Not-So-Endless Summer: 7 Green Ways to Keep Kids Entertained

Green LivingSave yourself a trip to the toy store. By repurposing common household items, you can save money and help reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills each year. National Geographic reports that Americans consume 29 million water bottles each year, more than any other country. And for every six bottles we use, only one is actually recycled.

Check out these creative ways to repurpose those water bottles, milk jugs and other items to help battle the “boreds” this summer.

1. Bowling for Bottles

Transform a dozen water bottles into bowling pins by filling them halfway with water to weigh them down. (You can add food coloring for extra fun!) Then, find a ball around the house — or make one out of tin foil — and let the games begin.


2. Squirting Soda Sprinkler

Photo: Heather Riggleman

Simply poke holes in a 2-liter soda bottle and attach it to your garden hose using duct tape for wacky water fun that doesn’t cost a ton.


3. Milk Carton Water Balloon Wars

Milk Cartons
Photo: Kimbo West/

Here’s a super cool game for a sweltering summer day: Cut out the bottom of plastic milk jugs, flip them over and use them to launch and catch water balloons for some backyard fun.


4. Beach Blanket Gadgets

The next time you hit the beach, pack a few common kitchen items that make great sand toys. An ice cream scoop comes in handy when making sandcastles, and a colander is useful for sifting through beachfront treasures. It’ll save you a few bucks and keep all those plastic beach toys out of landfills.

5. Hide, Shake & Seek Jars

Rice Shakers
Photo: Lindsey Krummenacher/

Fill a jar with items like beads or uncooked rice and add small toys or coins. Then have your kids shake the jar to find the hidden items. Be sure to seal it securely for little ones, and for extra fun, put a picture of Grandma or Grandpa inside! For older kids, challenge them to find specific objects (like a blue bead or a 2010 penny) in under a minute.

6. Plastic Bags Do the Double-Dutch

Plastic Bag Jump Rope
Photo: Beth Rosen/

Put all those bags to use by turning them into a jump rope. Twist them up, tie them end-to-end and braid them together. Then wrap the ends in duct tape for handles. Check out the complete directions.

7. Tin Can Golf

Peel the labels off of your soup cans and transform your yard, or even your living room, into a pee-wee putting green. Make sure to use a plastic ball to help avoid breaking windows or lamps with flying golf balls.

As you can see, all it takes is a little creativity—and a few items you already have on hand—to keep the kids cool and calm this summer.

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