99 TV Free Summer Activities For Kids

99 TV FREE ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS My kids watch too much TV. Technically it’s Netflix on the iPad but it’s the same problem. Working from home during the summer is a tricky place for many parents, myself included, we need to get stuff done, but we can only use screens so much each day, and hopefully none at all some days. I needed a cheat sheet for SIMPLE activities I can set up or gather the materials for in a pinch. I need things that I can have my kids do while I take a quick business call, things we can squeak in after a trip to the beach, or after dinner when it’s still light out. I don’t ban screens at all, but I don’t want school being out to be used as an excuse for MORE TV. These 99 TV Free Summer Activities are a huge mix of outdoor, indoor, quiet and boisterous play ideas. I hope you find something your kids LOVE.

playdough bug fossils


Add Fun Things To Regular Play Doh
Alphabet Slime
Backyard Safari
Backyard Target Practice
Bake Cookies
Become A Code Breaker
Become A Paleontologist

color science for kids
Become Color Scientists
Blow ( and catch) Some Bubbles
Build with Loose Parts
Catch Fireflies

Shell Sorting
Collect and Sort Shells
Connect The Dots
Cook In The Sink
Dance Party
Decorate Your Driveway with Sidewalk Chalk
Do A Little Kitchen Science
Do A Word Search
Draw with the help of some catalogs
Driveway Graffiti

sand with water in water table
Explore with A Water Table
Find Your Way Around A Maze
Flag Hunt
Go For A Bike Ride
Go On A Book Hunt
Go On A Sound Safari

art for kids
Go To An Art Museum ( click for tips)
Go To The Library
Go To The Playground
Go To The Pool
Go To The Zoo
Have An Art Show
Have a Toy Car Wash

five senses taste test activity
Have An Ice Cream Taste Test
Hex Bug Races
Hose Down Letters & Numbers
Hunt For Bugs
Hunt For Colors Outside
Lego Challenge
Make A Bird Bath
Make A Marshmallow Shooter

summer reading ideas
Make an Outdoor Book Nook
Make Cloud Dough
Make Flower Place Mats
Make Mud Soup

ocean themed crafts
Make Paperbag Jelly Fish
Make Some Bracelets
Make Some Muck
Make Some Princess Slime
Make Superhero Cuffs
Make Uncle Sam
Make Your Own Obstacle Course

sun melted recycled crayons 1
Melt Some Crayons In The Sun
Mix Colors With Play Clay
Nerf Gun Math
Outdoor Sight Word Hunt

jackson pollock style painting for toddlers
Paint Like Jackson Pollack
Paint Like Monet
Paint with Broccoli
Paint with Bugs

simple super crafts painting with nature
Paint with Flowers and Rocks
Paint with Fly Swatters
Paint With Trains
Paint with Water
Paper Plate Butterflies
Play Angry Birds – in real life!
Play Cards
Play Catch
Play Candyland

spelling game with connect four
Play Connect Four
Play Dominoes
Play Hide & Seek
Play I Spy
Play In The Arctic
Play Rhyming Tag
Play “Usual” Tag

rhyming board game FREE printable
Play This Game ( Print it out for free! )
Play With Lego
Play with Paper Dolls
Play with Play-Doh

outside learning
Play with Water Balloons
Pretend Play Camping
Print Out Our Summer Reading Bucket List and Read!
Read A Banned Book
Read & Draw Picnic
Read In A Blanket Fort
Run Through A Sprinkler
Shaving Cream Fireworks!

bubble bin sensory play
Stir Up Some Bubbles!
Trim Your Grass with Scissors
Twizzler Necklaces
Use a squirt gun for some science!
Use Kitchen Whisks To Make Bubbles
Use Sidewalk Chalk To Play With Letters
Walk Your Dog ( or your neighbor’s dog )

washi tape craft for kids
Washi Tape Lego!
Watch a movie and make a matching craft
Water Fight!

tv free activities for kids

Shoot & Splash – Outside Activity For Kids

summer outside activity I was that mom who had NO plans to allow my children to ever play with toy guns. I’d been a teacher and it was easy to say ” No guns at school.” It’s harder to say it at home, not because I don’t have resolve, but it was clear that when I said ” No guns are bad.” he was hearing ” No, and you should be ashamed for asking.”  Pretend play isn’t real. I Lay down ground rules and stick to them. For my family, that means only shooting outside.

One of the things I like to do with my kids and their Nerf blasters is target practice, it is a great outside activity. Not so they are more accurate when we have battles in the backyard but because it’s a wonderful exercise in concentration.

I provided my son with the materials and he set up the activity. Here is what he did, and how you can do it too.

Gather your materials. You will need some lightweight plastic containers, some pylons ( little traffic cones), some water, and a loaded Nerf type blaster.nerf gun target practice

Pour the water into the plastic containers.nerf target practice summer activity

Balance them on the cones. This took concentration too! target practice in the backyard

Step back and take aim! I loved how carefully he was aiming and the adjustments he made when he missed.nerf gun water activity for kids

Shoot the water off and watch it splash!water activities for kids

After all the targets are hit, refill and take aim.

