Summer Activities for Kids to Do With Minimal Supervision

Laura Markham's picture

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You need your kids to play with minimal supervision and they've run out of ideas? That's one definition of summer!

Of course, they often just need a little refueling time with Mom and then they can exercise their own creative muscles. But if they've got a full love tank from you and still need some ideas to stimulate their thinking caps, you may need to pull down the "Boredom Buster Jar" or check the list posted on the fridge to give them some options.

This first list is craft/art projects. The second list is activities. I haven't included detailed instructions, and most of these projects are pretty simple, but you can also readily find more detail online if you want to flesh out your vision of these ideas.

Crafts and Art Projects:

  • Draw on the sidewalk with chalk
  • Make an underwater diorama scene in a cardboard box
  • Make an enchanted castle from a cardboard box
  • Use a big roll of white paper to make homemade wrapping paper with markers/stamps/paint/ink
  • Cut out pictures from magazines and make collages
  • Make salt dough & use to make holiday decorations or jewelry
  • Cut up old holiday cards and make holiday stickers for next year by coating the back with gelatin glue, let dry (2 tsp gelatin in 5 tsp boiling water.)
  • Tie shells to a branch with ribbons to make a mobile
  • Macrame Plant Hangers for hanging plants
  • Mix liquid hand soap, cornstarch and food coloring into paint and paint the bathtub, then bathe.
  • Decorate photo frames
  • Make placemats for the 4th of July or other occasion and laminate.
  • Make funky junk hangings by gluing broken jewelry to a pie plate or small board.
  • Make a zoo for your stuffed animals by cutting up cardboard boxes and taping them together.
  • Decorate a plate or mug for a present for Dad.
  • Make your room into a rainforest by drawing and cutting out plants and animals.
  • Use no-bake modeling clay to make beads. Let dry on skewers, then thread on elastic cord.
  • Make an edible aquarium with blue jello, gummy fish & plastic cups.
  • Make a sculpture from pretzels and peanut butter
  • Make an atom sculpture using toothpicks, mini-marshmallows and gumdrops.
  • Cut paper into spirals to make a snake.
  • Cut paper snowflakes and hang them to make a summer blizzard.
  • Hang a sheet in the yard and paint a stage backdrop for a performance/play/puppet show.
  • Use papier mache and a balloon to make animals or piñatas.
  • Make birthday cards for the coming year for everyone you know
  • Make a photo album/scrapbook
  • Create your own board game
  • Learn to make origami cranes
  • Make an origami crane chain for someone who's ill.
  • Use stamps on paper to create stationery

Other Activities:

  • Write your Granny a letter or make a tape for her to listen to.
  • Put on some music and dance
  • Write down ten things you love about each person in your family, present at dinner.
  • Play hopscotch
  • Play with bubbles in the sink
  • Make a scarecrow for the garden using a broom (stuff a pillowcase, draw a face, and tie it around the broom head for the head.)
  • Make kabobs with grapes, banana slices (use a plastic knife) and melon chunks (use an ice cream scoop.)
  • Play jumprope
  • Brush the dog
  • Find shapes in the clouds
  • See how many times you can dribble the basketball
  • Plan a treasure hunt, with clues
  • Ride your bike
  • Start a journal
  • Organize your room
  • Write a story
  • Create a play with costumes
  • Surprise your mom by making lunch
  • Make a museum of leaf shapes, look up what kind of tree they're from.
  • Create a family newspaper/newsletter
  • Make dessert
  • Start a collection (leaves, rocks, buttons)
  • Create a circus performance
  • Make an obstacle course
  • Read a book
  • Make a book of recipes
  • Have a water balloon fight (outside!)
  • Memorize a poem and recite it for your parents
  • Play a board game
  • Weed the garden
  • Wash the mirror with a sponge
  • Set up a bowling alley with cereal boxes and soda bottles.
  • Make a book of jokes
  • Build a fort with blankets and pillows
  • Make a list of fun things you can do without a grownup

Dr. Laura Markham