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Summertime is my kids’ favorite season of the year. Their dad, a public school teacher, has summers off; and they love to spend all day outside. Last summer, we introduced the kids to kickball and it quickly became the favorite activity of the summer. Most of the time, they are free-playing and creating their own games, but sometimes they want help coming up with things to do.

Here is a list of some of my kids’ favorite low-cost activities:

1. Kickball

Kids of all ages can play this game and parents too. You can find cheap kick balls locally or here is a set of playground balls that we love. You can create your own bases with things you have laying around the house or purchase an inexpensive set of field bases here. This set of bases has held up well with a lot of kids and dogs running across them daily.

2. Soccer

You don’t need a huge soccer net to play in your backyard. We set up a couple of objects at each end of the field as our makeshift goal, grab a soccer ball, and you are ready to go.

3. Capture the flag

The flag can be an old t-shirt, an old towel, or any other object you have laying around. Once you have a flag, divide into teams, set rules for the game, and have fun!

4. Sidewalk chalk

This can be found at most major retailers, dollar stores, or online. It is relatively cheap and can keep your kids entertained for hours. Don’t have a sidewalk at your house? No problem! We don’t have a sidewalk either so we draw on our wooden play gym or trampoline. This set is a favorite at my house.

5. Water squirters

A set of cheap water squirters and a tub of water keep my kids entertained for hours. By filling up a tub of water and sitting outside, the kids are able to refill their water squirters as needed without constantly running in the house or turning the water hose on and off. We love the cheap water squirters that you fill by sticking the tip in the water and pulling the water into the tube. This crayon super-soaker is great for kids of all ages.

6. Backyard obstacle course

Kids love to climb over, under, and run around things. Create an obstacle course to let them practice those things. You can buy an obstacle course kit or create your own using pool noodles, hula hoops, and random things from closets and the garage.

7. Paint outside

My kids love when I tell them they can paint outside. They usually put on bathing suits because they plan on it ending in a huge mess. After painting whatever they originally started on, they usually move on to painting their arms, legs, faces, and each other. When they are done, I turn the water hose on and let them enjoy a water fight to clean up.

8. Camp in the yard

If you’ve never been a fan of camping but it’s something your kids have always wanted to try then set up a camp in the backyard. You don’t have to pay for a campsite, and you are close to the house – and able to use your own bathroom.

9. Make a bird feeder

There are so many cheap and easy bird feeders that can be made by kids. You can do something as simple as rolling a pine cone in peanut butter, cover with birdseed, and hang outside. If you have access to tools and scrap lumber you can let your kids design and build their own birdhouse.

10. Picnic time!

Move lunch outside for the day. A picnic in the backyard can be a fun way to mix up meal time. If you don’t have patio furniture, you can put a blanket or towel down on the ground.

11. Go fishing

You can purchase an inexpensive fishing pole or make your own. A fishing pole can easily be made out of a stick of bamboo, some fishing line, and a hook. If you have a lefty, look for a rod that allows the retrieve to be changed for your left-handed child. We have 3 left-handed kiddos and we quickly learned when our daughter tried to fish that it was very frustrating for her to try to use a right-handed rod and reel. We like these that can be flipped for right or left-handed.

12. Frozen paint

Freeze paint in ice cube trays with popsicle sticks in the middle. Once frozen, pop them out, take them outside, and invite the kids to paint as they melt.

13. DIY sponge bombs

These make a great project for your kids and then they have something to play with when they finish. Purchase a set of cheap sponges, cut the sponges into strips, stack up some of the sponge strips, put a rubber band tightly around the middle, and spread the sponges out on each end. Fill a bucket of water for your kids to soak their sponge bombs in.

4. Fly a kite

You can purchase an inexpensive one or have a STEM day where you design and make your own kite. You could even turn it into a contest to see whose homemade kite can fly the best.

15. Sink or float experiment

Fill up a large bowl or plastic tub with water. Let your child collect things around the yard or house that can be placed in water. Have them guess if the objects they found will sink or float and then have them place the item into the tub of water to see if they were right.

16. Water wall

Build a water wall with recycled plastic bottles, funnels, and tubes. Put a tub at the bottom to catch the water that your kiddo is pouring down the wall so they can repeat the process over and over.

17. Toy washing station

Do you have plastic toys that need to be cleaned up? Take them outside, give your kids a bucket of soapy water & a sponge, and let them have fun cleaning their toys.

18. Water table

Water tables can be purchased or you can make your own using a large tub from the dollar store. Grab some old cups & bath toys and watch your kids be entertained. Want to mix it up a bit? You can add some water beads for added sensory experience.

19. Dinosaur dig

Freeze some plastic toys in a bowl of water. Once frozen, take them outside and let your kids dig the toys back out with toy hammers and butter knives.

20. Yard water slide

Make your own backyard water slide out of a cheap tarp from the hardware store. Add a little soap and water to make it slick enough for your kids to slide around on.

You do not have to spend a fortune to have a great time with your kids this summer. If you do all 20 of these activities, you will create memories that last a lifetime and have shelled out very little in the process. The bonus? Many of these activities increase muscle tone in the hands and improve fine as well as gross motor skills. Yes, they have academic benefits too. Just don’t tell them…

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