The ‘Learn to BE’ Summer Challenge
See how many of these 50 Challenges you can complete in the next 50 days! Document your experience by photo and written word. Click here for more information on submissions, guidelines, and prizes. Confirm your participation by signing up via the form below.
Learn to Be Creative:
Create your own word search: Pick a topic (like dogs). Make a List of words pertaining to that topic (ie. 10 breeds of dogs). Then get a piece of paper and create 12 columns across the top of the page with each column having 10 letters. An easy way to do this is make light pencil dots in the form of a dot-to-dot grid (12 down, 10 across) and then when you’re ready to put your words in, write over the dots and then fill in random letters around your words.
Create a family cookbook with family favorites: have at least 10 recipes—ask aunts, uncles, parents, cousins, grandparents, anyone in your family for their favorite recipes. Put together. Remember to choose one of your favorites. Finally, make this dish/food.
Create your own cleaning solution: and then clean the kitchen or bathroom! Click here for a cleaning solution recipe.
Create ONE outdoor game: then try it out with your friends or family. Click here for outdoor game ideas.
Learn to be Giving:
Make a list of 10 things that don’t cost anything or very little that you could give somebody/anybody. This could be your friends, family, acquaintances, strangers, the elderly, young children, etc. If you can’t think of at least 10 things, ask other people to help you with this list.
Then give 10 different people, those 10 different gifts.
Learn to be Thankful:
Create a GRATITUDE acrostic. Write the word Gratitude on the left side of a piece of paper. Use each letter, and list something you are thankful for that starts with that letter. Use one of the letters to list a person you’re thankful for.
Learn to be Helpful:
Wash the family car, inside and out.
Learn to be Artistic:
Make an Origami box: Then, put something tiny in it and give it away! Click here to learn how to make your box.
Make your own piñata: Traditional Mexican piñatas use decorative tissue that creates a fringed effect, but you can also paint your piñata with whatever design you dream up. Learn more here.
Learn to be Inquisitive:
Print out a blank map of the United States. After looking at a map for 5 minutes, see how many of the states you can fill in. Repeat this a couple of times a day for a week and see how long it takes you to know them all. Then pick one state you have never been to and find one thing you would do in that state if you could visit.
Learn to be Curious:
Print out this map of the continents and oceans. Then research on the computer or at the library to find two animals/creatures that live on each continent and in each body of water. Try not to repeat any animal so that you have a ‘world’ of different creatures. Write the name on the continent or better yet, draw/color a picture.
Learn to Be Encouraging:
Research and find 5 motivating quotes that you love. Write each one on an index card or paper—or wherever you want to write them. Use crayons or markers or colored pencils or whatever art supplies you have. Put them up around your house to encourage your family and yourself. And look around during the week and see if you see someone who might need encouragement or cheering up and give them one of the quotes.
Learn to be Secretive:
Be a Secret Summer Sleuth: You’ve probably heard of a Secret Santa, well how about Secret Summer Sleuth? Find a neighbor or friend or community worker that you think needs a little extra encouragement and SECRETLY leave them a card/note/little gift.
Be a Secret Service Agent: Look around your house and do 3 ‘chores’ or tasks that you know need doing. WITHOUT BEING TOLD.
Learn to be Quiet:
Make a Sound Map: Find a spot in nature where you can sit for a moment and relax. Close your eyes and listen – what sounds do you hear? Imagine your ears can hear in a giant circle around them. Draw/sketch/write all the things you hear.
Learn to be a Wordsmith:
Words: They motivate...inspire...express emotions...give confidence and bring joy.
Go back to your Gratitude Acrostic. Find the name of the person you are thankful for and write them a handwritten note telling them why you are thankful that they are in your life. Try and list at least 3 reasons/examples of why they are special to you.
Play "One Good Thing” with your family. Say one good thing about each person in your family (to their face!)
Craft a compliment:
- Tell at least one person “Have a Nice Day”
- Tell a different person “Thank You”
- Say the word “Please” to yet another person
What were these people’s reaction? Make sure to record it in some way.
