10 Summer Serve and Learn Activities

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10 Summer Serve and Learn

Summer is the BEST time of the year, but sometimes it can be a challenge IF:

You are a parent

You are a caregiver

You are the older sibling babysitting younger brothers or sisters

I’m kidding…well kind of….

See, it’s about that time of the summer when ‘what are we going to do’? is heard about every 5 or 10 minutes.

And the ‘screen-time’ arguments have begun, such as: how long they get/want/deserve/need.

Have you gotten to the point yet when you think you will scream, or run far away, when you hear the words “I’m bored” one more time….

Guess what?  I have THE perfect solution!

It’s more than just keeping busy, though that is a good thing.

THIS teaches important life skills in such a fun and engaging way, they won’t even realize that they are learning and doing things that are useful and helpful!

WHAT is the key and answer here?  

It is my 10 Summer Time Serve and Learn Activities!


TELL me more!

My 10 Summer Time Serve and Learn is more than just keeping the kids out of trouble, busy and time fillers.  

These are activities that will teach them:

  • They will Learn and Practice life skills that will last their whole life.
  • How to be kind and compassionate to others.
  • Many of the activities are educational in a very entertaining way, and enjoyed so much, they will not guess at all of the lessons they are learning.
  • They will learn to interact with others, a HUGE skill that is needed today.
  • All of these activities are free or very inexpensive.
  • Provide great lasting memories of a wonderful and unique summer.
  • Help them become better for what they will accomplish as they do any or all of these Serve and Learn Activities.


HOW do you go about implementing this extraordinary much-more-than-a-boredom-buster-list-of-activities? 

1- If your children are young, you could take one activity a week, say on a given night as a planned family time, and do one idea in each of the 10 activities.

2- If your kids are older and you are trying to keep them busy so you can get some things done.  Or another concern of busy and working parents, is to find worthwhile activities that keep the older kids from so much screen time and video games.  This is a fantastic way to accomplish that purpose also.  You could have the kid(s) do everything listed in the 10 Summer Time Serve and Learn.

3- Here is where you have to decide how important this is to you, as a family and for your children/kids/teens.  I personally like a reward system that is modest and small.  We all work for something.  A paycheck, a thank you, something, until we reach the point of real charity.  But the kids are usually still growing into that.  So, may I suggest that either a vote is taken, or you give the value you are willing to pay when the designated number of Serve and Learn Activities are done. 

For example:  If you must leave older kids at home during the day, it could be very useful to consider that each day or every few days, one of the activities would be done.  Again, for example, on Tuesday, they made the Cherrio Bird Feeder together, cleaned it all up and had a good time as a family without arguments; maybe  donuts would be the reward.  

You could tell them that when all 10 Serve and Learn Activities were done, again without contention, having fun and leaving it clean, the reward could be a night of family bowling, swimming at the local pool (watch for coupons) or hiking with a picnic.  

Let us know how you chose to implement these 10 Summer Time Serve and Learn Activities by yourself, or as a family in the comments, in the Instagram feed or FB posts.  Pictures would be awesome!

I created an terrific checklist that you can download for free so you can easily keep track of each 10 Summer Time Serve and Learn Activity as it’s completed, click HERE



            10 Summer Time Serve and Learn Activities

1- It all about the BIRDS

Kids Can Serve & Care:


Kids Can Learn: We live in a beautiful and special world.  By keeping it clean we can appreciate miracles all around us even more. By feeding the birds, we can watch them close up and enjoy their amazing colors and how they fly.



2- Invite someone, or a family, over for a game night

  • Try choosing from the old fashioned games like these: 

Old Time Game of Kick The Can

How To Play Old Fashioned Hop Scotch

Make up a batch of THE BEST Homemade Bubbles

This game of 100 is AWESOME for ALL ages


Learn: Playing is important at any age and we need to make sure we take time to have some fun!

“Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” -Mr. Rogers

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” -George Bernard Shaw



3- Plant a garden or flowers 

  • With your family, or yourself, plant some vegetables or herbs to use in preparing your own food this summer.  See my post HERE for some ideas on gardening
  • Plant flowers to make your home look more attractive to you and others.  A planter or window box will make a big difference if you are limited in space or resources.

