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  • Writer's pictureMargaret Nelson

Summer Activities to Do with Kids

The past twelve months have been hard. Since March 2020, we have had to deal with many changes and stress related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Most places have either been closed or had restrictions, adults have had to get used to working from home, and many kids are attending school remotely, at least part-time. There have not been many options for entertainment.

For parents, the pandemic has been exhausting. I am not a parent, but I have seen the way parents have had to juggle a lot more. Some have had to adjust to working from home while educating their children. They keep their houses running while thinking of ideas to keep their kids safe and entertained. There has also been more to think about: in-person learning vs. remote learning, whether or not to put your kids in daycare, and the best way to keep them safe while also maintaining their mental health, as well as a sense of normalcy.

This past year has been hard for everyone, especially parents.

To say that it is a delicate balance is an understatement. There has been a lot to think about, and it can be exhausting to make so many decisions.

With the summer around the corner, it is easy to dread it. It has been hard enough to keep your kids entertained during the school year with all of the restrictions. Without the structure of school, how are you supposed to find enough activities to fill the days?

Fortunately, we have you covered. Below, we have a list of safe and low-cost activities to do with your kids. If your area has Covid-19 restrictions, take a look at the suggestions for how to adapt them.

Here are some fun, low cost, and safe activities to do with your kids this summer:

  • See what your local library has to offer. Your local library has resources to keep your kids engaged this summer. There are thousands of books, CDs, DVDs, and ebooks, as well as other services. My local library has “Maker Studio” with a 3D printer, sensory kits, programs for all ages, and a summer reading program. Due to the pandemic, your library might not have in-person programming right now. However, many libraries have expanded their online services. Everything at your local library is free, so take advantage of all that it has to offer.

    • If you cannot go into the library, see if you can request books online and pick them up. My local library has a drive-through where you can drop off your books and pick up new ones. This system has been in place since before the pandemic. It has enabled the library to continue to serve patrons despite the pandemic. If you cannot go to the library in-person, see if they have a drive-through or curbside pickup.

    • If you want to stock up on books for your personal library, check out your local thrift store. Thrift stores often receive dozens of books, and they sell them inexpensively. My local thrift store sells paperback books for 25 cents and hardcover books for 50 cents. Not only can you get some inexpensive entertainment, the money often goes to a good cause.

  • Take an enrichment class. Summer is the perfect time to explore new interests. There are plenty of options for online and in-person courses, and they fit a variety of budgets. If your child wants to learn a new language, consider taking a class with ReDefiners World Languages! We offer online and in-person courses in English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and Arabic. We offer courses at a low cost, and we also provide income-based scholarships for those that qualify. Taking an enrichment class will help your child to maintain academic progress over the summer. By the next school year, your child could have a new skill to show off.

    • On a related note, consider taking a language class with your child. We offer classes for elementary school students (Kindergarten through 5th grade), as well as for adults. If you and your child learn the same language, you can help each other practice. This will give you an opportunity to spend quality time together, explore other cultures, and talk about the importance of having an open mind when meeting new people. Children learn these important skills by watching the actions of their parents. Learning a new language together can positively impact both you and your child.

This is a picture of a Black woman sitting on a gray couch. She's wearing jeans and a long-sleeved yellow shirt. On her lap is an open laptop.
Online enrichment classes can be accessed from home.

  • Try a new hobby. Many hobbies are inexpensive. Examples include blogging, drawing, painting, knitting, crocheting, hiking, and bird watching. There are free instructions online, and you can get materials cheaply if you use a coupon or shop sales. I crochet in my free time, and I can do it inexpensively. I can usually get a crochet hook and a pound of yarn for under $15, and that will last me about a month. Look around the house for things you already have. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, see if you can find used materials or buy new materials on sale.

  • Cook with your kids. Children need to learn how to cook and navigate a kitchen. Cooking provides many benefits, such as spending time with your children, passing on family traditions, and connecting to your heritage. Cooking is also a way to teach them things such as nutrition and food groups, food safety, and kitchen safety.

  • Teach your children life skills. Younger kids can help with simple tasks, such as how to load and unload the dishwasher, how to empty their trash cans, and how to put their toys away. Older kids and teens can learn complex skills, such as laundry, filling the car with gas, and changing a tire. These skills will help set them up for success in adulthood.

  • Go out for ice cream. Ice cream is a summer staple, and it can create many fun memories. Ice cream is often inexpensive, and many stores run sales or promotions, such as buy one get one free.

This is a picture of scoops of ice cream.
There's nothing like cold ice cream on a hot day.

  • Have a movie night. Many of us have streaming subscriptions, and there are movies that you probably have not seen before. If you still can’t find anything to watch, you can often rent a movie online for less than $5. If you want to, you can serve popcorn, movie candy, and soft drinks. You can even mimic the movie theater experience by issuing homemade tickets and leading your family members to their seats.

  • Do science experiments. The internet has thousands of free instructions for kid-friendly science experiments. Many of these activities use things you already have at home, such as baking soda and vinegar. Make sure your kids complete them with adult supervision.

