Our Summer Camp is canceled due to COVID-19. We want to have a fun summer so we’ll have Summer Camp at Home.
I took on the big job of compiling a list of summer camp activities for home so you don’t have to. I searched for simple and purposeful activities that are full of learning and are good launch pads for independent play. There are many, many great activity bloggers out there and I’ve given them credit so please check them out!
I know how busy you are so I made a one-page printable with the weekly themes and activities. You can print a copy of all these activities to stick on your fridge.
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Summer Camp at Home
So here’s the overview of Summer Camp at Home 2020.
I chose ten themes that your kids will love:
- 4th of July
- Super Heroes
- Ice Cream.
Then I chose six activities for each week:
- Writing: We’re using the Printable Parents writing activity packs. They are engaging and loaded with skills practice. The packs have activities appropriate for children from 3 – 8 years old. (See more below about why I included writing and reading.)
- Reading: The books I choose fit the theme of the week but also have social-emotional lessons.
- Thinking: The thinking activities require some problem-solving and are hands-on.
- Sensory: Most of the sensory activities are sensory bins with items you probably already have at home.
- Craft: The craft activities all involve fine motor skills like tearing, grasping, and squeezing glue bottles. They are purposeful as well as fun.
- Snack: Making a new snack with your children can build their skills following directions. Plus it’s also fun!
These will fit into our activity time slots on our Summer Routine printable.
You can do the weeks in any order, but follow along on Instagram as my family does them in the order presented below.
Most of the supplies you probably already have at home, but I’ve linked the ones you might need.
Why Write and Read Over the Summer?
Since my children have been home from school, I can tell we really need to practice writing skills this summer. And as a former teacher, I think most kids need to as well.
The writing expectations have gotten more advanced with the Common Core curriculum and in some cases exceed developmental readiness. I want my children to have good and fun experiences with writing outside the classroom.
Plus, writing is the most complicated academic skill – children need to remember how to form letters, generate ideas, come up with ideas, and then spelling words and formulate them into sentences. It’s a lot, so I want them to experience success and develop positive associations when I can.
We’re also working on writing indirectly with activities like tearing paper, coloring, pom pom painting and squeezing glue. These all develop the hand muscles that make it easier to write.
Children need to keep reading over the summer to maintain the skills they’ve learned. But reading aloud to your children has numerous additional benefits – it increases language, teaches the conventions of genres (like non-fiction and fiction), and makes reading more pleasurable.
Don’t get me wrong – your children need to have tons of free play this summer. Neglecting reading and writing will not doom them for life. But if this works for your family, give the printable writing packs and Summer Reading Bingo a try!
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Week 1: Ocean Summer Camp Theme
Let’s kick of summer with a trip to the ocean.
Ocean Writing pack
This pack will be available on 6/1 in the Printable Parents’ shop.
The Pout Pout Fish in the Big, Big Dark shares how friendship can help us overcome our fears.
Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls shares several Lego Duplos animals that children can build. Show your children the picture of the turtle and challenge them to build it.
Grab some beans, a plastic bin, and your favorite shovels to create a simple indoor beach for your children thanks to Happy Toddler Playtime.
The First Year’s Blog shares these graham cracker treats that are perfect for Ocean Week snack.
Week 2: Vehicles Summer Camp at Home Theme
We’ll continue to vrooom into summer with a vehicles week!
Vehicles Writing Printable Pack
The vehicles writing activity pack will be available in the Printable Parent’s ship on 6/8.
This classic book, The Little Engine that Could, children learn about the value of perseverance.
Days with Grey shares a simple activity that gets kids to think about categories. My 3.5 year old transitioned into independent play so easily with this thinking prompt.
Use washable paint and whatever toy cars you have to paint tire track across large sheets of paper.
You can make an easy paper plate car craft from Glued to my Crafts. Use elmers glue to work those hand muscles.
Crafty Morning shares some fun and simple apple car snacks. You just need apples, grapes, and toothpicks.
