Category Archives: Fun Things We Do

Creating Ice Lanterns & Wreaths

With winter break and the longest nights of the year approaching, try a magical project that will wow your entire family – ice lanterns and wreaths.  Depending on the ages of your children, decide if a simple or more labor intensive project is in order.

For the younger ones, try filling a balloon up partially with water and freeze.  After an hour or so, adjust your icy orb to coax some of the remaining liquid up  the sides. Once solid, remove the balloon to reveal a vessel that will make Queen Elsa swoon.

Conversely  select an aluminum pie pan or plastic take-away tray and fill it with water.  Arrange cranberries, pine boughs and sliced oranges then freeze.  If you wish to make a hole in the ice to hang your creation, heat the tip of a skewer and carefully push it though the ice before suspending outside.

Finally try filling a bucket or large container with water. Carefully tape a mason jar down to displace the water (or alternatively try using a bundt pan) and freeze. Once solid, remove the containers and add a candle or small light and enjoy! More detailed  instructions can be found here.

For other unique craft project ideas, check out our Pinterest page!

Card Games for Kids of All Ages

I have wonderful memories of playing cards as a young child.  I was captivated as a 4-year-old when I first learned to play Fish. The way my older cousin shuffled the deck seemed like magic.  And then there was the overwhelming anticipation followed by horror if I unknowingly selected the Old Maid from the person next to me.  I couldn’t get rid of her fast enough.  Whether you have preschoolers or teens at home, here are 6 simple card games that everybody loves .

OLD MAID

Prep a standard deck of cards by removing one queen card and shuffling the deck. Deal out all the cards to all the players until there are none left. Players remove the pairs in their hands. The dealer fans out his cards in his hands and offers his hand to the player on his left. That player selects one and adds it to her own hand. Any matches are removed. The process continues around and around the circle until everything is paired up except the queen. Whoever is left with it at the end of the game is the Old Maid!

GO FISH

The goal here is to get four of a kind. Deal out seven cards to each player. If you have seven or more players, use five cards a piece. Put the remaining cards in a deck in the center. Player 1 picks any other player to ask if he has the card she’s looking for – e.g., “Do you have any threes?” Hand over the cards if you’ve got them or tell the person to “Go Fish” for a card in the pile. As soon as you find four of a kind, put them face up on the table. Whoever runs out of cards first is the winner.

WAR

This game of luck can be totally addictive for kids. Divide the deck evenly among the two players. Each player turns over the top card on her deck at the same time. Whoever has the higher card takes both cards and puts them at the bottom of her stack. If the cards are the same, then it’s war! Each player counts out three cards (face down) and the next card is shown. Whoever has the higher card wins all the cards.

UNO /CRAZY EIGHTS

This game, played with UNO cards or a standard pack of playing cards, has one goofy twist: eights rule! Deal seven cards out to each person in a two-player game, or five cards for games with three or four players. The remaining cards go in a draw pile, and one card is turned over to start the play pile. The player to the dealer’s left must match the card’s number or suit from the face-up pile. A player who does not have a match may play an eight and change the suit to anything they wish. A player who has neither a match nor an eight must draw until he gets a card that can be played. The first to discard all their cards wins.

CONCENTRATION

Turn a standard deck of cards into a game of concentration. Shuffle the deck, laying the cards out in rows, and hunting for “matches” of the red kings, black threes, and so forth. For little ones, use just the two red suits for a more manageable set.

FOREHEAD POKER

This is a fun, super simple two-player game for the small fries. Place the deck between you and your child. Each of you grabs a card without peaking at it and places it on your forehead so that your opponent can see it, but you can’t. Have your little one guess if their own card is higher or lower than yours. If they’re right, they take the pair. If they’re wrong, it’s yours. Take turns and work your way through the deck. The person with the most cards at the end is the winner.

Camp Au Pair – Art Experiences

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Art Experiences.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to art can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Art Experiences pinboard.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions. Some museums are requiring advanced tickets or have reduced hours due to the pandemic.

  • Art Museums
  • Paint Your Own Pottery Studio
  • Clay and Ceramics Studio

Online Art FunHere is a great website with lots of art activities including ones for older kids.

Webcams – You can do a google search for art websites with webcams. Here are a few to get you started:

Pottery & Ceramics webcam
Glass Blowing webcam

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about drawing and all kinds of art.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on famous artists and art.

Check YouTube for books on art being read aloud:

https://youtu.be/PA_yQPDV43w

Image: teachkidsart.com

Camp Au Pair – Summer Olympics

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme Summer Olympics. The 2021 Summer Olympics are taking place in Tokyo, Japan, July 23-Aug 8.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to the Summer Olympics can be found here on the Camp Au Pair Summer Olympics pinboard.

Videos – On YouTube you can find many great videos of about the Olympics.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books about the Olympics.

Some good ones include: Olympig!, G is for Gold Medal: An Olympic Alphabet, How to Train with a T-Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals, Wilma Unlimited, America’s Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle, Way to Go Alex!, Touch the Sky, Pele: King of Soccer, A Picture Book of Jesse Owens & Babar’s Celestville Games.

You may also find some of these books read aloud on YouTube.

Fun Fact: The Olympic symbol consists of five interlaced rings of equal dimensions, used alone, in one or in five different colors, which are, from left to right, blue, yellow, black, green and red. The Olympic symbol (the Olympic rings) expresses the activity of the Olympic Movement and represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games.

