Summer Bucket List Essentials: 28 Ideas to Start Yours

As parents we look to summer as an opportunity to capture memorable family times. But whether our kids' vacation days are spent lazing by a pool or learning new skills at a camp, the time speeds by. Soon we're scrambling to finish the many activities we promised ourselves we would do.

To prevent summer fun from escaping, it helps to have a list of what you hope to do before the long break from school is over -what many moms like to call a "summer bucket list." If you haven't created yours yet, here are 28 ideas to start with:

·  Catch fireflies and watch how they flicker. National Geographic notes that over 2,000 species of these beetles exist and each has its own unique pattern of blinks.

·  Go fishing or set out on a frog hunt.

·  Go to a baseball game. With major league teams playing 162 games per season and minor league teams playing an average of 140 games (not to mention local youth league games), you'll find plenty of opportunities to cheer on your favorite players.

·  Have a picnic lunch. Go more than once and try different menus: fried chicken, Italian hero sandwiches, hard sausage with cheese and crackers.

·  Take a boat ride (canoe, sailboat, motorboat, tall ship).

·  Roll down a grassy hill until you're dizzy.

·  Make s'mores over a campfire. According to Girl Scouts of the USA, the first recorded recipe for "Some Mores" (later shortened to s'mores) appeared in a 1927 Girl Scout publication, "Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts." And if you want to make a celebration of it, eat your s'mores on August 10th, National S'Mores Day.

·  Eat cotton candy, snow cones, or elephant ears (preferably at a carnival).

·  Skip stones on a pond or lake. The North American Stone Skipping Association cites the Guinness World Record number of skips as 51. See how many you can get.

·  Bake a homemade apple pie. Or cherry or blueberry or rhubarb - you choose.

·  Teach your kids how to whistle with a piece of grass. Don't know how? Check out The Double-Daring Book for Girls by Andrea J. Buchanan and Mirriam Peskowitz (William Morrow, 2009) for instructions on that and more fun activities.

·  Do a cannonball into a swimming pool (jump with both legs held up to your chest). Then try a can opener (hold one leg straight and the other up at your chest). Have a contest to see who can make the biggest splash.

·  Run a lemonade stand.

·  Go to an outdoor concert. You can see a big-name artist at a large venue or check out a municipal band concert in your area.

·  Make homemade ice cream during National Ice Cream month (in July, as designated by President Ronald Reagan in 1984). Crank it using an old-fashioned style machine, make a game of it using an ice cream maker ball, or go the easy route with an automatic ice cream maker.

·  Visit your county fair and check out the award-winning livestock and 4-H entries.

·  Learn new jump rope jingles and say them while jumping rope. Find rhymes online at Or buy a rhyme book such as Anna Banana by Joanna Cole.

·  Draw with chalk on a driveway or sidewalk. Play hopscotch while you're at it.

·  Go fruit picking for strawberries, cherries, blueberries or another summer fruit. Find a farm open for fruit picking, along with crop calendars showing which fruits are available when at

·  Take a day trip to a town or city you have never visited before.

·  Fly a kite. Buy one cheap at a dollar store or make your own using dowel rods and plastic trash bags. You can find instructions for a variety of models at Or try your hand at a dual-line stunt kite (available at hobby or toy stores).

·  Have a watermelon seed spitting contest.

·  Sleep out under the stars. See how many constellations you can pick out. Use a smartphone stargazing app such as The Night Sky Lite (free on Android or iOS) or Star map ($5 on iOS) or Skymap (free on Android) to guide your search.

·  Try a new mode of transportation (dune buggy, pedicab, mountainside cable car, streetcar).

·  Play croquet or bocce ball in your back yard.

·  Host a "Viking dinner" in your back yard. Serve salad, spaghetti, jello, and a cream pie - but don't provide any utensils (you decide whether guests can use their hands). Make sure everyone wears mess-worthy clothes.

·  Teach your kids how to play "kick the can."

·  Play the license plate game. Each time you're in the car, watch for out-of-state license plates. Print a map of the United States and color in each one as you find it. Or track your progress on the License Plate Game app (for iOS). See if you can find them all before summer ends.

Add your own gotta-do-this activities to make the most of the summer months with your family. While you're at it, why not make "create a bucket list for next year" one of your goals, to keep track of new ideas you come across in the midst of this year's fun.

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