Learn to Be a Bird Lover:
Make a bird feeder: (if you already have a bird feeder, you can skip this part but it’s a really FUN thing to do). Visit this website and pick one of the feeders to create. There are low to no cost ones as well as a full range of skill levels to pick from.
HANG it in a visible spot. Then try and pick a couple of times a day where you sit and watch the birds come. Count them and try to either draw the birds or identify them. (Or both!) If you are interested in taking bird watching one step further, visit feederwatch.org and see how to get started!
Make your hummingbird nectar: Mix 4 parts water to 1 part table sugar in a pan. (ie. 2 cups water, ½ cup sugar). Bring to a boil then remove from the heat. Stir, then cover and allow to cool before using or pouring into the storage bottle.
Make your own bird suet: There are so many recipes to choose from, but this website has 6 great ones to start with.
Learn to Be Adventurous:
Find a local street fair or local farmer’s market. Go, find your favorite vendor, and tell us about it. Why is it your favorite? Would you like to learn that skill one day?
Navigate New York City: Look at the subway map of New York City. Figure out the route that you would have to take to get from:
- Queensboro Plaza to the Bronx
- Central Park North to Hudson Yards
- Roosevelt Island to the World Trade Center
- Coney Island to South Ferry
- JFK Airport to Times Square
Be a Leader:
Plan a picnic: You'll need to orchestrate, create, and plan the time, the place, the food, and the people. List all this information and invite the ‘people’ to come. Then prepare or help prepare the food and enjoy!
Be a Learner:
Learn the presidents names in order: One of the most fun ways I know to do this is by using the book: Yo, Millard Filmore It’s a fast, easy way to learn all the Presidents of the United States (forever) in less than 20 minutes!
Learn some facts (family facts, that is): Memorize your social security number—this will be very useful in years to come. Learn your mother’s maiden name. Know all the birthdays of your family members. Know your blood type. Know where your mother and father were born.
Learn to Be Self-Aware:
Make a list of 20 things that you love to do. Put a star by your very favorite things. Put a heart by the activities that you have to do with other people. Put a dollar sign ($) next to the ones that cost money, put the number 1 next to the things you do alone.
Learn to Be Involved:
Choose one thing that you are most concerned about in the world or your community that you would like to change. Write a letter to the editor.
Learn to Be Full of Integrity:
C.S. Lewis once said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” Look up the definition of integrity. Write it down. Then Ask 10 people what the word integrity means to them. Write down each answer. Who do you know that is full of integrity?
“What would you do if…”
- …you saw your best friend stealing a drink from the grocery store
- …you noticed that your grandmother dropped a $20 bill the same day you wanted to buy a popular new video game?
- …you saw the last piece of apple cobbler (or substitute a food you love) in the fridge but knew your brother or sister was hoping to have it for dessert?
- …you saw a classmate being bullied in the hallway at school or some other public place?
Learn to Be Courageous:
Exercise Courage: Courage means being afraid and acting anyway, Courage is a habit, a muscle you can exercise. If you play an instrument, how did you learn? You practiced. If you play a sport, how did you learn or how do you get better? You practice. If you are scared or fearful, how do you learn to be more courageous? You practice. You learn how to be courageous by doing courageous acts.
So, how about you? Do you describe yourself as courageous? What are you afraid of doing or learning? Be really honest with yourself.
To complete this challenge, you need to name something you’re afraid of and then ‘practice’ doing it. As always, find a creative way to document it with a photo or creative writing.
Learn to Be a Scientist:
Blow up a balloon without using your own air: Click here for the full instructions.
Make slime: Click here to see full instructions.
Make homemade butter: You can make your own butter with cream and a mason jar and learn “The science behind the Cream.” Make your own butter recipe
- Heavy cream
- Mason jar with lid
Fill the mason jar half way with the cream and secure the lid well.
Shake, shake, shake, shake—don’t stop shaking yet. When you can’t hear that sloshing around sound any more, you can take a peek. Doubt it’s done yet, so put the lid back on real tight and shake until you have the butter with some buttermilk remaining. Pour off the buttermilk (you can use this in recipes) and take out the lump of butter. You can squish in any remaining buttermilk and stir in a dash of salt if you wanted salted butter.
