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Make a Summer Basket with Me!

Two young children playing with a wooden tub filled with water outside.
Two young children playing with a wooden tub filled with water outside.

Finally, sunny days are upon us. We have already been outside so much more these last two weeks than we have in the last three months. With that, I’ve been prepared with outside activities and things to make my life easier and stop kids from waiting too long. One thing I despise as a teacher and as a Mom is running back and forth between inside and out. Especially if you’re alone and don’t want to, or can’t, leave children unattended. Hence, my summer basket that’s always ready to carry outside in a hurry!

If you’ve read my posts before you know I always start with a PLAN. Whether it’s a plan for the whole month, the week, or even the next two hours at home with your own children. I try to plan out what we will do outside and think of all the things I will need. This might include what clothes to have on hand, any snacks or water bottles, and activities. Then, I will find something to carry it all in! This can be a basket, a tote, a reusable grocery bag, hey, even a cardboard box will work in a pinch (perhaps not so well for a rainy day)! It doesn’t have to be fancy as long as it gets you outside with everything you need.

After I have an idea of what I need and want, I’ll pack up my basket. This will live at my back door, or in my classroom somewhere out of sight. Check it every morning, or as you’re getting ready for the day, to make sure everything is refreshed and ready to go.

Give your children any expectations you have for the basket. Expectations can be around cleaning up, sharing and turn taking, how to use the materials, what time snack will be, etc.

I want to preface my list by saying that I like to keep things really simple, especially at home. At work, I might plan more in depth activities that include making things the morning of (like chalk paint or filling up squeeze and spray bottles with water) but at home, we use water, chalk, and old paint brushes to make and experiment with our own chalk paint! We do a lot of things with water. I have an old, cheap, hand me down water table that we use for everything! Bike washes, rock washes, making potions, making chalk paint, etc. The possibilities really are endless on a hot day with some water and simple tools.

A group of children blowing bubbles
A group of children blowing bubbles

Now, here is my short list of what I like to keep handy for going outside and not having to come back in. Change it up however you like and let me know what else you would add to the list!

Summer Basket Items List

  • Sunscreen

  • Water bottles (make sure they are filled up!)

  • Sunhats, swimsuits, and possibly extra outfits.

  • Towels

  • Bubbles

  • Chalk

  • Paint brushes, old bowls, and cups

  • Scrub brushes and sponges from the dollar store

  • A tiny bottle of soap

  • Access to water (or, fill up an old milk, juice, or vinegar jug!)

  • Snacks, napkins, and somewhere to put trash

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Clipboards or notebooks (an individual journal for each child is always convenient)

  • Markers, pens, or pencils

  • Balls or bean bags

  • Chairs

  • Books


Meghan is a born and raised Montanan, mama to a rambunctious toddler and a bonus mom to two amazing preteens. She recently earned a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education. In addition to her position as an Early Childhood Specialist at the University of Montana, Meghan enjoys a variety of odd mix of jobs; nannying, creating and selling travel play dough kits, making essential oil blends for kids, providing families with child guidance on Facebook and Instagram, and now providing ideas and tips to child care providers in partnership with Raise Montana! Meghan is also a content contributor for 406 Families, a site dedicated to connecting families to local events and resources.

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