The School-Year ‘Bucket List’ and 20 Starter Ideas for Kids

The School-Year ‘Bucket List’ and 20 Starter Ideas for Kids

Make the most of this school year by helping your kids create a list of inspiring goals.

By: Leah Maxwell

The term “bucket list” generally refers to all the goals a person hopes to achieve before he or she dies, or “kicks the bucket.” Putting aside the morbid implications of the name, bucket lists are not only a great way to define and organize a lifetime of hopes and dreams, they can also serve as inspiration and motivation for us to think outside the box, try something new, take risks, and experience things we’d never have thought of experiencing. With this in mind, bucket lists are for everyone, even kids!

Follow these tips to help your children create a bucket list for the school year:

1. Be specific. When it comes to setting goals with children, it’s best to be specific. Fill the list with ambitions that are concrete and measurable without being too strict, and set the timeline for the end of the school year (which will mean the chance to create a new age- and skill-appropriate list next year, and the year after that). Instead of, for instance, the vague “make a new friend,” get more specific -- say “make a new friend in a different grade and have a playdate.” The end-of-school timeline will give them a defined endpoint and inspire them to get going on their goals.

2. Be proud. In most cases, reaching a goal will be its own reward, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still worth celebrating. You don’t have to throw an ice cream party every time your kid checks something off his or her list, but definitely acknowledge the achievement and talk about what it was like to complete the goal. Your kids might want to turn their lists into charts they can update with stickers and display in their rooms.

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3. Be creative. A bucket list can be whatever you make it, but for the most effect, aim for a mix of goals that will inspire your child in all areas of his or her life: social, emotional, academic, physical, and artistic. Focus not just on acquiring or improving skills but also on building character. The more creative, diverse, and brave the objectives, the greater sense of accomplishment your kids will feel when summertime rolls around.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Have your picture taken with the school mascot
  • Talk on the microphone during an assembly or morning announcements
  • Cross the monkey bars all by yourself
  • Make a friend in a different grade and have a playdate
  • Write a note to your favorite teacher
  • Get 100% on a test
  • Help a younger kid on the playground
  • Shake hands with the principal
  • Make your own lunch for a week
  • Try out for a team (soccer, chess, cheerleading, debate…)
  • Handcraft a “just because” gift for a teacher or friend
  • Start a new book series
  • Perform on the school stage
  • Run a race
  • Help fix something at school (like a broken shoelace, a stopped clock)
  • Learn the names of the school janitors and lunch staff
  • Teach some friends a new game at recess
  • Learn the school song
  • Make a custom “to-read” list with the school librarian
  • Join or start an official club

Feeling inspired? What will be on your kids’ bucket lists this school year?

Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.

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