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 Camp Au Pair in America: a weekly blog series with themes for a summer break filled with fun and new adventures.
Photo: MissMessie (Flickr)
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
- 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!
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.
- Alice in Wonderland Digital Escape Room – Created by Erin Honeycutt, Children’s Librarian at Moultrie-Colquitt County Library System in Moultrie, Georgia
- Cinderella’s Escape – Created by Stefanie Reed, Youth Services Supervisor at Henika District Library in Wayland, Michigan
- Dog Man Digital Escape Room – Created by a humble School Library Media Coordinator
- Escape from Star Killer Base! (Star Wars) – Created by Richmond Hill Public Library
- Escape the Fairy Tale: Part 1 – Created by Marissa Lieberman, Children’s Librarian at the East Orange Public Library, New Jersey
- Golden Girls Escape Room – Created by Tomeka.
- Hogwarts Virtual Escape Room – Created by Sydney Krawiec, Youth Services Librarian at Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, Pennsylvania
- Marvel’s Avengers: Escape from the Hydra Base! – Created by Richmond Hill Public Library
- North Carolina Escape Room – Created by Shannon Grimes, Outreach Storyteller and Youth Service Assistant at the Davie County Public Library in Mocksville, North Carolina
- Pete the Cat and the Birthday Party Mystery – Created by the Abington Free Library in Abington, Pennsylvania
- Pikachu’s Rescue – Created by High River Library
- Sherlock Holmes Digital Escape Room – Created by Sherlock the Musical
- Space Explorer Training- Digital Escape Room – Created by Morgan Lockard, Adult/Teen Services Librarian at Campbell County Community Library
- Spy Apprentice Adventure – Created by Lauren Rura and Felicia Brock, Adult Service Librarians at Washington-Centerville Public Library in Centerville, Ohio
- The Minotaur’s Labyrinth Escape Room – Created by Karen Liu (Salt Lake County), Teen Librarian at The County Library’s Riverton Branch
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 is important right now to help slow the spread of coronavirus. This means avoiding places where you come in contact with lots of people (schools, movies, restaurants, museums, concerts, parties, etc.) I am sure you keep hearing a lot about the things you should not do.
It’s also important to have ideas of things you can do. There are plenty of activities you can do at home and away from crowds.
While we can’t control many things going on right now in the world, we can choose how we deal with it.
“She turned her can’ts into cans
and her dreams into plans.” – Kobi Yamada
Here are 10 things you CAN do right now:
- Stay connected with your friends and family via social media, texting, and Skype.
- Go for a walk or run on your own. As long as you don’t go to a populated place, it’s fine to go out for some exercise.
- Enjoy nature. That could be sitting outside in your backyard on a nice day or walking on a nature trail.
- Read a book or listen to an audiobook or podcast. Getting lost in a story is a great way to take your mind off of things. Or if you pick a non-fiction book or podcast you may learn something new. You could even create an online book club or podcast discussion group with friends.
- Do yoga. Yoga can be a great way to relieve stress and maintain your fitness. There are many free yoga videos on Youtube. Sign up here to receive daily emails for 30 Days of Yoga.
- Take virtual tours of museums online.*
- Make memories in the kitchen.* Cooking recipes from your home country is a great way to share your culture with your host family and give yourself a taste of home. Cooking classic American recipes is a way to continue your cultural exchange. You can find lots of recipes online. Also, you will be able to share that taste of America with your own family by cooking some of these recipes after you return home at the end of your program.
- Have an online watch party with friends. When you watch a movie alone do you miss talking to a friend about what’s happening? Pick a time and a movie and from your individual homes you each stream the movie on Netflix at the same time. You can text or do a group chat during the movie.
- Make top 10 lists of your favorite things like movies, foods, songs and more. Share and compare lists with your friends. You may find out some things you didn’t know about each other and get some ideas for new things to try.
- Research and plan trips to places you want to visit while in the U.S.* This time of social distancing won’t last forever. Use this time to do some research online and make plans. This will help you make the most of those trips when you get to take them a few months from now. It will also give you something to look forward to.
*Future blog posts in this series will have more detailed information on these topics.
The coronavirus has caused lots of temporary changes to our daily routines. Right now, we are being asked to practice “social distancing” to reduce the spread of the virus.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing is a way to keep people from interacting as closely or frequently enough to spread the virus. Schools, sporting events and concerts are being canceled. People are being asked to stay at home more to avoid being in contact with a large number of people.
What are some ways to take care of yourself?
Some people may feel anxious, lonely or frustrated and that is totally normal. It can be very helpful to talk with friends and family about those feelings. It helps to know that others are going through these same emotions. Reach out to your community counselor if you need support during this time.
It is very important to practice good self-care. Connect with people you love via Skype and text, maintain a healthy diet, stay active, make plans for things you want to do once things get back to normal. Staying out of crowds doesn’t have to mean just staying in the home. You can go for walks and enjoy nature. Both exercise and spending time in nature are beneficial for your mental health.
Where can you get practical tips for dealing with social distancing?
We recognize that some of these changes will require patience and resourcefulness. During this time, we will be doing a series of blog posts with resources to assist you with two specific aspects of this situation:
- Ideas for keeping the kids occupied (while they are home from school)
- Ways to continue your cultural exchange from home
Photo: Meg Willis
Thanksgiving is a public holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November every year in the United States. It started as a harvest festival and has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789. The most important part of Thanksgiving for American families is to spend family time together.
