Summer Activity Jars and Grab Bags {Free Printables}

Last week on Fresh Living (click to watch the actual segment) Jamie and I shared some fun ways to make sure you actually DO those fun things on your summer list. :) I always have great intentions and have lots of ideas floating around in my head about things I want to do with my kids and family during the summer, but it’s easy to forget things as the summer passes by too quickly! Here are a few simple and inexpensive ideas to help you keep track of kid-friendly activities and pack your days with fun. :) Easy and cheap, my friends.

Summer Activity Jars

Daily Activity Grab Bags

First I’ll start with the Summer Activity Jars. I’ve seen this general idea around blogland and have always wanted to make them for my family. (Check out Stephanie’s I’m Bored jars, so cute! Or this awesome post at The Daily Digi–Jar of Fun) My spin on it is a little bit different, however, with an idea I heard of from my friend Leslie of GG Digital Designs–color coding!

This was a no-cost project because I had everything on hand already! I love projects like that!!

You will need to grab some empty containers. I used three empty (and clean!) spaghetti sauce jars. THREE jars, because I divided up my activity list into three different categories which I will talk about in one second. See, projects like this give me good reasons to keep “useful garbage” in my craft cupboards, lol!

You will then need to make your list of activities you want to do this summer and either print it out or write it down on paper. It was fun to sit down with my family and find out what is on our kids’ “wish lists” for summer. I got more ideas online as well. The fun part of this is that I color coded the categories. I printed out activities and games on YELLOW paper, treat ideas on BLUE paper, and outings or fieldtrips on ORANGE paper. I am a visual person, and I love seeing the different colors! My kids are the same way!

Cut your paper into strips and then fold them into smaller pieces.

Then stick the folded up paper strips into the jars, separated by color/category. Look how pretty! :)

I whipped up some very simple labels to go on the jars, as you can see below, using a circle paper punch and a scalloped circle paper punch on matching paper. Oh, and I spray painted the spaghetti jar lids black too.

“Activities and Games”= fun things to do such as jump on the trampoline or play freeze tag or go on a scavenger hunt or make giant bubbles

“Let’s Eat!” = ideas for delish treats to make or anything having to do with FOOD. For example, make cupcakes or build fruit kebabs or have a fondue party

“Oh, the Places We’ll Go!” = outings to local parks, swimming pools, museums, hikes, the dollar store :)

Have your kids draw out a piece of paper from one or all of the jars and see what exciting activities await you!!!

Daily Activity Grab Bags

This is another super easy idea, it’s like a weekly summer advent calendar! This will give you a little bit more control and planning over the activities you do during that particular week, because YOU select the activities/treats/outing options and put them in each bag—then let your kids “grab” from 3-4 options that day. I like having some semblance of control when planning my week, even when school’s out!! :) You could even put a small treat or stickers in the bags as well, just for fun.

Just take 7 small bags (found at the craft store) or even envelopes or lunch sacks could work. You can have your kids decorate them however they like, I just kept mine plain. I used a clothespin and a simple paper label glued onto the clothespin, one for each day of the week. Stick your activity or outing or treat choices on slips of paper into each bag. Or you could have one of each category each day and do them all if you are ambitious!! :)

Then hang each bag with the clothespin on a string or ribbon, like a garland, and hang it somewhere.

Kids love that little element of surprise, and by spending just a little bit of time preparing these jars or grab bags, you will be ready for an entire summer of FUN with your family!!

If you’d like a PDF of the labels for the activity jars and the days of the week labels, feel free to download that here:


 For personal use only, please!! Just print out on cardstock, cut out into strips or circles, and mount on cardstock.

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  1. Amber Monson says

    I love this Idea of color coding. I just can’t get your list to download to my computer is there a secret or could you email them to me? I love this project very cute.

    • says

      Glad you liked Becky’s Daddy Gift idea! Wow, you sure are organized and ready for that baby to come! :) Congrats and good luck, and thanks for linking back to our site.

  2. Shannon Allen says

    I also had trouble downloading them. Will you please email me a copy? This is exactly what I have been looking for! Thanks!

  3. Toni Cook says

    I’ve done a similar idea for many summers. It’s been a sanity saver for all! I only used 2 jars. LOVE the 3! I did find a different jar came in handy. We call it the “I’m Bored!” jar. Anytime the kids tell me they’re bored, they have to choose a slip from the jar. Yes, there might be chores in there such as dusting, sweeping, etc., but we also added fun activities like, Tea Party, Build a Lego Building, Plan a Picnic for tomorrow, etc. Come to find out, the kids wanted to choose from the “I’m Bored” jar more than any others….despite the risk!

