The following is a guest post from regular contributor, Sharon at Mom of 6.
Are your kids out of school yet? Mine don’t finish up until June 25th, but I’ve been hard at work pulling together a list of activities that we can do together over the summer. For the past 6 years now, we’ve been holding our own “summer camp at home” that I like to call “Camp Rowley”.
As you can imagine, it would be quite expensive to send 6 kids to any type of summer camp. Even the local town camp at $400 per child for the season, runs our family $2400! I would much rather put that money towards some great family road trips! But the biggest reason why I prefer to hold our own summer camp at home is that it gives us a chance to do things at our own pace with or without a schedule. We spend the other 9 1/2 months a year getting up to an early, rushing through our morning routine, coming home and tackling homework and activities and getting to bed on time so that we can get up the next morning and start the process all over again. Even our weekends are packed with so many activities that we rarely have an entire day off to do whatever we’d like to do.
So for us… that’s what summer is all about.
But this summer camp at home thing does take some advanced planning. Otherwise there will be way too much TV watching / electronics viewing going on around here! So I like to put together a schedule of cool field trips, lists of fun things to do at home, ideas for crafts that we want to make, and plug all of this into a calendar that we can all see. Everyone gets a chance to contribute ideas to the list, and we try to assign something to every day- even if it is something small and easy- such as “go out for ice cream cones”. It helps if every day has some sort of “anchor”, something that you know you plan to do. It gets you up a moving (eventually!) and when you chase all of the kids into the yard to “go and play’, you can remind them that you’ll be leaving to go and get those ice cream cones in another hour or so.
If you are thinking… “Hmmmm”- what would it take for me to pull this off for my own family? Here are some ideas to get you started:
Local Field Trips
Plan at least 2 of these a week- focusing on activities that fit your children’s ages and interests. I also like to find activities that are free or low-cost. Some good ideas are hiking to a waterfall, visiting a cave, walking through an outdoor sculpture garden, visiting a science center, and even a weekly outing to the local library is a perfect field trip!
Crafts and Cooking
My kids love to create things and love cooking with Mom. So I try to plan time to do both things once a week. I also plan out in advance the craft projects we will we do (so I can purchase the supplies before the kids are out of school), and recipes that we can cook together. (Pinterest is the perfect resource for this, of course!)
We love to take road trips in the summer- to visit family members who live in states far away from us, to explore new places we’ve never seen, or even to return to some old favorites. We love to camp and we love staying at the beach too! So we spend some time planning our road trips for the summer and get those into our calendar too.
Family Movie Night
Popping popcorn and watching movies together as a family is always on our list- so this summer I’ve decided to mix it up a little and have a “Throwback Family Movie Night” where we will watch movies from the 80’s and 90’s that the kids haven’t already seen (I’ve prescreened them for appropriate content on CommonSenseMedia.org). You can check out my list here!
Backyard Fun and Rainy Day Activities
Summer camp at home means lots of time for sidewalk chalk, homemade bubbles, the inflatable water slide, water balloons, bike rides, and basketball. I make a long list of all of the things that we can do right here in our backyard and post it, so the kids have some inspiration when they are feeling “bored”.
I would love to hear your ideas for summer camp at home- so please leave a comment and share!
If you get a chance, I hope you’ll stop by to see me at Momof6 – a place where I write about organizing your home, using a family calendar, creating household routines, hosting at-home birthday parties, and holding a DIY summer camp! You can also find me over on GreatFamilyRoadTrips- where I share ideas and itineraries to inspire you to hit the road!