cheap and easy summer activities for kids

20 Cheap and Easy Summer Activities for Kids

When Summer hits, we like to let loose and have some fun!


We like to let loose and have fun in every season but summertime is a special time where we can really get creative outside.

It’s also a very HOT time down here in the South so, when the heat index is 110 degrees (and counting), we move inside and keep the fun going.

cheap and easy summer activities for kids - Big House in the Woods

Here are 20 cheap and easy summer activities for kids that will keep them entertained (and learning) all summer long inside and outside!

1. Build a Backyard Obstacle Course

This one hits the top of the chart for “cheap and easy summer activities for kids” because you can use anything you have to create an obstacle course!

Construct a backyard obstacle course with hula hoops, jump ropes, sticks, stones, hoses, and other materials from around the house. Your kids can take turns completing it—and the person with the fastest time wins a prize!

Learn more here.

2. Build a DIY Bird Feeder

This one is made out of Legos!

Project Feeder Watch

Here are 23 DIY Birdfeeders you will love.

3. Home Cooking Shows

My kids love it when I do “cooking shows.” They set up chairs in the kitchen so they can be my audience. I put on my favorite apron and do a “live cooking show” for them that Martha Stewart would be proud of.

It doesn’t matter what I cook because I have them laughing hysterically with my commentary.

They even get in on the fun and do their own cooking shows. When that happens, I pull out our favorite child-safe knives so they can do all the prep work on their own.

4. Watch Movies Outside

What is it about watching movies outside that is so much fun? Maybe it’s the evening summer air or the fireflys swirling around.

We don’t get complicated about this. We have a little portable DVD player that we set up on our screened porch for our movie nights.

You can use any device you have that’s portable.

You can also hang a white sheet outside and project the movie with a projector like this one.

5. S’mores in the Oven

I’ll be honest. Building a campfire in this Southern Summer heat just doesn’t sound like fun.

Call me a wimp if you want. I’ll take it.

So, when we want to have s’mores but Mama doesn’t want to sweat outside…I just make them in the oven!

It’s very simple. Food Network can explain it to you.

6. Evening Story Time Outside

This is straight forward. Grab some of your favorite children’s books and head outside. We like our screened porch for this activity but anywhere you can get outdoors will make it fun.

Need book suggestions?

We like:
The Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter
The Big Green Book of Beginner Books
The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh
The Jesus Storybook Bible

7. Lego Challenges

One day, my kids were bored. Usually, when this happens, I give them chores to do. (Boredom is not something you should announce in this house!) But, that day, they had already finished their chores. So, I gave them Lego challenges. (P.S. We don’t actually have “Legos.” We have those giant things.)

Want Lego Challenge inspiration? Click here.

Our first Lego Challenge

8. Writing Prompts & Literary Meetings

This is so much fun!

I like to spark creativity and thought with my kids. My eight-year-old is a writer but one day she was stuck. She wanted to write but she couldn’t think of what to write about. So, I gave her an open-ended writing prompt and she got busy. It was the best thing to help her out of her writing slump.

Here are some ideas from Journal Buddies to get you started.

The best part is what happens after the writing is done. You can have a literary meeting (complete with snacks) and share your stories!

9. Make Sock Puppets

Got old socks? Of course you do!

Then make them into sock puppets! Our kids make up all sorts of plays with their sock puppets.

Idea from here.

10. Go on a Trip and Never Leave Home

We go on “geography trips.” My kids get all dressed up in “safari clothes” (complete with backpacks and water bottles). Then, we pick a state and “go there.” We line up the kitchen chairs like we’re in a bus and I sit in the front to drive.

I talk about the things we are passing by and the kids think it’s hilarious! One time, we were “driving” to Florida and we had to go through a swamp. An alligator tried to get in our bus so we had to stand up in our chairs. 😉

Once we get to our destination, we talk about all the fun things in that state and we even “visit” a restaurant. At the “restaurant” I provide snacks that come from that state (Hershey kisses for Pennsylvania, Peaches for Georgia, etc.)

11. Homemade Vet Clinic for Stuffed Animals

This kept my kids occupied for hours! And, when it was over, all of their stuffed animals were healthy and cared for.

Read about it here:

Cheap and Easy Fun for Kids

12. Family Game Night

We play games together ALL OF THE TIME! Here are our favorites.

13. I’m Going on an RV Trip and I’m Packing…

We love this game! It’s a great memory game for the kids and adults! (Because, let’s face it, anyone who forgets their coffee in the microwave 5 times in a row needs to play a memory game too! Guilty!)

14. Write Letters to Family and Friends

My kids love to write letters and send drawings to family and friends. This is also a great lesson in proper letter structure!

Idea from here.

15. Build Your Own Water Sprinkler!

I love this idea! You can check it out here.

16. Make Sun Tea

I remember my grandparents making sun tea every summer. They would fill a large glass jar with water and tea bags then set it out by their pool.

Just the sight of it made me feel happy. Tea brewed in the warm summer sun is extra special.

Don’t know how to do it? Pioneer Woman has you covered!

17. Make Homemade Bouncy Balls

Who knew this could be done?!

18. Glow in the Dark Bowling

All I can say is…Y’all. Why didn’t I think of this?

Learn all about it here.

19. Build a DIY Fairy House

My kids go crazy for things like this! No, they don’t believe in fairies but making a special little habitat for anything brings out their creative side.

DIY Fairy House ideas here.

20. Play Bocce Ball

We love Bocce Ball! We have been playing this game since college and we introduced our kids to it last summer. We played boys against girls and the girls’ team won! We had a blast!

Get yours here.


Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts are so much fun! Here are 30 printable scavenger hunts to keep your kids having fun all year long.

Plus, here is mine!

Happy summer!