    • says

      Yes, I love that idea! Sneaking in chores is a great idea. I might make a chore jar as well to tackle those chores we never seem to get to…and make it seem fun while we are doing it!

  4. Vanessa says

    When try to use ‘HERE’ link to get lists, it takes me to a website to download a program, which I did, but still can’t get the list :(

      • Kristi says

        Think your idea is great and absolutely LOVE the colors/styles, I just can’t get them to download. I seem to have the same problem as Vanessa where it takes me to a download website. If possible, could you send them in a file to my email?

      • Temprince says

        I am so sorry to bother you Brooke but I have tried and tried to find the printables for the summer activity list, and it keeps kicking me to another website, could u email it to me? I can’t tell you how much I LOVE your idea on doing this, this is SO Much fun!! We live in Singapore so I’ve added a bunch of culture stuff to this as well, but can’t rave on you enough for this list. Thank you for making this available for us, you are apart of a lot of happy childhoods.
        In His Grip

  5. Leslie says

    You’ve inspired me once again Brooke!! I spent most of the afternoon getting our entire summer all planned out! (thanks for the shout out too!)

  6. evelania says

    Super Cute, thank you! I especially like the fonts on the days of the week. Thanks for sharing!

  7. says

    Great ideas all over the place here! Wish I had 5 others to brainstorm with. lol. Well I’m not sure if you do these, but I would LOVE it if you came and linked up as many creative ideas or projects as you would like to, to share and inspire, at my Our House Of Joyful Noise link-up party, every Tuesday!! : ) (Open for several days after too.) You may get featured too. : ) Please check it out, and join us if you can!

  8. says

    first off, thanks for the link to my jar in this post! that is so nice to see! second, these ideas are so stinkin’ cute! i have them on my list to feature! thanks for sharing!!!

  9. Tiah says

    I love the jar idea. I will make mine tomorrow. I was just thinking today how I’m going to entertain two boys this summer. this is perfect.

  10. Lisa says

    Hi, I am having trouble downloading your fun lists….says .docX is not a recognizable program. Is my system too old?? HELP! Thanks much.

  11. carla says

    I hate hate hate 4share. can’t get it to work. but i need all the summer ideas i can get. could you e-mail them to me too?

  12. says

    I consider myself a person with a pretty good imagination. But dang when it comes to my kids, sometimes I feel like such a dork. Thank you for your list. You just dont know how much it means to me.

  13. says

    I consider myself a person with a pretty good imagination. But dang when it comes to my kids, sometimes I feel like such a dork. Thank you for your list. You just don’t know how much it means to me.

  14. Marianne says

    Could you also email me your list? I can’t seem to figure out how to open the file…
    This looks soooo cute and fun. We just moved so we have lots of stuff to explore in our new area. Great way to break it down.

  15. says

    Great ideas! I love how you hung the bags and how perfect they look! I make bags like that for really long trips in the car. Each of the four kids gets one and it contains something to do and a snack. They love it because they have no idea what’s in the bags :)

    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

  16. Claire says

    SO CUTE! I’m getting ready to make my jars right now, but when I downloaded the lists, only the first one will open. I can’t get Outings and Field Trips or Treats to open. Thanks for sharing your project and your lists!

  17. LINDA says

    I have tried over and over to download your list for the jars, and all I get is goop. Would it be too much trouble to email them to me? My grandsons will love it when they visit next month. Thank you so much for your time.

  18. Ronda says

    Hey LOVE your site! I look at it all the time!! Soo glad I can benefit from your creativity and cuteness! I also cant seem to get the list…may be operator error…anyways could you just e-mail me the list?! Thanks in advance!! =D

  19. Hayley Cook says

    This is fantastic. Saves me a lot of time and such a great idea. I am just having trouble downloading the list. Could you email it to me.

  20. Liz I says

    thank you for this post! I absolutely love this idea, my boys and I will be doing the activity jars this summer! I can’t get your lists to download, is it possible for you to email them to me as well? Thanks again!! :)

  21. Mandy says

    Love this idea! My jars are all ready to go, but I can’t seem to download the lists either. Can I get an email too? Thanks so much!

