40 Screen-Free Activities To Add To Your Summer Bucket List

by Lisa Sadikman
Originally Published: 

Summer is here and if you’re like me you’re totally psyched school is over but also every so slightly anxious about having the kids home for 10 whole weeks. Even if you signed them up for camp here and there and maybe have a vacation planned, you’ve probably still got a good chunk of together time coming up with your adorable offspring. Depending on your point of view, “good chunk” can mean a month, a week, or five hours.

While the idea of going with the flow sounds like the perfect summer break, kids generally can deal with that for about two hours plus the five minutes it takes them to eat their snack. After that, you might begin to hear the familiar screen time whine. I’m not opposed to screen time, especially when it gives moms a break, but most of us don’t want to overuse it during the summer even though it’s super tempting.

Avoiding screens is easier when you have a cool list of things to do at the ready. There are the obvious activities, like story time at the library, a trip to the zoo, hanging out at the neighborhood park, a day at the beach or racking up books for a read-a-thon. Those things are awesome, but you and your kiddo will soon get dead bored of the same old, same old.

Instead, decide to do something a little more amusing and a little less predictable. Your level of involvement — either in planning, schlepping or participating — varies, but kids can do lots of these things all or partially on their own once you set them up. You might even get an hour all to yourself to nap, read or scroll through Instagramflip through the actual pages of an old photo album or two.

Here are 40 screen-free activities to add to your summer bucket list:

1. Set up an insect kit and watch caterpillars turn into butterflies or observe ants as they work.

2. Sign up for a Summer Walking Challenge or make one of your own.

3. Go on a Rainbow Walk with paper and colored pencils, drawing things you see in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

4. Do the Kindness Rocks Project. Walk through the neighborhood picking up smooth rocks then head home to paint and write kind messages on them. On your next walk, leave the rocks where someone will find them.

5. Subscribe to a monthly art or science project crate for the summer. Check out the crates at KiwiCo to get the idea.

6. Go ice skating.

7. Make lemonade and set up a stand.

8. Bake for the neighbors.

9. Visit a working farm for the day.

10. Do science experiments using kitchen ingredients.

11. Plant a vegetable garden and keep track of each plant’s weekly growth.

12. Make a meal with your garden harvest.

13. Build fairy houses with pinecones, sticks, rocks and other nature materials.

14, Take stuff apart, like an old clock or rotary phone, check out what’s inside and how it works.

15. Make an art book by collaging the pages of a hard cover book with photos, cut out letters, cool paper, glitter and other art materials.

16. Plan a backyard, beach, or nature scavenger hunt.

17. Paint old furniture.

18. Two words: Bubble. Wrap.

19. Weed the garden.

20. Publish a family newspaper (the old fashioned way).

21. Spend time with an elderly neighbor.

22. Wash the car.

23. Learn how to knit or sew.

24. Offer to walk the neighborhood dogs.

25. Chalk a mural on the driveway.

26. Camp out in the backyard (or the living room).

27. Write and put on a play.

28. Build a fort and leave it up all summer.

29. Go to a funky museum you’ve never been to.

30. Go on a stargazing picnic.

31. Go night swimming.

32. Go on a food tour of your town and give out “The Best” awards to your favorites, ie: The Best Ice Cream, The Best Bagels, The Best Burgers.

33. Pick a different mode of transportation than your usual for the day. Take the bus, ride your bikes, skateboard, or hop on a ferry or train.

34. Unroll butcher paper down the hall or across the dining room table and draw a city.

35. Create your own board game.

36. Set up an obstacle course.

37. Make a mud pit in the yard.

38. Learn how to do something new together (rock climb, card game, jump rope).

39. Invent your own recipes and make them.

40. Pick a destination and have your child map it – using a real map (available at AAA).

There you go: 40 screen-free ideas to put on your summer bucket list. Happy adventuring!

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