Simple No-Prep Ideas for Summer Fun

Simple Low & No Prep Ideas for Summer Fun from Encourage Play

The kids beam as they get ready for school. “Mommy, there’s only 10 more days until summer vacation!”

Every morning, they’re excited as they report the number of days left, and as the number gets lower and lower, you start to a little anxious.

You’re attempting to balance activities & camps with some stretches of downtime. You want to avoid constant screen time...all...summer...long. You want something that’s easy to set up and encourages their creativity.  

What can you do?

Here are some of my go to summer activities for my kids! I love these because they don’t require me to get anything ready or set anything up. They just use what we have on hand at our house.

Make a pulley

Tie a string to a bucket. Seriously, that's it. This kept my kids working together for hours indoors and outdoors last year. They lifted and lowered rocks and leaves outside and shopkins inside. Just give them the warning that they need to look out for other people when lowering the bucket, so they don’t get an unexpected bonk on the head. And be prepared that a heavy load or a dropped rope may mean the end of a plastic bucket (totally happened to us a couple of times)


There are so many different ways you can use a balloon. You can make a balloon rocket. You can play tennis or hockey. You can blow it up and let it go. Get creative!

Paper Fish

All you do is get a cut a strip of paper, cut a notch on one end, then another notch on the other side and slide it together. Such a simple but fun activity. We did this a lot when we were in Toronto. Now that my kids know how to make them, they’ll sit and make them by themselves.

Paper Airplanes

How many different ways do you know how to make paper airplanes? Teach your kids how you make paper airplanes and see if they can think of other ways of making them. Use different paper and see how that impacts your plane’s ability to fly. Make a target for them to aim at or have the kids race the different kinds.

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Crazy Critters Game

This is a super easy game to set up. There are so many different combinations of crazy critters they can make. This downloadable printable not only comes with the crazy critter game, but also a dice you can print and fold too. All you need to add is something to write or draw with and paper.



Pipe Cleaners

One package of pipe cleaners can last a while. You can make rings and crowns, little creatures, people or you can use them in art projects.

Paper Cups

This was another one of our go to toys in Canada. I love to watch my kids get creative with the cups. They would make pyramids and knock them down. They’d sort them and set them up as part of a shop. They’d try to make a really tall structure without letting it fall down.

Secret Messages

All you need is a white crayon, white paper and watercolors. How neat! See it in action:

Recycling Invitation to Create

My kids favorite place to get toys is to use the cardboard boxes, cardboard tubes, newspaper, plastic containers, etc from the recycling bin. They make all sorts of unusual and interesting creations. You can also have them use other items from around the house like:

  • Coffee filters
  • Paper plates
  • Straws

Put on a show

Encourage them to make their own show. It could be a puppet show, a story they write, or a fashion show with items from your dress up chest. Have them plan it out and get it ready to perform.

The Social Skills Connection

These activities can give you opportunities to give positive feedback when things are going well. Even a simple high five is great!

If things don’t go well, it gives you a teachable moment to step in and talk about how things could be done differently next time. Use a social autopsy to figure out what happened and generate ideas for next time.   

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