  22. says

    I copied this idea at the beginning of the summer and have loved it! I get so many questions about my jars, I finally decided to share the idea on my blog, with a link to your page, of course. Thank you for the awesome idea!

  23. Emilie Davis says

    I couldn’t get the documents for the jar project to download or print, could you email them to me please :) Thanks! Also what font did you use for the labels on the front of the jars? Thanks so much!

  24. Jennifer says

    Hi, I was wondering if you could give me the list of all your ideas that are in the jars. I am looking for fun summer ideas. Thanks.

  25. Mary Anne says

    Just a little tech help. When you save a document that you want people to be able to open, save it as a PDF file and anyone should be able to open it on any type of computer of hand held device. Cute ideas. Can’t wait for summer to come and try them out!

  26. Marlo says

    Love the idea of the 3 different jars :). I was not able to download any of the cool ideas or lables. Could you possibly email them to me?
    Thanks :)

  27. Vicky says

    I am busily planning activities for my 3 kiddos and I to do this summer and I stumbled upon your website (thank you, Pinterest!). However, the lists won’t print. Can you email them to me?

    Thanks a million! :)

  28. Gladys says

    I have been trying to come up with a fun way to sneak some learning into the day and this is great! My tags will read along these lines, “find everything in the house that starts with the letter O. Make a list of words that rhyme with summer.” Don’t worry it wont be all school!

  29. susan says

    Hi! Another sensational idea! Thank you for sharing. Sorry to be a bother, but I can’t get the lists (activites and treats) to open either. Takes me to a page for “box”. Joined it, but still nothing. Coudld you please email me a copy too? Thank you so much! I adore your site and have implemented so many of your ideas.

  30. Sonia says

    Hi, I love that idea and I’ll definitely use it for the summer!
    I think I’ll probably use envelopes instead of jars or bags and keep the envelopes in a folder, so I can actually carry them around in my bag easily, because we’re going to travel a lot.
    The labels are absolutely fantastic!
    I’ve just been searching the web for Preschool Summer Learning, and I’ve found an extraordinary idea of Summer Bucket. Here are the links:
    … and here’s an idea very similar to yours – a Jar of Fun:
    It’s just that if I start researching something, I always have to share it with someone! Hope you find it useful…

  31. Denise says

    Love your jars and grab bag ideas. I too cannot open and print the Summer Activities Jar file so please send it to me when you get a chance. (I am interested in getting a copy of your labels fir the activity jars and the days of the week labels. It won’t let me download.) Thanks!

  32. Amanda says

    I saw this post on pinterest and followed it back to shop duck duck goose. My 2 year old got on the computer and scrolled it down to the bottom- I’m glad he did. I saw your comment there about it originally (all of it) being your tutorial. This is a great idea! I am happy that I have now found this site. Too bad about internet thieves out there. I never would have realized this was your guys’ without your comment. I just read right past the name of where they got the idea, assuming the tutorial was theirs :( BUT- I have found several things here I like. And I’ll be pinning direct from your site :) Thank you very much for some crafting genius.

  33. Amy says

    Hi, Brooke – I’m also having trouble downloading the Summer Activity Jars lists. Would you email them to me? Thank you!

    • says

      I fixed the download links so they should be working now. Let me know if you’re still having trouble with them but I’ve double checked the links and they are working for me now. Thanks! :)

  34. Sarah says

    Love this idea for out of town company so we have things to do! How did you print the days of the week labels? Thank you.

  35. Marlena says

    Oh, what a joyful, magnificent idea!
    Please send me the list as well! I too am struggling with the downloads!
    Thank you for this post!

  36. Kemma says

    Hi is there anyway that you can send me the list of activities to put in the jar… i can seem to think of any! that would be great!

  37. Kelsie says

    I tried to download the activity lists and it would not let me! Please email me the lists, this is just what our girls need!

  38. Cari says

    I love this idea and would love to do it this summer, but I can’t get the printable to download. Could you e-mail me the lists? I watch my 2 nieces in addition to my 3 boys during the summer this could be a life saver for all.

  39. Cathy Pryor says

    I would love the documents as well, I’ve tried to download them and wasn’t able to either.

  40. Anna-Katrin says

    I can’t seem to find the activities lists to download, just the labels. What am I doing wrong? Thanks!


  1. […] for us to do with the kiddos. Here are some of my FAVs: From the amazing Crafting Chicks: Summer Activities & Grab Jars Loving both of these Summer Fun Charts: Summer Fun Chart & Photo Journal Summer Fun […]

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