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Bucket List for Kids: 101 Things to Experience in Childhood

What should your child do, see or experience before he or she turns 18? Metro Parent assembled this essential kit, with the help of southeast Michigan parents.

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We want to give our kids the world. Yet those wonder years only last so long – and can only contain so much. Every day, each experience, no matter how mundane, fills it up a bit more. Kind of like sand in a beach pail.

You're probably familiar with a "bucket list" as grownup goals. Largely popularized by the 2007 movie of the same title, the idea was a couple of guys with terminal cancer hit the road to do stuff they'd only dreamed of before they kicked the, well, bucket. These days, seems everyone has one.

Which got us thinking. What about kids? Sure, in some ways, the bar's a bit lower: Your offspring doesn't need to scale the Great Pyramid of Giza or soar over the North Pole (though Disney World is pretty damn cool, if you can swing it). But there's so much that makes childhood memorable – from the frivolous and fun to the sobering and self-building.

In that spirit, Metro Parent canvassed moms and dads in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties in a quest to find what would make the lists – for their kids. It's merry and messy and sometimes even mud-caked. Which struck us as just about perfect.

Take a peek at Metro Parent's list of 101 things to experience in childhood!

1. Have a no-reason, not-because-they're-sick, Bueller-caliber free day off of school.

2. Trick-or-treat without needing a jacket one year, and during a snowstorm another. To prove the Michigan weather stereotype true!

– Aaron Toro, clinical rehab manager and Huron Township dad of three, ages 16, 7 and 5

3. Soak up the night sky away from the city lights.

4. Get dirty! Splashing in puddles, making mud pies and rolling around in the grass gives kids a fun, carefree feeling.

– Michelle Liabenow RePass of Garden City, mom of Madison, 11 and Ryanna, 3

5. Break a bone.

6. Correspond with a pen pal from another state or country. (Handwritten letters a plus.)

7. Learn yoga and meditation. Such great tools to help calm the mind!

– Cindy Levine, a yoga teacher in Franklin, mom of four boys ages 21, 18, 15 and 12

8. Experience something you loved as a kid – whether it's a Cabbage Patch Kid or an Atari.

9. Get exposure to all sorts of music. I constantly sing and play music for my boy – The Beatles, Neil Young, Elton John, Prince, Chaka Khan, Baby Mozart and Bach. It is a great way to connect to people.

– Natalie Hensel of Ann Arbor, mom of a 1-year-old

10. Drink rain.

jessica Care moore, Detroit poet, mom of King TJ Moore, 6

11. Go to overnight camp. They'll meet kids from other areas, make friendships that could last a lifetime – and taste life away from home.

12. Care for a pet – especially feeding it. It teaches kids how to be in charge, creates respect and loyalty, and helps them focus.

– Donna J. Zaj, dog trainer at Dog Zone in Clinton Township, mom of a 12-year-old girl

13. Learn to swim, sans water wings.

14. Go to a Tigers game at Comerica Park. Get there early to hit the Ferris wheel and the carousel before the game; then grab a couple hot dogs and take in all the sights and sounds.

– Zak Walsh of Royal Oak, dad of Beckett, 4 and Emmett, 2

15. Learn how to sew a button or do small mending.

16. Run amuck playing classic schoolyard games – hopscotch, Red Rover, tag, hide-and-seek, Mother May I?, Red-Light Green-Light, etc.

17. Get involved in charitable giving/volunteering – in a hands-on way. It really helps them identify what "giving" means and develop appreciation for all they have.

Marybeth Levine of Canton, founder of the Detroit Area Diaper Bank, boys are 10, 8 and 6

18. Visit some other country – or at least be immersed in some other culture. I visited Japan at age 16 as an exchange student, and it changed my life.

– Anne Hooghart of Ypsilanti, Hinoki International School board president, mom to Kasey, 6 and Cassidy, 5

19. See a Broadway show. At least once. The first one Jessica saw was The Lion King in Toronto when she was 6 – and she now has a love for the theater.

– Sandy Hazelton Pianko, Wolverine Lake (Jessica's 17)

20. Go to the Target Fireworks or America's Thanksgiving Day Parade live in Detroit.

21. Make videos. The girls and I have made a bunch, and they remember each one fondly. We did one with my entire family (grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins), and that one will be very special as everyone gets older.

– Jeff Reiter of Huntington Woods, Realtor, daughters are 16 and 13

22. See a classic movie, like Gone with the Wind.

– Elizabeth Neidbala of Sterling Heights, age 16

23. Visit a science center. Who knows – it may inspire them to be a doctor, engineer, astronaut, chemist or one of many other STEM careers.

– Kerri Budde of Rochester Hills, Michigan Science Center marketing manager and mom of Cole, 12 and Brian, 8

24. Get a taste of art appreciation, creation and history. It gives a wide breadth of insight into humanity (religion, happiness, sadness, anger, joy, love, hate, politics, etc).

– Shelli Gutholm of Royal Oak, mom to an 11-year-old and two step kids (now 22 and 20)

25. Learn about their family history or heritage.

Old to new | New to old
Mar 5, 2013 11:46 am
 Posted by  Kourtney

Catch a snowflake on your tongue.

Mar 10, 2013 03:26 pm
 Posted by  Carolyn

Thank you for posting this and we have always kept our sons' imaginations going with different things like visits to our art museums and the Detroit Zoo or Cranbrook Science Center. As a parent of a young adult with autism I was glad to see that when I posted your article on my Facebook page and asked what would be things on a bucket list for a family with a child with autism, Cathy was perhaps inspired to write this piece.

"Autism Parent Bucket List"


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