Remember this is fresh butter, no preservatives, so it won’t last long (a couple of days in the fridge.)
But why worry about that, just back some biscuits, bread or muffins and smear or slather the hot bread with butter.
Learn to Be Inquisitive:
Interview an older person from your neighborhood, church, local nursing home, other friend and find out:
- What their favorite music was as a child and what it is now
- What their favorite childhood memory is
- What their favorite holiday is and if they have a memory to share about it
- Have they ever had a pet?
- Where did they grow up? Describe their town and where they lived
- What’s one piece of advice they would like to pass on to the next generation.
Learn to Be an Explorer:
Plan a Trip: Plan a 3-5 day trip from your home to any national park (find a list at your local library or online). Plan all aspects. How to get there (car/plane/bus/etc), where you will stay, what activities you will do on each day, where or what you might eat, approximate budget/cost.
How to Make an Apple Pie and see the World: Read the book, How to Make an Apple Pie and see the World. Find all the places on a map, and then make an apple pie.
Learn to Be a Speaker/Performer:
Put on your own Reader’s Theater: This is FUN FUN FUN! What is it? Learn about it here, pick a script, and present it to family, friends, or during a gathering.
Memorize & Perform Poetry: Memorize a Shel Silverstein’s poem (or literally any poem you want). Then perform it for your friends or family. Use props if you want. Recite 18 Flavors by Shel Silverstein and make a no-drip cone by taking a real ice cream cone and wadding up different colored paper or tissue into balls, stack them with glue (you’ll end up with a leaning tower of ice cream but the prop is as fun as the poem).
Memorize & Perform Poetry: O Captain! My Captain! is A fun, dramatic, poem by Walt Whitman that is a metaphor about the death of Abraham Lincoln. Learn the history and it makes rendering more interesting.
Learn to Be a Gardner:
There are so very many ways to encourage gardening from the simple planting of any seeds to growing an elaborate garden, but here is a website with some great ideas. Find AT LEAST one and try it. Always write or draw or talk about it in some way!
Learn to Be in Nature:
Get a box of crayons and try to match the colors on them with something in nature. You can also make your own “color chips” using crayons or colored pencils on index cards.
Learn to Be a Good Listener:
Create a talking stick and use it at a family dinner or meeting. Talking sticks have been used in native tribes, especially those of the Northwest Coast. In a gathering, only the person holding the talking stick is allowed to speak. Those not holding the stick must stay quiet and listen. Try making your own talking stick by simply decorating a stick from outdoors with literally whatever you choose to use. Or find a rock to paint and use this in place of a stick. When you’re finished, call a family meeting or use it at the dinner table, or with a group of friends. Write or draw what this experience was like.
Learn to Be Engaged:
Do the following activities with NO CELL PHONE:
- Play a board game of a game of checkers.
- Read to an older person or a younger person.
- Have breakfast, lunch or dinner with someone.
Be an Event Planner:
Fancy Dinner Night: Set the table with the best dishes or just something fancy in your mind (different from the ordinary could be using paper plates!) Plan the meal, help make the meal, and serve the meal. Learn more here. Fold the napkins into a heart shape and place them on the plate.
Write down what you LOVE to have for lunch: Next, write down what you typically have for lunch at school (even if you don’t like it or eat it). Next, go to this article so you can look at what kids around the world might typically eat for lunch. Write the name of each country you see on your paper. Write down the food that you’ve eaten from that country (pasta, baguette, etc).
Now Pick what looks best to you, even if you haven’t eaten it before. Then pick a food and find the recipe for it on the web. Or at your local library. What have you learned about yourself?
Learn to Be Innovative:
Read the Toothpaste Millionaire: And then make your own toothpaste. Here's a great recipe.
Start a business: Think of a business you would like to create. Something to sell. Create a product, name the product, figure out the cost of making the product, set a price for the product, conduct a market analysis and create a marketing approach.
Learn about a successful innovator: Read an autobiography or biography of a successful inventor that you have heard about who you want to learn more about or already admire.
Start saving: Open a savings account at your local bank.
Learn to Be Yourself:
Listen to the YouTube recording of Free to Be You and Me, by Marlo Thomas.