Celebrate the First Day of Summer

Celebrate the First Day of Summer


A dozen fun ideas for your summer “Jar List”


This June 21st, welcome the summer and the year’s longest day by making a “jar list.” Think of it as a seasonal bucket list of all the fun things you want to experience before you’re forced to say goodbye to your lazy days in the sun.


What you’ll need:


One large Mason jar (wide mouth if possible)

Several slips of colorful paper (approximately 4” x 4”)


Festive ribbon or twine

Notebook, journal, or scrapbook


Next you will need to sit down and brainstorm with your family. What types of activities would make your summer special? What small-scale activities have you always wanted to do? How can you incorporate learning into your summer?

 Write each activity onto one of the slips of paper, fold it, and place it in the jar.

Every evening before going to bed, draw a slip of paper from the jar and commit to doing that activity the next day. If the activity you draw doesn’t work for the next day, just put it back and draw another. Make a contest out of who gets to draw the next day’s activities - maybe the first person who is ready for bed or has the cleanest room.

If you are feeling very ambitious, make a summer journal by taping the drawn slip of paper to the top of your journal sheet. Write the date you did the activity and add pictures, memories, and souvenirs (like pressed flowers, programs, etc.) from the day.


Need ideas? Here are a few fun (and mostly free!) activities to add to your “Jar List.”


  1. Catch at least three uncommon bugs and identify them using http://bugguide.net/node/view/15740


Most bugs are harmless, but wear thick gloves just to be safe when collecting your specimens 


  1. Practice some guerrilla gardening by making native plant seed bombs. Get instructions here: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/children/making-seed-balls.htm.
  1. Take a break from the chlorine and visit a local swimming hole. Find one near you at http://www.swimmingholes.org/. 
  1. Attend a free outdoor movie. Many communities host outdoor movie nights, complete with popcorn!
  1. Find a four-leaf clover. Increase your odds by reading these tips from Smithsonian Magazine. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-find-four-leaf-clover-180950114/
  1. Pick some local fruit.
  1. Camp out in the yard.

The backyard is a great place to introduce kids to camping.


  1. Take a donation of food, towels, or newspapers to your local animal shelter. Pet the kittens and puppies while you are there, of course!
  1. Take a picnic to a local park, then teach your kids the “ours plus one” rule. Pick up and throw away all of your trash, plus one extra piece of litter per person. This is a great habit to instill in your children for whenever they are outdoors.
  1. Sight and identify at least five different kinds of birds. To identify the birds visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at https://www.allaboutbirds.org/. Take pictures of the birds, or sketch them for your journal.
  1. Learn a classic card game with actual playing cards. Go to http://www.bicyclecards.com/article/top-three-classic-family-card-games/ and learn classic card games like crazy eights or hearts. For added fun, learn an impressive shuffling technique at http://www.bicyclecards.com/article/learn-new-shuffling-tips-and-techniques/
  1. Train your brain with a jigsaw puzzle. Perfect for a rainy day, jigsaw puzzles are more that just fun. Studies show that putting a puzzle together engages both sides of the brain. According to the Mental Health Guide, turning, fitting, and re-assessing where the pieces might go is great practice in making choices. It requires constant checking and re-evaluation of decisions and emphasizes the process as an integral part of a solution. Add standards-based education into the mix with these puzzles: https://standardsinpuzzles.com/collections

Have fun while learning about plants and animals with this educational jigsaw puzzle.
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