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Create a Summer Bucket List for Kids

Jun 7, 2023

Summer Bucket List

Ah, summer break. Creating a summer bucket list can feel daunting since summer is all about relaxation. However, bringing this activity list to life with your family can support healthy development and ease your kiddo back into the school year. We’re sharing a few themes to consider for your list, or perhaps, you want to incorporate just a few ideas. The sky’s the limit!

The Summer Bucket List and Planning Ahead

When creating a summer bucket list, it’s important to evaluate how the summer break has been going so far. If it has felt hectic and chaotic, it might be time to create or adjust the summer routine in general. Consistency is a lifesaver when it comes to routines and avoiding meltdowns during these warmer days. If you find yourself or your kiddo off track, think about writing a schedule down. If everything is smooth sailing, consider what your kiddo could improve for the new school year. Maybe they struggle with certain sensory experiences or staying active. Adding a few challenges to the bucket list can help your kiddo round out their skills, build their confidence, and make them feel better prepared to take on the upcoming school year.

A Sensory Summer

As far as sensory play and experiences go, the more the better! Exposure to different experiences and senses is crucial for your child’s development. For kiddos with sensory processing disorder, you may notice that some sensory experiences are avoided or engaged with too often. Take some time during the summer to push the comfort boundaries even if it is just a little bit for a short amount of time. Progress is progress. Playing with sand, Play-Doh, or in the water are great ways to explore the senses. If you’re feeling ambitious and open to mess, get the paint out for finger and foot painting fun.

Yummy for the Tummy

The summer is the perfect time to give your kiddo an opportunity to try new foods and textures. Don’t forget about veggies too! Even picky eaters can break some barriers when encouraged. On your summer bucket list, be sure to add a menu of items for you and your kiddo to try. If they’re old enough, sit down with them and plan out some yummy meals or restaurants to give a go for the summer. You might just find a new favorite.

Outdoor and Indoor Play

In your summer bucket list, leave room for both indoor and outdoor play. Your kiddo can then have plenty of practice with fine and gross motor skills as well as social interactions even if it is just within the family. During the warmer hours, indoor play is a good option to prevent discomfort from the heat unless water is involved. Choose outdoor and indoor activities that get your kiddo off the couch and away from screens. We love these activity ideas if you need a few suggestions.

Books, Books, and More Books

Do you know what type of books your kid loves to read? Reading books can give your child a boost such as increased concentration, self-esteem, and expanded vocabulary. As long as there is no summer reading list, go ahead and give your kiddo the freedom to choose what to read. Allowing your kiddo to find books that interest them can make the activity that much more exciting.

Travel Around Town

We understand that summer break will come to an end in August and the times we are living in might not allow you to travel as much as you would enjoy. We want to encourage families not to overcomplicate traveling. Even going to the local park to play in the grass or attending an outdoor movie can be great fun for kids. In fact, a short trip out of the house might be just what the soul needs. For this theme, go ahead and research local outdoor events or find a park where the family can picnic. Whatever your travel destination this year, just remember to fit it into the schedule and make sure it doesn’t run over your kiddo’s time to get a good night’s rest.

Unstructured Play

Summer break is a time to relax, and unstructured play can help your kiddo do just that. Unstructured play is essentially free play without rules. Your kiddo can choose how they spend this time. If you’re a parent that is always keeping busy with the kids, scheduling in time for unstructured play would be a good way to reach outside of comfort zones and welcome creativity, curiosity, and self-expression. Allowing an hour or two for technology play can be okay as long as it’s something your child is interested in. Let’s get to playing!

For kiddos that need a little help enhancing their skills this summer, Occupational Therapy may help!


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2020 and has been updated to reflect the most up-to-date information for parents and caregivers.