“My favorite holiday was Thanksgiving. Firstly, it was my first holiday with the whole family in America. Secondly, the whole family came together. All aunts and uncles and their kids came to grandma’s. We played football with all of them, including grandma and grandpa. It was the first time I played it and it was so much fun for all. We had a great dinner with all the typical things you can imagine … it was deeeelicious! It was so great to be with such a big family and I really enjoyed that day. I will remember it my whole life, I hope.” – Swantje from Germany
Here are a few tips to help you have a terrific Thanksgiving experience.
Please plan to include your au pair in your Thanksgiving celebration, if at all possible. If you are traveling or will not be able to invite your au pair to join you for Thanksgiving, give her plenty of notice and help her make alternate plans. You don’t want to leave your au pair alone over the holiday.
If you are invited to attend dinner, please let your family know within 5 days of the invitation, whether you are planning to attend, so they may make plans. If your host family is unable to include you in their Thanksgiving plans, please let me know if you have trouble making other plans, so I can assist.
Make sure to discuss time off during this holiday weekend. Many host families work the Friday after Thanksgiving so do not assume you have this day off or the entire weekend. Talk to your host family, BEFORE you make any plans.
Bonus Tip for the Kids
If you are looking for a fun recipe to make with your au pair, check out these turkey cookies. Find more fun activities and recipes on the Au Pair in America Fall Holidays pinboard.
Homesickness can be a problem during the holidays, even if it hasn’t been at any other time of the year. Au pairs often miss their friends and family, familiar places and their own traditions and customs. The holiday activities in the United States seem, and may actually be, different just at a time when an au pair would welcome something familiar.
It is common for au pairs’ emotions to be close to the surface during the holidays. Her highs are higher, her lows are lower. The enormity of what she has done–actually living in another country (which is an amazing thing when you think about it!)–hits her and throws her into a self-protective mode.
Host parents can help her through this unfamiliar territory by talking to her about what your specific family activities will be (gifts, meals, visitors, religious services, in-home traditions, or none of these, as the case may be.) In the spirit of cultural exchange, ask her if she has any favorite holiday traditions or foods that you might be able to incorporate into your family’s celebration of the season. Let her know what you will be doing, when you will be doing it, and what she can expect. Talk to her about what has to be accomplished and get her involved and interested. Don’t expect her to just “know” what needs to be done. Give her some clear, agreed upon assignments. Make her feel a part of things. And, let her know her contribution is needed and appreciated.
Photo: Sheila Sund (Flickr)
Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November each year. Even though a few other countries also celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s still considered a uniquely American holiday, one that the au pairs look forward to experiencing. You can learn more about it here.
“I really enjoyed Thanksgiving with my host family. It was as I imagined! So much food to try. Everyone got dressed up and shared what they were thankful for. It was so warm and special. The next day we began to prepare for Christmas. It was magical.” Selina from Germany
Below you will find some tips to help you have a terrific Thanksgiving experience.
1. Please plan to include your au pair in your Thanksgiving celebration, if at all possible. Thanksgiving with an au pair offers an opportunity to consider the relevance of the history and meaning of Thanksgiving as you compare the hospitality offered by the Native Americans to the recently arrived Pilgrims and the hospitality you offer your au pair.
2. If you are traveling or will not be able to invite your au pair to join you for Thanksgiving, give her plenty of notice and help her make alternate plans. You don’t want to leave your au pair alone over the holiday.
3. If you are invited to attend dinner, please let your family know within 5 days of the invitation, whether you are planning to attend. It is considered rude in America to accept the invitation for dinner and then change your mind later in the month. Please be thoughtful.
4. Make sure to discuss time off during this holiday weekend. Many host families work the Friday after Thanksgiving so do not assume you have this day off or the entire weekend. Talk to your host family, BEFORE you make any plans.
5. If your host family is unable to include you in their Thanksgiving plans, please let me know if you have trouble making other plans. You may be able to join a friend and their host family for the holiday dinner.
Bonus Tip for the Kids
If you are looking for a fun recipe to make with your au pair, check out these turkey cupcakes. Find more fun activities and recipes on the Au Pair in America Fall Holidays pinboard.
Photo: Tim Sackton (Flickr)
ABC’s of Winter Fun
A is for Art – try drawing, painting or gluing
B is for Baking – bake a dessert together for dinner
C is for Clay – Use non-hardening clay or play dough to shape and mold
D is for Dance – put on a lively tape
E is for Exercise – be sure to get some everyday
F is for Friends – invite some over
G is for Greenhouse – find a local greenhouse to visit to enjoy the sights and smells
H is for House – make a playhouse from a large appliance box
I is for Ice skating – take the children to a local rink
J is for Jigsaw puzzle – be sure to pick one that isn’t too difficult
K is for Kitchen science – try a safe experiment
L is for Library – borrow some new books
M is for Movie – make one with a video camera, or watch one
N is for Necklace – make one out of cereal or macaroni
O is for Origami – learn to make simple paper creations
P is for Puppets – socks make easy and fun puppets – put on a show!
Q is for Quiet Time – everyone needs some of this
R is for Reading aloud – choose a good book and a comfortable place to sit
S is for Seeds and Suet – put out food for the birds and watch them eat
T is for Tent – make one from old blankets and chairs
U is for Unplugged – do a day with no TV
V is for Variety – try something new everyday
W is for Walk – take one in any weather (be sure to dress appropriately)
X is for Xylophone – make your own with glasses, water and a metal spoon
Y is for Year – make a calendar or scrapbook to remember the year
Z is for Zoo – play zoo, pretend to be animals in the zoo, what noises do they make?