Are you doing Camp Mom or Grandma this summer? Of course, there’s plenty of actual items that would be fun to treat your littles this summer (outdoor inflatable easel, giant blow up sprinkler, activity table, etc.), but most of my ideas for your cute at-home campers cannot be bought in a store. And there’s something really sweet and old school about that, no? Let’s get back to what this season used to be about- creativity, imagination, outdoor activity… and, okay, yes, the occasional technology to capture the moments.
Have them help you make it. You can choose your own categories but I’m going to do the following ones with Lilly: Chore, Game, Art Project, Reading, Math, Recess, Swim/Sport, Free Play. And each day she’ll check off each box when she completes one. It’s a way for them to have a more structured day with lots of different activities, but they have control over it and choose when they want to do something. Plus, they love accomplishing things and having the gratification of checking it off.
If their school or local library doesn’t have a reading challenge- or even if they do and you have a little bookworm on your hands- create one with them where you choose the amount of books per week/month, have them check off their list, write a report, create an exchange and send it to their friend with a note why they loved it, make a theme week about that book where, if applicable, you eat food they ate, go places they went, try things they tried… The ideas are endless!
Have them help you make an outdoor one when it’s nice and an indoor one when it’s not. What objects are you searching for? Set a time limit and see who can complete it fastest.
Get a library card, a zoo pass, a membership to the community pool, even an indoor play space card or nail salon or lunch place frequent visitor card. Let them have ownership of it and accumulate points to get a freebie after a few. And create your own passes at home where they get punches for cleaning their room, washing the dishes… You can also do coupon cards for one free movie, treat, etc.
DIY BOARD GAMES
Create custom Scattegories with relevant family themes (Trips we’ve taken, nicknames for Oliver, items in our pantry, friends from preschool, names of teachers, Lilly’s favorite foods…), Word searches (hide pet’s, grandparent, cousin and school names, favorite toys, foods, places, etc.), Crosswords, Sudoku, Hangman, even a board game like Chutes & Ladders complete with spaces, missions and actions!
DIY DAY CAMP
Each week, choose a different DIY project. We’re going to make a LEGO table or wall, you could get chalk paint and do an outside (or inside) chalk wall, create your own custom clothing (graffiti sneakers, patched and lettered clothing)… The ideas are endless.
Find a local class or do a weekly (or daily!) one at home. Each week could be a different theme: pasta making, DIY ice cream, cake decorating… Either do it just for yourselves or film it and send it to family and friends. Lilly loves watching them back too. Really most of the ideas below could be turned into your own show!
MAKE YOUR OWN MOVIE
Choose a director, writer, actor(s), a plot and get to getting your filmmaker on!
WRITE YOUR OWN STORY
Gift them a blank book and have them work on it all summer. It could be their first chapter book or novel!
Get them their own camera or let them use yours or your iPhone and go on photography assignments around town. One day you focus on nature, the next, human subjects, landscapes, animals… At the end of the summer, they can compile a book and write a little something about each subject or photo.
Buy these cheap houses from Michael’s and do one a week. At the end of the summer, you’ll have a whole village.
Start on a large scale art project and do a little bit each day.
Each day/week is a different theme. Still life on canvas, self-portraits, landscapes, nature, photographs, inspired by other artists. Learn about them together and then try to paint in that style or recreate one of their works.
Go on nature walks and hikes, discover plants, flowers, trees, wildlife, look them up, read and learn about them and document them in a book.
Create your own booklet with pages for baking, s’mores, homemade pizza, puzzle, day trip, etc. and have them stamp it each time you complete one.
GROW A GARDEN
Take your youngin’ to the local nursery to learn all about plants and trees, select some seeds, get your hands dirty and plant away!
It’s never too early to get them started with giving back! Have them collect old toys, books, clothes and canned goods and donate them. Volunteer to help paint a school or park. Ask the library if they need help re-shelving books, set up a lemonade stand or garage sale and donate the profits…
Set up an exchange with a cousin or friend from far away (another state or even in your hometown!) and write weekly letters to each other. You know, old school snail mail?
Whether their sibling is in camp, their grandparent is in another state or they’d like to bring a little cheer to the service men and women around the world, having them shop for, make and pack a box filled with thoughtful items is a perfect activity for all involved.
Set up an arrangement with other families where you rotate houses or outings. One day a week, you get the kids, the next week, someone else does. Every mom needs a break!