  • Go out for breakfast. This activity will depend on your comfort level and the pandemic restrictions in your area. However, this can be a good opportunity for your kids to practice proper restaurant etiquette. Breakfast foods are also inexpensive, especially for children under 12, and they tend to be more kid-friendly. Most of the time, there aren’t many people in the restaurant, so if your child has a meltdown, it won’t be so disruptive.

    • If you cannot eat at a restaurant, make a pretend restaurant at home to teach your kids the proper restaurant etiquette. You can create a menu, teach your kids how to order food, and teach them how to pay the check using pretend money.

  • Keep in touch with family and friends. If you’re not able to meet safely in-person, get creative. Let your kids video chat with their friends. Organize virtual parties. Have your kids mail letters and artwork to their grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Show them how to nurture their relationships, even if they can’t be with their loved ones in-person.

This is a picture of a woman sitting at a table, in front of an open computer. She's waving to the person on the other side of the screen.
Knowing how to nurture relationships is an important skill

  • Go on a nature walk. Getting outside and getting exercise will help your child’s physical and mental health. If you live in a hot climate, make sure to either go early in the morning or late at night when it’s cooler. Make sure to bring plenty of water, use sunscreen, and dress accordingly!

  • Go to the playground. Playgrounds are a staple of childhood. There’s plenty of space to run around, and it’s an opportunity for your kids to burn off some energy. Again, if you live in a hot climate, make sure to go early in the morning or late at night.

  • Build a fort. When I was a kid, I loved to build forts with my siblings. We used chairs, blankets, pillows, and whatever else we could find around the house. This activity will develop your child’s creativity as they build the fort and play in it.

  • Create something. For my siblings and me, this was another beloved childhood activity. We made inventions with items we had around the house. We made rockets, cars, houses, and robots. Doing so developed our creativity. Challenge your kids and see what they can create.

  • Develop an exercise routine. If you have older children or teens, summer is a time to develop an exercise habit. If you can access a gym, let them tag along and show them how to use the equipment. Be sure to discuss any exercise plans with your doctor before you start.

    • If you can’t afford a gym membership, there are free and low-cost online workouts available. YouTube has plenty of free ones. You can find yoga, cardio, and weightlifting. If you live in an apartment or you have joint problems, you can find no jumping workouts. If you don’t have weights, you can use a “no equipment” workout.

    • For younger kids, encourage active play. Give them opportunities to run around. Examples of activities include swimming, playing basketball or soccer, and playing on the playground. Expose your kids to many activities, see what they enjoy doing, and incorporate those activities into your weekly schedule.

This is a picture of a man who is exercising. He's wearing an orange tank top, earbuds, an arm band with a cell phone, and a fitness tracker. He's looking at his fitness tracker.
Exercising will help maintain your physical and mental health.

  • Have a picnic. Sometimes, the simplest activities can help break up the monotony of summer. Eating somewhere else can mix things up. If you’re able to get outside, consider packing a lunch and taking it to the pool or playground. You can also eat in your backyard and play with your kids afterward. If it’s too hot to eat outside, consider eating on the floor in your living room. If you’re concerned about making a mess on the carpet, lay down a sheet, a blanket, or a couple of towels for everyone to sit on. When the meal is over, you can place it in the washing machine for easy cleanup.

  • Have a game night. Board games are a lot of fun. They also teach skills, like teamwork, following directions, and winning or losing with grace. You can find board games for kids of all ages. I like playing card games because you can get a deck of cards cheaply, and you can play a lot of different games. You can find board games at most department stores. If you have a tight budget, see if you can find used games at a thrift store or online.

  • Go swimming. Summer is the perfect time to go for a swim, especially since it gets hot. City-owned pools are often inexpensive for residents. Where I live, the entrance fee is around $3-$6 per person, depending on if you’re a resident or not. Trips to the pool are a great way to cool off and make some memories. If you’re concerned about crowds, consider going at off-peak times, such as after dinner.

    • If you don’t have access to a pool, try finding other ways to cool off. If your kids are young, consider purchasing a plastic or inflatable kiddie pool. You can find these at any price point. I’ve seen them sell for under $10 to over $50. A kiddie pool can provide hours of entertainment. Just be sure to supervise them at all times when they are in or near water.

This is a picture of children participating in swim lessons. There are four children in swimsuits sitting on the edge of the pool. There is a woman standing in the pool in front of them.
Swimming is a fun, inexpensive summer activity

  • Other options include running through the sprinklers, playing with water guns, and having water balloon fights. You can get a large number of water balloons inexpensively, and you can pay as much or as little as you want for water guns.

  • Watch fireworks. Cities often launch fireworks, especially around the fourth of July. My city launches fireworks every Friday night from Memorial Day to Labor Day. You might have to pay a small fee for a closer seat, but you might be able to view them for free elsewhere.

Covid-19 has made things more complicated, but it doesn’t have to impact your ability to provide your kids with a fun, memorable summer. You don’t have to spend a fortune or risk your safety either. With some creativity, you can keep your kids entertained and create treasured family memories.


If you’re looking for a way to keep your kids entertained this summer, then sign them up for a class with ReDefiners World Languages! We offer online and in-person courses in English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and Arabic for K-5th grade. We also offer group courses and private lessons to meet your child’s learning needs. For more information, visit our website or email us at

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