Summer Backyard Bucket List


I’ve recently been thinking about Spring being here and summer being on our doorstep. Spring and summer have always been my favorite seasons, but now that I have children I love them even more. Our boys are at magic ages of (almost) 4 and 2 years old. So much is still a new discovery for them and it is thrilling to watch their delight in the world around them.

I want my boys’ (and future children) childhoods to be rich with imagination, exploration, and good old physical fun.

I want to provide a simple atmosphere at home that spurs on these traits. Last summer I read Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder and this summer I am reading Boys Should Be Boys.  Both of these books emphasize simple childhoods, where creativity and freedom are more important than fancy toys and an abundance of extracurricular activities. Being outside is a wonderful launching point for creating a childhood like this.

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We are blessed with a yard that is a great balance of sun, shade, and woods. Once Spring is here, we are outside from the time after breakfast until nap time. Then back outside again after nap time. Of course, this is prevented some days by the weather, or chores, or errands that need to be completed. But it is generally how our days will be spent for the next few months.


A plan and structure is not necessary everyday when you take kids outside. Give them a bucket of water and some cups, and they will entertain themselves for an hour. Even so, there are some things that I want to be intentional about doing with my kids or about providing them with opportunities to experience.  I know that unless I think about it ahead of time, many of these opportunities will pass me up. Having a list is also helpful for me to stay intentional and to work towards goals I have as a parent.

So here is our backyard bucket list for the summer.  These activities are things that we can do with both minimal preparations and minimal cost. Partly to save time and money, and partly to help our kids learn to create their own fun and appreciate simple pleasures.

Backyard Bucket List

(in no particular order)

  1.  Catch frogs
  2. Teach them to play freeze tag
  3. Make a worm observation jar
  4. Camp out in the backyard
  5. Plant something and watch it grow
  6. Use a tarp as an easy splash pad 20140528-161208.jpg
  7. Learn to kick a soccer ball, then try to play this game
  8. Catch lightening bugs and put them in a jar for a nightlight
  9. Build a fort in the woods
  10. Paint outside
  11. Practice throwing a frisbee
  12. Learn to climb a tree
  13. “Cook” with outside materials
  14. Lay on the grass and find shapes in the clouds
  15. Make a cozy outdoor reading area and read together
  16. Wash the van
  17. Learn to identify plants and bugs from a book (I need this too!)
  18. Make an obstacle course
  19. Vinegar and baking soda rockets
  20. Play in a small pool (this one will probably be almost daily!)
  21. Hang up and paint new sheets for the bunk beds
  22. Invite friends over for a water balloon fight
  23. Do rubbings with various leaves
  24. Play in the mud
  25. Create play worlds that stretch the imagination

This list is in addition to the “normal” things the kids already do while playing outside– riding biking, playing in the sandbox, picnics, etc. I am hoping that a little intentionality on my part will lead to a summer full of fun, learning, and great memories.

What would you add to your backyard bucket list?




2 thoughts on “Summer Backyard Bucket List

  1. Fun! I’ll have to use some of your ideas! Ours included homemade Popsicles and playing in the rain. I also included some activities away from the house since our backyard isn’t always the best for encouraging outside play.


  2. Pingback: Weekend Links | Pilgrim Living

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