Category Archives: Testimonials

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.


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. 


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.

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.


Camp Au Pair – Cars & Trucks

Next week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Cars & Trucks.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to all kinds of vehicles can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Cars & Trucks pinboard.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. If your host parents are okay with you taking the kids to any outdoor, socially distanced activities, here are a few places to go, that fit this theme:

  • Look for construction areas where the kids can observe big machines in action. Kids should observe from the car or a safe area.
  • Keep an eye out for the trash truck and let them watch the truck in action.
  • Go to a drive-through car wash or let the kids make their own car wash at home.
  • Look for a go kart track in your area. Before you go, check the website to find out what the age and/or height requirements are for children.

VideosMighty MachinesAmazing Big Trucks are kid-friendly video channels showing machinery and big trucks in action. Look for fun videos on YouTube about cars and trucks.

Movies – Cars, Cars 2 & 3, Turbo, Bumble Bee, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang & Bob the Builder Mega Machines movies all fit this theme.

Books – Check your kids’ bookshelf for books on cars & trucks. You can also find many read aloud book videos on YouTube. Little Blue Truck, Trash Trucks, Cool Cars and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus are a few fun ones to get you started.


Welcome to Camp Au Pair in America!

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.

Here are the themes you can look forward to:

  • Art Experiences
  • Backyard Safari
  • Bugs & Butterflies
  • Cars and Trucks
  • Dinosaurs
  • Explore the World
  • Nature Explorations
  • Outer Space
  • Pirate Adventures
  • Princesses & Knights
  • Science (STEM)
  • Under the Sea

Check out Summer Fun & Summer Holidays pin boards for even more ideas.

If you get some great pictures doing these activities with your host kids, please send those to your counselor. We love to share your accomplishments and inspire other au pairs!

Let’s make this an amazing summer!


Social Distancing: Free Virtual Escape Rooms

Libraries may be closed due to COVID-19, but many librarians are coming up with creative ideas to keep people entertained and promote literacy. One of those creative ideas is free virtual escape rooms. With a variety of themes, some may be fun to do on your own, others as activities with the kids.

Sydney Krawiec, Youth Services Librarian at Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, PA created this Hogwarts Virtual Escape Room. She shared this tutorial on how to create your own virtual escape room, which seemed to spark the creativity of many other librarians.

Some amazing librarians all over the country have been busy creating virtual escape rooms with a variety of themes.

Special thanks to the Humboldt County Library in Winnemucca, Nevada for gathering info on many of these escape rooms. Follow them on Facebook for their storytimes and weekly Facebook Live Science Time on Fridays.


Social Distancing: 5 Online Adventures for Kids

Reading, playing, and doing art projects are always great ways to entertain children and keep them physically active and learning. It’s a good idea to limit screen time. But, in this time of social distancing, technology can play an important role in allowing kids to see and connect with the world outside of their homes. Many online resources are popping up to create those opportunities.

Here are five to get you started:

And if kids have questions about the coronavirus, Live Science has created an ultimate kids’ guide to the new coronavirus that has lots of information and is appropriate for school-aged kids.

Make Your Own Play Dough

Play dough is the perfect modeling material for children. Their small hands can pat, poke, pinch, roll and knead it into many shapes. Keep it in an airtight container to use another day, or let it air dry into favorite shapes.


Measure 2 cups of flour, one cup of salt and 4 teaspoons of cream of tartar into a bowl. Add 1/4 cup of oil to one cup of water in a separate bowl then add the mixture to the dry ingredients. For colored play dough, squeeze 10-20 drops of food coloring into the water before you add it to the mixture. Cook the dough at low heat in a wide pan, stirring constantly until it becomes rubbery. Remove the dough from the heat and knead it for a few minutes. When it cools the kids can play too!

Photo: Kevin Jarrett (Flickr)

Focus on Play: New Ideas for Some Classic Toys

It is good to offer kids a balance of independent play time and play where you are actively engaging with them. You can make toys they may be bored with, feel new and exciting, by suggesting different ways to play with them. Try some of the ideas below as a starting point.

