How to Make a Summer Activity Jar for Your Kids


Someone suggested a summer activity jar to me as a way to combat boredom for my kids during the summer months. I was skeptical for a few reasons; the main one being that I’m extremely lazy and that sounded like a lot of work and I didn’t want to start working on a cute, Pinterest-worthy jar full of amazing ideas that I wouldn’t follow actually through on.

I have a love/hate relationship with summer vacation, anyway. I work from home. It is incredibly hard to stick with my daily schedule, quietly return or take calls and make appointments with people. I love the time with my kids, I really do, but it’s a challenge.

With that in mind, I wanted to create a jar full of activities that my kids could do on their own with minimal coaching, almost all of which can be done with the materials we already have in our house.

The idea is that when the kids are feeling bored they have to pull a stick from the jar. The rules for our jar are as follows:

  1. You must do the activity that you pull from the jar. You can’t put it back and get another one.
  2. All the kids in the house must do the activity that is pulled from the jar.
  3. You can only turn to the jar if you’ve read/logged your 20 minutes of daily reading, made your bed, written in your daily summer journal and completed 2 pages in your summer workbook. (We get these every year and love them!)

Easy enough. Let’s get started!

I tried to make a solid mix of chores, learning activities, fun, environmental/social awareness ideas and creative projects. To get started, I did have to make a couple of trips to different stores. I spent about an hour between all of them to get some basics. Some suggestions to keep on hand are paint brushes, crayons, watercolor paints, markers, colored pencils, pads of paper, air-dry clay, play-doh, safe scissors, and tape. I leaned heavily on the bargain section of Target, 40% off coupons at Michaels and the dollar store.

I put all of the art supplies together, all of the board games together and put everything in places that my kids can get to without my help.

Some of my favorite ideas are:

  • Make a sculpture out of clay.
  • Do a report on a dinosaur/plant/animal/fruit/vegetable/planet of your choosing.
  • Put on a talent show tonight after dinner.
  • Pick up dog poop for 10 minutes. (This one is in there a few times!)
  • Complete a puzzle.
  • Build a fort in the playroom. Sleep in it tonight.
  • Put on a rock concert.
  • Gather up books to donate.
  • Make a card for someone and send it.
  • Watch a Star Wars/Harry Potter movie and draw your favorite part.
  • See who can make the tallest Lego tower.
  • Play a board game.
  • Do a YouTube exercise video.
  • Let’s head to the mall for Mall Bingo. (I generated my cards here.)
  • Paint a picture of your pet/parent(s)/sibling(s)/house.
  • Write and illustrate a book. (These were inexpensive and I used a 40% off coupon on top of that!)
  • Count the money in your piggy bank.
  • Practice your handwriting for 20 minutes.
  • Let’s go to the library.
  • Make an animal out of things you can find in the house.
  • Write a poem.
  • Call a relative and ask them how they’re doing.
  • Watch Sid the Science Kid and tell me all about what you learned.

There are many others in the jar and I tried to keep screen time activities to a minimum. Let’s be real, there are plenty of times when I need it to be quiet in my office and the TV saves me. So far, the summer activity jar has been an awesome addition to their summer routine! My kids think it’s fun and they have asked me to pick from it several times already. Now that I’ve taken the time to come up with ideas and make the jar, I’m actually pretty excited for them to have this as a resource.

Do you have a summer activity jar or any activity suggestions? If so, tell me more!


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