School’s out, the kids are bored and it’s only day two of summer vacation. Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or working from home, keeping kids entertained on a budget can be an entire job in itself. Do-it-yourself summer camp to the rescue!
At-home summer camp can be as structured or easy-going as your child needs. Depending on your child’s age, summer camp activities can help develop fine motor skills, improve math and reading basics, and build leadership skills through imaginative play. At-home summer camp fosters experiential learning, which stimulates creative thinking and your child’s imagination.
From the high seas to outer space, here are three theme-week activities to kick off your family’s at-home summer camp:
#1: European Jetsetter
- Create passports: Kids collect stamps (or stickers) for each country they “visit” during the week. Each morning, ask to see the kids’ passports and stamp them in to the day’s destination.
- Get cooking: Theme each day’s meals to match your destination. Monday’s lunch could be pasta Bolognese from Italy, while Tuesday’s snack could be kid-friendly cheese and baguettes from France, etc. If your children are old enough, include them in the meal preparation.
- Learn a new language: Even young children enjoy learning a few phrases of a different language. For each country you visit, teach your kids how to say “hello,” “goodbye,” “please” and “thank you.” Remind kids to use the phrases during their visit. They can be the passwords to get into rooms.
#2: Space Explorer
- Stargaze: Skip the complicated star charts and download the free app GoSkyWatch Planetarium to identify stars, constellations and more by simply pointing your iPad at the night sky.
- Hunt for moon rocks: Create a scavenger hunt by hiding “moon rocks” in your backyard. Use the shiny rocks available from the dollar store.
- Orbit the earth: Ask your kids to pretend that they are in orbit around the Earth. Have them draw what they see and then display their drawings next to photos taken from outer space.
#3: Ocean Adventurer
- Meet the fish: Start the week with a field trip to your local aquarium to learn more about marine life. If you don’t live near an aquarium, visit a nearby lake or river. Talk to your children about the difference between that body of water and the ocean. What fish or other marine life would they find in the ocean versus a lake?
- Create an underwater world: Develop fine motor skills by molding fish, sea turtles, sharks, whales and coral out of clay.
- Measure a blue whale: Many children struggle to visualize just how big marine life can grow. A blue whale, for example, can grow between 80 and 100 feet, according to NationalGeographic.com Take a long piece of string and measure out 100 feet. Ask your children to point to something “really big” at home, like a couch or car and guess how many times the string wrap around this object. Measure together and, if there is space, stretch out all 100 feet of string out in the backyard or driveway.
After a long day at “camp,” an educational television program can help kids calm down before bedtime and give you some much needed adult time. View channel options for educational programming that matches your theme. According to http://www.rasertech.com/, channels such as Food Network, National Geographic, Discovery Channel and Travel Channel are available to add to your homemade summer camp agenda.
Eating crepes under the Eiffel Tower with your 10-year-old in tow may not be on this summer’s itinerary— but with at-home summer camp, you can bring the fun of exotic destinations right to your backyard.
Tammy S says
Great tips! I really like the European Jetsetter idea. What a great way to teach them a little about other countries while having fun!
Jo-Ann Brightman says
You have some great ideas here and I wish I had implemented them when my kids were younger. Perhaps I shall do it with grandchildren.
Denise Taylor-Dennis says
I love the Ocean Adventurer idea, we live in CA not too far from the Aquarium of the Pacific it a wonderful Aquarium to visit.
Mary Withrow says
We love to hike and pick flowers, collect rocks, tumble rocks, color leaves, make crafts from our finds, its fantastic to be able to spend time exploring!