Legends and Castles and Dragons, Oh My!: Summer Camp at Home Week 2
When the new movie Brave comes out next Friday, featuring Disney’s latest heroine, seeing the animated film will end a fun-filled week of history and imagination for us in our Summer Camp at Home. Brave features mythical Scottish Princess Merida, an excellent archer who sets out to break a curse. So for the second week for Summer Camp at Home starting Monday, we are going to do lots of imaginative role play and have fun with the theme of the days of castles and dragons, princesses and knights. If you have a wannabe archer, princess, knight, dragon slayer, king or vagabond storyteller, now is the top to pull out all the stops and indulge in fantasy and becoming a hero! If you have some dress-up clothes or props, this is a great week to make sure they get put to good use.
Here are some ideas to draw out this week’s theme into a week of activities. If something doesn’t work for you, just skip it.
- Play and Learn: We will take turns playing out different roles and pretending we are fighting dragons, saving the village, warding off enemy armies or whatever else the boys want to come up with. Working together in role play to solve a problem is actually a great cognitive workout for preschool-aged children! (If you’re really into it, check out how to make dragon dress-up tails and get some cardboard castle inspiration.) Older children can be challenged to write their own story.
- Field Trip: We plan on visiting our nearest Playmobil Fun Park, which looks like a castle. If there is a castle or castle-like building near you, check it out and see if you can visit! Or maybe you live near a place that offers a Medieval dinner.
- Geography: Older children may like researching castles and other significant buildings and pinpointing their locations on a map.
- Crafts: Make a magic wand. Craft a miniature bow with Q-tip arrows. Fashion a sword out of cardboard, and cover it in foil. Make shrink charms from the movie Brave. There are so many fun ideas for this week!
- Math skills: Print an image, or multiple images, your child will like that relate to this week’s theme. Number each one with a pen or marker. Cut out the pictures or have your child cut them out, and then use the pictures to arrange the numbers in the correct order. You can use the pictures to do simple addition and subtraction. If you have princesses, for example, ask your child to send four princesses to the castle (a basket or bucket).
- Language skills: Read books every day after lunch. We plan to visit our local library every week to find books on our weekly theme. Here are some ideas for books this week: Oscar and the Very Hungry Dragon by Ute Krause; Sand Castle by Brenda S. Yee; Max’s Castle by Kate Banks; Hush, Little Dragon and Over at the Castle, both by Boni Ashburn; The Bravest Knight by Mercer Mayer; and A Princess Primer: A Fairy Godmother’s Guide to Being a Princess by Stephanie True Peters.
- Cooking: Make a tasty dragon pear snack.
- Music: Listen to and sing Puff the Magic Dragon (which is also an excellent picture book as well).
- Fine motor skills: Check out this nifty Brave activity book you can download and print out, better for children who can already read. I have “table time” with my older son every day so he can practice his handwriting and practice focusing. I’d also like to make sand castle “clay” and play with my guys to build a sand castle that lasts.
- Science: In Medieval times, artisans were skilled in working with metal. Explore with the kids the difference between metal, paper, wax and other substances. Safely show kids how wax melts and paper burns but that metal doesn’t easily do either (only at extremely high temperatures).
- More: We have so many Legos that I bet we could build a “castle” with them (even without a proper castle play set). Older children might like looking at pictures of castles around the world. I also like Rachel’s suggestion last week to include an act of service each week. (My boys went with me last week to take a meal to another family … does that count?) You may have additional ideas to round out this week. If my boys were older, I would consider a rubber-tipped archery set for the backyard. You may think of even more fun or interesting ways to engage your kids this week.
When we’re not doing these activities, we’ll be playing with friends, swimming, playing outside in the yard and playing inside with favorite toys. (It has been in the upper 90s this week!)
Here’s another idea for summer that I saw in the June/July issue of Family Fun magazine. String up some yarn somewhere in your home and clip on clothespins with numbers on them to depict the days of summer — creating a “linear calendar.” Use the clothespins to hold tickets, photos, drawings or other mementos of what you did each day. That way, you will end up with a “scrapbook” of your summer. You can also make a paper bag album like we did for our Summer Camp at Home last year. Save these memories….
Make it a fun week!