Family Kids

A Dozen (Mostly) Free Summer Boredom Busters

Keep the kids busy! Here are 12 simple and easy ideas to keep the kids busy and have fun!

It seems to be that we are hitting the long dog-days of summer. I don’t know about where you live, but we have had some really hot days here. And with that it seems like we can get lazier and lazier and getting the kids to go outside is harder and harder.

The kids can sit and do nothing…

My kids are at an age where I no longer need to entertain them, but at the same time they can sit around do a whole lot of nothing. Opting to sleep or watch TV. So to keep them engaged I will throw out ideas that (hopefully) they like and respond to.

So what to do?  Well, here is a short list of easy and free (or very cheap, if you don’t have the supplies) ideas to fill some time and notch up the fun factor. The following list contains ideas to be done at home – both inside and outside activities. I have already shared activities to get out and do, and activities to help your kids keep up their learning, so this list is really just ideas for the kids to keep busy when they just want to do nothing – or when they start whining about being bored.

A Dozen (Mostly) Free Summer Boredom Busters

1) Collect rocks and paint your own pet rocks! Depending on your supply of craft items – the kids can get very creative!

Pet Rock

2) Build a homemade slip-in-slide – My kids have raided the garage in the past and can often find some large tarps. They will also use the foam pool floats and line them up end to end. Any type of heavy duty plastic and a water hose will work. While you can buy ready to set up slip-in-slides at the store, building the slip-in-slide has always been half the fun for my kids. If a slip-in-slide won’t work in your yard, then turn on the sprinklers and have a fun time running through the water.

3) Set up a lemonade stand. Design a stand, make some posters, mix up the lemonade, and sell away!

Lemonade Stand

4) Pull out a large jigsaw puzzle. My kids will all take a turn at any jigsaw puzzle that I set out on the dinning room table. If I think it will take a while to complete (1000 piece puzzle) I will put it on a card table as as not to monopolize the dining room table.

jigsaw puzzle

5) Speaking of monopolizing- get a game of Monopoly going! This can fill hours, and the kids love a good game.

6) Build something out of mini-marshmallows and toothpicks. Just lay out the supplies and let their imaginations take over.

7) Build a house of cards. Pull out a few decks of cards and see how tall of a tower they can build! Or go outside and stack rocks. See what kind of creation they can make.

Stacked Rocks

8) Make a new recipe. Some recipes will take adult supervision, but some can be done completely by kids. This also depends on the ages of your children. One of the very first recipes that I learned how to make was tacos – I felt so grown up learning what it meant to “brown the ground beef.” Pita pizzas in a toaster oven or grilled cheese are good ones to start with. All my kids love to cook!

kid cooking

9) Sing Karaoke – No Karaoke machine needed simply look to You Tube for appropriate songs with lyrics, grab a wooden spoon, and sing away!

10) Create a Movie Poster – Have your child design and color a movie poster where they are the star complete with the title of the movie.

Movie Poster

11) Build a fort of blankets and have an afternoon of reading. This is a fun and relaxing way to spend some time.

12) Make ice-cream in a can: The kids always have fun with this one. Once the work is done – they get to eat the ice cream!

Ice Cream in a Can Recipe


  • 1 c. Milk
  • 1 c. Whipping Cream or Half & Half
  • 1⁄2 c. Sugar
  • 1⁄2 tsp. Vanilla


  • 1 lb. metal coffee can with tight fitting plastic lid
  • 3 lb. metal coffee with tight fitting plastic lid
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Rubber scraper
  • Ice cream scoop
  • Masking or Duct tape
  • Crushed Ice
  • Rock salt


  1. Put milk, cream, sugar and vanilla in 1 lb. coffee can. Place plastic lid on the can. Be certain the lid is on tight. You may want to secure the lid with masking or duct tape.
  2. Put the smaller can into the large can. Pack crushed ice around the smaller can, inside the larger can.
  3. Pour at least 3⁄4 cup of rock salt evenly over the ice.
  4. Place the lid on the larger can. If you have extra lids, place one on the bottom side also. This will help it roll better.
  5. Roll the can back and forth with a friend, or in our case sibling, for 10 minutes. Best to do this outside.
  6. Open the larger can. Remove the small can. Remove the lids and stir ingredients with a rubber scraper. Be sure to scrape the inside of the small can really well. (Do not let any of the ice or ice water get into the small can.)
  7. Drain the ice water from the large can. Put the small can back in the large can and pack in ice and salt like in step 3.
  8. Roll back and forth for about 5-10 minutes, until the mixture is frozen.
  9. Now open the large can and remove the small can. Scoop the ice cream into serving bowls and enjoy!

So there you have it – a dozen (mostly) free summer boredom busters! Summer is slipping away and yes, before you know it the kids will be back in school. I am trying to make the most of my summer days before I, too, am back in the classroom.

