The Ultimate Guide to Ideas for Summer Bucket List for Homeschoolers
Woo hoo! Summer break, summer vacation, just plain SUMMER! We made it! Homeschooling moms and kids both are sighing with relief. Even if you homeschool year round, summer is just the time to unwind and relax a little.
Then reality sits in:
DAY 1: “Mom, I’m BORED!”
DAY 2: “Mom, I’m REALLY bored!”
So what’s a good homeschooling mom to do? Mix some learning in with some fun activities, of course!
Let’s dive into tons of ideas for summer bucket lists for homeschoolers (or any child!).
Summer is the perfect time for learning!
Summer break actually starts in late spring, which is creation’s time for new life! Butterflies, flowers, vegetables, seeds, animals….they all begin life in spring! The trick is to start thinking in early spring what you want to plant, grow, or raise this summer! There are so many ideas for summer bucket lists that are unique for spring and summer.
Educational Ideas for Summer Bucket List for Elementary Age Students
Sunflowers: Skyscrapers to the Sky
If you want your child to take an active interest in learning about plants, plant sunflower seeds! Why? Sunflowers grow very rapidly and are extremely heat resistant. Waiting for a seed to sprout can tax the attention span of even an adult, much less a child. However, sunflowers reach amazing heights very quickly! Since they take very little maintenance, these make the perfect flowers to grow and learn about. Add sunflowers to your Summer Bucket List!
Educational activities that can be done with sunflowers
- Once the seeds sprout, take a quick picture every day to see how fast they grow. If you are tech savvy, you can make the pictures into a time-lapse video. There are several apps that do this, including Microsoft’s Time Lapse Creator.
- When they sunflowers have reaching full height, measure the tallest and shortest one. Subtract the difference in the two numbers. Use a worksheet, like I’ve included in my 2021 Summer Fun Bucket List for Homeschoolers packet, to record the numbers.
- Harvest the sunflower seeds! You can save the seeds to plant next year or eat them this year. Tip: Make sure you let the sunflower heads dry out on the stem before removing it to get the seeds out.
- A cool way to extend the enjoyment of the sunflowers is to stagger the planting of the seeds. Called succession planting, this will allow your children to enjoy the continuous blooming of the sunflowers!
Wildflower Gardens for Bees or Butterflies
Did your children know that certain flowers attract and welcome bees and butterflies? Research alert! You can go to this website to find out which 29 wildflowers you can plant to attract butterflies to your flower garden. (Guess what? Sunflowers are on that list!). If you want to attract bees, take a look at this list of certain types of flowers that bees will gravitate towards!
Educational activities that can be done with planning and planting a wildflower garden
- Research is always an opportunity to hone your students’ investigation and study skills! Check out books from the library on wildflowers. This book for kids talks about flowers, has gorgeous pictures, and goes even deeper by giving instructions on how to make DIY projects like butterfly feeders!
- Let your child plan out the flower garden himself, even drawing out where to plant each flower or seed. You can use a worksheet like the one shown above that gives space for him to write the names of the flowers and draw a picture of each one. (There you go…handwriting practice and art skills!)
- A great summer activity that pairs perfectly with growing flowers is pressing flowers. Pressing flowers lets your child have a beautiful, physical reminder of all of the hard work he put into this garden. I like the way this website explains how to do it for kids with clear instructions and tips.
“Going on a bug hunt….gonna catch a big one!” The “Bear Hunt” song just popped in my mind with “bear” being substituted with “bug”. Are you like me, hoping your child won’t find too big of a bug? Insects are not my most favorite thing to study or even look at. But as a homeschooling mom, I know I need to show no fear or repulsion to insects so that my children won’t pick up on my feelings. I want them to be fascinated and brave when studying insects. And insects are fascinating! Even I can admit that.
Educational activities to do on a bug safari
- Bug Safari is a cute way to name an insect hunt. Sometimes renaming an activity will make it more inviting to children. It’s the little things, mamas!
- Tools you will need: something small to hold the insects (Dollar Tree usually has a bug catching kit in the toy section that will work), a magnifying glass, and a chunky paintbrush to gently sweep them into the container.
- Be sure to research beforehand where insects like to hang out in their natural habitats. Your child will need to be looking under leaves, turning over rocks and logs, and looking among tall grasses.
- Release as soon as you have gotten a good look at the insects. Put them back where you found them.
