It never takes long for summer boredom to set in. Most years it seems we barely close the books for the school year, and I’m already hearing things like, “I’m so bored,” and, “There’s nothing to do!” If I turn off the videos and say no to the gaming, it’s even worse!
Sometimes I want to respond to my children with something like, “Oh, you don’t have anything to do? Here! Fold this laundry! Scrub this toilet! Sweep this garage!” To be honest, there’s nothing wrong with having our kids help out around the house or in the yard. I like to try to make those positive experiences, though, and I avoid assigning house and yard work as punishment if I can.
Other times I start talking like my mother: “When I was your age, we didn’t have video games and tablets and all these other digital gizmos! We actually spent our summers playing outside!”
And about then I usually stop and roll my eyes at myself because I realize I just used the word gizmo to my children. Sigh. 😉
But we do want our kids to spend time outside, right? They need the sunshine and the exercise, and sometimes a little good ol’ boredom is just the inspiration a child needs for some fun and creative play to start happening!
But it also doesn’t hurt to give kids a little direction – to slip them an idea or two for an outdoor activity — and then allow them to take off with it! Granted, my suggestions won’t necessarily work for every child in every family in every neighborhood, but consider these 25 ideas your basic starting points for some fun learning and summer boredom busting! (Bonus: I recently added even more ideas to this article, so you can find more than the 25 original ideas I started with!)
25 Educational and Outdoor Summer Boredom Busters
Please note that the main suggestions (the numbered suggestions in the list below) are outdoor activities. Underneath those are other related ideas that may be indoor or outdoor activities and are related to each suggested topic.
1. Complete a scavenger hunt or nature walk.
There are all kinds of scavenger hunts you can do with your children! Many of them will work perfectly outside. Some may better for indoors (when the weather is bad or when it’s too hot to go out, etc.) We have several scavenger hunt-related ideas to share with you!
- Zoo Scavenger Hunt Printables and Book Lists
- Nature Scavenger Hunt
- Backyard Bug Book Scavenger Hunt
- Scavenger Hunt Ideas and Activities for Kids (This article is a collection of scavenger hunt-related ideas and activities we’ve collected from other websites.)
- Organize your own neighborhood scavenger hunt.
- Go on an ABC Nature Walk.
- Do this Nature Journal for Little Learners.
2. Learn about trees and plants.
- Grab a sketchbook and some great field guides and have fun finding, sketching, and identifying all kinds of plants and animals in your yard, neighborhood, park, etc. (You’ll find more specific ideas in the following suggestions.)
- Use these Tree Notebooking Pages and Unit Study Ideas to help you focus more on trees. In the article (which you’ll find when you click the bold print title in the previous sentence) and on the notebooking pages, you’ll find vocabulary words, notebooking pages for recording new information, suggestions for using the extra pages that are included in the notebooking pages, and even suggestions for related unit studies you might want to do.
- Or you might enjoy this Apple Tree Art Project. (I know apple-picking is a fall activity, but you can do the art project any time!)
- Do a book of leaf rubbings.
- For older students, try Learning About Plan Cells.
3. Grow a garden.
- Keep a garden.This article tells you some basics about how to get started. But we have lots more gardening-related articles you might enjoy and benefit from this summer!
4. Learn about birds.
- Identify 7 species of birds in your yard or neighborhood.
- Do this Seabird Unit Study! Take your reading outside (or do it inside on a rainy day).
- Do your own Backyard Bird Study. The article (which you’ll find when you click the bold print title in the previous sentence) gives information about the Great Backyard Bird Count and how to participate but, depending on when you’re reading this article, that may have already happened. No worries if it’s already past for this year! You can still use many of the ideas in the article to do your own backyard bird study!
- If you’d like even more ideas for doing your own Bird Nature Study, you’ll find them here! You’ll find packing list ideas, activity ideas, suggested resources, and more.
- Try to construct a real-looking bird nest from straw, sticks, mud, and other natural materials.
5. Learn about bugs and insects.
- Start a bug collection.
- Catch lightning bugs and learn about bioluminescence. You may want to print and use this Life Cycle of a Firefly Printable Pack as part of your study. If it’s the wrong time of year for you to find fireflies in your yard, look up some YouTube videos to watch as part of your study. (Parents will want to check ahead of time to be sure the videos are appropriate for your children.)
- Locate and identify different types of spider webs. The Not-So-Spooky Science of Spiders article shares more information and ideas for learning about spiders.