What ideas do you have to keep you kids busy at home during the summer?



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(35) Comments

  1. […] A Dozen (Mostly) Free Summer Boredom Busters […]

  2. These long summer days are really starting to get LONG and HOT! It’s definitely taking some creativity to keep cool inside! Thanks for the ideas!

    1. Stacey says:

      You’re welcome! Hope some are helpful to you.

  3. Good ideas. The hot days of August my daughter loves just vegging out. Luckily the neighbor kids keep her busy most days.

    1. Stacey says:

      How fun to have kids in the neighborhood. That is the best!

  4. This post has some great ideas! I love that you point out that having fun doesn’t have to mean spending money!

    1. Stacey says:

      Exactly! There is much to do with what you have on hand!

  5. I love the idea of a lemonade stand! 😀 How fun!

    1. Stacey says:


  6. Great ideas! My kids would love all of this!

    1. Stacey says:

      Thanks! I hope you and your kids are enjoying summer!

  7. school is starting in just about 2 weeks. my little girl only goes half-day so i always need ideas to try and keep her busy by herself. she has this thing about playing by herself…

    1. Stacey says:

      Yes, it is huge when they go from needing/wanting to be entertained – to more independent play. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you and your kids are enjoying summer!

  8. The rocks are so cute! My kids would LOVE to do that!

    1. Stacey says:

      Thanks – the rocks turned out so cute. I hope you and your kids are enjoying summer!

  9. Really great ideas! My kids haven’t said they are bored yet…but, I’m keeping these ideas on hand just in case!

    1. Stacey says:

      Oh that is wonderful! I hope you and your kids are enjoying summer!

  10. These are great! One of my favorite things to do as a mom is help my kids be creative. I get really antsy when I see them watching too much TV or being extra lazy. Honestly, one of the things I loathe about summertime is the lack of structure! But I certainly want them to unwind and enjoy summer too 🙂

    We do quite a few of these, but that darn rock is so cute I’ll probably have to have us do this sometime this weekend. Thank you!

    1. Stacey says:

      It really is a balancing act isn’t it? Trying to give them the down time that they need to recharge but not letting them veg too much. I do find that if I put fun/creative stuff out – they will gravitate towards it on their own,

  11. Love the movie poster idea, that’s a new one for me! I know what we’re doing tomorrow!

    1. Stacey says:

      Yes, that is a fun one! And just paper and coloring supplies mixed with imagination.

  12. All such lovely ideas! Obsessed with the Create Your Own Movie Poster. Will be referring back to this list, thanks for sharing!

    1. Stacey says:

      Yes, that is a fun one! And just paper and coloring supplies mixed with imagination. Giving them a theme of sorts makes the kids stop to think and plan a bit more than free drawing. I’m always all for critical thinking!

  13. Great ideas! Cooking is a favorite in our house, and it’s so fun for kids to create their own recipes and experiment with different things. We’ll be trying out your recipe!

    1. Stacey says:

      Oh and they learn so much form hands on cooking! And when all goes well – they feel very accomplished.

  14. Oh, we have to do the ice cream in a can!

    Yes, we’re getting into the dog days. So far, I’ve been keeping my kids happy with one trip a week. Last week we went to Gettysburg. This week we’re headed out for geocaching at a local trial.

    1. Stacey says:

      Sounds like you have a lot of great areas to visit. Geocaching is one of the activities I listed in my getting out post. It is a lot of fun and so easy with the apps out there. Enjoy your summer!

  15. Haha I love the rock it is so cute and cannot wait to try your ice cream in a can recipe.!The-Colour-Wheel/cmbz/55affba60cf286eab0299113

    1. Stacey says:

      Thanks! I hope you are enjoying your summer!

  16. Great Ideas! I’ll tag this and the next overnight we have with the grandchildren we will put this to good use. Love the painted rocks :).

    1. Stacey says:

      Isn’t it cute? the kids love getting creative with this one! It’s fun to hear the names they give them.

  17. First of all your kids are ADORBS! As the mom of 4 born within a year (now college-bound) I couldn’t agree with you more about keeping the kids busy over the summer. These are all really fun ways to keep the young ones in engaged on top of protecting mom’s sanity.

    1. Stacey says:

      Thanks! As busy as I was when they were little , I cannot even imagine 4 within a year and different ages. You are a rockstar!

  18. Stacey, these are all great ideas. I love that many of them are educational and the kids will not even realize they are learning. I don’t think we ever built a slip and slide, but it would be great right now in this heat!

    1. Stacey says:

      Thanks – I’m always trying to sneak in a little learning 🙂 The kids loved putting together their own slip in slide. When they build something on their own and it is successful – they feel so accomplished. Rightfully so!

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