Searching for ways to keep kids entertained this summer without breaking the bank? Use these summer bucket list ideas packed with fun activities for kids — snacks included too!
1. Include an ice block treasure hunt to your summer bucket list.
Freeze dollar store toys in varying weights in a large container of water. Challenge kids to find the toys by chipping away at the ice with a hammer.
To release ice from the container, you may need to submerge the container in a sink of hot water for a few seconds.
Tip: Avoid injury by having your kids wear safety glasses.
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2. Recycle an empty water bottle by building your own sprinkler.
Looking for an easy summer craft for kids that will also cool them down? Try making a homemade sprinkler!
Help your kids with a drill to create holes wherever they want water to squirt out. Then, using waterproof tape attach an empty plastic bottle to the end of a hose.
3. Glow-in-the dark sand is one of my favorite summer crafts for kids.
Seriously, guys — so easy! Add Epsom salt or another salt variety to a zip bag and add a squirt or two of glow-in-the-dark or fluorescent paint (can be found at Walmart).
Use a different bag per paint color. Seal the bag, and mix until the salt color is evenly distributed.
Open the bag and allow the salt to dry for 24-hours (lay the salt on a cookie sheet to dry faster). Once it’s dry, let kids play with their new glow-in-the-dark sand.
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4. Make s’mores campfire cones.
This is a must-add to your summer bucket list! Fill sugar cones with mini marshmallows and chocolate chips, wrap in aluminum foil, and grill 7-10 minutes. Keep the cones away from open flames. Unwrap and enjoy!
These can also be made in the oven (at a temperature of about 350 degrees).
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5. Create a bank of summer bucket list ideas for kids using popsicle sticks.
Brainstorm a bunch of summer bucket list activities for kids, and write them down on popsicle sticks. When boredom strikes, choose a stick and complete an activity.
6. Play glow-in-the-dark backyard ring toss.
Use rubber bands to attach Dollar Store glow-in-the-dark bracelets to wooden dowels inserted into the ground. Form rings out of the glow bracelets and play!
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7. Turn a pool noodle into a racetrack for marbles and more!
Cut a pool noodle in half lengthwise, and race Hot Wheels and marbles. Attaching an empty shoe box at the end will stop runaway cars and other racing objects.
8. Prepare writing prompts and have kids start a summer journal.
Print out writing prompts like these here, or create your own. Cut them out and have your child choose a new prompt every day to encourage reading and writing.
Writing prompts could include:
- Check out some poetry books at the library. Find a poem. Copy it into your journal. Circle words that are fun or meaningful.
- Go outside, sit and be quiet. Write down what you hear, see, smell, and feel.
- Find a recipe with an adult and make something special. Write about it!
- Write a letter to a family member. Tear out the page and mail it to them.
9. Make sidewalk paint with cornstarch, water and food coloring.
Combine 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup cornstarch in a blender, and blend on low speed until smooth. Transfer to a plastic bowl and stir in 12 drops of food coloring. Use paintbrushes and sponges to decorate the sidewalk. The paint washes away with water.
10. Use Kool-Aid scented, colored glue to make window clings and art.
Pour Kool-Aid into a bottle of school glue and mix thoroughly using a thin, long utensil like a chopstick.
Use glue regularly, create art on canvas or paper, or try making designs on stretched plastic wrap (tape down the sides and remove creases), that can be dried and used as window clings.
Tip: When using more than one color per gel-cling design, allow each color to dry first; otherwise, the colors may run together.
11. Add backyard bowling to your kids summer bucket list.
If you can’t go to the bowling alley, bring the bowling alley to your backyard! This is one of my favorite summer bucket list ideas.
Fill small socks with rice and tie the ends with rubber bands and ribbon. Then, cover six empty, clean 15-ounce cans with colored tape, making sure the tape covers any sharp edges.
Set cans up in a pyramid, and have kids stand several feet away. Whoever knocks down all the cans within two tries wins!
12. Play glow-in-the-dark bowling.
Insert dollar store glow sticks into bottles filled with water, and use a ball to knock them over.
13. Conduct a summer science experiment with kids by filling balloons with baking soda and vinegar, then watching them inflate.
Summer science experiments are some of the best kids activities!
Using a funnel, fill an old water bottle about 1/3 of the way full with vinegar. Dry the funnel, and use it to pour baking soda into a balloon. Fill the balloon up halfway with baking soda.
Cover the top of the bottle with your baking-soda balloon, but make sure you don’t let the baking soda spill into the bottle prematurely.
When you and your child are ready, lift the balloon and let the baking soda fall into the vinegar. Since baking soda and vinegar create an acid-base chemical reaction as soon as they’re combined, the balloon will start to inflate, filling up with the carbon dioxide gas created by the reaction in the bottle.
14. Create penny tap shoes.
Use hot glue to attach pennies to the bottoms of your child’s shoes for instant tap shoes.
15. Make hot glue costume jewelry.
Using colored or regular glue sticks, create one large blob of glue, then a line roughly 13 – 15 inches long (or the length needed to fit around your neck), with a second large blob at the other end.
Then, fashion whatever design you’d like in between the blobs, and allow the glue to dry. Punch a hole in each end’s big blob, and use string to tie ends together.
16. Make caterpillars with grapes, chocolate chips, skewers and icing.
Summer crafts for kids are even better when you can eat them!
17. Create a custom play mat.
Use sharpies to color on a dollar store shower curtain liner.
See more incredible ways to use a shower curtain liner!
18. Make ice cream sandwiches the easy way.
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19. Insert a plastic or wooden spoon into yogurt cups and freeze for easy yogurt pops.
20. Fill a binder with printables, games and other fun things to do on road trips.
Get a big binder and put each child’s name on it. Then fill it with fun things: crayons and coloring pages, scavenger hunt checklists (license plates, landmarks, and animals are all great), bingo scoreboards, finger puppets, activity printables, small books or audio books, and other surprise goodies.
Give it to them as soon as you set off.
21. Throw eggs filled with paint.
Here’s a summer bucket list idea that can get a little messy, but it’s so fun! Drain a dozen eggs by using a push pin to make several small holes on top of each egg. Once you’ve made enough push-pin holes, you should be able to easily break away a portion of an egg.
Create a large enough hole to pour paint through, then watch your kids have fun creating modern masterpieces!
22. Painting with flowers should be on every summer bucket list.
Daisies, mums and carnations create interesting patterns and shapes when dipped in acrylic paint.
Try asking a local florist for wilting flowers; most are happy to give them to you for free if they know they’re being used for educational purposes.
23. Instead of water balloons, throw sponge balls this summer.
Place a rubber band tightly around the center of all the pieces, then manually move the pieces to form a star shape.
Fill up a couple buckets with water, soak the sponges, and throw them around for fun on a hot summer day.
24. Camp in the backyard.
24. Use Kool-Aid to make scented play dough.
Mix the following in a medium-sized pot:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Kool-Aid packets
3/4 cup water
Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring until the dough clumps together and reaches play dough consistency. Repeat the process for each color.
26. Have kids make their own shirts.
Here’s another one of my favorite summer crafts for kids. We do this every year for the 4th of July.
Tip: Make sure to use fabric paint so the design will last longer.
27. Make marshmallow shooters with balloons and toilet paper rolls.
28. Play tic-tac-toe in the yard.
Make a reusable tic-tac-toe board with an old shower curtain liner, duct tape, and frisbees. If you only have one frisbee, just toss plastic picnic plates instead!