4 Screen-Free Summer Activities

To get your family started on your path to summer fun, we’ve featured four fantastic activities to kickstart the good times from Screen-Free Fun: 400 Activities for the Whole Family.

Tie-Dye a T-Shirt

Ages 8–12

Brighten up a dreary day with a project that enhances your child’s wardrobe. All you need is an old white T-shirt, acrylic paint, rubber bands, and a squirt bottle to unleash your kids’ inner artists. Prepare your art station by mixing one part water with one part acrylic paint in a squirt bottle. You can also use a tie-dye paint kit. You can mix and match colors or make several bottles with various colors of paint for a colorful result. Dip the T-shirts in water and wring out excess water so each one is lightly damp. Set up a workstation outside and help your children tie chunks of the shirt in rubber bands in various patterns on the T-shirts. Once the T-shirt is tied and ready to go, place it on a tarp and start squirting the paint onto the shirt using the squirt bottles. Allow the paint to dry for one hour before removing the rubber bands. The T-shirt should be almost dry at this point, but hanging it in the sun or putting it in the dryer for fifteen minutes will help set the colors.

Build a Fort

Ages 8–12

Building forts doesn’t have to be reserved for indoor play on rainy days. Your children can build an outdoor fort that provides them with a place to play while roaming your yard. Start this activity by brainstorming items that would help construct an outdoor fort. From boxes or pieces of cardboard to old sheets and blankets draped over tent stakes to using a fence as a built-in wall, your children have lots of options. Once the materials are gathered, you may need some duct tape to secure cardboard boxes or blankets to line the floor of the fort. Personalize the fort by giving it a name and adding a sign with fort rules. When the fort is ready to go, the options for play are endless. Your children can host a secret meeting with their friends or read books in the comfort of their newfound hideout while enjoying the fresh air.

Craft Cardboard Cars

Ages 6–12

Make good use of large moving boxes by crafting cardboard cars with your kids. This activity requires the help of an adult, but it’s well worth the effort! To get started, seal a large box on all but one side with packing tape. Using a box cutter or sharp scissors, cut a space for a car door on each side of the box, leaving the top flap free. Trim down the top flap to make a windshield for the vehicle that your little one can decorate. Next, attach paper plates to the bottom four sides of the cardboard box car with glue to serve as the wheels. You can even glue on plastic cups to the front of the box for the headlights. Once the structure is set, have your kids decorate their cardboard cars with paint, markers, or crayons. The only thing left to do is host a drive-in movie night in the garage or driveway.

Play Capture the Flag

Ages 6–12

If the kids need some exercise and you have a woody area full of trees readily available perfect for hiding flags, get them ready to run for this exciting outdoor game. The object of the game is to hide your team’s flag and then search for the other team’s flag. Begin by grabbing a few scarves, handkerchiefs, or even an old, colorful T-shirt to serve as the flag for both teams. Then, divide the children equally into teams and send them off to hide their team’s flags without letting the other players see their special hiding spot. If playing in a park, make sure you designate specific areas for play. Then, with players from both teams guarding their territory, the children can run and try to find the flag without getting caught or tagged by a team member from the opposing group. If caught, the player is taken to a designated spot, known as the “jail.” However, if one of your team members tags you while you are in jail, you are freed. The game is over once the first flag is found.

Excerpted from Screen-Free Fun: 400 Activities for the Whole Family by Shannon Philpott-Sanders. Copyright © 2018 Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.