person writing bucket list on book
Parenting,  Special Topics

Make A List!

by Esther Jantzen, guest poster

We all usually feel calmer, happier, and more energetic when we write down things we need to remember. It helps un-clutter our minds and it creates “brain-space” for new ideas. Children benefit greatly from the simple act of making a list. It’s an organizational trick they can apply to their schoolwork and their lives. It teaches them to take personal responsibility and be prepared. And it’s fun to brainstorm lists together as one person writes down the ideas that others give! Here are tips for doing this:

1) You or your children can handwrite lists or keep them on a On the (Summer) Job Training — Take 2!. Some lists are reusable (like what to pack for an overnight visit). Others change each week.

2) Think about what kinds of lists would make your lives easier. Start them now, add to them as you think of new items, and let your children see you using them! Here are some suggestions:

  • Gift ideas
  • School projects
  • Household chores
  • Things that need to be done for the day, the week, or the weekend
  • What to pack for a trip or overnight slumber party
  • Favorite family meals (for when you can’t think of what to make for supper)
  • Birthdays of family members and friends
  • Lunchbox food ideas, a picnic supplies list, or a grocery-store list
  • People to call in emergencies
  • Things you want to do in the summer or on vacation
  • Books, CDs, DVDs, video games, movies you borrowed or loaned
  • Stores that carry things you need
  • Things needed for a birthday or holiday celebration

3) Kids may want to create their own lists of things like friends’ names, addresses, and phone numbers; toys or games they like; things they want to do or make, and so on.

4) We recommend you put family lists in a central place.

Make a List! supports the English-Language Arts Content Standards related to writing strategies, organization, and focus.

Esther Jantzen, Ed.D, is a mother, an educator and the author of Plus It! How to Easily Turn Everyday Activities into Learning Adventures for Kids available at and the Way to Go! Family Learning Journal available through

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