Many of us homeschool families have put away the schoolbooks for the summer and are savoring the idea of some school-free weeks or months in which we can catch our breath and do some planning for next semester. But with summer in Indiana comes a few things we can count on. Mud season. Humidity. Lake days. And last, but certainly not least, kids who inevitably come to us uttering the words I’m booored.

Upon hearing of my children’s boredom, my first instinct is to rattle off an array of chores from which they can choose, but this generally only adds grumpiness to their boredom. Often, it’s tempting to offer them more screen time. After all, screen time equals quiet time for parents, right? But too much time in front of a screen makes my kids dull and uncreative, and I want better for them. 

If this struggle sounds familiar, read on for a list of 50 screen-free ideas to beat your school-aged child’s boredom this summer. Most of these simple ideas can be adapted to suit a broad age range, and most are free, depending on what you may have lying around the house. I’m not claiming all these ideas are unique or mind-blowing, but it is nice to have them all compiled in one spot.

Here we go:


  1. Paint
  2. Bake
  3. Read
  4. Play in the hose
  5. Frisbee
  6. Play catch
  7. Train the family pet to do a new trick
  8. Write a real letter to a relative, friend, or celebrity
  9. Exercise
  10. Make up a dance
  11. Play an instrument
  12. Build a small boat out of household items and see if it floats
  13. Play Doh
  14. Board games
  15. Solitaire (with real cards)
  16. Experiment with new hairstyles
  17. Sidewalk chalk
  18. Write a story
  19. Write a song
  20. Make up a skit
  21. Make homemade puppets
  22. Put on a puppet show
  23. Have a family talent show
  24. Dehydrate something (apple slices, for instance)
  25. Search for toads or caterpillars
  26. Puzzles
  27. Balance a broom handle on your palm in the yard – try to beat your time
  28. Leave wildflowers on someone’s porch
  29. Design a family flag
  30. Make a smoothie
  31. Research safe, local edible plants and forage
  32. Make a fort
  33. Water balloon fight
  34. Press flowers and use clear packing tape to create bookmarks
  35. Leaf rubbings
  36. Wildlife sketches
  37. Dig a hole
  38. Have a tea party – pretend with youngers or go all out with charcuterie with olders
  39. Legos
  40. Cross stitch
  41. Knit or crochet
  42. Make up jokes
  43. Call a relative and ask them about their childhood
  44. Wash the car
  45. Play dress-up
  46. Origami
  47. Carve a bar of soap into a piece of art
  48. Whittle
  49. Practice starting a fire (in a designated fire pit with adult supervision)
  50. Make a card for someone “just because”

My kids have already utilized this list a handful of times in the past two weeks, and I hope yours try it out as well. I’ve also designated one screen-free day per week in our household, and I’m excited to see that my kids have embraced it, coming alive, getting creative, and spending quality time together in lieu of screens. I recommend giving it a try if you’re so inclined!

This list is certainly not comprehensive, so add your family’s own ideas on to extend it for your kids! Let’s unplug together and bring some simplicity and serenity back to childhood.


Jessie Mattis is a homeschooling mom of three and a Christian fiction author. She and her family live in Bloomington, Indiana where they are currently trying to figure out how to raise chickens. Learn more and snag a free historical fiction novelette at jessiemattis.com.