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18 Backyard Boredom Busters (On a Budget)

“Mom, I’m bored. There’s nothing to do.” Does this sound familiar? If so, then you are in good company. It is probably one of the most common phrases uttered during the summer months, when children have the most unstructured time at home. During these long days, it is easy for kids to get caught in the trap of endlessly watching TV or playing on their tablets.

While it is exciting to spend the day at the park, the zoo, or wave pool, it just isn’t feasible to do these things every day. So, the question becomes, how do we create more stimulating days, get our kids to unplug and finally put down the tablet or smartphone, and all without spending a lot of money?

In situations like these, it’s time to go old school. If your parents where anything like mine, during the summer my mom told us to go outside to play. Although there were days when my siblings and I were reluctant, I am now grateful for her encouragement to use our imaginations and play outside.

Bicycles, scooters, and basketball hoops can provide afternoons filled with outdoor fun, but what about when you’re on a tight budget or lack the outdoor space, what then? Here are a few timeless ideas for fun outdoor activities guaranteed to bust through summer boredom, without breaking the bank.

sidewalk chalk

Sidewalk Chalk
Sidewalk chalk is highly versatile and can be used for a variety of activities. The best thing about it is that you can use it to draw a picture or play a game and then easily rinse it away when you want to change activities.

superhero kid

Pretend Play
The possibilities for pretend play are endless. Kids can use their imaginations to pretend to be in a different place, or different people. They can also use clothes or toys that they already have as props to make their imaginative play a bit more realistic.

family walk

Go for a Walk
Although an adult is likely need for this activity, going for a walk is a great way to catch up, see what’s new in your neighborhood, visit neighbors or explore nature.


Play with Bubbles
Bubbles are a source of wonder for children, countless hours full of laughter can be passed creating, chasing, and catching these mysterious floating orbs.

water play

Water Play
There is nothing more fun and refreshing on those hot summer days than water! A water hose, buckets, cups, a sprinkler or water guns and a little imagination can provide endless entertainment.

child and ball

Ball Games
A small to medium rubber ball is all that is needed for children to play catch or monkey in the middle. Kids will have fun rolling, bouncing, kicking and throwing a ball around. Or, they can get creative and make up their own games, like seeing who can bounce the ball highest.

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Here is an oldie but goodie. Use sidewalk chalk to draw out a 4-square cube and then grab a ball and teach your kids (if they don’t already know how) to play.


Obstacle Course
To make an obstacle course, kids can use their imaginations and surroundings. If they have a big backyard then they can use trees, hills and sticks. However, if they live in an area that lacks green space, kids can use sidewalk chalk to draw out an obstacle course and pair each step with an action. For instance, spin 3 times then hop on one foot to the next line.

simon says
Photo Credit: Stevendepolo via flickr

Simon Says
This game is great if there are a few neighborhood friends to join in the fun. When parents participate in this game it adds to the silliness factor and can leave your kids eager to play again and again.

mud pie

Make Mud Pies
Admittedly this one is a bit messy but it is also creative and loads of fun. Kids can use pie tins, bowls or even natural elements like rocks or sticks to make mud pies and then decorate them with leaves, flowers or anything really.

cloud watching

Cloud Watching
On a warm sunny day there is nothing more relaxing than laying in the grass, or finding a spot to sit and look at those big fluffy white clouds. Kids can use their creativity to find different shapes, objects or creatures in the clouds and maybe even tell a story about them.

child performance

Special Performances
Encourage your kids (and maybe their friends) to create a dance to one of their favorite songs, or make up their own skit, then they can perform it for their parents.

Raise Sucessful Kid

Take the paints and markers outside to create a drawing of their favorite animal, or paint something that they see in their backyard.

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Hula Hooping
Grab a couple hula hoops and the kids will have fun practicing, competing and coming up with new moves!

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Jump Rope
Not only can jumping rope be a fun, creative and a social activity, but it is also an amazing way to exercise. Encourage your kids to come up with different routines, this will help them use their creativity and practice their coordination.

water balloons

Water Games
Yes, there are many things you can do with water but playing games with it is exciting and fun. Grab some water balloons, and use your sidewalk chalk to draw a giant target then see who can earn the most points by throwing the water balloons at the target.

nursery rhyme

Nursery Rhymes
These may not seem so exciting at first but once your kids round up some friends and get into a fun game of red rover, stella-ella-ola, or duck-duck-goose they won’t want to stop.


Bug Safari
An inquisitive nature is all that is needed for going on a bug safari. Encourage your kids to explore and seek out lady bugs, caterpillars or lightening bugs.


Is there something that your children love to play outside during the summer? What keeps your kids busy all summer long?

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