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It’s official. May is here and that means summer is only a couple of weeks away. Some of you might even be counting down in days at this point.
Our summer months are filled with lots of time outdoors and with friends and family. I relish in the slower days, less scheduling and time to just be together.
But it hasn’t always been this way. I used to dread summer vacation and the idea of months home from school. What were we going to do all summer long?
Then, I discovered these summer bucket list ideas for kids. We love to experience new and different things together. These super fun ideas help grow the parent-child bond and fill our summer days with awesome.
So, now I look forward to summer vacation time. Every year. I can’t wait to create our summer bucket list and get started on summer fun.
And we get to celebrate so much of life together during the summer months. It really is quite wonderful.
I’ve posted below a list of 112 super fun summer bucket list ideas activities for kids. They range from simple to complex. Free to costing money. There are activities for the very young and those for older kids.
How to Make a Summer Bucket List
Every summer, our family makes a summer bucket list. Basically, it’s a list of about 50 things that we have to try or do to make our summer complete. A guide to how we would like our summer to unfold.
Making a summer bucket list is easy and a fun family tradition to start. To make your own summer bucket list, download and print this Free Printable Summer Bucket List.
Then, review these summer activity ideas with your kids. They are the perfect summer bucket list ideas.
Discuss the ideas with your kids. Which ones interest them? What would they like to do together this summer? What other ideas can they add?
See if they come up with other ideas that they want to add to the list. Most importantly, be sure to include them in the discussion. It will lead to better participation in the final choices.
Then, make your summer bucket list and start having fun.
Are These Summer Bucket List Ideas Expensive?
The one thing that I have discovered about summer is that it can be expensive. From amusement park passes to summer camp sign ups, summer activities for kids can cost a lot of money.
I’ve learned over the years, though, that it doesn’t have to. Summer can cost as much or as little as you want. It’s all up to the activities you choose or want to do.
For these summer bucket list ideas for kids, I tried to choose activities that weren’t that expensive. Except roller coaster riding. That might cost a bit.
Although many of the summer bucket list activities can be done with things that you have around your house, some require specific items. I have included some links to things that we use to get the fun started faster.
If you find that you don’t have some items needed to do an activity and can’t afford to purchase something new, it’s time to get creative. Ask a neighbor to see if you can borrow them. Check out yard sales and your local online marketplace for options.
You can even try trading items with friends so that everyone can try something new. (We used to do this with toys in the summer!)
Most importantly, don’t let a missing item stop you from trying something new.
There are lots of solutions for doing summer activities with kids on a budget. It’s just about thinking outside of the box.
Trying to Stay Screen Free
As a mostly screen free family, I tried to choose summer bucket list ideas for kids that didn’t involve screens. You know. Good old fashioned summertime fun.
From playing hopscotch to climbing rocks, summer is the perfect time to spend outdoors and away from screens.
Now, like anything else, there are a few exceptions. We usually spend one night a weekend watching a movie. You could introduce a classic film or watch a movie in your backyard. But when we do choose screen time activities, they have a purpose. We don’t just turn on the television or hit up video games because we are bored.
How do I get (and keep) my kids off of screens?
I find making life around them more interesting than the screens is a pretty good deterrent. If staying off screens is a new concept for them, then plan a really fun activity they won’t be able to say no to. Head to the zoo. Pack a picnic for the park. Put out craft supplies to create with.
Once they’ve successfully done one activity without screens, try another. And then another. Continue to engage them in a variety of activities. Before you know it, constant screen time will be a thing of the past.
When summertime beyond the screens looks much more interesting and fun than the screens themselves, you can usually convince kids to shift their focus.
Make the summer bucket list a challenge.
Challenge your family to complete the entire summer bucket list. See how many things you can do together on it. When there is a challenge behind something and you’re enjoying time together, screens can usually be forgotten.
Be sure to set the example.
Screen free activities mean just that. Screen free. For adults too. It took us awhile to remember that if we don’t want our kids on screens, we can’t be fiddling with our devices either. Put them away. Real life is much more interesting any way.
