If you’re a family living through COVID-19, there’s a big chance you’ve tapped out the ideas well when it comes to free things to do with your kids this summer.
As a mom dealt the same hand, I can confidently say I have some solutions! I’ve included everything from virtual tours of your favorite museums to some crazy sidewalk chalk shenanigans you can get into and more.
1. Visit and tour virtual museums and zoos online for free.
And that’s just in France! Visit your favorite museums online and see what your options are, and use PureWow’s museum tours article as a starting point.
Zoos all over the country are offering free virtual zoo field trips. For instance, everyday from 3 – 5 p.m. EST the Cincinnati zoo hosts their Home Safari Facebook Live events, where they feature one animal and provide an at-home activity for your kids.
Check out what other zoos are doing for some more fun.
2. Have an ice block scavenger/treasure hunt.
Freeze small toys or legos in varying weights in a large container of water. Challenge your kids to find the toys by chipping away at the ice with a hammer.
To release ice from the container, you may need to submerge the container in a sink of hot water for a few seconds.
Tip: Avoid injury by having your kids wear safety glasses.
3. Make your own sidewalk chalk and go wild with it.
If you’re fortunate enough to have sidewalk skirting your yard or a safe road with new asphalt, you can go crazy with some chalk activities. Make your own chalk with this recipe:
- Combine 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup cornstarch in a blender
- Blend on low speed until smooth
- Transfer to a plastic bowl and stir in 12 drops food coloring
Here are just a few chalk art activities your kids may enjoy:
- Make a sidewalk self portrait by tracing your kids with chalk
- Leave encouraging notes to neighbors or first responders
- Play a game of sidewalk checkers, tic tac toe or hopscotch
- Write your best dad jokes on the sidewalk
4. Throw eggs filled with acrylic paint or chalk paint.
Drain a dozen eggs by using a push pin to make several small holes on top of each egg. Once you’ve made enough push-pin holes, you should be able to easily break away a portion of an egg.
Create a large enough hole to pour paint through, then watch your kids have fun creating modern masterpieces! If you don’t have acrylic paint or think it’s just too messy, use the chalk paint recipe from tip 3.
5. Prepare writing prompts and have kids start a summer journal.
Print out writing prompts like these here, or create your own. Cut them out and have your child choose a new prompt every day to encourage reading and writing.
Writing prompts could include:
- Check out some poetry books at the library. Find a poem. Copy it into your journal. Circle words that are fun or meaningful
- Go outside, sit and be quiet. Write down what you hear, see, smell, and feel
- Find a recipe with an adult and make something special. Write about it
- Write a letter to a family member. Tear out the page and mail it to them
6. Read a free book from Barnes and Noble.
7. Play backyard bowling.
If you can’t go to the bowling alley, bring the bowling alley to your backyard! This is one of my favorite free kids activities.
- Fill small socks with rice and tie the ends with rubber bands and ribbon.
- Then, cover six empty, clean 15-ounce cans with colored tape, making sure the tape covers any sharp edges.
- Set cans up in a pyramid, and have kids stand several feet away.
- Whoever knocks down all the cans within two tries wins!
8. Take your kids Geocaching for hidden treasures.
With more than 2 million Geocaching sites worldwide, let your kids find hidden treasures in their own communities. All they need is a phone or GPS.
Check out this Geocaching guide for kids to make sure you’re going on a hunt with a reward at the end rather than a wild goose chase.
9. Take your kids to virtual summer camp.
- Via Microsoft
Teach your child some tech skills with Microsoft’s virtual summer camps. Your kid can play games, travel the world and even pick up some basic coding along the way.
Apple will be offering a virtual Apple Camp for kids 8 – 12 in lieu of its usual in-store camp sessions. Your kids can learn to code or even explore their inner artist with Apple’s design projects.
To get started, download their activity book and follow the lessons on the site as they become available.
10. Create penny tap shoes.
Use hot glue to attach pennies to the bottoms of your child’s shoes for instant tap shoes.
11. The New York Public Library is offering a free virtual story time for kids.
- via NYPL
Check out NYPL’s virtual storytime to enrapture your kids for a bit, and be sure to check out your own local library’s services to see if they’re offering other free virtual community activities for kids, too.
RELATED: Ways to Get Deals On Kiddie Pools
12. Lead some at home DIY science experiments with your kids.
Using a funnel, fill an old water bottle about 1/3 of the way full with vinegar. Dry the funnel, and use it to pour baking soda into a balloon. Fill the balloon up halfway with baking soda.
Cover the top of the bottle with your baking-soda balloon, but make sure you don’t let the baking soda spill into the bottle prematurely.
When you and your child are ready, lift the balloon and let the baking soda fall into the vinegar. Since baking soda and vinegar create an acid-base chemical reaction as soon as they’re combined, the balloon will start to inflate, filling up with the carbon dioxide gas created by the reaction in the bottle.
Want more ideas? Pull out these NASA DIY arts and crafts. If crafts aren’t their thing, let them try some of these NASA computer games. They can explore Mars, attend virtual astronaut school and more.
13. Get free building instructions for a mini LEGO build from the LEGO website.
- via Lego
Think your kids are engineers in the making? Visit LEGO’s Mini Builds online to get free building instructions every month for new building challenges using the bricks you already have.
PRO TIP: If your kid needs more LEGOs, use our LEGO sale guide so you can get more LEGOs for less.
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