50 screen-free activities for kids to do over summer break, indoors and out (#10-#19) Post 2 of 5.


This is a series of 5 posts. We will post each Monday starting July 19th.


10. Decide your favorite movie, once and for all. Have your kids list all their favorite movies onto one piece of paper, and check them off throughout the summer as you watch them. Everyone can give it a ranking, and by the end of the summer you can pick your official favorite family movie.

Or, just use this fun Disney/Pixar March Madness bracket is a fun alternative to making your own list.

Be sure you check out our favorite projectors for a backyard movie night (because King-sized bedsheets don’t count as screens, right?) and you absolutely must have copycat movie-theater snacks, at least in our house. Seriously, try these recipes because they are so fun!

11. Play with water. My toddler is obsessed with water tables these days, and she can spend hours on the back porch in her swimsuit just splashing her toys in the inflatable kiddie pool we found at Target.

But, I have to say, this selection of cool oversized inflatable sprinklers, like the unicorn above, or these crazy backyard sprinklers would make your back yard pretty freaking awesome this summer.

Even on a rainy day, you can set one of these big doodle mats in the kitchen and let them have mess-free fun with water.

12. Play with dolls. Maybe playing Barbies isn’t necessarily an idea you might expect from this site, but have you seen the real-life women Barbie honored with their Barbie Role Models collection? You’ve come a long way, Barbie.

Or hey, have a tea party with stuffed animals or create your own American Girl Doll summer Olympic games — your kids’ imagination is the limit.

13. Become an activist. We’ve seen a real rise in a passion for activism in our kids. If your kids are interested in social justice too, stop by the library or bookstore for some required reading on activism for kids, and be sure to read our editor Liz’s amazing tips on how to nurture activism in kids in a healthy, practical way. Kids are interested in so many causes, from animals to gender equality, social justice to sports injuries.

Even children’s health, now more than ever.

Then, let your kids loose to change your community – or change the world.

14. Draw on the sidewalks. Caroline shared the most OMG sidewalk chalk — from unicorn horns to sushi and donuts, for real. But hey, any chalk works. Hopscotch is the classic screen-free summer activity for kids, even today.

15. Make a list. I’m a total type-A mom when it comes to list-making, and so are some of my kids. Give them a topic — movies they want to watch, books they want to read, cities they want to visit, things to update in their rooms, friends to call, foods to try, every Fortnite skin ranked — and they’ll spend the afternoon debating and brainstorming in their journals.


16. Play with paper dolls. You can find the classic paper doll books we had as kids at many local toy stores, but we’ve found so many for free that you can print and let the kids cut out! Cory Jensen makes tons of pop culture paper dolls, like Giulia, from the awesome new Pixar movie Luca or the Barroness from Cruella for his Patreon supporters.

You can also try this massive roundup of free printable paper dolls from modern to classic, or check out these artful color-your-own paper dolls from Merrillee Liddiard and send the kids off to the kitchen table to create their own 2-D friends with loads of play potential.

17. Play MASH. MASH was a sleepover staple when I was in middle school, and I recently taught my kids how to play:

Start with a square in the center of your paper. To the left of the square, make a list of four dwellings (typically Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House….equals MASH), underneath list four vehicles, to the right list four careers. The top was always reserved for four crushes, but we’ve changed this up to make it a wild-card category: cities to live in, foods to eat, signature clothing item, or…if you want, crushes. Then, draw a spiral in the square until someone yells, “Stop!” Count the rings on your spiral, and that’s your number — let’s say, 4. Start at Mansion, and count four items down and cross that one off. Continue until you only have one left in each category, and that’s your destiny!

It’s a silly, simple game but my kids played it for a solid 45 minutes the other day.

18. Make some progress on a giant family coloring page. We are big fans of the huge coloring posters by Omy, and unfurling one at the beginning of the summer to work on all season long is a fun tradition. This World Map poster might even help you pick your next family vacay, too!

19. Work on a puzzle. Over the summer, we usually have a puzzle or board game set up on our dining room table — unless the table is covered with laundry, that is. This Women’s March 500-piece puzzle has been a favorite of ours, but if you prefer animals, landscapes, or cartoon characters, go for it!

Pro tip: Work your puzzle on a piece of felt, so you can roll it up without it breaking into a million (or, 500) pieces every time you need to use your table. That way you can work on it leisurely all summer long.


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