Don’t Forget to Pack a Snack
Before heading out for your summer activity, don’t forget to pack a snack. I have learned from other seasoned moms to always keep a cooler full of bottled water and easy to reach for snacks in the back of the car. This way when you hear “I’m hungry”, you always have things the kids can reach for.
And I find in the summer, there is no telling where our adventure will end. It’s better to be prepared with lots of snack options than stressed that we don’t have enough food to keep on exploring.
One thing about summer is that if you aren’t careful, it’s gone in a blink. I know what you’re thinking. There are months of summer ahead of us. I promise you, though, it will be gone before you know it.
So even though you have lots of good intentions, you might not do any of them. That’s why there’s the summer bucket list in the first place. It keeps time organized.
When planning your summer fun, make a summer bucket list before summer even arrives.
After you make your list, take a photo of the list or post it where you do your weekly planning. As you look at the week ahead, use the list to guide your days.
If I know that the kids really want to ride a certain roller coaster, visit the farmer’s market or make our favorite lemon ice cream, I add those to our weekly summer plans. This guarantees that we don’t arrive at back to school time having missed all of the beautiful things summer has to offer.
Favorite Summer Bucket List Ideas for Kids
Please note that these summer bucket list ideas are in no particular order. I will keep adding to them, though, as I think of more ideas.
- GO FISHING
- HOST A SUMMER BARBEQUE – Grab your Free Printable Barbeque Checklist here.
- PLAY WITH BUBBLES – This is one of our favorite summer activities and we do it multiple afternoons through the summer. You can find some great bubble activity ideas here.
- HAVE A WATER RELAY RACE
- MAKE A CRAFT – Check out some of these summer craft ideas. Or try a craft box from Green Kids Crafts or Orange Art Box (affiliates). They are always filled with so much creativity.
- GO TO A BASEBALL GAME – Scout out your local minor league team for afternoon games. Many times these games have activities geared towards the little ones.
- MAKE ICE CREAM – Here is our favorite ice cream maker that I love to use. (affiliate)
- VISIT A NEW LIBRARY – I save this one for the end of summer when we don’t know what to do. We have some amazing libraries in our area, so we visit a new one every summer. We choose some new books and bask in an air conditioned reading area.
- SEE THE SHARKS – No, I don’t mean in the ocean. Visit a local aquarium with a shark exhibit. The National Aquarium in Baltimore is our favorite. (If you can’t see the sharks, then you can still “swim” with them when you make this Shark Sun Catcher Craft.
- PICK BERRIES – Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries. It doesn’t really matter. Then, go home and bake a dessert.
- STROLL ON THE BEACH – If you are near enough to a beach, this is one of my favorites. You never know all of the cool treasures you can find on the sand.
- PLAY TENNIS – Check your local Parks and Rec programs for Introduction to Tennis classes. Each summer, there are many programs to introduce kids to tennis.
- STOMP IN A STREAM – Be sure to pack your water shoes and an extra pair of clothes in case the kids get soaked.
- ENJOY A NEW HIKING TRAIL
- VISIT THE ZOO
- CLIMB BOULDERS – I try to find at least one new area with rocks to climb each season. The kids love climbing boulders.
- READ IN A HAMMOCK
- RAISE BUTTERFLIES – Try this kit for easy butterfly raising. (affiliate)
- RIDE YOUR BIKE
- GO CAMPING – Check your local state parks or a camping guide for great options nearby.
- JUMP ON A TRAMPOLINE
- BUILD A SAND CASTLE – If you don’t live near a beach, you can always find a local sand pit to build in. We used to build sand castles in the park’s beach volleyball courts.
- CATCH LIGHTNING BUGS – We use these fun bug catching nets. (affiliate) After we catch them, though, we let them go.
- WANDER A MUSEUM – The perfect activity for a hot afternoon.
- VISIT THE FARMER’S MARKET – Then, go home and cook dinner with your finds.
- ATTEND AN OUTDOOR CONCERT – Check your local community for outdoor concert dates. You’ll be surprised how many wonderful concerts there are in parks throughout the summer.