Play Food/Dishes

  • Teach your host children how to say the names of some of the food and dishes in your language.
  • Using English and/or your language play games where you are ordering food like in a restaurant. Take turns with who will be the waiter and who is the customer.
  • Come up with silly food combinations.  For example: Who wants pickles on their slice of cake?
  • Play a guessing game where the children have to figure out what food you are talking about.  For example: I grow under the ground in the dirt.  People eat me fried, mashed and baked.  What am I? (a potato)
  • Play a game with setting the table using your language to ask for the different items (plate, spoon, etc.)
  • Ask the children to divide the foods up into the different food groups (vegetables, meat, dairy, etc.)

Lego Blocks and Other Building Toys

  • Divide up all of the blocks between the people playing, by taking turns for each person to select block by block.
  • Suggest specific things to build (robots, houses, mountains etc.) and build together.
  • Challenge everyone to use all of their blocks.
  • Sort the blocks by color or shape and make patterns with them (red, blue, red, blue or square, triangle, rectangle.)  You can create a pattern and ask the child to fill in what comes next to continue the pattern.
  • Make the tallest block tower you can and let them knock it down (over and over again, if like most kids, they like destroying things.)

Mr. Potato Head

  • Teach your host children the names of the different parts in your language and play a game asking them to put on the body parts by name.
  • Play Hide and Seek with Mr. Potato Head. Have the children cover their eyes and count, while you hide Mr. Potato Head, then they go looking for him. Switch things up by letting them hide Mr. Potato Head and then you are the one to locate him.
  • Play the same game above, but using Simon Says.  Simon Says is a game where the leader gives commands by saying “Simon says” first. For example, “Simon says, put on the nose.”  The players are only to follow the commands when the leader says “Simon says.”  If the leader doesn’t say “Simon says” first and just says, “put on the nose,”  and the player follows the command, they are out of the game.  Repeat the game multiple times, so all kids get a turn to be the leader at least once.

Photos:  Lisa Maxwell (top) & Tom Smalls (bottom)

Thankful Host Families & Au Pairs

AP thanksgiving card 2015At Thanksgiving, we pause and express gratitude to others.  This year I want to thank all my au pairs and host families for the love and support they give each other every day.  I also thank each au pair for teaching me about their culture, showing me their bravery for coming from far away places and giving so much to your host families.  I appreciate that you keep me young and inspire me.  I give thanks for the warm, welcoming host families here on Long Island who open their homes and trust the care of their children to these young women.  Thank you to my fellow Community Counselors for your friendship, tips and counsel! Thank you, too, to all the staff of APIA for their support of all of us!   Cindy Garruba, Senior Community Counselor, Suffolk County Au Pair in America

Here are some quotes of gratitude from Suffolk County au pairs and host families for Thanksgiving 2015:

Au Pair: I’m thankful for my host family who’s doing everything for me. They gave me the chance to fly to my sister’s wedding. I’m thankful that they always when they leave the house say “thank you to me” and when they come back. I’m thankful for my little kids who give me so much love and happiness. I’m thankful for all of my friends and my family. They support me and give me a good feeling.

Host Mom: I’m thankful for our au pair because she loves my children and takes great care of them in my absence. Thankful for your support, too!

Au Pair: This year I’m thankful for the amazing experiences I had, for all the people I met, for all trips I had the opportunity to made, for America, for chosen Au Pair in America, because I know I never will be alone, I thankful for Cindy, my Community Counselor, more the one counselor, one friend, who gives time and attention, thankful for my family and friends, thankful for my life 🙂

Au Pair: This year I am thankful for all that I have learned in the US, changes, second chances to bright and be proud of what are made of, and show the best of you!.

Au Pair:  I am thankful for all the support that I got from Cindy and always being available to answer all my doubts. Also, I am very thankful with my host family for letting me continue with this experience for another year, for all the things that they taught me, for all the support that they gave me to continue with the school to improve my skills and for letting me be part of their family. Last but not least, I am very thankful to my family for encourage me to follow my dreams, for every word of encouragement and for all the love they give me. I’m going to spend Thanksgiving with my host family and some friends of them, it’s going to be an awesome day! Happy Thanksgiving! Lots of blessing!