Learn:  It is incredibly empowering and therapeutic to actually plant, raise and harvest your own food and blooms.    The effort and energy put forth to teach your family this skill is some of the most well-spent and important you can do.  Again, see my post HERE




4- Visit or help someone

  • Weed the garden or flower beds, or do other yard work for someone who is unable.
  • If someone has recently had surgery, ask what you can do to help them.
  • Make posters for your local care center or facility to cheer them up. See this post HERE for ideas
  • Someone who might be overwhelmed with family or their life’s situation could use a hand. 
  • One of my amazing readers makes the baby bibs from my post to give to the new moms in her church.  You can see the easy to make tutorial HERE

Learn:  By visiting those who are elderly, have a young family, or unable to get out on their own, we are showing compassion and kindness.  Looking outside of our self to other’s needs and doing something to ease their burden are some of the most important skills we can learn, practice often to become a better person.




5- Welcome Someone To The Neighborhood, or Take A Treat to Those You Already Know

  • You will find lots of ideas of how to Welcome new neighbors to your neighborhood in THIS post.
  • THIS treat is always popular to take to anyone of any age:)
  • OR take a treat to a neighbor you want to get to know better.  This SWEET Tag HERE is one you might want to use. 


Learn: It’s hard to move to a new place and then meet people sometimes.  When we reach out to others we are making new friends as well as helping them feel comfortable in their new neighborhood.

By taking a treat to those you already know, but haven’t talked to in a while, makes your neighborhood and community stronger, you feel more included surprisingly and the friendships develop.



6- Serve At Home

  • Eat dinner together and have a conversation without technology. You’ll find the post HERE about dinner conversations, how to do them easily and with some FUN! 

Learn: Technology is a great thing, but too often it gets in the way and we don’t take the time to talk to each other, even in our own family.  This is a perfect way to learn new things about each other in a natural and creative approach.



7- Learn About Your Family 

  • I have a post on how how and why to do a Family Tree HERE
  • Get to know a family member better by visiting in person, or skype.

Learn: With your child learn who their family tree members are as they fill out one, or both of the styles of Family Tree’s in THIS POST. Fill one out yourself if you haven’t before and ask living family members in your Family Tree to share an inspiring experience they had, or one they learned a valuable lesson from that you may not have known. 

Knowing our family and their life is so important because it connects us to our past and helps us understand our self also.




8- Love the Animals

  • Shelters are in need of many supplies all the time, and have lots of animals to care for.  Did you know that some shelters have other animals besides just dogs and cats they need items for too?  See my post on Service to our local Animal Shelter HERE

Learn:  Compassion and kindness for all of God’s creatures




9- There Are Those In Need ALL year long

  • Have you ever thought of helping your local MEALS ON WHEELS?  In my area they are in need of general greeting cards all year long.  You can find our more HERE
  • Donate to a local food bank. It’s natural to think of those less fortunate at Christmas and other holidays, but the need is there all year long.  

Learn:  Serving others is how we learn about ourselves. 




10- Say Thank you!

  • We appreciate a ‘thank you’ and should express gratitude often.  But when do we actually sit down and write a note of thanks to someone?  
  • It also teaches our family members volumes we cannot speak as we act by doing.
  • See my post HERE for all the how’s, why’s, when’s and what to write in a thank you card.

Learn:  It only takes a couple of minutes to do this simple task, but the effects on us as the sender, and those who receive it are priceless.



I can’t wait to hear what you and your family are LEARNING, PRACTICING and BECOMING this summer!

Please share in the comments on in this post, on my FaceBook comments and Instagram feed, so we can learn from each other, be encouraged and get awesome ideas. 

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2019

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

2nd Sunday Dinner

COLD PASTA SALAD BAR for 2nd Sunday Dinner, Aug 2016

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2nd Sunday Dinner

Getting Ready for 2nd Sunday Dinner – Aug ’16

This month I was was wondering WHAT in the world I was going to make for our 2nd Sunday Open House dinner for the neighborhood.

My son Dallin and new daughter-in-law Brooke were going to be married just THREE days before, and I was over that reception since Brookes family is from out of state.  

THANK YOU my amazing daughters – which includes my daughters and daughters-in-law = Tawni, Danitra, Ashley and Delsi, as well as my sons Derek and Devin and of course my handsome hubby Stan who is AMAZING to pull all of it together.  And to the many other angels who contributed and stepped up in countless ways this month!

Anyway, back to my dinner.

I was talking to my mom on the phone and telling her I was perplexed about what to make that I could prepare ahead that was simple, inexpensive and yet would be very tasty so my guests would feel wanted in my home and, as always my big concern, would want to come back again the next month.

