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Screen-free Summer Activities – free printable

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To avoid tons of screen time this summer, it’s helpful to have some ideas in mind. Here’s a list of 24 screen-free summer activities and a free printable.

“Mom, I’m bored.”

“What can I do now?”

“There’s nothing to do!”

It is not your job to be the cruise director at your house this summer.  You have a million other things to take care of.  But you’re still going to need some ideas for screen-free summer activities.

Sure, we want our children to be creative and direct their own play.  They need to have time to be bored and learn to imagine possibilities.  But let’s be real.  On the third or fourth week of summer break, you will reach your breaking point and be ready to let them have ALL. THE. SCREENS.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  With a little preparation (and a printable from me), you can have an arsenal of activities for when the children have become restless and you don’t want to cave on your summer screen time rules.

I’ve got a round-up of 24 activities and printable visual activity cards so you’ll have plenty of screen-free summer activities for your kids.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links; as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more about our policies here.

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Screen-free Summer Activities

(This is the third post in our summer series so check our the posts about Summer Screen Time Rules and Summer Routine).

When you feeling like letting your children watch TV all day because you’ve had it with the whining, it’s helpful to have another option.  That’s where a list of screen free summer activities is helpful.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Print the screen free summer activities visual cards
  2. Cut them apart
  3. Throw away any cards you don’t want to do. Water balloons aren’t your thing? Toss it before your children see the cards.
  4. Laminate the cards.
  5. Or print them on card stock and just plan to recycle them at the end of the summer.
  6. Punch a hole in the corner and place on a metal ring.

Need more help getting your summer under control? Check out this printable pack!

Here’s a run-down of the activities on the printable cards.  You probably have most of these items around your house already but you might need to purchase a few items to be ready for summer days at home.

I know you’re busy, and with COVID-19, running extra errands is something we’re all avoiding. So I have Amazon links for many of the products.  If you’re not already an Amazon Prime member you can grab a FREE month trial.  You can cancel at anytime.

My family has used and tested a bunch of these items and all of these activities are favorites in our house.  My kiddos give them a thumbs up.

Indoor Screen-Free Activities

These are 12 great indoor activities for rainy days or days that are too hot to be outside.

1. Sensory bins:

Get some lidded containers and dump some beans, rice, or old pasta in it. Add in some utensils like large serving spoons or scoops. Your child will likely spill some of the contents so make sure you have a little broom and dust pan.

If the Amazon containers are too expensive (prices fluctuate), try Target Drive-Up.

2. Puzzles:

We love these chunky Melissa and Doug puzzles for toddlers. These four in a box wooden puzzles are a big hit with preschoolers.

3. Books:

Take an outing to the library and stock up on new books once a week.

Sadly, COVID-19 means our library is still closed at the moment – check your local Facebook group or check my list of Children’s Books for Staying Home with Kids.

4. Coloring:

Visit your local Dollar Tree and grab a new coloring book for the summer.

COVID-19 Update: If you’re avoid the stores, you could grab some Color Wonder coloring or these awesome Highlights Magic Paint Pen coloring.

5. Write Letters:

Children love to send and receive mail.  Grab some paper, envelopes, and stamps and have them color or write to grandparents or other relatives who you know will write them back. Mail the letters when your children are finished.

6. Decorate a box:

Save those Amazon Prime boxes and let your children go to town with markers and stickers.

7. Blocks:

We love these Melissa and Doug cardboard blocks for building the tallest towers. The large size is great for motor skills and coordination.  I got a giant lidded container at Target and store them in the garage when not in use.

8. Puppets:

Grab a pack of paper bags at Dollar Tree or Target and let your children decorate them with crayons and markers.  Or we love these Melissa and Doug puppets.  If you don’t have a puppet theater, use a blanket draped over the back of two chairs.

9. Dress up:

Our favorite dress up is Melissa and Doug but old Halloween costumes work, too.

10. Beads:

Lacing beads is great fine motor practice for little kids.  We love these Melissa and Doug chunky ones for toddlers and smaller wooden or plastic beads for older kids.

11. Bath time:

When it is too hot to play outside, we take super long baths.  Some of our favorite bath toys are Crayola bath crayons, Green Toys tugboat, and Munchkin Fishing Toy.

12. Listen to CDs:

We get books on CD from the library and listen to them.  We’ve had this Sylvania portable CD player for a few years and even with my rough and tumble children, it’s still going strong!

COVID-19 Update: Our library is still closed, but Disney Read-Along books on CD are pretty affordable.  Did you have record players and these as a kid? I did!

Outdoor Screen-free Activities

These are our favorite outdoor activities for summer days. These activities will keep your kiddos busy and make for some great summer memories.

1. Water balloons:

Water balloons are so much fun!  Use them to shoot baskets or with a target.

2. Water table:

We’ve had this Little Tikes watertable for a couple years now.  Both my older children (currently 7.5 and almost 4) love it.

3. Sprinkler:

We use a sprinkler similar to this one that twirls and spins.  Since we won’t be able to go to splash pads this summer, a sprinkler is a must.

4. Sidewalk chalk:

Grab a big tub of sidewalk chalk – make sure it’s non-toxic and washable.


5. Bubbles:

We have a bubble machine we love similar to this one.  Of course, we stock up on the $1 jars of bubbles at Target when the summer starts, too.

6. Draw on windows:

Sometimes drawing is more fun when it is in an unexpected place.  We use dry erase markers to color on our sliding glass doors.  Expo markers are easier to see but I prefer the washable Crayola dry erase markers because I don’t like getting Expo stains out of clothing.

7. Sandbox:

We’ve had this Step2 Naturally Playful Sand Table for three summers.  My son will spending hours each week driving his trucks through the sand or digging and scooping.

8. Watch the clouds:

Show your children how to lay on their backs and look up at the clouds. My daughter likes telling me what she thinks they look like.

9. Play soccer:

We have this small Franklin pop up net and our kids like to make shots at goals.

COVID-19 Update: this is essential since the playgrounds are still closed.

10. Gardening:

We don’t really garden – maybe you do.  Our gardening is limited to a few planters with annuals.  However, that doesn’t stop my children from digging in the dirt with tools like these.

11. Spray bottles:

Grab a clean, empty spray bottle. Your kids can use them like water guns or spraying the fence but it also strengthens the muscles in their hands they need for writing.

12. Sponges:

Soak a pack of sponges in a small basin of water and let your children toss them at targets around your yard.

Printable Screen Free Summer Activity Cards

You can have a great summer at home with your kiddos without tons of screen time. Take some time to get ready now and print these screen free summer activity cards here.

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