- Build a ladybug house.
- Make some Adorable Pinecone Owls.
- Learn about the Life Cycle of a Bee with a layer book.
- Complete these Life of an Insect Notebooking Pages.
- Do a Life Cycle of an Ant Unit Study.
- Learn All About Mosquitoes.
6. Learn about animals.
- Keep a summer log of all wildlife in your yard.
- For older students, try Learning About Animal Cells.
- Do some Animal Reports.
- Write some Ocean Animal Mini-Reports.
- Study all kinds of food chains!
7. Build/construct something.
- Build an outdoor fort or clubhouse from wood or cardboard.
- Construct a homemade kite and try to fly it.
- Construct gliders from scrap materials and have flying competitions.
- Create your own obstacle course.
- Construct a Hot Wheels track in the dirt.
- Make a bird feeder. You can make a beautiful bird feeder from a Mason jar.
- Make a reverse-engineered bird nest.
- Make (and learn to use) tin can stilts.
8. Learn more about the weather.
- Keep a daily weather log.
- Make a sundial.
- Sketch and identify cloud types.
- Maintain a rain gauge and keep daily records.
- Do these Cloud Activities.
- Keep a daily weather chart.
- Make this Weather Interactive Notebook.
9. Do arts & crafts and painting.
- Make a painting using only natural “brushes,” like leaves, sticks, grass, and pine sprigs.
- Have younger children use a bucket of water and a paintbrush to “paint” the house or the sidewalk and watch it evaporate away so they can do it again!
- Paint pet rocks.
- Make these beautiful Etched Glass Lanterns!
Try some crafts using toilet paper rolls! They’re fun to make and can be used as toys, puppets for a puppet show, gifts for a grandparent or elderly neighbor, or just to display for a while.
- Pirate Toilet Paper Tube Craft
- Airplane Toilet Paper Tube Craft
- Crab Toilet Paper Tube Craft
- Butterfly Toilet Paper Tube Craft
10. Learn about rocks.
- Start a rock collection, classifying them as either igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic.
- Celebrate Collect Rocks Day! (Okay, this “holiday” actually occurs in September, but we homeschoolers tend to do things in whatever ways work best for our families, right? So you have permission to celebrate Collect Rocks Day as part of your summer fun instead of waiting for fall!)
11. Play with bubbles.
12. Play with sidewalk chalk.
- With sidewalk chalk, design a city and road system for Hot Wheels.
- Draw a self-portrait.
- Write vocabulary or spelling words on the sidewalk with sidewalk chalk.
- Use sidewalk chalk to decorate your sidewalk and make passers-by smile.
- Draw a tic-tac-toe board and play a game or two.
- Draw a fun background (like a spaceship, castle, scene at the beach, etc.) and use it for a background for fun photos!
13. Cook/bake/make yummy stuff.
Try some of these recipes for delicious things to make and eat or drink! Your children might want to make some of these things for the family or make some to share with friends and neighbors.
- Set up and operate a sidewalk lemonade stand.
- Make homemade ice cream.
- Make popsicles out of fruit juice.
- Or make these Creamy Refreshing Blueberry Cheesecake Popsicles!
- You can make some apple tree cupcakes and Oreo cookie “lollipops” while working on math skills this summer! Check out How to Make Math Fun and Tasty for the details.
- Bake cookies!
- Angry Birds Oreo Cookies
- Easy Decorated Sugar Cookies
- Triple Chocolate Chunk Honey Pecan Cookies
- Yummy M&M Cookies (with a printable Counting Candies on Cookies Math Activity!)
- Lion Oreo Cookies (Make these after a trip to the zoo or for a zoo-themed tea party or birthday party!)
- Have a movie night (or afternoon) and watch Aladdin while eating these Easy Aladdin-Inspired Oreo Cookies.
- On a Keto diet? Try these Delicious Keto Strawberry Macadamia Nut Cookies!
There are also lots of recipes for things to make that you won’t want to eat! Try a few of these:
- DIY Moon Sand
- DIY Herbal Playdough
- Basic DIY Essential Oil Lip Balm Recipe
- DIY Orange Coconut Sugar Scrub
- Eucalyptus Bath Salts
14. Go camping.
- Go camping and play some Fun and Free Camping Games (with Printables).
- Or just build a blanket fort.
- Build a campfire and make s’mores!
- Cook a meal over the campfire. Try this recipe for an easy and yummy Low Carb Chicken Bacon Ranch Foil Packet Meal.