- RIDE A ROLLER COASTER
- SEE HOW SOMETHING IS MADE – In our area, we can learn how you make chocolate, pretzels and potato chips. Check out a local manufacturer to see how something is made in your area.
- PLAY CATCH
- MAKE ICE POPS – These are our favorite ice pop molds. (affiliate)
- COOK DINNER OUTDOORS
- SWIM IN A LAKE OR POOL
- HOST A LEMONADE STAND – Check out these tips for hosting a successful lemonade stand.
- READ ALOUD A CLASSIC NOVEL – Some of our favorites include The Secret Garden, Peter Pan and Swiss Family Robinson (affiliates)
- PLAY MINI GOLF – No mini golf courses near you? Set up your own mini golf game at home. (affiliate)
- PAINT PLEIN AIR – Take your art canvas outdoors to paint in your surroundings
- WALK A DOG – We don’t own a dog, so we borrow our neighbor’s dog and take him for a walk. This helps our neighbor out and gives my littles some experience with pets.
- GO BOWLING – The Summer Blast Pass program will let you go bowling all summer long – for FREE.
- BUILD A BLOCK TOWER
- MAKE RECYCLED ART – Collect recycled materials and see what you can create.
- GO STAR GAZING – Try this star gazing app to help locate constellations
- MAKE FRIENDSHIP BRACELETS – This book will help you get started (affiliate).
- LEARN TO PLAY GUITAR – Try this learning guitar and the flashcards that go with it (affiliate).
- PLAY WATER BALLOON GAMES – Check out these fun water activities to do all summer long!
- TAKE YOUR TOYS SWIMMING – Plan a pool party for your waterproof toys. Plastic animals, dolls, Lego minifigures, etc. love to go swimming
- SING AROUND A CAMPFIRE
- WATCH A MOVIE IN THE BACKYARD – We are trying this outdoor inflatable screen this summer. (affiliate)
- COLOR WITH A NEW MEDIUM – Give some fun new crayons, colored pencils or markers a whirl. (affiliate)
- COMPLETE A LEGO BUILDING CHALLENGE – We’ve enjoyed this Free Printable version from Little Bins Little Hands.
- HOST AN OUTDOOR FAMILY GAME NIGHT
- PLAY CHARADES
- FLY A KITE
- VISIT ANIMALS AT YOUR LOCAL FARM
- GO FLOWER PICKING – And press the flowers when you get home. (affiliate)
- DRAW WITH SIDEWALK CHALK – We love the assortment of colors in this set. (affiliate)
- BUILD WITH PLAY DOUGH – Add these summer themed play dough mats for extra fun!
- MAKE SPIN ART – Once you make the spin art, use it to create new art. We’ve made cards to send friends and colorful art for our walls. (affiliate)
- STRING PASTA NECKLACES
- GO ON A PHOTO SCAVENGER HUNT – We tried one at the beach recently. You can download your Free Printable Beach Scavenger Hunt here.
- PLAY BACKYARD DARTS – These even glow in the dark. (affiliate)
- HAVE A HULA HOOP CONTEST
- JUMP ROPE (with rhymes)
- HOST A BACKYARD CARNIVAL
- PUT ON A PLAY – Try some of these play skits or write your own.
- MAKE S’MORES
- GO ON A TREASURE HUNT – Check out these tips for planning an awesome treasure hunt here.
- BAKE A PIE – These no bake berry pies are some of our favorites.
- MAKE A FAIRY HOUSE – We love these teacup fairy gardens that live by our window all year long.
- TAKE A WALKING TOUR OF YOUR LOCAL CITY – We love exploring the communities around us. Find a walking tour or design one yourself to learn more about the place that you live.
- WRITE A LETTER OR POSTCARD TO SOMEONE SPECIAL – Or try writing multiple letters in this 14 Day Letter Writing Challenge.
- MAKE A PINWHEEL – You can find a free template here.
- SPEND TIME IN NATURE – We love going outdoors as much as possible in the summer. Encourage kids to get creative outside with their very own nature journals.