27 Books I Can’t Wait To Read This Summer

27 books to read this summer from no time for flash cardsThis school year has been insane. I went back to teaching a year before I intended to but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a dream job that I loved even more than I thought I would. Keeping up with that, the blog ( my other dream job) , writing a book, training and running a marathon, and spending time with my incredibly awesome and quirky family has left very little time for something I really really love, reading. This summer while school is out I am going to read like crazy! Read with my kids, read on the treadmill, at the soccer field, on the plane, and hopefully at the beach!

These are the books on my must read list. I haven’t read them yet, I can’t vouch for them, but I can tell you I am excited to crack them open! I have picture books and early chapter books for kids, YA for teens ( but I will totally be reading these, I have an inexplicable love affair with YA ) and books  for adults too. We have fiction and non-fiction on each list, some books will be published this summer, and others aren’t new, just new to me. Age suggestions are just guidelines, you know your child best!

I am begging you to add your MUST read titles in comments or on our Facebook Page.

This list contains affiliate links

Picture Books I Can’t Wait To Read This Summer

best picture books

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole  by Max Barnett
Journey by Aaron Becker
Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dykeman
The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee
Meet the Dullards by Sara Pennypacker
I Don’t Want to Be a Frog by Dev Petty
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
What Pet Should I Get? (Classic Seuss) Dr.Seuss


Chapter Books To Read With Your Kids This Summer


El Deafo by Cece Bell ( grade 2+)
The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
The Year of Billy Miller Kevin Henkes
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai ( grade 3+ )
Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes (A Percy Jackson and the Olympians Guide) by Rick Riordan ( non-fiction)
Quinny & Hopper by Adriana Brad Schanen ( grade 1+ )
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (grade 5 +)


YA Novels for Teens and Adults


The Heir (The selection Book 4) Kiera Cass
The Eye of Minds (Mortality Doctrine, Book One) James Dashner
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Legend (A Legend Novel, Book 1) Marie Lu
Winter (The Lunar Chronicles) Marissa Meyer
Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

Books For Adults To Read This Summer

summer reading list
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins
Go Set a Watchman: A Novel Harper Lee
After You: A Novel by JoJo Moyes
The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley

Outdoor Sight Word Hunt with LEGO DUPLO

sight word game for kindergartenSome children are eager to show you what they know as soon as they learn it and some either lack the confidence or simply dislike any spotlight or obvious praise. As parents and teachers, it can be a challenge to assess what these children know and what to teach them next. This is what I love about play even when you are working on specific targets like sight words or math facts. Turning it into a game takes the pressure off and you can use this sight word hunt and match for assessment, practice or just for fun like we did.

Gather your materials. You will need some LEGO DUPLO, a DUPLO base piece, a permanent marker, and a yard with lots of places to hide the words.sight word activity gross motor

Write out pairs of words. There are all different places to find sight word or high-frequency word lists by grade level. Find lists here and here. When I choose the words I use for my daughter’s activities I use many I know she will recognize immediately and a few she might need help with. This activity is great because of the matching element, even words that aren’t immediately recognizable can be matched up. Do not worry about using Sharpie on your DUPLO it won’t wreck it. Watch this video and see how to do it. duplo sight word game for kids

Stick one copy of the word pairs on the DUPLO base piece.sight word actovoty for kids

Hide the others. I kept the words in one small area because the point wasn’t to have her run everywhere but to do a little gross motor as part of a literacy activity. summer reading game for kids

Read through the base pieces together. There were only a few she didn’t immediately recognize but later when she found their match she did. Awesome! sight word scavenger hunt for kids outside literacy activity

She found the first few right away and matched them up.

sight word actvity for preK

The last few were tricky, but she eventually used her super finder skills and grabbed them. Awesome reading game with sight words outside!

Making learning fun is important not just because it helps make a deeper connection but because we expect a lot of our children and increasingly young ages. Some parents like will simply opt out, but I choose to help my children meet the expectations they can through playful learning. sight word actvity


Summer Reading Prompts For This Week

summer reading calendar for kids Summer reading is so important. I am a huge fan of giving my kids time to chill out in the summer, but one thing we do not get lazy about is reading. One way to keep summer reading fresh is to use prompts. I decided to write out these prompts in a calendar. You can download our full June, July, and August calendars HERE !

Our calendars are geared towards children who are still reading picture books ( psst! I think all kids should). If your child is only reading chapter books, I suggest choosing 1-2 of the prompts from each week and spend a few days reading these longer books.

Today I just want to share the prompts for this week. Today’s prompt is reading a book with pirates  and it can be interpreted however you want, with a friend who is a pirate or a book with pirates in it. You choose! I want to know what you have been reading. Have you stumbled upon any absolutely fantastic books recently?

Tell me about it here in comments or on The No Time For Flash Cards Facebook Page.