Spending more time with your kids over the summer is great in theory, but when the reality hits of having your kids home for 24 hours a day, for almost 3 months, the pressure is on. Not only do you need to keep them busy, but you also want to ensure you’re providing them with quality activities to engage their minds.

Keep reading to discover the some inexpensive projects you can do with your children this summer to keep them busy and excited about learning.

Work On a Photo Book

With the constant presence of social media, our society has lost the value of a handheld photo. Encourage your kids to start capturing memories without the use of online technology or social media sites. Try investing in a camera that gives them instant printed shots to document their summer months.

Then, when they have several photos, take a trip to your local craft store. Let them pick out materials to create a photo book. Encourage your kids to decorate the pages with scrapbooking paper, drawings, and pictures. Have them write bylines that explain the context of each photo. Hopefully, this activity will allow them to have the summer’s memories for a lifetime.

Create a Bucket List

Adults don’t have to be the only ones with a bucket list. Children are more than capable of identifying activities they would like to do and working toward completing their goals.

Encourage your children to create a bucket list. Then, associate each activity with a reward point system and allow them to “earn” their bucket list activity. Next, have them complete chores around the house or educational activities, like reading or practicing the piano, to earn points.

You can use a summer bucket list to help inspire your kids to be productive and helpful around the house. This will teach them the value of working toward your goals. It will also provide them with a sense of accomplishment when they’ve earned their bucket list activity.

Research Scholarships

If your kids are older, they have the ability to figure out what their next steps in life will be after high school. That’s why it’s important to encourage your teens to start researching scholarship opportunities. Scholarships are available in community colleges, trade schools, or university education settings.

If your teens are younger, scholarship information will provide them with goals for the upcoming school year. Help them create a “dream sheet” of the academic accomplishments they’d like to make in school. Then, relate those goals toward how they can earn scholarships. This will teach your teens to create action plans for the things they want and life lesson that will serve them throughout their entire adulthood.

Write a Pen Pal

Teachers and employers often complain about the younger generation’s penmanship. They can improve their writing skills by engaging in correspondence with a pen pal. It will also enable them to develop a relationship with someone they may not communicate with on a regular basis.

Grandparents make great pen pals. Usually, they have the time and the patience to write letters to your children. They can share stories of their childhood or answer questions about their lives that your kids may not otherwise learn about. Writing with a pen pal is a great way to occupy your children’s time. Additionally, it will help them practice the skills they’ve learned during the previous school year.

Read a Book

While it seems logical to have your children read over the summer, sometimes we forget the simple things. Taking a trip to a local library will allow your children to take a break from screen time and to pick a book or series in a genre of their personal interest.

Reading will also help your children reiterate the lessons they learned during the previous school year. It will keep their minds engaged and inspire their imagination. Libraries often offer story time for younger generations. There are also reading lists for older children with the ability to earn rewards for reading. Teaching your kids the value of a good book will benefit them both during the summer and upcoming school year.

Declutter Their Room

It’s amazing how many toys, clothes, and papers your children can accumulate. Therefore, helping them declutter their room can help them keep their space clean. While the task may seem boring and chore oriented, it can be a great learning opportunity. This will also show your children that it’s okay to declutter their space to make room for new things.

Once they’ve completed the cleaning, give your kids information about local charities that can benefit from items they no longer need. If your children are older, have them sell their items online to make extra cash. If you’re ambitious, you can even organize a yard sale and allow your kids to keep some of the profit.  No matter how you approach it, cleaning their space will benefit both of you.

Write a Gratitude Journal  

This project can tie multiple suggestions together. Encouraging your children to take time to write down what they are grateful for will assist them in practicing their penmanship. It will also encourage your children to remember to express appreciation for all of the wonderful opportunities they have.

A gratitude journal may come in handy after or during the time your children are cleaning their rooms. When they’ve had an opportunity to view all of their possessions, they may realize that they have more than they need and a lot to be grateful for.

Teaching our younger generation the act of gratitude establishes positive lifelong behaviors. These types of lessons are ones that aren’t always taught in school and are important to incorporate in your kids’ home life.

Complete a Research Project on a Topic They Enjoy

Encouraging your children to explore their interests is a must. Learning more about the topics that they find to be particularly engaging will help your kids think about their future goals.

The initial concept of a research paper may not seem fun to your children. However, you can help them learn about the fun of investigating their favorite topics. Make the project an adventure and teach them techniques to research in an effective manner. Not only will this engage your children’s minds, it will also allow them to learn new skills.  

Design Savings Jars

Adding to the idea of imparting life lessons, try creating savings jars with your kids.

Start by using three savings jars (savings, spending, and donating). Then, explain each of the jars’ purposes and why they need to divide their money amongst them.

Next, allow your kids to decorate their jars. Their spending jar can have pictures or drawings of things they’d like to buy. This will allow them to start brainstorming ways they can make each jar’s money grow!

Get Crafty

Crafting is an easy and creative project for children. They can craft for fun or as part of a bigger project (like re-decorating their rooms). You would have a hard time finding a kid who doesn’t enjoy the opportunity to get crafty. 

Develop a Business Plan

As your children age they will inevitably want money for activities they’d like to do with their friends. Therefore, encouraging your children to develop a summer business plan, to earn money toward these activities, will benefit you both.

Creating a business plan will help your children learn work ethic and the value of a dollar. A business plan will also teach your kids about the process involved in earning money.

Whether they want to open a lemonade stand, mow lawns, sell items online, or pet sit, encourage your children to start their business with a plan in mind.


While several children are too young to volunteer, tweens and teens are the perfect age. Try to seek out opportunities at your local senior center or pet rescue for your teens to spend a few hours every week serving others. Embracing community service at a young age is an important facet to raising responsible citizens.

The Bottom Line

Whether you want to spend a lot of money, or as little money as possible, you can provide your children with value based summer projects. From crafting to writing a pen pal, fill your kids’ time with activities that encourage academic and social growth.


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