12 Old-Fashioned Summer Activities for Making Special Memories

young family with little children playing with toy fishing poles by side of water

12 Old-Fashioned Summer Activities for Making Special Memories

For many, the 2020 Summer season will be different from anything we've experienced before. Vacations, camps, activities, and sports are canceled or restricted. Water parks, museums, and amusement places have been closed with only a vague plan of what a reopening looks like or means. Students finishing the school year at home was difficult enough, but now parents are faced with the new challenge of an empty summer schedule and kids to entertain.

Instead of viewing this as another calamity, I encourage you to see it as an opportunity to enjoy an "old-fashioned" summer of bonding with your family.

Here are 12 activities from the days before technology ruled, bound to bring back memories, and all of them free or of low cost to you!

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Halfpoint

Outdoor Activities

Outdoor Activities

1. Camp out in the Backyard

The campgrounds may be closed or restricted, which make it impossible to go, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a few nights tent camping with your family. Set up a tent in the front or back yard. If you don't have a yard where you can do this, set it up in your living room. Need a tent? Do a quick internet search for how to make a tent out of a tarp. There is nothing like spending the night looking at the stars, making dinner over a fire(pit), and snuggling in with your loved ones as you experience God's creation.

2. Plan a Picnic

It is a simple activity, but one that can be lots of fun. Have the kids help plan and pack the picnic lunch. Go for finger foods and bottled or canned drinks to make it easy. Don't forget a large blanket, napkins, and either paper plates or frisbees. My family has used frisbees for our camping dishes for years. Food doesn't slide off, and they serve the double purpose of entertainment. Pick a shaded spot and enjoy yourselves. One last suggestion is to leave your phones in the basket. Use this time to converse and play games together.

3. Have a Field Day

I've always enjoyed the movies where you see communities come together and have friendly competitions. Like them, you can plan a field day no matter the size of your family. Some suggested activities are: three-legged races, relay races, partner egg tosses, and tug-of-war. Need more ideas? I recommend searching the internet for school field day ideas. The results will give you lots of outdoor suggestions and directions.

4. Play Catch, Baseball, or Kickball

Fun can be had no matter the size of your family. A game of catch only takes two people. Baseball and kickball are best with three or more, but is possible with two people. I've been known to use my shoes to mark bases and an extra-large rock when necessary. If you have a small yard, plastic bats and balls are best. For kickball, those air-filled rubber balls are best, but you can use a soccer ball or volleyball. I find kicking a basketball is painful.

Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Robert Collins

a girl sliding down the slip in slide in her backyard

Water Activities

5. Build Your Own Water Slide

Just because the pools and water parks are closed doesn't mean you can't have some water fun. It's time to pull out the sprinklers, water hose, dish soap, and tarps. Growing up, my family and I always made our water slide down the hill of our back yard. We even took cement blocks and, with the tarp, created a little pool for all the water to gather in. While I wouldn't recommend that actual method as you could run into the wall and get scuffed up pretty good, it was a memory I have cherished all my life. Lay a long tarp (or several) down the hill, making sure that any overlapping tarps will not get snagged as you slid down. Then spray some dish soap along the whole of the tarp and give it a good spray to get everything wet. Once you finish the initial wetting, leave the water hose on a low flow at the top of the tarp, and then it is time to fly down.

6. Fill the Bucket

Need something that won't run the water bill up? All this activity requires is one bucket full of water, a second empty bucket, and a sponge (the bigger, the better). In this activity, kids will dip the sponge in the full bucket and rush to fill the second bucket. It could be a simple racing back and forth, or you can get creative. Participants could carry the sponge over their heads, pass it down the line in an over-and-under manner, or they could have to balance it a certain way. Fill the Bucket is a great way to have fun and get wet.

7. Water Balloons

Nothing is more fun than chasing friends and family around with a water balloon. This one takes preparation and materials, but thankfully the dollar store usually has water balloons this time of year. Stock up, fill them up, and then go to war. Here is a cleanup tip: I give the first pick of the popsicles afterward to the kid who picks up the most balloon pieces.

8. Take a Trip to the Creek and Skip Rocks or Go Fishing

Exploring creek beds can be a lot of fun and allows you and your family to play in God's creation. My boys have always enjoyed turning over rocks while looking for crawdads, toads, or salamanders. Skipping stones is a favorite pastime as we search for just the perfect rock and then see who can skip it the most times. If it is a deep creek, pond, or lake, pulling out the fishing poles can provide a leisurely time where meaningful conversations can occur. Take advantage of a simple time to slow down and be surprised by what God has to show your family.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/monkeybusinessimages

mom with children looking out rainy window

Rainy Day Activities

9. Make Sock Puppets

Do you have old socks or single socks hanging around? Grab markers, buttons, twist ties, and other oddities from around the house and let your kids have at it. Maybe talk about what kind of puppet show they want to put on, so they know what puppets they will need. Depending on their age, you can have a break while they get creative. When they finish, all will be rewarded with a cherished memory and a video of their puppet show.

10. Tell Stories

Storytelling is as old as time itself, but this is storytelling with a twist. Gather the family together and allow one person to start the story. A second person will continue the story building upon what the previous person said, and each person in the group will keep adding on until everyone decides the story is finished. Need some ideas? Search for story starter prompts and let imaginations go wild. It might sound intimidating, but you will be amazed at what your kids will imagine. I've never walked away without a good laugh.

11. Create a Scavenger Hunt

Just in case you are not familiar with a scavenger hunt, participants race against each other to find, collect, and bring back items from a list. These lists can be as specific or as general as you want. For instance, you can say a toothbrush, or something you use to brush your teeth. Scavenger hunts are fun and can take as long or as short as you want.

12. Play Memory

While Memory has generally been reduced to a matching card game today, it used to be much different. In this edition of Memory, participants look at a random collection of twenty or thirty items for one minute. The items are then covered with a cloth, and the participants write down as many things as they can remember. Times, number of items, and item themes can vary according to what you desire. The person who remembers the most is the winner. I suggest family members take turns collecting the items.

While this summer may not be what we expected, it doesn't mean summer is ruined. May these activities spark a host of ideas and create memories that will last a lifetime.


Crystal Caudill is a wife, caregiver, mom of teen boys, historical romance author, and prayer warrior. She isn't perfect but she strives to grow in God and encourage others in their faith journeys every day. Learn more about her and her writing at http://www.crystalcaudill.com.

Photo Credit: © Getty/Catherine-Falls-Commercial

Crystal Caudill is a wife, caregiver, mom of teen boys, historical romance author, and prayer warrior. She isn't perfect but she strives to grow in God and encourage others in their faith journeys every day. Learn more about her and her writing at http://www.crystalcaudill.com.