Summer Strategy: Make a Bucket List

As my first grader counts down her remaining school days, I'm finally feeling able to turn my thoughts to summer. For my family, it's a time that lends itself to a break from the usual; bus schedules and afterschool circus classes are replaced by summer camps, looser bedtimes, and a few blissful weeks away on vacation. To get the season started off right, this year my kids (Evie, age 7, and Seeley, 4) and I decided to compile a Summer Bucket List, a collection of food, fun, and activities to fit in before back-to-school season takes over. So far, our plans include a visit to the local picture book museum, seeing the new Inside Out movie (they've been quoting the trailer for weeks!), and making a pilgrimage to one of the few remaining A&W stands in New England. We love a good day trip, but we're also planning for those too-hot-to-move days with some at-home activities. Here's a few we picked straight from FamilyFun magazine:

When I was in high school, my first real paying job was at the local soft serve stand, so I have great nostalgia for that liquid chocolate that freezes to a crunchy, crackly topping once it touches ice cream. So how happy was I when I discovered this homemade version that takes just two ingredients and only requires microwave cooking? It's so simple and yet so satisfying.

My kids selected this cute crab craft out of the latest issue of FamilyFun. Since they're copious collectors of seashells when we hit the beach, this will be a perfect way to preserve a sweet summer memory.

Like many of you, I'm sure, I have Pinterest boards chock full of ideas that I want to try but never quite get to. This summer, I'm planning to continue teaching my seven-year-old to sew, and these sweet and simple sleeping bags that I pinned long ago seem like the perfect pick for my stuffed animal–loving kid. Best of all, we can upcycle our favorite worn-out flannel pants for the fabric.

We like to while away the warmer summer afternoons on our shady back porch, a great space for those take-it-outside messier projects. Evie and Seeley can't wait to try out this colorful soap foam. After they're done sudsing up, I figure I can send them to the kiddie pool to clean up. That counts as a bath during summer, right?

Summer just isn't summer for us without a beach fire at our family's lakeside cabin. This year, I'm hoping to up the stakes from our usual s'mores by cooking an entire food-by-fire feast with my husband and kids. There's a whole menu online, including make-your-own mix-in mac-and-cheese and strawberry shortcake on a stick, but I think the spider dogs will have the greatest appeal with my kids.

To get ideas for your own family's Summer Bucket List (or just find an activity to occupy a hot and humid afternoon), check out FamilyFun's Pinterest page.

Beth Honeyman is FamilyFun magazine's Research Chief and Pinterest editor. A former summer camp counselor, she deeply misses the days when Burr Pond was her office and rest hour was required (even for staff!), but she makes do each summer watching the fireflies in her backyard and listening for the resident barred owl.

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