Summer is here, and the kids are home. For some families, that means getting to hang out all day, go on vacation, sleep in, take naps, and all that fun stuff. While that’s sort of true for this household, I still work in the summer. My online classes have me teaching students for a few hours each day which means that, if we aren’t careful, our kids will sit in front of their iPad or the TV all day long. In an effort to keep this from being a thing again this summer, I decided to create a list (mostly for myself) of non-screen summer activities for kids who are at home with a working mom and/or dad.

non-screen activities pin

Old Standards

Playdoh – Playdoh, while quite annoying to clean up once it hits the floor, works every time. My kids can play with this stuff forever. Today, in fact, the two youngest used their imaginations to create “breakfast” and feed one another. Diva even made “ice cream” for her monkey, Coco.

Legos – These little bricks can break the bottom of a shoeless foot in no time at all, but again, the imagination and planning required to really do something with them is amazing. I love to watch my kids create something that looks like a bunch of building blocks and colors only to tell me what it is and make me go, “Ohh!” In general, I can completely tell what they intended to make — after they tell me. Ha!

Coloring – The dollar stores carry tons of options for coloring. There are little packs that come with pictures and crayons or markers. There are sticker packs. There are paints. For whatever reason, the $1 packet makes the coloring just that much more fun. I can usually gain about ten minutes out of one of these packs. Be careful, though. If kids paint and then don’t lay the pages out, they’ll stick together and won’t be usable again. That’s only moderately frustrating <<sarcasm>>.

Stickers – I never realized how much my kids could stay focused on stickers until I just handed them to them and let them play. Not only are stickers fun (and relatively inexpensive), but they are a great practice for fine-motor skills. Our boys have been in preschool, and one of the suggestions for getting them better with their fingers was to let them play with stickers. I’ve made a conscious effort to give Diva stickers to use, and she’s pretty good with them!

Books! – If have a million toys in this house, but the sheer volume of books is awe-inspiring. This summer, our county and school district are challenging all school-aged children (and even adults!) to read. They’ve created activities and friendly competition to get everyone excited. We really do have so many books in this house that I’m fairly certain we will be able to create an actual library. Sassy Pants (7th grade) has shown interest in helping me to organize and categorize. I’m pretty sure the younger siblings will do well to help her stack them up and then shelve them properly.

Old Stuff, New Uses

Treasure Box – I’ll give my mom credit for this idea. I took the two youngest to her house to visit, and she grabbed a variety of items from her baskets and knickknack collections to create a treasure box for each of them. Now, they quite literally request a visit so that they can look through this box of trinkets. Some items are typical treasure — coins and old jewelry. But some of the items in the box are not what I would have expected my kids to find so amazing. They love looking at the old shells, random wood pieces and various fabric pieces that she curated for them.

The Garden – Seems a little bit too simple, but there’s something about digging in the earth with kids that not only gives them a science lesson but also holds their interest. We attempted a small garden in our new yard, but it was overwhelmed with weeds and dogs (ahem, the big dog tends to mess with all the things). So, we went to the dollar store and bought a collection of seeds that only cost about 50 cents and would look cute no matter what. Once again, the kids will get to help me clean up the soil, help me scatter the seeds, and then watch in anticipation for any sign of new growth.

Old Toys – If your house is anything like mine, you have too many toys. Math Man and I will, on occasion, pack up some of the toys the kids haven’t touched in a while and put them in a closet or the attic. Then, in a few months, we’ll “cycle” the toys back in to the mix. It’s fun to watch them get excited over something they haven’t seen in what they feel is forever! Plus, as they get older, they tend to find new uses or purposes for the toys they once loved for their original purpose.

How do you engage your kids in the summer without solely relying on screens? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!


This month’s Blog with Friends theme is “School’s Out!” Check out what my bloggy friends have written to go along with this theme:

Check out this delicious drink! Frozen Berries & Cream Cocktail from Baking in a Tornado

A similar post but for working parents, Making the Most of Summer: for Working Moms from the Liebers.

A great list of books for ESL teachers to take to the beach from Think in English.

Another fun drink, Frozen Mocha Coffee, from Spatulas on Parade.

I just love this collection of DIY Flower Market cards from Heartfelt Sentiments.

Have you ever made a bucket list? Here’s a Summer Bucket List from The Three Gerbers.