Summer is finally here! Bring on the flip-flops, cookouts and cocktails (after the spring we’ve had, make that lots of cocktails. Lots and lots of cocktails). We can all agree that the past few months of being cooped up have been a bit, how should we say? Challenging? … leaving us with more family time than we ever could have imagined. However, with homeschooling craziness behind us and a more relaxed schedule on the horizon, there’s no better time to plan some fun activities to make the most of your summer and create lasting family memories.
So if you are looking for some creative ways to connect with your kids, get involved in the community, or simply relax and have fun together, we have you covered with our Summer Bucket List ideas. Creating a bucket list is a great way to make summer plans as a family, set goals, and give everyone something to look forward to. We’ve organized our ideas into 11 categories with indoor and outdoor activities. Use our categories to create your own bucket list, or kick it up another notch by using our Bingo card on p. to keep track of your activities. See how many times your family can get Bingo, or even better, try to cover the entire board by Labor Day. Either way, you are bound to have fun!
Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are a great way to explore nature whether it be in a local park, or your neighborhood. Make a list of things to find or collect (a butterfly, berries, a colorful bird, a feather, an interesting rock) and suddenly that walk your kids were complaining about is transformed into an exciting adventure. Stuck inside on a rainy day? Make a list of elusive indoor items (a sock with a hole, a flashlight, a red winter hat, a blue rubber band). Let your kids help make the list as part of the fun!
Pay it Forward
The past few months have taught us to appreciate the little things in life, and that small gestures can go a long way towards brightening someone’s day. Find time during the summer to let those around you know that you are thinking about them. Create chalk art on the sidewalk outside a friend’s house or the home of a senior neighbor; make cards for residents of a nursing home or paint rocks with cheerful designs to randomly place around your neighborhood or a park trail.
Try Something New
Summer is the perfect time to dabble in new experiences. Use this time to encourage your kids to step outside their comfort zone: Try a new food, learn to juggle, start a gratitude journal, try a new sport, find a new hobby, take up an instrument, learn to cook … the possibilities are endless!
Too much screen time is always a concern of parents during the summer months. Get your kids unplugged and off the couch by creating summer fitness challenges. For younger children you might build an outside obstacle course using things like hula hoops, cones, jump ropes and pool noodles. Time the kids as they complete the course over several days or weeks and see if they can improve their speed. Older kids can set more concrete goals like building up to a mile or 2 mile run, or swimming 20 laps in the pool. If your tween or teen is ready for a real challenge, try training for a fall 5k or a short triathlon or biathlon.
Volunteering as a family is a great way to teach kids to be socially conscious, especially during times of crisis when so many are in need. Consider collecting canned goods and other dry essentials from family, friends and neighbors to donate to a local food pantry, or volunteer with an organization like the Jewish Relief Agency (www.jewishrelief.org) where families can help deliver food to families in the greater Philadelphia area.
An abundance of fun and interesting experiments can be found online to keep your kids excited and engaged while learning basic science principles. Start with the tried and true favorites – learn about chemical reactions by building a model “volcano” using vinegar and baking soda, or check out what happens to saturated solutions while making rock candy. Get even more creative by baking s’mores in a solar “oven” using a pizza box and tinfoil or learn about weather by creating a raincloud in a jar (see www.learningliftoff.com/5-easy-summer-science-experiments-for-kids)
It’s no secret that kids love to bake. The clean-up part? Not so much. Pick a yummy summer dessert (think key lime pie or strawberry shortcake) and have a family bake-off using 2 different recipes. Vote for your favorite and cross your fingers that the “loser” is a good sport!
Find Your Green Thumb
Gardening is a great way to teach kids about nature and sustainability…not to mention patience! There are many simple ways to introduce kids to gardening that don’t involve a lot of outdoor space or maintenance. You can grow a small windowsill “garden” by planting bean, sunflower or herb seeds in cups or small pots. Another fun activity is re-growing vegetables from table scraps. Place lettuce, celery, carrot or green onion ends in water and once new roots form, transfer the sprout to a small pot (detailed instructions can be found at www.ruralsprout.com/regrow-vegetables). Pretty cool, huh?
Camp out (or In!)
Kids love sleeping in a tent under the stars. Host a good old-fashioned camp out in your backyard where you roast marshmallows, tell stories, catch fireflies and play games. If the weather isn’t cooperating you can still “camp” indoors using a small pop tent or blankets draped over chairs. Play board games, work on a puzzle, or watch movies. Whatever you do, don’t forget the hot dogs and s’mores!
There are endless craft ideas online to keep your little ones busy all summer. If you are feeling brave, tie-dye, slime and friendship bracelets are classic favorites that never seem to get old with younger kids. If you are looking for something less time consuming, try designing art with shells, making a birdfeeder, painting with things found in nature or making giant homemade bubbles or play-doh.
The average mom has approximately 1.32 million photos of her family on her phone (give or take a few), but rarely does anything with them! Spend time with your kids creating an online photo album or even better, go old school and print the photos and have your kids put together a hard copy album or scrapbook from a special event or vacation. Older kids who have their own phones may have fun printing photos of friends or family members to make collages, notecards or a hanging clothes line display to decorate their room.