to its mindfulness message, Mario learns to be open to new experiences and accept differences. At the end of the book, Author Carolina Zanotti includes discussion questions to get young readers thinking about ways to have fun away from a screen.