Use these summer bucket list ideas and free printable tools to plan the best summer ever with your family. We’ve even included a printable calendar the kids can decorate and mark up to keep track of events and activities that are coming up in June, July and August.
Summer, that blessed season that we in the northern snowy states wait for with longing for months and months on end. It’s finally upon us. The days are longer. The weather is warmer. We can be outside without being bundled from head to toe in fleece lined, knitted clothing. Hooray!
In just a few short weeks, my boys will be out of school for the summer. Maybe your kiddos are already on their summer break? Between summer swim lessons, special vacations and weekends up north at our cottage, our summer is jam-packed with activities. If we don’t plan carefully, the summer will slip by and before we know it we’ll be buying hooded sweatshirts, backpacks and other gear to head back-to-school. Time sure does fly by, doesn’t it? Sigh…
With less than three months until school is back in session, we want to maximize our fun and have the best summer ever with our kids. To help make that possible, we created a summer bucket list and some printable tools to keep track of the places we want to go and the things we want to do and see. If you want these Summer Bucket List Planning Printables, they’re available as a FREE digital download when you subscribe to our Ideas In Your Inbox newsletter.
Why You Need to Create a Summer Bucket List
“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.” — Barbara Johnson
I love being able to work from home, on my own schedule and at my own pace. When the summer months roll around though, if I’m not careful and intentional, my days end up being filled with answering e-mails, doing laundry and household chores and, of course writing and editing blog posts. Before I know it, it’s 5 PM. The boys have entertained themselves all day long and it’s time for me to start making dinner.
I love to work and think it’s important and valuable that the boys see me as an example of a hard working person who sets goals and goes after them. But I’m constantly trying to balance my own drive and ambition as a small business owner with my desire to spend quality time making memories with my boys. I’m a planner by nature and it’s really easy for me to fill my days working and accomplishing tasks. As a mother who works at home, I’ve learned if I truly want quality time with the boys to be a priority like I say I do, then I need to be very intentional about building it into my plans for the week.
Maybe you’re in the same boat I’m in? Or maybe you work full time while the kids go to day care? Or maybe you’re a stay-at-home parent who’s facing a full eight hour day with the kids home this summer? No matter how many hours you’re able to spend with your kids, what matters is that YOU matter to your kids regardless of whether you have one hour or eight hours a day to give them this summer. Having a summer bucket list is about choosing to be intentional about how you spend whatever limited hours you have available to you.
How to Plan the Best Summer Ever
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The boys and I actually created our first summer bucket list a few years ago to carve dedicated time into our week to visit parks and playgrounds in our area. We made a list and then chose a different park to go to each week. After we visited each park, we gave it a score on a scale of 1 to 100 and kept track of our favorites. My oldest son even said a few of the parks we checked out were “OFF THE CHARTS!!”
The following year when my boys got home on the last day of school, I greeted then with a fun summer kick off “meeting” so we could plan our annual summer bucket list.
Summer Bucket List Meeting Preparation
“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” ― Peter F. Drucker
What You Need:
- Plastic bucket
- Colored card stock
- White card stock
- Clear packing tape
- A blank journal or notebook
- Clipboard or folder
- Fun summer snacks and beverages (Drink umbrellas ALWAYS make a summer planning meeting more festive!)
1. Get the Summer Planning Tools
The printable Summer Bucket List Planning Tools are available as a FREE gift when you sign up for our Ideas In Your Inbox newsletter. To get yours just sign-up below!
Once you’ve confirmed your subscription, you’ll get immediate access to our resource library stocked with free printables and other content that is EXCLUSIVE for our subscribers only. Then you just need to download the PDF file and save it to your computer. The Summer Bucket List Planning Tools and all other free printables from Kenarry: Ideas for the Home are for your own PERSONAL USE ONLY.
Once you have the file, print the Summer Bucket List Planning Tools on white card stock.
2. Prepare the Summer Bucket and Journal
Cut the Summer Bucket List label into a long strip. Use clear packing tape to attach it to the front of a plastic sand pail or toy bucket.
Likewise, cut out the label for the Summer Journal. Use packing tape or small adhesive scrapbooking squares to attach the label to the front of a blank notebook or journal.
3. Prepare Other Meeting Materials
Cut the colored card stock into large rectangles. Put the blank Summer Bucket List and Calendar Pages on a clipboard or in a folder. (Having them in a folder or on a clipboard makes them easy to keep track of all summer long.)
Host the Summer Bucket List Planning Meeting
Our agenda for the Summer Bucket List Planning Meeting is short – just three goals:
- Make a list of parks we want to visit this summer.
- Create a calendar of activities and plans.
- Enjoy the snacks and have fun! (Arguably this may be the most important goal of them all. If this planning “meeting” isn’t fun, why bother?)
1. Make a list of parks to visit (or activities to do) this summer.
During our planning meeting, my oldest son wrote the name of each park or recreation area that we want to visit on a card. We then folded the cards in half and put them in the bucket. If you prefer, you could just write all the ideas/places on the blank lined Summer Bucket List page that you put on the clipboard.