She told me about going to lunch and having a prepared a cold pasta bar.  


It all turned out really easy to put together for a crowd, and most could be done ahead of time.  The next time you need to feed a crowd, this might be a go-to for you.



The day before the dinner I cooked up tri-colored pasta till al dente; rinsed it, then added in a splash of vegetable oil so it wouldn’t stick together and stored it in gallon freezer bags in the fridge.

I also cooked up one bag of gluten free pasta (I found an off-brand that was less than $2 and tasted pretty dang good to a gluten lover like myself, lol) for those who need to eat gluten free.  I try to have that option each month when possible, and stored as the pasta above, but without the oil since I wasn’t sure if it was ok or not.

Then I prepared these options and stored in bags or containers also the day before:

  • Grated cheese
  • Boiled eggs and chopped them
  • Grated carrots
  • Zucchini from the garden, diced
  • Cucumbers from the garden, diced
  • Ham, diced (mentioned above)
  • Pepperoni, quarted (mentioned above)
  • Bell Pepper, diced (but our garden hadn’t produced any yet)
  • Frozen corn, thawed (I forgot to put this out :/)
  • Frozen peas, thawed (I also forgot to put this out… a tired brain after the week ok…)
  • Add anything else your heart and budget desires!


After my guest made up a plate of the pasta and all the toppings they chose to up on; I had several salad dressings that they could choose from.  (I think I’m missing 1 or 2 in the picture.  Just look for sales, ads and coupons and it’s not expensive.  The EVOO’s where a HUGE hit and I found them at Walmart for under $2 each.)  It was fun for my guests to mix and match.  Some even put a bit on each portion of their plate – or came back for more, so they could try a bit of all of them!

2nd SundayI served rolls and butter too.  That always makes everything right in the world, doesn’t it?2nd Sunday DinnerNow for dessert.  I wanted to wait until after the wedding reception to see what refreshments were left over, if any, before I decided on what to make.  

For the reception we served Cold Stone Ice Cream in Waffle Bowls.  

We had ALOT of waffle bowls left over, so we grabbed some buckets of ice cream and that’s what we had for dessert!  

VERY happy smiles all around, and it couldn’t have been easier.2nd SundayAnd just in case you are wondering, we usually serve water with dinner.2nd Sunday

Just before our 2nd Sunday Dinner, Delsi surprised me by purchasing my ticket to attend BYU Education Week, which began the day after our dinner, and consists of five days of classes – thank you again Delsi!  

During the conference I was able to go to one of Chef Brad’s classes.  

It was while attending his class a few years ago where Stan and I were inspired to begin having these 2nd Sunday dinners. You can find Chef Brad at: 

2nd Sunday Dinners & Chef Brad

Chef Brad & 2nd Sunday Dinners

Stan and I held regular dinners for 25 months, then stopped as we felt we ‘were done’.  That lasted for 20 months.  Then the Spirit promoted us to begin again.  It was more of a challenge this time around because we fully knew of the commitment, time, and resources these dinners demanded of us, and how they affected our entire family and schedules.  

We took it to the Lord, fasted and prayed about it.  The answer was undeniable and clear that we needed to begin these again, for our own benefit, as well as for our neighbors.  

We sincerely pray every month that our neighbors who are looking for friends, and to meet others will come. That someone who is lonely, has a grudge, feels offended or prejudice towards/from another in our area, will be brought to the dinner, or even will come alone and feel the Spirit of peace and friendship; recognizing that we are all in this big ‘ol world together; and that most really are trying to do their best, and a healing begun- softening hearts all around.

With so many terrible things going on in society, it is natural to draw apart, however, we are doing our best to provide, in our own small way, a vehicle for community, unity and understanding. 

Possibly you might be able to do something also? 

*Such as take some cookies to your neighbors this week that you haven’t met.  

*Some flowers from your yard to a shut-in.  

*A loaf of bread from the local bakery to someone that you haven’t talked to in years – possibly due to a misunderstanding.                

I hope you will do the ‘hard thing’ as we are trying to do, by doing HIS WILL and giving your best to create a little space of peace and happiness in your little part of the world.  

I can promise that it truly goes a long way to bring a greater abundance of joy and blessings in your own life, as well as those you love, and any who pass your way.

It was after my 2nd round of total knee replacement on both knees and having done 27 dinners we did stop not long after this.  We did other types of gatherings as we could in our home there of 25 years.  We moved and you can see the new gatherings there. 

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2016

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today