The Earth: Summer Camp at Home week 5
And the summer-movie-as-learning routine continues! This week for Summer Camp at Home, we are going to focus on the Earth, inspired by the animated movie Ice Age: Continental Drift coming out July 13. With mammoths Manny and Ellie and their friends Diego the saber-toothed cat and Sid the sloth making their way through prehistory, we’ll have fun watching their silliness on screen but also learn about our planet when we’re not at the movie theater.
Luckily, there are plenty of Ice Age-themed activities for kids at the Scholastic site. They are geared toward students in 3rd-5th grade, but if your kids are younger or older, you might find them helpful.
One thing that caught my attention when I was planning for this week was Scholastic’s Random Acts of Niceness sweepstakes. The contest is over now, but the idea was to do something nice — like, say, planting trees or native flowers, or volunteering in a local park. If you can gather a group to do something like that, that would be a great part of the learning activities for this week. My sons already help me water our plants and feed the birds. (When it was gardening season here in southern Florida, they helped me pick tomatoes and other veggies.) Whatever you think is doable and age-appropriate, go for it!
Here are some other ideas for learning about the Earth this week.
- Play and learn: As usual, my sons will probably be pretending they are the Wild Kratts from PBS Kids. They love learning about animals and their “creature powers.” You can also role play being scientists checking the water or soil, botanists measuring trees, or any other Earth-related fun you and your kids can dream up.
- Field trip: We are going to the beach! We live close to the Everglades, but this time of year there are too many mosquitoes. A natural history or science museum is also a good idea for this week.
- Geography: Last week with our America-themed activities, we worked with an America puzzle. There are Earth puzzles, too, if you’d like to get one. We have globes and an Atlas and a world map. Oh, and does a Cars 2 Lightning McQueen world atlas game count? Heh. I don’t expect my sons at 3 and 5 to know where all the different countries of the world are located, but I think it’s still a good idea to expose them to the idea that our world is a globe and to show them where on the globe we live. From there, they can see other parts of the world they have heard about.
- Crafts: Print out some free Earth Day stickers on sticker paper, cut out and use to decorate a recycled paper bag notebook. There are untold numbers of nature or recycled craft project ideas on Pinterest.
- Language skills: “The Earth” is a pretty broad subject. If your kids are interested in one or two, well, subtopics, then focus on finding books for those. My kids love wildlife and are fascinated with growing plants. But they also love to dig in the sand and dirt and find things there. We will look for books on those subjects at the library. Some other books to look for might include The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle by Nuria Roca; A Drop Around the World by Barbara McKinney; What Is the World Made Of? All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld; Sunshine Makes the Seasons by Franklyn M. Branley; Biscuit’s Earth Day Celebration by Alyssa Satin Capucilli; The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling by Alison Inches; and Jump into Science: Dirt by Steve Tomecek.
- Math skills: The Earth’s weather involves science and math. We will track the temperature every day on a chart. Use a real thermometer placed outside if you have one, or rely on the same weather source (like your local TV station or a weather app) every day. You can make it more involved by tracking the temperature three different times during the day. Older students might want to look at local weather patterns over, say, the past five years. Kids might even want to color a picture of a thermometer showing how hot it is each day!
- Cooking: For an Ice Age-inspired week, make ice pops! Make them healthy at home with molds you can find at many stores, then fill with juice, applesauce or other fruit purees you can make at home in a blender. I know my boys like helping in the kitchen and then eating what they make. And they loooove popsicles. (We don’t do artificial food dyes, which are in so many different foods, so we make our own ice pops.)
- Music: Eve & Mare‘s song Earth Day from their Green Means Go album is super cute and so appropriate for this week. “Every day is Earth Day,” they sing — not just in April but even in the middle of the summer!
- Science: We will learn about the sun’s ultraviolet rays with this fun, sunny craft project. We will collect rocks, seashells or fossils, then go to the library or online together to learn more about them. Older students may want to do an earth science project that interests them.
- More: Family Fun has a nicely designed Earth Day guide you can print out. But only three of its eight pages are actual activities for kids to do, so save paper and print just those pages, if your computer system allows. Better yet, print on the back of already used printer paper. (Three pages of the guide are checklists for ways to be Earth-friendly, which you could read on the screen with your child.) The EPA has a free Earth Day guide too.
I hope these ideas are helpful to you. To someone. Anyone? Mostly, I hope you are having a fun summer with your kids.
Make it a great week!