Week 3: 4th of July Summer Camp at Home Theme
In the week prior to the 4th of July, these patriotic activities are sure to keep your children occupied.
4th of July Writing Pack available
This pack will be available 6/8.
In Daniel Tiger’s First Fireworks, Daniel learns to be brave when he experiences something new.
Little Bins Little Hands shares an American flag your little ones can build with Legos.
Gather up your Legos, show your children the photo on your phone and challenge them to build it.
Red, White, & Blue Sensory Bin
Frogs, Snails, and Puppy Dog Tails shares how to make patriotic torn paper stars. Tearing is a precursor skill to using scissors and builds hand muscles. All you need is construction paper, glue, and scissors.
Berry & Marshmallow Kabobs
Use strawberries, blueberries, mini-marshmallows and wooden skewers to make a red, white, and blue snack.
Week 4: Bugs Summer Camp at Home Theme
Okay, so bugs and insects aren’t the same things, but we’re not getting technical here. We’ll leave that to future science or nature day camps and creep and crawl through a Bug week.
Bugs Writing pack
The bugs writing pack will be available 6/15 in the Printable Parents shop.
In this heartwarming story, Buzzy the Bumble Bee loses and regains confidence in his ability to fly. It teaches children about the power in believing in ourselves.
This is super easy and super fun. Grab some bug counters and sort them by color. I use sheets of colored construction paper to help my children visualize how to sort the bugs. Make sure you have purple construction paper; a lot of brands don’t!
Use those same bug counters and some black beans to create a sensroy bin like in Pocket of Preschool.
Bee Hive Pom Pom art
Use clothes pins and pom poms as a unique paintbrush. Draw an outline of a beehive for your children and some yellow paint. Let them dip the pom pom in the paint to make a bee hive. Then paint their thunms to make little bee bodies. Once it’s dry, add the stripes and stinger with black markers.
Grape and celery caterpillars
Make caterpillars with celery, red or green grapes, and cream cheese. Simply fill the celery with cream cheese and place some grapes on top.
Week 5: Flowers Summer Camp at Home Theme
Summer is a fun time to explore all things flowers.
Flowers Writing Pack
The flower writing pack will be available 6/15.
The adorable story, Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes, teaches children about the harms of teasing and the value of acceptance.
Make flowers with pattern blocks
Use Melissa and Doug Pattern blocks to create flowers with your young learners. Pattern blocks are great for teaching shapes and colors, but they also build visual perception and fine motor skills.
Save those black beans from your bug sensory bin (above) because Happy Toddler Playtime shares a garden theme sensory bin. You just need a large plastic bin, some black beans, a few pom poms and plastic bugs.
For my own variation, I’m tossing in the Green Toys Build-a-Bouquet Floral Arrangement Playset. Both my 7-year old and 3-year old adore this little playset for STEM building opportunities. I love that it works their fine motor skills.
You just need paints or stamp pads and some construction paper to make these cute and simple Fingerprint flowers. (Original source unknown)
Inkspired Musings shares a simple flower snack: use Ritz crackers and cream cheese for the base. Then add halved green grapes and a raspberry for the flower.
Week 6: Space Summer Camp at Home Theme
Blast through the midway point of summer with a space theme.
The space writing pack will be available 6/22.
In this Elephant and Piggie book, Gerald discovers the value of waiting when he sees the night sky.
You kids will have fun creating straw rockets and seeing how far the rockets can blast off. You can print off a rocket template from Early Learning Ideas.
Learning Resources has a cute space sensory bin. Use the black beans from prior weeks as your base and make some foil meteoroids.
The Inspired Home shows us how to use construction paper to make rockets with your children’s name. Your children practice their scissor skills. Use Elmer’s glue to give their hands some squeezing practice and build those little muscles.
Use pretzels and marshmallows to make constellations. Glitter on a Dime shows us how.
Week 7: Super Hero Summer Camp at Home Theme
Your little heroes will love a week celebrating all things super heroes.
Super Hero Writing
The Super Hero writing pack will be available 6/22.
