TV presenter Helen Skelton's shares her favourite activities to keep kids entertained at home this summer

42 ideas to keep kids entertained all summer

If you are struggling to come up with things to do with the kids at home this summer, TV presenter and broadcaster Helen Skelton has teamed up with Smart Energy to create a list of 42 activities to help keep the kids entertained at home.

Research by Smart Energy GB found that 7 in 10 parents are worried that keeping children entertained this summer will be harder than usual. While sticking your kids in front of the TV or games console is an option, it isn't the best way to spend a glorious summer day. Especially when a quarter of parents are concerned about the increase in energy consumption over the summer holidays.

As a mother of two young boys, Helen Skelton is no stranger to struggling to find ways to keep kids entertained at home. She has put together 42 activity ideas that you can do at home with your children. They are all sustainable and energy-free to help avoid that surge in your next energy bill.

Woman standing next to boy playing with tree branch

(Image credit: Smart Energy GB)

42 things to do with kids at home this summer

1. 42-day time capsule

See if you can put something in it for every one of the 42 days ahead to create a memory box of an unforgettable summer. 

2. Construct a marble run

How will you keep the marble moving so it makes its whacky way from start to finish? Be as imaginative as possible!

3. Learn some sign language

Learn how to introduce yourself – and then challenge a friend to do the same.

4. Freeze leaves & flowers

A fun way to enjoy the beauty of flowers: freeze them in ice cubes to add a splash of colour to a glass of water. Just make sure to check with an adult that the flowers are safe to eat.

Overview of white and yellow flowers and purple flowers in a vase.

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

5. No lights for an evening

An energy saver and a chance to have your bedtime story read by torch (or outside!). If you have a smart meter, take a look to see what difference turning the lights off makes.

6. Conduct a sunlight experiment

How will plants grow in darker spaces compared to sunlit places, like on a windowsill? Choose two different environments and track your progress over the rest of the summer holidays. 

7. Local food meal

Can you find shops or a community farm that sell food grown near your house? With the help of an adult can you make these high quality and fresh ingredients into a tasty meal!

Variety of vegetables in baskets

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jon Day)

8. Go on a rainbow hunt

Go for a walk with your family and find something in nature from every colour of the rainbow. Take photos along the way! 

9. Grow herbs at home

Herbs such as parsley, mint and basil can all easily be grown in a pot on the windowsill – get an adult to help you plant them and don’t forget to top up the water! Do they taste different from the herbs you buy?

10. Collect rainwater for plants

See if you can catch rainwater in a bucket and use it to water any plants you have. This is a simple way to save on water.

11. Host a green-themed tea party

Serve green food and come dressed in green to celebrate our connection to nature.

12. Make a seed bomb

Mix some daisy seeds with peat-free compost and water – roll into a ball – let them dry – and bombs away! Remember where the bomb landed and see if your flowers grow. 

Flowers in pot plant next to gardening tools

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

13. Create a sundial

A time telling trick as old as time. Perhaps you could also create a time-lapse of the sun’s shadow making its way around the day on someone’s phone?

14. Paint the moon cycle

Follow the lunar movements! From full moon (3rd Aug) to new moon (19th Aug). Paint the shapes of the moon as they develop. 

15. Make a paper aeroplane

Fly like the wind! Whose plane will be the most aerodynamic and travel the furthest distance?

16. Try helping out by washing your clothes by hand

This is how people used to wash their clothes before washing machines were invented. Washing machines can use a lot of energy and be expensive to run – but they certainly save on time!

Colourful cloths hanging on line above wicker baskets and potted plants outside.

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

17. Play ‘float or sink’

Get a bowl of water and find some household items, food or things from the garden. Then take turns guessing which will float or sink to the bottom.

18. Make a temporary dam

If you have a stream nearby, collect twigs, branches and stones to stop the flow of water. Just remember to remove the dam afterwards. No stream? Improvise at home!

19. Send a Haiku postcard

A Japanese poem formed of 3 lines with 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively. Send it to someone you are missing over the summer.

20. Go foraging

Local woodlands are perfect for encouraging the inner forager – so go explore with an adult. If you can’t forage outside – play a foraging style scavenger hunt at home.

21. Make a nature mobile

Nature is your resource for materials: twigs, leaves and dried flowers will look great hanging in your home or garden.

Wicker chair with basket of flowers on next to fruit basket and wellington boots

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

22. Dance in the rain

Embrace the rain! Dancing in the rain is a liberating experience you are unlikely to forget. 

23. Become an energy waste detective

Organise a family scavenger hunt to find unused appliances in your home that can be unplugged to save on energy waste. You can also monitor how much energy different items in your house use with a smart meter. Ask your parents who their energy supplier is and encourage them to request an installation.

24. Make a pinwheel wind farm

Put your craft skills to the test and build some paper windmills. All you need is paper, scissors, a stick and a pin! 

25. Keep a balloon off the floor

A simple challenge that awakens joy in a person any age. How long can you keep the balloon in the air? 

26. Make an obstacle course

Let your inner architect run wild and see how quickly you can complete the course.

27. Make an outdoor orchestra

Strike up the band and experiment with turning items from your kitchen and nature into instruments.

28. Paint a self-portrait using no hands

Embrace imperfections and enjoy the silliness! Once you’ve done yourself – try another family member! 

29. Write a love letter to Mother Nature

If you could tell Mother Nature anything, what would you say? 

Wooden desk top with pens, pencils and books on.

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

30. Make a domino rally

Use everyday objects to build it and start an epic chain reaction.

31. Help hang clothes outside to dry

If we have a sunny spell, why not skip the tumble dryer and help hang your clothes outside? If you have a smart meter compare your energy use to see what a difference it makes when the sun does all the work. Plus, the hanging clothes also make for a great game of hide and seek!

32. Identify 5 different birds

First, use your eyes to identify different species and then take note of their different bird calls. 

33. Make a costume from anything but clothes

Recycling gone wild! Everyone creates a different outfit and you can put on a fashion show. 

34. Make pencil rubbings

Look for patterns, shapes & textures in nature and turn your surroundings into art. 

35. Have a picnic

Take to a local park or the garden and enjoy the simple joy of eating outside. Remember to pack some games too! Don’t forget to put your rubbish in the bin or recycling. 

Blue picnic blanket with blue pillows and food on green grass

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

36. Paint a watercolour with rain

As stormy skies gather - put some sheets of paper outside with drops of water colour paint on them. Let the rain do the rest of the work! 

37. Recycle your clothing

Find out how many clothes you’ve grown out over the summer! Help an adult bag them up and take them to your local second-hand clothes shop.

38. Watch a sunrise & sunset

Do sunrise and sunset feel different? Are the colours the same? Take some art supplies with you to capture the moment. 

39. Be a street artist

Paint a stone and leave them for others to find! 

Plate on wooden counter with various colours of paint on and paint brush next to glass containers with different colors of paint in

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

40. Climb a tree

Start small and get more ambitious as you go. Can you see any nests or animals while you're up there? You’re climbing in their home after all! 

41. Create pavement art

Use stones and chalk to create your star maps for passers-by.

42. Create an exhibition from your time capsule contents!

What a summer it’s been! Open your time capsule and create a mini-exhibition of your summer memories.

Related: Kids doing THIS at home could cost be costing you up to £3,000

Will you be trying out any of Helen Skelton's activity ideas with your children?

Rebecca Knight
Deputy Editor, Digital

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.