My children are ‘outdoor kids’, large motor machines. They need to get outside in order to keep their spirits in balance-I need that too. Thankfully summer fun with kids provides a multitude of outdoor time for fun-and learning.

Having children in multiple age groups allows me the challenge to adapt activities for different skill levels.
Some summer climates limit how many hours can be spent outside during the day. When we experience temps reaching 100+degrees, or afternoon downpours, I have found that I need to adapt our outdoor plan to work inside. 
This list of summer fun activities can be taken outdoors, but will work inside as well, depending on your climate and season. These are quick to create, low-to-no-cost, and can be adapted to multiple age groups from babies and toddlers to preschool and school-age kids.

Summer Fun with Kids: Indoor or Outdoor Activities


1. Homemade Hopscotch Fun

On a rainy day, I used duct tape to create a hopscotch game using a yoga mat. In about 10 minutes we had a new game to play that allowed us to burn some energy!

We used homemade bean bags to toss (see below). This game reinforced number recognition, exercised eye-hand coordination, and allowed for some gross motor movement to burn energy and work on balance.

[Adaptation:  I encouraged my toddler to step on the numbers and then I named them, or she tossed a bean bag and I identified on which number the bag landed. You can also try this hopscotch game for name-spelling.]


2. Homemade Bean Bags and Games

I made bean bags with scrap fabric, dry beans, and some quick stitches on the sewing machine.  They provided so much indoor (or outdoor) fun.

  • We played “Simon Says”. (i.e. “Simon Says” put the bean bag on your head.”)
  • We sang “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and placed the bean bag on each part.
  • We tossed them into a laundry basket from different distances (marked by masking tape on the floor).
  • We each took turns hiding one bag in order to let each other seek it out.

We worked on teamwork, large motor movement and vocabulary.

You can try this bean bag toss game too! It takes 2 seconds to make…really!

[Adaptation: I made bean bags in primary colors, so they could be used for color recognition. My young toddler LOVES learning to identify new body parts, so I placed the bean bag on her head, shoulder, arm, etc. while I said the name of each part to help reinforce this learning.]


3. Drop Cloth Painting Canvas

My children love art and creating artwork to send to the grandparents, so I am always looking for new materials to explore within our budget. I found an inexpensive drop cloth and cut it in quarters.

This can be pinned to a wall, lightly nailed or clamped to a fence outdoors, or taped to a window inside to allow for a large painting surface.

(I wanted to do this outside, but it rained so we improvised indoors!) Increasing the surface area where they could paint, and pinning the canvas up, involved more gross motor movement and added interest.
[Adaptation: My toddler painted on the lower half while my preschooler painted near the top so they were separate by working together.]
You can even try adding in these fun ways for kids to explore art.

4. Packing Peanut Snow

We used to live in a hot climate in the southeast. One time our electricity was out for 48 hours during high temperatures. We needed to do anything to feel cooler. Foam packing peanuts as pretend snow were a hit in our home! (And, they are a “One Item Activity“!)
My daughter and son enjoyed scooping them, piling them up, and making snow angels while lying in them on the dining room rug.
What a great pretend play scenario on a hot day-play like it is cold! Just ‘thinking cold’ and ‘playing in the snow’ of the packing peanuts helped ease our cabin fever.
We dropped them from above our heads and tried to catch the ‘snowflakes’ as they fell. They can even be thrown and caught allowing for more muscle movement and exercise.
All of these activities are based on observations of my children combined with what they need to learn as they grow. There are so many ways we can add interest to our time in God’s creation outdoors-or spend our time together while playing inside depending on what the weather will allow.
Craft supplies organized on a brown wooden table text overlay reads Summer fun homemade crafts for kids.
More options for affordable summer fun activities for kids in the Free or Cheap Activities Series.
There are many more activities for all ages on the toddler activities page and preschool activities page.
What is your child’s favorite simple activity to do in Summer?
Two toddlers with paints outdoors in front of a playhouse. Text reads summer indoor or outdoor fun for kids.
Homemade Summer fun with kids. Simple to create activities for kids that work indoors or out depending on weather. Plus, links to a complete series of free or cheap activities for kids!

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