Summer Activity Jars

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Use these Summer Activity Jars to keep the kids happy and engaged with fun activities, chores and exercise with less whining!  (hopefully, lol)

Summer Activity Jars- Keep kids happy and engaged with fun activities, chores and exercise with less whining!

I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day of school!!!  Whoo hoo,  I am so happy, no more 6 am wake ups!  With summer vacation starting next week, I’ve been thinking a bit about how I ‘m going to handle our chores, reading and other fun activities this summer.  I want to keep them my guys on a schedule and make sure things get done, but I want it to be fun.  (As fun as a chore can be, anyway…)

The kids do have certain chores that I want done almost every day.  The chores are currently getting done, but not without a lot of crying, complaining and whining.  I get it, I don’t like doing chores either, but everyone still has to pitch in.  I’ve decided to try a new system this summer: Activity “jars.”  I made one for chores, one for special activities and one for exercise.   (Ha ha, the exercise one is more for me, but how “fun” will it be if we all do them together…)  You really can use them with any theme or activity.


The plan is:  every day, at chore time, each child will pull a stick from the chore jar and we will all do a chore together.  (If a certain chore doesn’t need to be done, I’ll be sure to remove the stick.)  We will also pull one exercise stick and do whatever it specifies and on Tuesdays and Thursdays (or any other day we need it.) And on days we need to have a little extra fun, we’ll pull a fun stick.

The best part is that these activity jars were very easy to make.  I used mason jars, and gave them a couple of coats of paint and added labels using chalk cloth I already had.  (Have you ever seen chalk cloth?  It is a thick fabric that has vinyl like material on one side that you can write on just like a chalk board.  If you can’t get your hands on chalk cloth, you can always use chalk stickers or chalkboard paint.)

Supply list:

I used a template to cut the ovals.  (Have you ever tried to freehand a perfect oval?  Good luck on that!)

And then ran the chalk cloth ovals through my little sticker machine.

I love this machine, it makes a sticker out of anything…  You just rub, peel and voila, you have a sticker!


For the sticks, I used popsicle sticks and covered one side with washi tape.  Easy Peasy!  On the backs, I wrote out the chores and activities.


Exercise:  (I need to come up with a few more exercises, what do you suggest?)


I’m contemplating paying them money if they successfully complete their chores and exercises with NO whining.  My plan is to get a stack of dollar bills from the bank, put the bills in one big jar and pay them only if they don’t whine.  (I want to help them earn some money to spend on our vacation this summer.)  I thought the visual reminder of the cash would help.  I also told them they would get one warning for the first week and after that, no warning.  Is this bad parenting?  I just don’t know… What are your thoughts on this?  Any suggestions?  I’m all ears.

Summer Activity jars

(ugh- my hand writing is atrocious!) *update:  It’s amazing how much easier it is to use these chalk markers!


For all our other activities, we will be following the same schedule we’ve used the last couple of years.  (You know the old saying, If it ain’t broke…)

image source:  Somewhat Simple

Monday will be for our craft projects.
Tuesday a trip to the library.
Wednesday, baking something child appropriate like cookies, pizzas, ice cream…
Thursday, math and handwriting lessons, special outings.
Friday is playdate and pool day.

I also bought them some workbooks to do over the summer.  I have found the best time to do these and have our reading time is right after breakfast.

We have done some great craft projects over the last couple of years, if you need some inspiration, you can click here to see everything labeled kids crafts.  Or here for a few kids cooking activities.

Have a very fun summer!
Like this post? Don’t forget to pin it!

Don't miss any more posts!

Follow along on:

FeedlyBloglovin', your favorite feed reader, or signing up via email and have new posts delivered to your email box each week!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. kristi dominguez says:

    So fun and useful, Jamie!! Love this.

  2. Sherry Clarke says:

    So smart, Jamie! My 10 year old is also extremely motivated by cash and is proud of how much he has saved up. I might give this a try with some minor modifications because he's older. I love how cute the presentation is though. It will look good hanging out on the counter top.

