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Blog: The Light of Aurora

Screen-Free Activities for Your Summer Bucket List

12:05 PM - May 30, 2023

Screen-Free Activities for Your Summer Bucket List

Summer is almost here, and with that comes the inevitable days when no one can decide what to do. Our family tries to create a seasonal “bucket list” to make the most of our days. Here are some of our favorite screen-free summer activities:

Visit the Library

We are lucky to live in an area with an excellent library system. My kids and I frequently rotate between our town library and the libraries in our bordering towns. They all have calendars with lists of free activities throughout the summer, from craft classes to story hours.

Do a Book-Inspired Project

While we’re on the subject of books, why not pull some ideas from your favorites? Read Blueberries for Sal, then go blueberry picking and make some jam. Is your child into fairies? Flip through your favorite fairy books to find inspiration for a fairy house.

Have a Backyard Campout

This is one of our favorite summer activities. Put up a tent, build a small fire, and organize an outdoor picnic. No tent? See if you can borrow one from a friend or family member or rent one from a local outdoor store. Our kids love the opportunity to stay up late, play flashlight tag, catch fireflies, and sleep outside.

Mixed-Up Meal Day

This idea was one of our daughter’s bucket list additions last summer. First, we mixed up each of the day’s meals - lunch for breakfast (sandwiches), dinner for lunch (a tasting board), and breakfast for dinner (eggs, toast, and fruit). Then, we ate picnic-style outside and took a picture to commemorate each meal.

Nature Hikes

Do a little research and find some hidden gems in your area. I was shocked to find several easily accessible areas with waterfalls just outside our little town. Bring snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, band-aids, water, and more snacks. If hiking near a creek, have the kids wear swimsuits to splash around.

Build an Outdoor Fort

Put a pile of scrap wood outside with some nails and hammers, and let your construction-minded little ones go to town. Alternatively, find a pile of large branches and tree boughs and have your kids construct a shelter for themselves or their animal friends.

Game Day

This is a family favorite, especially on rainy days. Pop some popcorn and have everyone pick out a game they want to play. Try to alternate between quiet and active games to release excess energy. Some of our favorites for kids (ages 4 and 7) are My First Carcassonne, Charades for Kids, Outfoxed, Memory, and Othello.

Family Jigsaw Puzzle

This is more of a long-term project. Borrow or buy a 1000 or 2000-piece jigsaw puzzle. Set it up so it won’t be disturbed (we use an old canning table in our living room). Frame it as a summer-long project that you can work on together or individually at any time. Even the little guys can help sort pieces by outside/inside sections or by color.

Create a Garden

A garden can be as big or as small as you want. If you have a larger garden space, involve your kids in the planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting. Only have room for a few pots? Your kids can decorate them, fill them, and plant the seeds. Have them research how much sunlight and water the plants need and then put them in charge of caring for them.

Meet Your Birds

We have a bird feeder right outside our kitchen window, and our children love to see the different kinds of birds that fly in for a bite. So up your bird game this summer and learn about different types of bird calls, nests, eggs, preferred types of food, and more.

Paint Outdoors

Pull out any paint you have and send the kids outside. Collect rocks to paint or create multi-media projects with leaves, twigs, flowers, paint, and paper. No paint on hand? Mix up some mud, give your kids old paintbrushes and sponges, and tell them to go to town. Hose everything (and everyone) down when they’re done.

Create an Obstacle Course

Throw a pile of materials in the yard (or in the house if it’s a rainy day). Include a variety of objects—old pool noodles, boxes, pieces of wood, jump ropes, sticks, baseball bases, pillows, tennis rackets, and sheets can all be used to create obstacles.

Learn a New Craft or Skill

There are many options for learning a new craft: sewing, knitting, whittling, baking, making jewelry, and creating pottery are just a few. Tap a friend or family member or check out books from your local library to help guide you through the steps.

Don’t just think about “craft” in the traditional sense. Kids often want to do whatever you are doing. Look for areas to help them build new skills this summer, whether you are putting new brakes on your car or fixing a broken faucet.

Mine Your Family Members for Ideas

Kids are often far more creative than adults when brainstorming ideas (see: Mixed-Up Meal Day). Ask the kids what they want to add to your summer bucket list, and you’ll get creative responses.

Whatever you decide, make sure you create a physical list to check off and take pictures throughout the summer. Your family will enjoy looking back at all you did together and will look forward to creating new memories in the future.

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