Instead of parks and playgrounds, you could write down other activities like “catch a butterfly,” “go to a baseball game,” “take a picnic to the beach” etc. If you scroll down, you’ll see my boys and I brainstormed a list of Summer Bucket List ideas to get you started.
The key here is to not put TOO many things on your Summer Bucket List. If your kids are like mine, once they’ve inked the activity on the paper, they see it as a promise or commitment to do something. To avoid disappointment, we try to only have 10-12 cards in the bucket so that there’s only one Summer Bucket List activity per week.
You should also avoid putting anything on the cards that YOU don’t actually want or intend to do (e.g. if you hate sand, don’t put the beach on your Summer Bucket List!) This is for real actionable things you can and will do this summer, not pie in the sky dreams like taking a trip to Disneyland someday.
2. Create a calendar of activities and plans.
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” — Stephen Covey
Next, have your child fill in the dates on the blank calendars for June, July and August. Once the days are numbered, go back and fill in the keystone activities for the summer that are firm and set in stone. Keystone activities are things like your family vacation, your spouse’s company picnic, swim lessons, summer overnight or day camps and anything else that’s already planned for the summer. You can use stickers, colored markers or whatever else will help make the calendar fun and easy to follow for your children.
My oldest son is highly visual, so he likes to see all the things we have planned for the summer on the calendar. Then at the beginning of each week we cross of what we’ve done, take a look at what’s planned for the week ahead and add to the calendar if necessary. Next we look at the weather forecast for the week and choose which day we’re going to do something off our bucket list. Sometimes we choose the card out of the bucket at the beginning of the week and sometimes we wait until that day. It depends on our mood!
At that initial Summer Bucket List meeting, I also give my boys the blank journals and tell them what the notebooks are for. Then throughout the summer, I encourage them to take time to draw or write in their summer journal. This helps them to keep track of what we’ve done, but also gives them an opportunity to practice their writing and drawing. It’s also a good activity to keep them busy during my work time. Plus it’s a fun keepsake to look back on in years to come.
3. Enjoy the snacks and have fun!
“Children who plan their own schedules and evaluate their own work build up their brains and learn to take more responsibility.” — Bruce Feller
Throughout the Summer Bucket List meeting, remember to dream, scheme and have fun! Involving your kids in planning for the summer helps them to feel some ownership over their schedule. This is also a good time to set other expectations with your kids about chores or other weekly tasks that need to be accomplished this summer. E.g. you could set guidelines like “once we get our chores done for the week, we can pick something out of the bucket list to do together on Fridays.” OR “Mornings are going to be Mommy’s work time. If you play well with your brother, then I can get my work done so we can go do ________________ in the afternoon.”
Refreshments are also a key component to making this “meeting” fun and enjoyable for all. Here are some fun snack ideas you might like to serve at your Summer Bucket List meeting:
Summer Bucket List Ideas
Now that you know how to plan the best summer ever with your kids and have the printable tools you need, my boys and I thought it would be fun to give you some more Summer Bucket List ideas. We hope these inspire you and help you create the best summer ever:
- Search for “parks in ___insert-name-of-your-city___” on Google to discover new parks and playgrounds you may not be aware of.
- Go to a local waterpark or splash pad.
- Create your own DIY splash pad at home using sprinklers.
- Hunt for bugs in your backyard.
- Use nets to catch butterflies.
- Grow a small garden in terra cotta pots.
- Make an ant farm (to keep outside, of course).
- Ride bikes to get ice cream.
- Take a hike on a nature trail.
- Bake cookies.
- Draw pictures or make cards for an elderly neighbor.
- Invite the kids from your neighborhood over for water balloon toss.
- Make a city out of sidewalk chalk in your driveway.
- Build a fort in the backyard using branches and tarps.
- Have a play date at a friend’s house.
- Go to the movies on a rainy day.
- Read a book then watch the movie version of it (like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web or Mr. Popper’s Penguins).
- Join the summer reading club at your local library.
- Go to a baseball game.
- Take a picnic to the beach.
While you’re here be sure to check out other summer ideas on Kenarry: Ideas for the Home. You might like this recipe for DIY Bug Spray, this Outdoor Tic Tac Toe Board or these 10 tips for surviving a road trip with small children. If you enjoyed these Summer Bucket List Ideas and free printable planning tools, please share this with your friends or pin it for later:
Carrie is the chief writer, crafter and cook here at Kenarry: Ideas for the Home. She’s an optimist by nature and enjoys sharing recipes, trying new craft ideas, planning for parties and events as well as organizing and decorating. When she’s not blogging, preparing meals or picking up around the house, you’re bound to find her hidden away in a castle under the stairs reading to her two young boys. Whether you’re cooking, crafting or creating for your family, follow Carrie on Etsy, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram to get inspiring ideas for your home.