  3. I love this idea! Our chore chart kinda fizzled this spring, so I have been thinking of new ways to make it "fun" again. I have a question, though: how many sticks do you take out of each jar every day? Do you complete all the chores? All the exercises? Are the fun ideas only used if the words "I'm Booooored" are whined?

    My eldest (7.5) is very motivated my money, so perhaps the money jar will be a good way to keep him engaged. We had been paying each child a set amount for each day they completed their chores, but not til the end of the week. Maybe the daily encouragement is the way to go.

    Thanks for the new ideas!

    1. Hi Jen, we usually do 6 chore sticks. 2 for me and 2 for each kid. If there are specific chores I want done, I keep those sticks in the jar and take out the rest. My 6 yr old daughter is extremely motivated by the cash and she has been (mostly) happily doing her chores. My son doesn't seem to care about the money and it has only mildly toned down his tantrums at chore time, so for now he is gets an extra chore for each whine. (That usually puts an end to it, because I have an endless supply of chores.)

      We use the fun jar a few times a week (really whenever I want to do them, ha.) And as for the "I'm bored", when they say that, I pull out the school workbooks and make them do a work sheet or write a 6 or 7 sentence story.

      And the exercise jar? Well, that one was for me, and we've been "forgetting" to use it…

  4. WOW.. These are great. They look very cute and fun, but the concept is awesome!

    Very good idea to give them a sense of randomness/luck and still having to do a thing that they don't really like (the chores of course)…
    About the money I don't thing that's bad parenting at all (I'm not a parent so it's REALLY just an opinion), because you will be rewarding a good behaviour (doing chores without whining) and also because you will be teaching them to earn the money that they will spend later…!

    Loved this, I'll visit you more often!

    1. Thank you, what's funny is that my son is not motivated by the money, but my little girl is loving it.

  5. Tori Davis says:

    adorable idea, my boys would love this!

  6. Van Hoang says:

    Such a neat post! I might have to try this. 🙂

  7. Ruth Soukup says:

    I love these jars! I think having a kind of schedule and helping your kiddos learn to do chores without whining is the way to go!

    We would love for you to link this up with us at Living Well Spending Less! You can link up any of your thrifty projects each Thursday – we would love to have you join us! http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/category/thrifty-thursday/

  8. thelocallens says:

    If you want ideas for exercising, go to the Tough Mudder website. They have some good stuff listed in their bootcamp workouts with fun names like 'Greased Lightening Skates' and 'Dirty Ballerina'. While I was in training, my boys LOVED doing these with me, though they did have to modify them a bit and they wouldn't do them quite so long as I had to. But it was still fun to do them together and they aren't that hard if you just do a few at a time. =)

    1. Thanks for the info- I am heading over to check out the website now…

  9. Trish - Mom On Timeout says:

    Those jars are so cute and I LOVE that sticker maker – I need one! Pinned!

  10. JDaniel4's Mom says:

    I love these jars. What a wonderful idea!

  11. megan {homemade ginger} says:

    what a smart and cute idea to keep things interesting this summer. And the jars look adorable!

  12. Carissa Rasmussen says:

    i looove this! i really need to paint jars and use them to hold anything

  13. Courtney @ Sweet C's Designs says:

    These are great! I love how colorful they are. And such a fun idea!

  14. ...I am Nora..... says:

    they're great! For your activity one how about skipping to rhymes and songs and another…dancing to the radio and the all time favourite, making an obstacle course and then racing it! You'll be amazed how they design that and what things they use! The designing should keep them amused for a while!

    Have a wonderful time together xxxx

  15. We just made our list of ideas for summer activiites, using your schedule which we LOVE. I am working this summer as well, & my husband will be home wiht the kids… I've been thinking about using sticks with activities to help my 4 year old think of things for his dad to set up for him, things like play-dough, the sprinkler, writing a story (he loves when I staple several sheets of paper together book-style), reading a couple of chapters in a book, etc. I'm trying to figure out how to do it w/out cramming it down my husband's throat!