So this Monday, I’m writing this list for me- so I literally have something to reference when I need an idea to keep little hands busy.
Most of these can be done at home, and I tend to favor ideas that I don’t have to monitor. I know sometimes we just need to get out of the house, so I’m including a few ideas for “field trips” as well. I’m also including a few things like pool and water toys that we like to buy at the beginning of the summer.
1) Freeze toys in ice and let them dig them out
2) Create a pinwheel garden. Buy some pinwheels at the dollar store or create your own, and let the kids “plant” them in pots or the ground. Maximum effect and no watering necessary!
3) Make your own pinwheels (helpful for number 2!)
4) Do some target practice with water balloons in the backyard. Draw a target with chalk on your fence and let the kids go at it! These quick-filling water balloons are the BEST and totally worth it!
5) Paint with water on the driveway. We like to add in chalk to make it extra colorful. Have I mentioned I buy sidewalk chalk in bulk?!? Ha!
6) Print out a free scavenger hunt from my Pinterest board. There are several that will work in the car, at home, or out and about. I also love this D.I.Y. one that is perfect for younger kids who don’t read yet.
7) Blow up some balloons. And just let the kids do as they please. Somehow this is always entertaining.
8) Throw in some paper plates and let the kids play balloon tennis. Don’t forget to have them decorate their plates beforehand! More busy time. :)
9) Love this balloon puppy idea from The Craft Train. My girls would love it and Knox could probably make some Pokemon/Minecraft version for himself.
10) Water balloon volleyball with towels.
11) Create a scene on your driveway with sidewalk chalk that your kids can pose in and take pictures.
12) Make a summer movie bucket list that include some of your old favorites. There are so many great ones available on streaming services we already have. I like to use Common Sense Media to get some ideas and a run-down on the content before they watch.
Best Kids' Movies on Netflix in 2019
13) Mix up a new popcorn recipe for movie time using these recipes from A Grande Life.
14) Create an outdoor mud kitchen. There are many elaborate ones on Pinterest but for us this usually looks like me handing the girls a few plastic kitchen utensils and bowls they don’t normally get to play with.
15) Up your game by including some pantry staples you’ll never use (rice, pasta, etc.) to use in their outdoor play kitchen.
16) Plant something and let them tend to it every day. Grass seeds grow quickly and potato vine is cheap and grows quickly. You can let each kid have a vine they take care of.
17) Make some watering cans from old milk cartons.
18) Have a scheduled fashion show. Assign number of outfits. Designate a stage tech who is in charge of lighting and music.
19) Give the kids a couple of old bedsheets and have them create a fort in the backyard.
20) Create an easy pulley system in the backyard and have the kids haul goods.
21) Create a care package to mail to someone. Make a card, create a scavenger hunt. Have the kids fill out this All About Me printable book and mail it to a friend with a blank one inside for them to fill out.
22) Make a music video using an ipad or a phone and send it to a friend. Assign each of the kids a job.
23) Mystery snow cones. Test the kids’ ability to try new things and have them guess the flavors of their snow cones (you’ll have to order, of course).
25) D.I.Y. Pantry popsicles. We have made popsicles many times with some cheap popsicle molds and ingredients we had on hand- powdered lemonade is a staple for us so we mix it with whatever fresh fruit we have- canned fruit works well, too! Add in sprinkles, crushed candy, yogurt- you name it, we have probably tried to make a popsicle out of it! Or you could just try these tried-and-true delicious popsicle recipes!
26) Play snow! This stuff makes a mess but brushes off the skin very easily. And one little bag makes a ton. Our kids love playing with it.
27) Play florist for a neighbor, grandparent, or friend. Buy a cheap bouquet while you’re at the grocery store, have the kids make a card. Use a leftover vase or mason jar and help the kids create a bouquet. Add ribbon. It doesn’t have to be pretty. One bouquet can make several small arrangements. Add in greenery from your backyard as filler. And deliver it!
28) Prep dinner. I have found my kids will eat so much better at mealtime if they “help” make dinner. We do a lot of crock pot/instant pot meals so I have begun appointing a helper at every meal who assists me.
29) READ. Knox is a great reader but never really wants to read, so if I give him a time requirement (usually 30 minutes) with a reward at the end (such as screentime), he’ll often read longer than he is required to.
28) For non-readers, let them “read” on youtube! Start here! Tons of great children’s books.