School is out, the weather is warm and the days are long. Summer is full of promise and possibilities, yet parents and sitters regularly hear kids complain that there’s nothing to do. Banish boredom with a summer bucket list that takes full advantage of the season and can be tailored to kids of all ages. See how many items you can check off, then add a few of your own.

  1. Pick berries. In some parts of the U.S., berry season is brief, so don’t miss the opportunity to visit a farm and pick your own strawberries, blueberries or blackberries. Check local harvest information to find out when berries are ripe for picking in your area.
  2. Build a sandcastle. A perfect activity for kids at the beach or in the backyard sandbox, take your castle architecture up a notch by investing in plastic molds.
  3. Plan an outdoor scavenger hunt. For younger children, it can be as simple as searching for a few small, surprise items in the yard. For older kids, geocaching is the ultimate real-world, outdoor scavenger hunt that uses GPS-enabled devices to find hidden containers.
  4. Catch fireflies. When the sun goes down, it’s easy to be entranced by these blinking bugs. Just don’t forget to let them go.
  5. Join a summer reading program. Libraries across the country offer summer reading programs for school-aged kids. Even if your child is too young to participate, make a point of reading a new book together each week.
  6. Attend a parade. Summer is punctuated with parades — Memorial Day, Labor Day and, of course, the Fourth of July. Put one or more on your family’s calendar.
  7. Have a picnic. Pack sandwiches and snacks, grab a blanket, and head to your nearest forest preserve or state park for a fun, outdoor meal.
  8. Frequent a farmers market. Farmers markets are a great way to turn kids on to healthy eating and teach them about seasonal produce without feeling like a broccoli-pusher. Many communities host farmers markets that offer kid-friendly entertainment and activities in addition to veggies and fruits.
  9. Fly a kite. Find an open field on a windy day, or check your area for a kite festival.
  10. Plant a garden and watch it grow. Ask kids what veggies or fruits they like to eat, then choose seeds together and start planting. Even toddlers can get in on the garden action by helping you dig in the dirt.
  11. Take a family bike ride. Grab your helmets and hit a paved trail for a family bike ride.
  12. Take in a baseball game. Summer is a great time to take kids out to the ballgame. Teams often host family days with special events just for kids. If you’re not near a major league team, check for minor league teams — often an affordable and less crowded option — in your area.
  13. Decorate the sidewalk. Create a masterpiece outside your front door with sidewalk chalk.
  14. Make your own ice cream sundaes. Summer isn’t summer without ice cream. Set up a make-your-own sundae station for kids with a flavor or two, sprinkles, chocolate chips, whipped cream and cherries.
  15. Watch a movie outside. Most park districts host family-friendly movies in the park. Pack a blanket and some snacks for the feature presentation.
  16. Start a water balloon fight. Look for medium-sized, durable balloons. Fill the balloons as full as possible before letting a small amount of water out to tie them off. 
  17. Roast marshmallows. Another quintessential summer activity, it’s hard to go wrong with graham crackers, chocolate squares and marshmallows melted over a fire.
  18. Open a lemonade stand. Teach your kids about entrepreneurship with a lemonade stand. Let them mix up the lemonade, make signs and open up for business at the end of the driveway.
  19. Attend a street festival. Summer weekends are filled with local festivals featuring music, art, crafts, food vendors and more. Check your city’s website to see what special events are planned.
  20. Play in a new park. Venture outside your comfort zone and away from your usual neighborhood park. Look for parks with special attractions, like water features, natural playgrounds or themes. Set a goal to visit a new park every week.
  21. Make popsicles. Homemade popsicles are healthy and easy to make with ice cube trays or special molds. Have your kids craft their own creative, frozen concoctions.
  22. Set up an obstacle course. It doesn’t need to be elaborate — a tunnel, a slide, a few hula hoops to jump over, and voila! You have an obstacle course to race through with your kids.
  23. Listen to music in the park. Many parks host outdoor concerts all summer long. Many are free and open to the public.
  24. Play hopscotch or four-square. These classic games are a great way to burn off energy and can entertain kids for hours.
  25. Document the day or the whole summer. Buy disposable cameras and let your kids play photographer in your neighborhood, at the park and on vacation. It’s a great way to preserve summer memories and start conversations with your kids about what they photographed and why. 

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