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Wildlife Explorers: Summer Camp at Home week 1

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Wildlife Explorers: Summer Camp at Home week 1

Summer is officially here for us, and that means Summer Camp at Home! Monday will start our first week of “camp” activities at home. I’m sharing what we’ll do in case you are also looking for ideas for things to do with the kids all summer long.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted comes out today, and we plan to see the movie on Monday and let Gloria, Marty, Alex and Melman inspire us to focus on wildlife for the week. My boys love watching the first two Madagascar movies (especially the crazy penguins), and even though sequels often aren’t as good, I bet they will love this movie anyway.

Besides seeing the movie on the big screen, here are other activities we are going to try to do this week to be wildlife explorers.

- Play and learn: Have a wildlife scavenger hunt play date at a park. Download this Wildlife Scavenger Hunt Checklist and take it with you on a nature walk. Older children might like a more challenging wildlife scavenger hunt. Also — thanks to the likes of Diego, the Wonder Pets and the Wild Kratts — my boys already love to pretend they are rescuing animals, so we will have some imaginative role play as wildlife caregivers.

- Field trip: Visit a zoo or wildlife hospital. (We’re going to Zoo Miami. If we get enough friends to go with us, we qualify for a group discount. Score! We will also visit Sawgrass Nature Center and Wildlife Hospital.)

- Geography: Buy or print out wildlife stickers on sticker paper from an office-supply store, cut them out and put them on a world map showing where on Earth they live. You can find a world map at an education-supply store or online. I got one at Amazon.com. Or, go local and get a state map, and learn from your state’s wildlife agency where different wildlife species are commonly found. Younger children may enjoy just playing with animal stickers.

- Craft: Make a bird feeder or other wild animal crafts.

- Math and language skills: Use leftover plastic Easter eggs (do you have a bag of them in the back of the closet like we do?) to talk about how several species take care of their young (birds and reptiles). Then use the plastic eggs to learn easy rhyming words, sort them by color, and then do easy “nest addition” — if one nest has two eggs and another nest has three eggs, how many eggs are there altogether?

- Language skills: Read wildlife books every day after lunch (examples are I See Animals Hiding by Jim Arnosky; The Kids’ Wildlife Book by Warner Shedd and Loretta Trezzo Braren; Kids’ Easy-to-Create Wildlife Habitats: For Small Spaces in City-Suburbs-Country by Emily Stetson and J. Susan Cole-Stone; Nat Geo Wild Animal Atlas: Earth’s Astonishing Animals and Where They Live by National Geographic; wildlife books we find at the local library). We are going to try to visit our local library at least once a week through summer and take part in the summer reading program. Your library may have a reading program too.

- Cooking: Make penguin snacks (due to food allergies, we will substitute the cream cheese for whipped coconut milk or the inner part of an apple). You can find many other snacks that look like animals on Pinterest.

- Music: Listen to and sing songs from Raffi’s album Animal Songs or David Polansky’s Animal Alphabet Song.

- Fine motor skills: Check out these Madagascar 3 printables to color, cut with scissors, play games or make stickers. Doing projects like this that involve sitting and focusing gives kids some down time. I think it helps to choose the right time of day for an activity like this — a time when you know your kids are more alert and less bounce-off-the-walls-y.

- Art: Visit a local museum or other place where wildlife art is on display. Not too far from us is a Wyland “Whaling Wall” mural that we will visit. We have seen it while driving, but we have never stopped to see it up close.

- Science: Demonstrate how animals use camouflage with this easy science experiment. You can also play a game of camouflage tag: say, “Go!” and have the kids stand or sit next to an object that matches what they are wearing — or they are “out.” You can play camouflage tag inside or outside, with just you and one other child or with a larger group of children.

– More: The Kids section of the National Wildlife Federation site is a great resource for learning about wildlife and nature. Choose an age level and find games, activities, crafts and ideas. You can also download great wildlife apps to your mobile device.

I think this week of activities is customizable for your child’s age. For example, select wildlife books that are appropriate for your child’s age or reading level, and let them be as involved as they can in making the penguin snack and bird feeder. Older children can help plan the zoo outing, find countries on the world map or take on a leadership role in the wildlife scavenger hunt. Younger children may enjoy a game of taking turns making animals sounds with you, or acting out how different animals move.

Besides these wildlife-themed activities, my boys and I will also play with friends, swim, play outside and go bowling for free.

And I’m looking forward to not having to dash out of the house every morning to be at school on time!

If you are following Summer Camp at Home — even a little bit — I’d love to hear what activities you did with your kids (even if it’s not listed here). Please leave a comment or link to your page, if you are blogging it.

And please come back next Friday for another week of ideas with a new theme!

Make it a great week….

  1. These are all great ideas! I am looking forward your weekly series. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you SO much for posting the idea and the specific weekly activities!!!! We are participating here in MD, doing several of your activity ideas, going to the local zoo and maybe a petting zoo too. I am also planning to incorporate an act of service as well- hopefully this week we will make a trip to the local animal shelter with a small donation. My kids are little (6, 3, 1.5) so it is hard to think of ways they can help, but I hope to start integrating service early on. Thanks again-planning how to fill our summer days is much less daunting now. We will be following your posts!

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