When the Kids Cry "Bored!": Fun, Free, At-Home Activities For Long Summer Days

I’ve posted before about how our year round homeschooling works. But even though we do some school work throughout the summer, we still like to have fun doing traditional summer things. And we make plenty of time for summer fun. And there are still days when it’s sooo hot outside and all school related work is done and kids begin to complain. They use the dreaded “b” word- “I’m bored!”.

The easy way out is for me to suggest we do more school work. That suggestion is usually always met with disapproval. Then the kids begin to suggest we go somewhere- anywhere- and do something- anything. Most of their suggestion involve money. But, over the years, I’ve learned that there are many things we can do that don’t cost money. They don’t even involve leaving the house. And many have become family favorite activities.

Free Summer fun ideas for kids

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Water Play

Even if you don’t have a pool, kids can play in water. All of the kids have loved turning on the hose and playing in water outside. We’ve had sprinklers, slip and slides, wading pools, and sometimes just buckets to fill up and play with. If it’s a hot day, the kids will turn on the water and play. (This is also often a good way to get a car wash!)

Random Crafting

The kids have invented a game that’s become pretty popular here. It’s based off of the TV show Chopped. Instead of food ingredients, they use random craft supplies. The “contestant” receives a box of random supplies packed by the other kids. They have a predetermined amount of time to create something original from the supplies. They call the game- Snipped. It’s amazing how long a box of craft supplies can keep kids occupied.

Play Do

You might think that the older kids would pass on this activity. But make up a batch of homemade play-do and watch. They’ll come out of the woodwork to participate. You can find an easy recipe for homemade play-do here. Get out some rollers and cookie cutters and you have long lasting fun.

Fort Building

Give kids a few blankets and pillows and an empty corner in the house and- voila!- a fort emerges. My younger two will happily plan out the fort, complete with rules and a suggested activity list. As long as I breathe deeply and don’t comment on the mess and disorder, fort building is an cool, indoor activity that will keep the busy all day. My older kids have given this one up for the most part, although sometimes an older kid will step in and help the younger set as they are working.


I’ve noticed with my children, that even the ones I have who are somewhat resistant to doing other forms of art, love painting. I can suggest that they get out the paint and the watercolor paper, and they can work happily for a long time. Again, there is the need to breathe deeply and overlook a mess. If I do, they really enjoy painting, and there have been some very creative things to come out of the efforts.
Free Summer fun ideas for kids
Free Summer fun ideas for kids

Cooking Together

I’ll admit that, being a rather unaccomplished cook myself, I have a hard time cooking with the kids. But they love to cook. And they are usually patient with me as I have to reread a recipe or think through an instruction. And if I am patient in return and don’t gasp when they break an egg over the floor or spill flour all over the table, we can actually enjoy cooking together. Better yet, the older kids can cook something by themselves! The added benefit of this activity is that it usually results in something yummy.

Spa Day

This one is for the girls in the family. My oldest- Kathryne- actually made this up for the younger girls, but now they will also do it for themselves, and they love to do it when they have friends over. Spa day involves hair arranging, a little makeup, and nail polish. Sometimes it ends with a fashion show, modeling outfits they own and have arranged into a little theme. Spa day, like many of these no cost, fun activities, will involve a mess. But it’s a good time to teach the principle of cleaning up what you get out.
Free Summer fun ideas for kids


The kids will plan this activity around a meal- usually a lunch because I often give the kids choices about lunch and don’t just make one thing for all. It’s often the younger girls doing it for the rest of us now, but the older kids have often enjoyed the game when they were a little younger. The kids will design a menu that features the choices I tell them are available. The “customers”, the rest of us, sit at the table and order our food. Then the waitresses will become the cooks and go prepare the meal. (Do you notice how this gets me out of making lunch? Ha Ha!)


No, you don’t have to go run a marathon. Where I live, in the South, you’d probably die in the heat. But you can have a “Marathon Day.” Have a Board Game Marathon where you play every board game on the shelf. Have a Book Marathon where everyone chooses a favorite book, and you read aloud. A Movie Marathon can include watching every one of a favorite movie series or a collection of movies around a certain theme. Thinking up ideas for marathons can get really creative, so be prepared for some interesting marathons.
Fun free summer ideas for kids
When kids get creative, they can avoid boredom, and you don’t have to spend any money in the process. If you’ve noticed a theme throughout, it’s that kids need space to make a mess and time to be creative. Sometimes “boredom”- when I don’t jump in with an offer to go out and do something- results in some very creative and fun games and projects.

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