School’s out for summer! If you’re like me, you’re excited to have family time but maybe also a bit nervous about keeping your kids entertained while they’re off.
A few years ago, my family started a fun tradition that has been a great “roadmap” for our summer breaks. Every year when school gets out, my kids (now 11, 8, and 4) and I create our annual Summer Bucket List - a list of activities that we want to do over the break. They range from simple to more adventurous and from free to not (although we never get too extravagant). Every family member gets to contribute ideas, and we settle on our favorites.
To download and print this list, click here:
Since our bucket lists have created so many incredible memories for my family, I wanted to share some ideas for your list (I’ve organized them by Free, Cheap, and A Bit More)! The activities you choose will depend on where you live, how old your children are, and what they’re interested in.
Here are some of our favorite activities:
1. Go on a scavenger hunt
Write a list and head out for a family walk. Depending on what you have on your list, your children can collect the items they find (flowers, shells, leaves, rocks, etc.). Search online for more ideas.
2. Camp in your backyard
There’s nothing better than some backyard camping with s’mores! My older kids will sleep outside all night, while my youngest likes to join in the fun and come inside when it’s time to sleep.
3. Paint rocks
Use acrylic paint, let the rocks dry, and leave them around town for others to find - an easy, fun activity that can make someone’s day!
4. Read a chapter book as a family
Go to the library together and check out some great books. Pick a time each evening to read a chapter or two out loud as a family. If any of your kids can read, take turns!
5. Go stargazing
Research what stars and constellations are visible where you live and spend an evening looking for them. You could even plan a star-themed dinner.
6. Have a movie night at home
We love to let each kid pick out a special treat to share with the family. Don’t forget the popcorn!
7. Have a picnic
Let each child help plan a part of the picnic. One chooses the drink; one chooses the main; one chooses the dessert. Let them get involved in the preparation and packing too.
8. Bake cookies
Find a new recipe and go shopping for the items together. Put on some great music and get whisking!
9. Tie-dye some summer attire
The best part about this is that you can use white items you already have at home.
10. Grow some herbs
Purchase pre-grown herbs or start from seeds. Get the kids involved by planting and then caring for their herbs. Bonus: Find a fun recipe and cook with your herbs together.
11. Learn about a new culture
Spend some time learning about a new culture. You can watch a TV show or documentary, check out books from the library, or research online. Find a new dish from that culture and cook it together as a family.
12. Do random acts of kindness
Let your kids plan random acts of kindness. Get a treat at the drive-through and pay for the car behind you, have your kids draw some pictures and add kind messages to leave on a neighbor’s porch, or have them sort through their toys and donate what they no longer need.
A Bit More
13. Take a road trip
Most summers we take a road trip to visit family. If you have an annual road trip (or want to start a new summer tradition) it can be fun to get the kids involved. Show them the route on a map, and if time allows, plan some fun stops along the way.
14. Visit a museum
While you may have been to the larger museums in your area, it can be fun to find the smaller, more obscure ones to visit. In our town, we have a publishing press and museum, a submarine museum, and a historical museum.
15. Take a class
There are so many classes out there - both virtual and in person. Whether it’s art, cooking, or music, find something that interests you and your family and take a class together.
16. Visit a U-pick garden
Find a U-pick garden near your home and gather a bounty.
17. Plan a day trip
Research nearby places you haven’t been to and plan a day trip. We like to keep the drive under two hours each way, but consider your child’s tolerance for being in the car for long stretches.
18. Have kids cook dinner
Let your kids choose a special dinner to make for the family! Depending on how old your kids are, this can range from homemade pizzas (great for younger kids) to a fancy pasta dish. You could even simplify things by letting your kids pick a meal kit from a site like HelloFresh.
19. Have a “yes” day
Spend a day saying “yes!” Ice cream for breakfast, mismatched shoes, playing a family board game? Yes, yes, yes! Your kids will have so much fun calling the shots.
20. Visit a national park
Our list always gets us trying something new and discovering somewhere nearby that we may never have known about. I hope your family also enjoys creating a Summer Bucket List and the memories that come along with it!
Comment below with some of your Summer Bucket List ideas.