I know, I know… a summer activity idea list is nothing new. Also having a stick jar to let kids pick at random is not novel, but hear me out tired Supermom. I’m giving it to you straight, and I promise there are some pretty useful tips in here that you’ll thank me for later.
Several years ago, when I just had one school-age kiddo, I made my first Bored Jar — I wrote a bunch of summer activity ideas on popsicle sticks and placed them in a wide-mouth mason jar. I can’t recall who or what gave me the idea for this Summer Boredom Busters Jar. As we’ve already established it’s pretty ubiquitous, but I remember that first Bored Jar ended up being a REALLY ANNOYING thing to me. LOL! All too often my oldest, Attalie, would pull out a popsicle stick, and then I’d be kicking myself for including that idea. It must have seemed like a good one when I wrote it, but now I didn’t feel like helping her do it, or loading the kids up and driving there, etc.
So be sure to pin that image below because I’m rounding up all the best summer activity ideas from around the web; plus I’m sharing my SUPER-TIPS for creating a better bored jar, filled with Supermom-approved summer activities ideas that will truly be your secret weapon for fighting Summer Boredom!
I’ve wised up since then, and now I color code my sticks using colorful masking tape.
Color Code the summer activity ideas
This is THE BEST tip so listen up! I’ve wised up since that first jar, and now I color code my popsicle sticks using colorful Scotch Expressions masking tape (man I just love this stuff… I seriously use it for everything). Also use the tape to create a category key. You could put the key on the side of the bored jar, but I prefer to keep mine stashed on the top of the fridge since I don’t necessarily want to deal with the kids knowing which summer boredom busters I’m including/excluding — more on that in a second.
A lot of people suggest using a permanent marker like a Sharpie, to write the activity ideas on the popsicle sticks, but the wood causes the marker to bleed ugh. Instead I find that a regular ballpoint or gel pen works best for writing on wood so use that for making your Pick-An-Activity Sticks.
You could divide up your summer activity ideas sticks any number of ways, depending on your circumstances and whatever is most important/annoying to you. Here are the categories I’m using for my Bored Jar:
SUMMER BOREDOM BUSTERS CATEGORIES
MINT = outside activities involving water
LIME = activities requiring no parent
PURPLE = activities involving food
ORANGE = family outings
Other possible categories: educational, messy, easy, long, short, free, paid, going out, staying in.
You’ll then use the categories to limit which activities they can choose from. For example, if I don’t feel like going anywhere, then I’ll tell the kids they can pick any color but ORANGE. Or let’s say the kids are driving me crazy, and I want a few minutes of quiet, I’ll have them pick a MINT stick and send them outdoors!
I don’t discuss what each of the colors means with the kids. As far as they know I’m just picking the colors at random, which is why I was suggesting before that the tape color key goes where only I’ll see it. (See how
jaded clever I’ve become now that I’ve got four kiddos running around? LOL!)
SUMMER ACTIVITY IDEAS
Below are a bunch of Summer Boredom Buster ideas to include. I’ve read about a million lists all around the web, and I know some have like 101 ideas, but do you really want a list that long?? Plus too many of the suggestions made me roll my eyes. Here’s the cream of the crop.
Most of these activities don’t require parent involvement for my family — I realize that depends greatly on kids’ ages and is subjective for each parent. So I’ve listed them more generally, but there should be a lot of ideas on here that will give you a break ;)
Run in Sprinklers/Hose (combine with trampoline if you have one!)
Hose Wall Murals
Have a Water Fight
Wash the Car
Squirt Gun Battle (use these targets)
Golf/Croquet with balls and cups
Make a Mini Zipline for Dolls
Jump Rope (if it’s hot, combine with sprinklers)
Watch Movie and Make Popcorn
Make Oven/Microwave S’mores
Do a Taste Test
Bubble Gum Blowing Contest (templates)
Play Board Games
Make Donuts (here’s the easiest recipe)
Build a Blanket Fort
Pool Noodle Battle (or make boats)
String Beads or Buttons into Jewelry
Make a Backyard/Closet Time Capsule (here’s time capsule ideas)
Play Hide & Seek (or Sardines)
Make a Movie, Time-lapse or Slo-mo Video (with your phone)
Make Necklaces or Bracelets out of old T-shirts
Write a Letter (even better, get a pen pal)
Play Charades (here’s animal charade cards)
Spell Words by Shaping Things in the Pantry (beans, cereal, noodles, rice)
Create Funny Ransom Notes (with cut-up magazines)
Practice Sewing a Button & Make these Bracelets
Make a Sun Dial (template)
Model a Skeleton with popsicle sticks or noodles
Do Make Up or Face Paint
Build with Legos
Visit the Library
Play at the Park or Mall Kids Area
Go Window Shopping and Pick out Crazy Outfits
Do a Photo Scavenger Hunt
Go on a Picnic
Visit a Plant Nursery & Learn Plant Names
Summer Movie Deals
Get Slushies or Ice Cream Cones
Factory Tours (we love Cerreta’s Candy Factory in Glendale, AZ)
Cabela’s to see the Aquarium, Taxidermy and play in the Western Arcade
Go Roller Skating
Visit a Bead Shop & Make Bracelets or Necklaces
Check out this post from last year that had some clever summer boredom busters for older kids. If you have any other summer activity ideas, I’d love for you to share them in the comments below.
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