- PLAY HOPSCOTCH – Draw your own with chalk or try these Hopscotch Rings (affiliate)
- LEARN TO SEW – This is one we are adding to our list this summer. We have been taking these Outschool classes to get us started. (affiliate)
- PLAY DRESS UP – Find dress up clothes at your local thrift shop or get more formal costumes from Little Adventures. (affiliate)
- HAVE A PILLOW FIGHT
- RUN THROUGH THE SPRINKLER
- SPEND ALL DAY IN PAJAMAS – Or your bathing suit
- FLY A PAPER AIRPLANE
- MAKE HOMEMADE PIZZA – And let the kids choose their own toppings
- TIE DYE A T-SHIRT – Check out these Fourth of July t-shirts we made for this year’s parade.
- DO ACTS OF KINDNESS – Use this Free Printable Kindness Calendar to get inspired.
- PAINT ROCKS
- HAVE AN AFTERNOON OF RELAY RACES – Check out our favorite relay races for kids here.
- WATCH FIREWORKS
- HAVE A SPA DAY
- GO TO THE PLAYGROUND
- MAKE A TIME CAPSULE AND “BURY” IT
- VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME
- STOMP IN PUDDLES
- HAVE A TEA PARTY
- HOST A THEMED PLAY DATE
- DON YOUR SUPER HERO CAPE (affiliate) – Spend the afternoon saving the planet (or neighborhood)
- FIND A MYSTERY AND HAVE YOUR KID’s DETECTIVE AGENCY SOLVE IT
- START AN HERB GARDEN
- CAMP OUT IN THE BACKYARD
- ORGANIZE YOUR PHOTOS IN A SCRAPBOOK – Find amazing scrapbooking supplies here. (affiliate)
- PLAY A GAME IN THE POOL – Check out some creative ideas here.
- GO ON A COLOR HUNT – Set up your own color hunt box with these free printables.
- MAKE SMOOTHIES
- PLAY GLOW IN THE DARK CAPTURE THE FLAG (affiliate)
- GIVE EVERYONE A PEDICURE – Try this kid friendly neon nail polish to make their toes shine. (affiliate)
- DYE YOUR HAIR WITH KOOL AID
- MAKE FROZEN HOT CHOCOLATE
- INTRODUCE YOUR FAMILY TO CLASSIC MOVIES – check out some of our favorites here
- SWING ON A TIRE SWING
- PLAY THE PINATA GAME – We just wrote all of our tips for having piñata fun here!
- LEARN A NEW SKILL AS A FAMILY – Check out Craftsy for some awesome art and craft classes to participate in together. (affiliate)
- EXPLORE SOMEWHERE NEW – even if it’s in your own community
- TELL NOT-SO-SCARY GHOST STORIES AROUND THE CAMP FIRE
- SEE AN OUTDOOR MOVIE – Or host your own backyard movie night with this projector. (affiliate)
- ASSEMBLE ICE CREAM SANDWICHES – Find our favorite recipe here
And I guess there really is a 113. Have LOTS AND LOTS OF FUN!
I hope you have lots of family fun all summer long. And these summer bucket list ideas help get your summer started off right.
Still Need a Free Printable Summer Bucket List?
One of our family summertime traditions is making a summer bucket list. We have a family meeting after school let’s out and discuss the must-dos for this year’s summer vacation. You know the things that we would be terribly sad to miss out on if we haven’t done them by August.
Our summer bucket list helps make sure everyone gets at least a few activities they want to do. And it keeps us focused on our summer goals. It’s good to have goals.
You can check out this Free Printable Summer Bucket List here. Or you can purchase an editable one in our shop. This way you can customize the summer bucket list for your family before printing. No more writing in ideas by hand.
Want to save this list of summer activities for kids for later? Be sure to pin it below.
And if you are more into celebrating summer than just summer activities, I am sharing my favorite ways to celebrate summer here.
Yes, I think I mentioned, that summertime is one of my favorite seasons of the year.