When the kids are out of school on summer break there are soooo many possibilities. But, if you don’t make plans, you will often end up in the house with bored kids getting into trouble and arguing with their siblings. Make plans!
Having lots of ideas ready can minimize those problems.
Looking for fun activity ideas to get the summer started off right with your host kids?
The Au Pair in America Summer Fun Pinboard is a great place to start. Together, create a Summer Bucket List. Talk with the kids about things they would like to see and do. Even toddlers and preschoolers can contribute to the conversation. Run these plans by your host parents and clear things like how much you may spend and when is best to do some of these activities.
Check back here next week for information on CampAuPairinAmerica: a weekly blog series with themes for a summer break filled with fun and new adventures.
“Game plan” means a strategy for how you are going to accomplish something. In the case of keeping kids from getting bored and/or into trouble, the best way to prevent it is to keep them busy with safe, fun activities.
When there are days home from school, letting kids sit around watching TV or playing video games is not the best use of their time. Providing fun alternatives will make it much easier to pull them away from the screen.
You need to make a plan of what you will do with them each day and prepare for that. Planning is very important. You don’t want to tell them you are going someplace fun, only to arrive there and see they are not open that day or you needed to bring something and you don’t have it.
If your plan includes a craft or cooking project, make sure you have:
All the ingredients/supplies
If your plan includes an outing to someplace fun, figure out:
How will you get there?
When you should leave?
How much it will cost?
What will you do for lunch?
Use some of these online resources to find activities and recipes:
Just because a child is old enough to occupy themselves, doesn’t mean that they should be expected to do so the majority of the time. Host families have a certain expectation of activity and involvement for their children. Get the kids engaged and active. You can be more fun than the TV or a video game.
Problem: But, my kids don’t want to do anything but watch TV or play video games.
Instead of saying, “Would you like to (fill in the blank with any activity)? The answer will often be, “No.”
Try this, “Now we are going to (fill in the blank with any activity.) or “Would you rather do _____ or ______?” Make sure both the choices are good options.
Your chances of co-operation are greatly increased. Even kids who are reluctant to try new things will usually get in the spirit of things and have fun if you pick a good activity.
Problem: I don’t know what to do with school-age kids.
Look for ideas online. Google “activities school-age kids” or “activities tweens”. You can also take part in an au pair webinar on this topic. Below is a list of some ideas to get you started.
Making things (check craft stores like Michael’s for kits and models that are age-appropriate)
Going to fun places (pottery painting, jewelry making, farms, museums, mini-golf, go-karts)*
Let them teach you to do something they enjoy. Kids this age love being the expert.
Get outdoors and visit local parks.* You can even make a project of reviewing all the local parks (what kind of equipment they have, is there shade, water fountain?) They can write this up and keep, so they remember which ones they want to go to again and which ones to skip in the future.
Let them help you search and plan some activities.
If you have a GPS, try taking them geocaching. Here is a website with all the details.
Use technology to get them off the couch and sneak in some exercise. The phone app Pokémon Go includes activities that are unlocked by taking steps. There are Pokéstops and gyms at many places they might enjoy going for walks like parks, nature trails, walk/bike paths, and downtown areas.
*Always get permission from your host parents before taking the kids places and remember to follow social distancing and mask-wearing protocols.
Valentine’s Day (February 14) is a time of love, friendship, giving, and caring. Americans use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to tell friends and family how much they care. Children usually exchange cards at school.
Are you looking for Valentine’s day activity and craft ideas?
Look no further… Au Pair in America has a Pinterest pinboard devoted to Valentine’s Day:
Looking for ideas to keep the kids busy on a snow day (when they are home from school for winter weather?)
Here is a simple snow day game plan…
Play in the snow. Pro Tip: Remind your kids go to the bathroom before you get them all bundled up to go outside.
Come inside and warm up with hot chocolate (don’t forget the marshmallows.) Pro Tip: Shake the snow off of the kids boots and snow clothes. Hang them up to dry or put them in the dryer, so they are ready for round 2 out in the snow.
Make your own play dough.
Play board games or legos together.
Play in the snow again.
Warm up inside and make paper snowflakes.
Bake cookies together or make some other fun recipe.
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.
Paint Your Own Pottery Studio
Clay and Ceramics Studio
Online Art Fun – Here 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:
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 & Butterfliespinboard.
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.
When kids are out of school for the summer, it doesn’t take long for them to become bored and sometimes that leads to sibling squabbles and mischief. Even though they don’t realize it, they are usually missing routine and predictability in their daily schedule. One solution is to make fun plans to keep them busy!
Each week this summer we will share a different Camp Au Pair theme. These weekly themes are designed to give you ideas to keep your host kids occupied and engaged all summer long. They will also be learning. (But shhhh, don’t tell them that part.) Check back each Friday, for the next week’s theme. This gives you a chance to make plans and gather materials for the next week. For each theme there will be crafts, games, snacks and activities. You can just use these ideas or add your own and customize the themes to fit the ages and interests of your host children.