Keep those kid’s busy and entertained with this summer checklist for kids of all ages. No more, I’m boooreeed or zoning out on TV all day!
How We Use the Checklist
My kids need structure. If I didn’t have clear expectations laid out for them each day, they would probably waste away their summer watching TV and playing video games. When that got old, they’d probably drive me up the wall with ‘I’m bored!’ To combat this, I created a checklist my kid’s had to complete every day during the summer. As a reward, they would be allowed screen time.
Now this worked well for a little while. Then the checklist literally became a “check it off so I can play video games all day” kind of thing. That attitude put an end to technology privileges altogether. So there are no ‘rewards’ for completing the checklist per se. However there is a consequence. If they don’t complete everything on their checklist before dinner, they go to bed right after dinner and miss what we do for family time – the family time is thus the reward. This has been a great incentive. So far, only one child failed to complete their list on time and suffered the consequence.
Even my younger children have a checklist they have to complete – modified for their age of course. For the pre/early readers I included pictures so they can ‘read’ the list themselves. I made this a totally parental-free system! I like to enjoy my summer as well y’all!
I’ll go ahead and list exactly what is on my summer checklist for kids of all ages and then I will explain what each of them mean.
- Stick activity
- Play outside
As you can see, I really don’t require too much of them each day. I wanted to give them things that they would otherwise do on their own for fun, like play outside or create something. However I also wanted to make sure they were doing things that would keep them mentally sharp like read or journal.
They also don’t have set times for how long each of these things need to be. I used to require 30 minutes of outside time or reading but I wanted them to learn how to budget their own time. Without an immediate reward, they have all day, or at least until dinner, to work on their lists. They could very well complete their list right after breakfast and have free time (sans technology) for the rest of the day but they weren’t allowed to complain of boredom or I would put them to work. So if there wasn’t something specific that they had planned to do during their free time, they learned to budget their time and always have something to do in the checklist.
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Every morning during breakfast we have a family devotional. Currently we are working through this one. For my younger kids, this breakfast devotional counted as their Bible time. For my big boys however, I encouraged them to have their own time with Jesus every day in addition to our morning devotions. They could use our morning devotions as a springboard for their own quiet time if they wished. Or they could choose on their own a Bible story or devotional book to read. This summer they have really enjoyed The Action Bible and spent quite a bit of time just reading through that.
I included this activity to accomplish a few things. First, I wanted them to maintain their creative writing skills. Second, I wanted them to continue practicing their handwriting skills. Third, I wanted to keep a record, or memento of this summer. I have done this every year for the last 4 years and it’s so fun to go back and see what they have written about. Finally, they have to show me their journal entry every day and this helps me to keep an eye on their checklist progress. I don’t harp on them to see if they are getting their lists done because they already have to come to me when things get done.
The last two years in particular, I gave them specific prompts of what to write about. Before that they were allowed to free write. I plan to let that happen again next year but with length parameters. So I vary up the expectations on this one each year. At the beginning of the summer, we have a tutorial on the checklists and I make my expectations clear then.
My younger children don’t have this.
This one is broad for a reason. I wanted my kids to feel like they had freedom to do what they wanted even though they had a checklist to accomplish. Create can mean any number of things. They can create a bridge with legos or a trebuchet with Tinker Toys. They can paint a picture or color one. They can build a craft or make a bead necklace. Basically this is for anything they create. It’s their opportunity to get creative!
My younger children who are not quite writing sentences have ‘color’ in place of journaling as their ‘create’ check box. Usually if the big boys are doing some kind of craft, the little ones join in.
The stick activity jar serves two purposes. First, quite honestly, it’s a filler for the checklist. I can only think up so many categories of things they can do in a day! Second, if at any time the kid’s complain to me of being bored or ask me what they can do, I send them to the stick activity jar. They have to pull a stick and do whatever it says, no matter what.
The kicker is that there are ‘fun’ things to do, and then there are not so fun things to do. Like vacuum out the couch, dust, or wipe the windows. Most of the activities are fun though. Like go blow bubbles outside or tell your sister a joke, or ask dad 5 things about his childhood… It’s a fun, luck of the draw kind of thing.
The kid’s have two options here. They can either do a Beachbody workout for kids. Or they can play an exercise dice game.
I list out 11 different exercises like 20 jumping jacks, 10 sit-ups, or run in place for 30 seconds and number them 2 to 12. Then the kids roll these big foam dice I have and do the exercise that corresponds with the number it landed on. They have to roll the dice a total of 10 times and then they are done. This game lost favor after a particularly unfortunate series of rolls that resulted in 200 mountain climbers… but hey, stronger everyday!
My younger children don’t have this.
Just what it says. They get to play outside! My kids especially like to bike ride but they also enjoy sidewalk chalk or playing catch. On the days when we go swimming or to the beach, these family outings count as their outside time. I just let them know if that’s in the plan for the day in the morning so they can save that for their checklist.
If it’s raining, I usually just give them a pass on it or have something else count for it. Like if we go to the library the day it’s raining, then I’ll let them just check it off.
Finally, they have to read at least a little every day. We go to the library once a week and they pick the books they would like to read for this. This is pretty easy for my kids as they all love to read. I read aloud to my pre-readers and my new reader practices reading from his BOB books.
I do plan to start a required reading list for my big boys though. I have noticed that one child in particular tends to choose easy picture books or the same type of book every day. I want to expand his tastes a little as well as challenge his reading skills, so I will have a stack of books (probably only 2, one a month) that they must read in order to check this off the list. Since my older boys are public schooled, I may even start asking for narrations after their readings for additional mental sharpening.
And that’s the checklist! I’m telling you, this has been a life saver for us during these long, hot summer days. My kids never complain of being bored and they’re not zoned out on technology. I can rest assured they are remaining active and their brains are being stimulated in a healthy way a little bit every day. If you would like to get a look at what this looks like in real life, I did a day in our summer life video over on my YouTube channel. You can check it out here.