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 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.


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. Every year the list changed a bit depending on what activities I put in the jar. 

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…

some printables from past FamiLy Theme Days Come IN handy!


                     You don't have to do this idea with the summer's just something I've used in the past.

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 decorate 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

Other Ideas....


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…

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.

Expanded Details...

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

          Reading Chart – from our Family Literacy Theme Day

NEW Read Each Day: Reading Chart to encourage daily reading (just shade in to set the amount of days for the challenge and then kids will fill in each square after each day of reading)

          Bug BINGO – from our Bug Theme Day

          Alphabet List for an alphabet scavenger hunt– from our Alphabet Review Theme Day

Simple materials for a summer of fun! 

Summer Jar


Another jar idea….  I made up this idea when my boys were very little, to inspire them 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.  

          Imagination Jar Printable

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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. In 2020 for our #SocialDistance Summer I created a Ready Set Fit Sheet for my 14 year old to challenge himself.

Individual Personal Record Sheet

Team Personal Record Sheet

Ready Set Fit (new for 2020)


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.  For more information on how to encourage your kids to make a travel journal check here: Travel Journal/ Travel Scrapbook.