Summer Jar

Our original Summer Theme Day had a Summer Jar listed under “For Fun” and it was very basic. The printable I offered there had a mere 14 ideas on it.  For the summer of 2013 I updated the Summer Jar and made it into something MUCH BIGGER and for 2014 and 2015 I added a new list! I hope these ideas help bust boredom during summer vacation and that they encourage creativity, physical activity and plan old fun!

I post photos of the new Summer Jar activities on Facebook and Instagram so check there to see how this project has worked out for our family!



The basic idea is to decorate a jar (or have your kids decorate the jar as mine did in our original Summer Jar idea) and fill the jar with slips of paper that inspire your kids.

Make up your own ideas based on your kids likes and interests and also your budget.  Make up ideas based on whether YOU want to be involved, too.  If you want your kids to be more self sufficient create ideas that they can do on their own.  If your children are smaller you will probably want to include simple projects that you will work on together.

NOTE: I decorated a cardboard box to hold the printables (rolled with an elastic and numbered to match the idea in the jar) and re-sealable bags with instructions etc.



Here is my first Summer Jar Printable from 2011.  It is very basic but might be a good stepping stone if you want some simple ideas:  2011 Summer Jar Ideas

My updated Summer Jar Printable for 2013 had 47 ideas!!!!  I went a little nuts that year but was so inspired I just couldn’t stop.  I hope this printable will allow you to write your own ideas to inspire your kids - 2013 Summer Jar Ideas

For Summer 2014 I included 35 ideas.  Some of the ideas are ones we never got to the previous year, some are ones I knew they’d want to do again, and some are brand new: 2014 Summer Jar Ideas

Our Summer 2015 Jar has only 30 ideas but they are fun ones: 2015 Summer Jar Printable

NOTE: Some of my ideas need expansion so I will give more details below, plus links where needed. 



I hope I remembered everything.  If you need more details or explanation of something please contact me at


This is an idea I’ve used on and off over the years but find it works really well  for summer vacation, especially now that my boys are older and really love video games.   I want to limit my kids’ screen time and encourage them to use their imaginations and to go outside and get active. 

I printed the tickets on thicker paper to make them more durable and then put them in a little plastic box.  Some tickets are worth 5 minutes and others worth 30 minutes (a little math for them to switch out 5 minute tickets for the longer ones…aren’t I sneaky?).

My boys each decorated an envelope that will hold their earned tickets. They will “cash” in the tickets when they want to play video games or watch TV.

Here is the basic printable for the tickets I made (you will notice these new ones say “Screen Time Tickets” but the ones I use are my old ones that still say “TV Tickets”: Screen Time Tickets Printable

How to earn tickets: Some of the Summer Jar activities give out tickets for time spent being physical.  I will also give out tickets when they spend time working on a curriculum work book (I’m a mean ol’ mama who makes them do school work so they don’t regress by September.  You can take the teacher out of the school but you can’t take the school out of the teacher I guess) and when my youngest practices his guitar. At other times if they have spent a lot of time being active…swimming, riding their bikes, etc. I will hand them out.



My boys are competitive, very competitive, and they often drive me crazy when they start to argue about who is faster, smarter, better etc.  As one might expect my Youngest  has the hardest time controlling his emotions when it comes to competitions. I’ve try to make the Summer Jar ideas more about team work or individual records.  To help with this I created two Personal Record Sheet Printables, one for individual feats and the other for team work.

Individual Personal Record Sheet

Team Personal Record Sheet



Some of the Summer Jar Ideas require Printables from past Family Theme Days.  Here is what I used:

          Reading Chart – from our Family Literacy Theme Day

          Bug BINGO – from our Bug Theme Day

          Alphabet List – from our Alphabet Review Theme Day


Some of my Summer Jar ideas say that there will be a prize.  I tried to keep these as frugal as possible.  Some prizes I bought included a wooden craft (a ladybug and markers), comic books, a screen tent, ice cream, frozen treats, new stickers or stamps, a new books…



Some of my Summer Jar Ideas require supplemental materials.  I have tried to use things we already had on hand or things I could purchase at discounted prices at the dollar store etc., but occasionally I splurged.

