School’s out and summer’s here, and you might be thinking, “How do we keep the kids occupied for the next few months?” Sending children off to camp is a classic summertime activity, but can be costly for some families (or your plans may have been thwarted by the current pandemic). But not to worry: It’s easy to DIY your own summer camp at home with materials you already have on hand—and with some help from Education.com’s free resources!
Below are some ideas for a one-week at-home summer camp, with a theme for each day:
Day 1: Explore nature
Summer is the perfect time to explore and learn about the great outdoors. Start the day off by having your child learn about plants and animals with a few of these printable nature worksheets. Then, pay a visit to a local national/state park or hiking trail and have your kids complete a scavenger hunt or reflect on their appreciation for nature along the way. Or, keep it closer to home with a backyard botany hunt!
Day 2: Play, make, create
Get your kids’ creative juices flowing with an arts and crafts day. Have them paint a summertime scene using paints or watercolors you have at home, or challenge them to create a giant chalk mural on your driveway. Need some more ideas? Education.com has almost 2,000 art projects for kids in grades pre-K through 5, from recycled paper garlands to glittery spaghetti ornaments and egg carton bugs, and more.
Day 3: Family field day
What’s summer camp without a little friendly competition? Head out to your backyard or a local park, and set up some silly races: Who can cross the finish line while balancing a ping-pong ball on a spoon, or while acting like an animal? Or, have your children build their own obstacle course with household items (think: crawling through a tunnel made out of cardboard boxes, limbo-ing under a garden hose, etc.). And if you need to beat the heat, try some water activities, like a sponge relay that incorporates trivia, water tag, or a wet clothes relay!
Day 4: Storytelling
Make summer reading (and writing) a fun part of camp! During the day, have your child read a short book or a few chapters of a book aloud to you or their siblings, and reinforce their reading comprehension with a graphic organizer. Then, it’s their turn to write a story! These prewriting organizers can help them develop their plot and characters. At night, gather the family around a makeshift campfire (e.g. a backyard fire pit if you have one, or a few candles in the living room), and listen to your kids tell their tales.
Day 5: STEM activities
Explore STEM topics, with a summer twist! For an out-of-this-world engineering challenge, your child can try their hand at building a bottle rocket in the backyard. Or perhaps they’d like to use an old pizza box to build a solar oven (perfect for making s’mores!). Grow their interest in environmental science by creating a family compost bucket or sock garden. And make math fun with outdoor math games like Wolfie Wolf or a math marathon!
Day 6: Cooking
From hot dogs to pancakes, food is a big part of summer camp, so today, you’ll get cooking with your kids! Start the day by showing them how math is used in the kitchen, with worksheets that mix fractions with recipes. Then, roll up their sleeves and let them help you cook up kid-friendly recipes like cornflake crunch chicken, healthy burgers, zucchini fritters, or chocolate-covered frozen bananas.
Day 7: Talent show
Let your kids’ imagination run wild with a talent show. Have them plan out a few acts that they’ll debut that night for the family! For example, they can make and play their own instruments like a toilet paper tube kazoo or maracas, or even write their own song. You could also help them create paper bag puppets and write a skit for a DIY puppet show, or encourage them to choreograph a short dance.