Danny is a super kid who discovers his power to choose. In this Choose Your Own Adventure style book, children will see how their choices shapes their days.
Build the Tallest Tower
Since superheroes can leap over the tallest buildings, challenge your children to build block towers. Just print out or draw some super heroes, tape them at varying heights to the wall, and set out your blocks.
Super Hero Ice Rescue
Take super hero action figures (we used Paw Patrol Mighty Pups) and freeze them in ice cube trays or small plastic containers. Let your little heroes rescue them with warm water or salt.
Non Toy Gifts shows us how to make Captain American Paper Plate Shields with torn paper and glue. Tearing paper is a great precursor skill to using scissors so this is excellent fine motor practice.
Use cookie cutters to make shield sandwiches with your children for a fun snack . Eats Amazing gives us all the details.
Week 8: Dinosaurs Stay at Home Camp Theme
I haven’t met a child who isn’t interested in dinosaurs. This makes an engaging camp theme.
Dinosaurs Writing Pack
The Dinosaurs Writing Pack will be available 6/22 in the Printable Parents Shop.
Dexter, a toy dinosaur, experiences a range of emotions when he is accidentally left behind by his boy, Jack.
Just like the Bug Sort in Week 4, Dinosaur Sort is super easy activity that requires some big thinking. Grab some dinosaur counters and sort them by color.
I use sheets of colored construction paper to help my children visualize how to sort the bugs. Make sure you have purple construction paper; a lot of brands don’t!
For older children who need more of a challenge, you can ask them to sort another way – by type of dinosaur.
Dinosaur Paint Tracks
Use dinosaur counters or another dinosaur toy and dip their feet in paint, then use the dinosaurs to make tracks across a sheet of paper.
Use paper plates, toilet paper tubes, and washable paint to make an adorable dinosaur. Living for the Sunshine has all the details.
Use frozen waffles and grapes to make a dinosaur. Just cut the waffle in half. Use half as the body and use the other half to cut into four spikes. Grapes make the head and feet.
Week 9: Frogs Summer Camp at Home Theme
Because ribbiting and hopping are so much fun.
Frog Writing Pack
The frog writing pack will be available 6/29 in the Printable Parents shop.
In another Elephant and Piggie book, Gerald struggles with some abstract thinking when Piggie pretends to be a frog. He learns the value of flexible thinking and imaginative play in this delightful early reader.
We return to Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls for a Lego Duplos frog. Show your children the picture of the frog on your phone, get out the green blocks, and let them create!
Pre-K Pages shares a frog sensory bin. Fill a container with water, some stones, and some plastic frogs and let your children explore.
Your children are definitely going to enjoy making these cartoon-like paper plate frogs. Make sure you have green tissue paper squares. You could also use torn pieces of green construction paper.
You can make the whole frog life cycle with this snack, but we’ll just make the adult frog. A green apple, some green grapes, raisins and toothpicks is all you’ll need!
Week 10: Ice Cream Summer Camp at Home Theme
We’ll end our Summer Camp at Home with a fun ice cream theme with sundaes as our culminating activity.
Ice Cream Writing Pack
The ice cream writing pack is available 6/29 in the Printable Parents Shop.
Our last Elephant and Piggie book, children learn the value of being generous and a good friend.
Raising Little Superheroes has a simple tutorial on how to make ice cream in a bag. It’s easier than you’d think!
There is also a non-dairy version. Hooray!
This ice cream sensory bin from Fantastic Fun and Learning just requires cotton balls and ice cream scoops. I’m going to add in colorful large pom poms and make ice cream cones from toilet paper tubes.
Pom Pom Ice Cream Cone Painting
I drew cone shapes on brown construction paper for my children. They cut them out and glued them on white construction paper. We used small pom poms in clothes pins to paint the scoops of ice cream.
Ice Cream Sundaes
The special snack this week will be dessert. We’ll have ice cream sundaes with sprinkles and whip cream!
This summer will be a little different but it will still be a lot of fun. Grab the free printable and create some great memories with these activities!