Au Pair: This year I am thankful for the support I have from my family back at home and for my host family that make it feel like a never left 🙂

Au Pair: This year I’m thankful for all changes life gives me. I’m thankful for the people who gave me the opportunity starting a new adventure e.g. my family back home, my host family in the U.S., my agency and all the people behind Apia. Thank you Cindy and thank you Annika, my counselor in Germany :). I’m thankful for being at places I’ve ever wished for, knowing people from other nationalities and get to know the American culture! I am thankful that I have seen myself grown because of all the situation the life here gives me. I’m thankful that I learn a different language and can improve a language which is not my mother language (I’m working at it :D). I’m happy with my host family and thankful because they are treating me like a real family member and give me the chance to feel like home here. I’m so thankful for so much things the list will be endless! All in all I’m thankful that I be happy and healthy and for all the people who making me to this person! Thank you!

Host Mom: This year I am thankful to my au pair because she has been my right hand.  With three children under five and the new transition to a single mom role (and all of the stress divorce can bring) she has graciously been eager to help and truly is a member of our family. My children call her their big sister and she loves them as such, providing them additional comfort and stability during such a difficult time. I love her and feel very protective of her, like my own. It was very cute, I took the children to the bagel shop very early one morning to eat breakfast. My daughter made friends with the children sitting at the table behind us.  The mother commented to her, wow how lucky, you have two brothers and you’re the only girl.  She proudly answered, no I have a big sister (her au pair).  I didn’t correct her because she is right.  The visual thought of this woman actual meeting my 25 year old Thai daughter made me smile to think I was eight when my first daughter was born! Our au pair is truly a blessing.  She is very mature.  Today is her 25th birthday!

Au Pair: I am thankful for my family, my host family and for my best au pair friend.

Au Pair: I am thankful for getting the possibility to spend a year in America with a nice host family. For all the new experiences I made so far, and I’ll make and especially for my family and friends!!!

Host Mom: We are thankful for our Au Pair because she takes good care of our daughter and helps with the dog, too!

Au Pair: My amazing au pair year and all of my new friends that I met in the USA. I am thankful especially for having a great host family.

Host Mom: We are thankful for our au pair for so many reasons.  She is always there to lend a hand and help to keep the household together during the busy work week.  Whether it is helping with dinner, doing homework, shuffling the kids to activities or reading bedtime stories, she is there to assist us.   We are lucky to have a kind, caring and helpful au pair.

Au Pair: I am thankful for the wonderful experience this program gave to me. And how through it I can appreciate more everything I have in my life especially family and friends

Host Mom: This year I am thankful to my au pair because she is very organized, very helpful, makes the best jam & spätzle, is very sweet, is loved by my kids & the host dad and me!

Au Pair: I am thankful for my family, my host family, for all the little things I don’t appreciate every single day and for my best friend here in the USA.

New Host Mom: I am thankful for my au pair because I can already see my son and husband and I already have another trustworthy and loving family member to add to our clan.

Au Pair: This year I’m thankful for Au Pair in America agency and my host family! The agency help me a lot and bring me a chance to see the colorful world. And my host family give me an opportunity to go abroad! You all keep me warm as if I’m in my own home! You are nice and dynamic! Everything is going smoothly! Thank you very much!

Host Mom: I am thankful for our Au Pair.  She has a sweet and calm disposition which is especially helpful during this busy time of year.  She is a responsible and is a dedicated Au pair.  Last week I was ill and needed to go to the ER.  She is wonderful with my daughters and I knew I was leaving them in good hands.

Au Pair: I am thankful for my Host Family and friends who support me in every single way. I’m thankful for their love and their food!

Host Mom: This year I am thankful for my au pair because she is a warm and welcoming addition to our family who has brought love and fun to our home.

Au Pair:  I’m thankful for having the opportunity of living with a wonderful American family, meeting many new friends and also learning about the American culture. Im sure that this year will be the best of my life.