- Play board games on a picnic bench.
- Play the guitar and sing around the campfire.
15. Go to the beach.
- Go to the beach and play Beach Bingo.
- Play beach volleyball.
- Build a sandcastle.
- Collect seashells or use them to decorate your sandcastle.
- Create sand sculptures.
16. Complete a challenge.
- Choose and complete one (or more!) of these 30-Day Challenges! (Some are outdoor activities and others are indoors, but they all encourage you and your kids to get busy doing new things.)
- Want to create a new healthy habit? Decide what healthy habit you want to practice, print one of our habit trackers (from the 30-Day Challenges article listed above), and get started! You might want to:
- Exercise every day (even if you simply take a walk or ride your bike).
- Do more active play and less sitting/screen time.
- Eat a healthy breakfast each day.
- Say something nice about somebody or to somebody.
- Read a book to a younger sibling.
- Help Mom or Dad with cooking, cleaning, yard work, etc.
- Drink water every day.
- Summer reading can be done indoors or outdoors! This article, A Huge Collection of Summer Reading Ideas and Information, is updated yearly. This article includes summer reading information through various companies, and it also includes book lists for all ages! (If it hasn’t yet been updated for the coming summer, please be patient. Depending on when you’re reading the article, the updated summer reading info may not yet be available.)
- Try some of these Creative Ways to Read Aloud This Summer.
18. Play in the yard or at the park.
- Turn on the sprinklers and let your kids run through them!
- Climb a tree.
- At night, try to spot the International Space Station. Click here to see when it will be visible from your area.
- Play hopscotch.
- Play kickball.
- Have a water balloon fight.
- Go stargazing one night.
- Have a picnic.
- Play Capture the Flag.
- Play jacks.
- Play Red Light, Green Light.
- Play Simon Says.
- Play Mother, May I.
- Play tag or freeze tag.
19. Do something nice for somebody.
- Wash a neighbor’s car.
- Walk a neighbor’s dog.
- Offer to babysit.
- Do a Random Act of Kindness for somebody.
- Do a Random Act of Kindness that you can do from home!
20. Learn a new skill.
You might want to learn to:
- knit or crochet
- make soap
- make candles
- do CPR
- hula hoop
- do origami
- play the guitar
- play the piano
- play the harmonica
- draw or paint
- do card tricks
- build a house of cards
21. Get a head start making DIY Christmas gifts and decorations.
There are all kinds of things you can make ahead of time and save to give as Christmas gifts. You can also make gift tags and decorations to have ready ahead of time.
- Handmade Scrunchies
- Ribbon Bookmarks
- DIY Reversible Tote Bag
- DIY Book Page Ornament
- DIY Tree Tags with Free PDF Printable
- Decorative Vintage Christmas Tree Craft
- Cute Elf Ornament
- Gorgeous DIY Quilled Christmas Tree
- Adorable and Decorative DIY Gnome Doll
22. Play something/do something outside that your grandparents played as kids.
- Play Red Rover.
- Play dodge ball.
- Jump rope.
- Play string games.
- Go fishing.
- Play marbles.
23. Do something in your neighborhood.
- Go geocaching.
- Attend a concert.
- Attend an art show.
- Go to a museum you’ve never visited.
- Go to a restaurant you’ve never been to.
- Take a walk downtown and peek into all the stores to say hello.
24. Study the stars, planets, moon, and outer space.
- Do a fun and easy Solar System Activity for Little Learners!
- Make a Rocket Bookmark Craft.
- Try these Space Themed Coloring and Copywork pages.
- Learn about the moon and moon phases.
- Make this Planet Earth Lapbook.
- Make these Out of This World Bookmarks.
- Do a Solar Eclipse Experiment.
- Try these Free Astronaut and Rocket Ship Lessons (for older kids).
25. If you’re going on vacation, think up or print some games/activities for your kids to do on the way.
- Printable Road Trip Activities for Kids
- Print out some unit studies, ebooks, or other information about the place(s) you’ll go on vacation. Read and learn together as you drive or fly to your destination.
- Play the ABC game. As you drive, look for signs or objects (Decide on the rules ahead of time.) that begin with the letter a. Then move on to the letter b, c, etc.
Summer will be gone before we know it! Arm yourself now with a few summer boredom busters, and the days of, “I’m so bored!” and, “There’s nothing to do!” should be fewer and further between!
Do your kids suffer from summer boredom? What do you do to encourage your kids to get outside?