Here is a list of things we needed from home: kids cookbooks (but you could get those from the library), outdoor chairs and old sheets, spray bottle, a kite, beach ball, popcorn, board games, buckets and rags (to clean the car), picture books (you could get some from the library), re-sealable bags and ingredients to make ice-cream (see links below), bottle caps, paper cups and popsicle sticks, paper plates, empty paper towel roll, a straw (plus other recycled materials for a craft or two), paints, markers, tape and glue, child safe scissors

Here is a list of things I bought: comic books, craft stamps (summer theme), new books, a little tent, a blow up beach ball, side-walk chalk, curriculum work books, stickers, a science kit, a craft kit,  sketch books, canvas board from an art store for the kids to paint on, marbles…



Another jar idea….  I made up this idea a few summers ago trying to inspire my kids to play outside together and use their imagination.  I found my youngest has a wonderful imagination and adores pretending to be other characters from movies etc. which was exactly how I used to play when I was little.  My Eldest has never really liked to play like that but I thought he might be more keen to join his brother in imaginative play if I included a drawing element afterwards.  I made a jar with imagination ideas on slips of paper and then gave them a little school notebook to draw their adventures in.  Was this idea a success?  Kind of…they did play together outside and did enjoy drawing in the book but they didn’t play for long and my Eldest wasn’t really inspired to join in his brother’s adventures at other times.  They asked about it recently and that is why I included it in the updated Summer Jar.

          Imagination Jar Printable



Yet another jar idea… My kids love movies but can never agree on which movie to watch so we decorated a jar and wrote down the names of the movies we like to watch.  Now they can draw a movie from the jar and that solves the arguments.



My kids each have a coil scribbler to write in and glue menus and ticket stubs etc. from various vacations, including, printed pictures from our vacations.  We are often behind with the inclusion of pictures so I thought I’d add this idea for a little reminiscing fun.



My kids each have a plastic file bin from an office supply store with hanging files for each grade.  This is where they keep their special projects and assignments from each year.  I thought in the summer they could sort through them a bit to keep them organized.



I got a lot of my ideas from Pinterest!  Check out my Summer Board!

You can learn how to play Skellzies here—(NOTE: the original link we used doesn’t work anymore but I found this one to replace it):

 Here are some instructions on how to play Ringers with marbles:

Learn how to make ice cream in a bag here - (NOTE: the original link we used doesn’t work anymore but I found this science one to replace it...we have not tried it yet):

The idea for Sponge Bombs was found on Pinterest and I went to the link here:

The idea for the Hot Rocks came from Pinterest as well and this link: Be careful though as these can burn. I’d recommend this for older kids only as we had a bit of trouble with this one.

The idea for the sidewalk paint was found on Pinterest and here:

I found the idea for Simon Says using sidewalk chalk on Pinterest and here:

The paper sundial idea also came from Pinterest and from this link —(NOTE: the original link we used doesn’t work anymore but I found this one to replace it):

 The Angry Bird Sidewalk Chalk and Water Balloon game came from Pinterest and this link:

I found Snail Hopscotch on Pinterest and on this link (plus there are other sidewalk chalk games if you are interested in more):

The paper plate ring toss was another Pinterest find:

This is the lemonade recipe we used:

This is where I found the idea for making paper umbrellas:

We want to try to make these popsicles:

Here’s were I found the popsicle art craft:

 The sun sandwich came from here:

 I found the watermelon cookie recipe here:

The recycled can craft was inspired by this pin:

The sun paintings came from this idea: (the link wasn’t showing photos last time I checked but here it is anyway— Here is the Pinterest Pic that inspired us:

The woven sun craft instructions were found here:

The melted crayon silhouette craft came from here (but we found the templates by googling “sun silhouettes”):

This Pinterest Pin inspired our Ice Cream craft:


I have seen the Flip Flop Craft all over Pinterest.  Here’s one site that has instructions:


I found the instructions for making Frozen Yogurt Dots here:


I found the initial idea for the shadow drawing on Pinterest.  The link only has a photo so we made up the rest of the craft idea:

There are many watermelon crafts.  We choose this one:

Here’s the recipe for Cookies and Cream Popsicles:

We found the idea for the Balloon Tennis here:

For the cool Solar Oven S’mores experiment look here:

For Yahtzee score cards, click here to print them:

For instructions on how to play the Thimble Game check here:

These are the no-bake cookie bars we made:

The waxed paper Stained glass requires wax paper and sharpies. The link for this Pinterest picture didn’t give instructions only the Pinterest box did so I shall include that here:

We’ve made funny faces as crafts many times before.  This link adds the idea of including pre-drawn heads:

Summer Jar full of fun!

Decorated Box to hold Printables & other materials.

TV/Screen Time Tickets

Various Printables for some summer fun!

Supplies ready...

Now we’re set for summer holidays!

My boys top picks from Summer Jar 2013!




My boys top picks from Summer Jar 2014!