Hi there, readers!!! As a teacher-turned-SAHM to two little’s, ages 3.5yr and 1yr, it seemed natural to me to come up with some fun and educational activities for my son to experience together with his budding friends. Thus, my bi-annual Summer Camp was born!
When my son was 2, I invited 5 of his buddies to join us for a week-long camp at my home. The theme was “oceans” and it was a huge hit!! Both the kids and the moms enjoyed the opportunity to socialize and enjoy learning about sea life. We read ocean stories, sang songs about ocean life and we even had a field trip!! Perhaps the most fun for the kiddos was the submarine I built out of an old refrigerator box and two dishwasher boxes. Surprisingly, it stood up all week, even when one of the boys punched out one of the cellophane windows!
Hosting a camp is a lot of planning and organizing, but the smiles and excitement make it all worthwhile! There are tons of ideas floating around on the web to help you plan and give you some ideas. I like to start with my theme and then check out Amazon.com for some book titles to use. Once I have those vital pieces of information I am ready to start choosing activities. I keep in mind the attention span and the developmental level of the campers in choosing crafts. I don’t want them to get discouraged, camp should be all about the FUN!
This month I hosted our 5th camping session: “community helpers”. Here’s a glimpse of some of the fun!
We started with learning about mail carriers. Kids learned the proper way to address and stamp a letter and each child sent a letter to their favorite Disney character. Little do they know, they will be receiving an autographed photograph in the mail soon!
Kids then made a mail carrier bag before we set out to the cul-de-sac for a little mailman’s relay race. We had two cozy coupes and each child took a turn “delivering” mail to their momma. It was a hoot!!
The next day we learned about the garbage man. Is there a more politically correct way to phrase that? If so, I couldn’t come up with one!
We called this day: trash to treasure.
We started with old, broken crayons. Or in our case, a brand new box of dollar store crayons! We peeled off the wrappers, which was a treat for the kids since they are not allowed to do that normally, stuck them in a silicone muffin “tin” and melted them in the oven to make crazy color crayon stars! Cute!!
This next craft was perhaps the most perplexing of the week as we didn’t quite know how to get started. We used old newspapers and turned them in to cute magazine baskets! Once we got going things went pretty smoothly. Since I had to hold a baby in the baby Bjorn this day I cheated and made a pencil cup instead. Still functional, so score for me!!! I got the instructions for the basket from here: http://howaboutorange.blogspot.com/2009/06/newspaper-basket.html
Our next community helper focus was on police officers. There are LOADS of activities to do with kids to teach them about police officers but I wanted to keep the focus on safety. So, I found this handy dandy printable of a phone and distributed them to the kids.
We talked about what to do in an emergency and how to dial 9-1-1. The kid’s used the paper phones to practice!! **This is a great way to have your child practice without accidentally calling 9-1-1. Trust me, I know from experience. Ooops!**
Next we sat the kids down with a fingerprint ID kit.
Police stations usually have these available for parents to have. You simply get non-toxic ink and get fingerprints of your child’s hand. Children under two are requested to have palm prints, instead. These kits are also available online. Here is one link to a free fingerprint kit.
The last community helper we learned about, and perhaps my favorite, was firemen. We brought out the fingerpaint for this one and painted the kid’s fingers red and their palm green. They made their impression on blank paper and drew in a hose, arms, a face and a fireman’s hat. To add a special touch, we applied blue glitter glue to look like it was water and set them aside to dry.
While they were drying, the kids got to work decorating the 4 dozen sugar cookies I had previously made. These were to be treats for the firemen for the next day’s field trip to the fire station!! I’m shocked that each child only ate ONE cookie!!
Each camp session I try to have a field trip planned that goes along with our theme. This session it seemed fitting to tour a local fire station. The fire station close by is an historical landmark as it was one of the first in our BIG city. We went bearing gifts (cookies), the best kind of guests, no?
Kids got to hear the fire alarm bells go off, see where the firemen sleep and eat and got to see the men slide down the fire pole!! Then came the best part of all…the fire engine!! It is crazy how small and tiny our kiddos looked in comparison to the wheels on that engine!!
As if that wasn’t enough excitement, the firemen let the kids get a photo shoot on the front of the fire engine!!!! What a lucky group of kids! Our week was so much fun and I am already planning my next session for early August!
Millie Waits for the Mail by Alexander Steffensmeier
A Day with a Mail Carrier by Jan Kottke
Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman
The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Officer Buckle & Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
Daisy the Firecow by Viki Woodworth
Fire Engines by Anne Rockwell