Image: Project Nursery

Camp Au Pair – Science (STEM)

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Science (STEM). This includes science, technology, engineering and math.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to all things science, technology, engineering and math can be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Science (STEM) pinboard.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions. Here are a few places to go, that fit this theme:

  • Nature Walk
  • Science Centers
  • Pick Your Own Farms
  • Nature Centers
  • Botanical Gardens or Garden Store
  • Television/Radio Museum
  • Into the City to See Skyscrapers
  • Building or Technology Museum

Virtual Field Trips

Videos – On YouTube you can find many great videos of with science experiments to do with kids.

The Magic School Bus is a cartoon series with episodes on lots of great science topics. You can find some episodes on YouTube and the full series on Paramount Plus.

Movies – The Lego Movie, Big Hero 6, Wall-E and Hidden Figures all fit the STEM theme.

Webcams – You can do a google search for science websites with webcams. Here is a collection of 22 science webcams from around the world.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on science, technology, engineering and math.

Image: sweetpaulmag.com

Camp Au Pair – Dinosaurs

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Dinosaurs.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to dinosaurs can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Dinosaurs pinboard.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions.

Here are a few places to go that fit this theme:

    • Children’s museum with dinosaur exhibit
    • Natural history museum
    • Nature center with fossils

Toys – Many kids have dinosaur toys already. See what your kids have and think of fun, new ways you can play with these toys with them. Imagine taking a plastic dinosaur and making footprints in play dough to form your own fossils.

Webcam – This NPS Paleontology Lab offers a webcam where you can watch paleontologists remove rock from around fossils. The cam is normally working 9 am-5 pm PST, so 12-8 pm our time.

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about dinosaurs and fossils. Here are a few to get you started.

Movies – The Good Dinosaur, Land Before Time, and Ice Age are all great family movies that fit with this theme. For older kids, consider movies like Journey to the Center of the Earth and Jurassic Park (which is rated PG-13).

Books – Check your kids’ bookshelf for books on dinosaurs.

Photo: krojotak.com

Camp Au Pair – Under the Sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In honor of Shark Week (see below), next week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Under the Sea.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to creatures who live under the sea can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Under the Sea pinboard.

Webcams – You can do a google search for aquariums and zoos across the country (and the world) with webcams that allow you to observe sea creatures. Here is one to get you started.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions. Search online to see if your area has any of the following:

  • Any pet store with fish tanks
  • Aquarium
  • Zoo
  • Nature Center

Television – The Discovery Channel has an annual Shark Week. This year it will be July 11-18, 2021. Much of the programming will be too scary for younger kids, but for nature-loving tweens and teens, it could be a great way to get them interested in sharks and other ocean animals. Check out 15 JAW-some Activities for Shark Week with lots of fun ideas for kids in grades 5 and up, but a few for younger kids too.

Online Games – NOAA has fun interactive games that help kids learn about sea turtle survival.

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about sea creatures. There’s more to see than Baby Shark. Movies like Finding Nemo, Dolphin Tale, and the Little Mermaid also go well with this theme.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on sea creatures. The Rainbow Fish is a classic children’s book, your kids may already own. If not, you can find videos like this of it being read aloud.

Photo: mimisdollhouse.com

Camp Au Pair – Bugs & Butterflies

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Bugs & Butterflies.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to all kinds of bugs, insects, butterflies, and spiders can be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Bugs & Butterflies pinboard.

Outdoors – Kids today do not spend enough time outdoors. Take the kids in the backyard or another nature area (approved by your host parents) and do some activities related to this theme:

  • Allow them to search for bugs and butterflies.
  • Observe lightning bugs (also known as fireflies) in the evening. Here is a map showing what people call these little guys in different parts of the country.
  • After it rains, look for earthworms. Not bugs or butterflies, but very interesting creatures you can find in your own backyard.

NOTE: If you are outdoors with the children, be sure to check for ticks when you come back inside. Here is a blog post explaining the health risk ticks can pose and how to find and remove them safely.

Videos – You can find many great videos of butterflies and insects on YouTube. Check out these videos for kids about bees and ants. All about Insects covers lots of tiny creatures who crawl and fly. Here are a few videos to get you started.

Movies – A Bugs Life, The Bee Movie, Maya the Bee, and The Ant Bully all fit this theme.

Webcams – You can do a Google search for websites with webcams that allow you to observe bugs.

Books – Check your kids’ bookshelf for books on bugs and butterflies. 

Image: minieco.co.uk

Camp Au Pair – Outer Space

Next week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Outer Space.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to outer space can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Outer Space pinboard. Here is a fun one that combines a science lesson, art, and snack time.

https://www.opticscentral.com.au/moon-phases-explained-with-oreos

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions. Search online to see if your area has any of the following:

  • Air & Space Museum
  • Science Center
  • Planetarium

Webcams – You can do a google search for websites with webcams that allow you to observe space. Here is one from the International Space Station to get you started.

Online Games – NASA has a gallery of free space games for kids.

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about outer space. Solar System 101 and 25 Space Secrets Astronauts Want You to Know are good for school-aged kids. The Planet Song is for toddlers and preschoolers. WALL-E, Zathura, Monsters vs. Aliens & Star Wars are all great family movies that fit with this theme. For older kids, movies like Hidden Figures and the Martian too, both are rated PG-13.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on outer space.  Me & My Place in Space, Mousetronaut, There was an Old Astronaut who Swallowed the Moon, and Mae Among the Stars are a few fun ones to get you started. Story Time from Space is a YouTube channel with real astronauts reading children’s books aloud.

Photo: alittlepinchofperfect.com