- Use an app or website to identify your insects and write them down. Draw a picture of each one to keep a record of what you found. Don’t forget to write the date, approximate time, and the weather conditions on that day! A good experiment would be to do another Bug Safari on another day at a different time and with different weather conditions. See if you find different types of insects!
More “Cool Mom” Ideas for Summer Bucket List
- Camp out in the backyard and look for constellations
- Create a new recipe for a type of food, like a sandwich, a muffin, or a drink
- Learn a new backyard sport, like badminton or volleyball. Croquet would be fun, too!
- Make a time capsule. Draw a picture of what you think the future will look like in a certain number of years
- Do a character trait study. Summer is a great time to do those elective subjects that you just can’t get to during the school year (good intentions and all that)
- Go screen-free for a day! Have your children plan out a whole day’s worth of activities
- Start a summer nature journal
Ideas for Summer Bucket List for Teens
Summers for teens should be a time of rest, fun, and also working on those things that we drop as we go along in the school year due to time constraints. I like to work on character studies, extra Bible studies, vocabulary games, foreign language practice, or art studies. However, try not to make these into school. Fun ways to do these things are out there, I promise!
Life Skills for Teens, or “Adulting”
Life skills are things that graduating teens are lacking, accord to many recent studies. They are abundant in head knowledge, but they need lots more life knowledge. Do you think homeschoolers lack life skills? I do think some do. While most homeschooling parents give lots of independence to their teenagers, I do see moms who find it hard to give up being in charge. (Raising my own hand here!) At graduation, we have been in charge of and physically with our child 24/7 for 18 years. Sometimes it’s hard to remember these teens are going to be expected to be adults, making adult decisions, and need adult life skills. So I encourage you to start helping your teen acquire these skills.
Some life skills ideas to work on with your teen this summer
Teens may balk at learning these things, but encourage them to do them with you. And you need to actually do them with your teen! Don’t just give them a YouTube video to watch and consider it done. By doing it alongside your teen, you will be spending valuable time alone with him or her. Believe me, the time is short, my friends! And by doing it with him, you will be able to give your own personal tips and tricks to the skill.
- Car maintenance – oil changes, putting air in a tire, basic car care
- How to write a resume
- Email etiquette
- Sew a button on
- How to repair a seam with just a needle and thread
- Read a paper map (gasp! Remind them how frequently cell phone service goes out. GPS isn’t a guarantee)
- How to mentally have a back-up plan in place in stressful situations (this is a skill that few people have…make sure your teen has this life-saving skill)
- Sort laundry
- Small household fix-its
Hiking is a relaxing way to get exercise and get some learning in, too! If you don’t have any hiking trails nearby, just walking outside will be helpful. Teens need relaxation during the summer. They work hard during the school year too. Even though it doesn’t sound like it would, exercise is a great stress reliever!
Ways to make hiking educational
- My teen daughter found an app that identifies plants by just taking a quick picture of each one. She loved going hiking to see how may new species of plants she could find. Another perk she found was reading about the different uses each had and bringing some back for us to try if they were edible. (Note: Do not eat unknown plants, berries, or flowers! Lots of research is needed for edible plants.)
- My other teen found apps that marked what hiking trails he had hiked and helped him find new trails when we went on vacations. Ask your teen how many miles he or she hiked at the end of summer.
- First and foremost, always go over safety rules for hiking, especially if your teen is a beginner.
More Ideas for Summer Bucket list for Teens
Remember, some of these aren’t “schoolish” educational because teens need a mental break from so much schoolwork during the summer. But most of these (and the ones on my Summer Bucket List for Homeschoolers that you can sign up for) have some hidden educational value!
- Study for the written driving test! Set a goal of missing zero on the test
- Invite your friends over to put together a 1000-piece puzzle. Have everyone guess how long it will take from start to finish. Give a prize to the winner!
- Learn to cook one meal and one dessert really, really well. Practice until it’s perfect.
- Join a summer reading challenge or challenge yourself to reading a certain number of books this summer. They don’t have to be school books; spend time reading books you really enjoy.
- Camp out with your friends in the backyard and identify constellations in the sky. Use this app if you need one
That’s it from me, mamas! Enjoy your summer and stay safe! Before you go, be sure to sign up for my updated 15-page Summer Fun Bucket List for both elementary age and teens! It’s got 2 different lists, 2 full pages of links to videos and websites (no more scrambling to search for links!), and 10 worksheets to enhance learning! Sign up below!