Making your own ice cream is a fun summer activity to do with the kids. Here is a simple recipe. You can change it up by adding a little chocolate syrup, a few chocolate chips, or using a flavoring other than vanilla.
In a quart size zipper baggie, combine…
1 cup of whole milk or half and half
2 tablespoons of sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
In a gallon size zipper baggie…
Fill ½ way with ice cubes
Add 1/3 cup of rock salt (if you don’t have rock salt you can use table salt or kosher salt)
Seal the small baggie carefully and place the inside of the large bag. Seal the large bag and shake the bags until you can see the mixture thickening (about 5 minutes.) It will be cold to hold, so you may want to carefully pass it back and forth between yourself and a partner. Remove the small baggie and wipe the top off (to remove salt water,) unzip and enjoy!
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.
American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore is not your typical art museum. You can tell that when you see the school bus covered in mosaic glass or the mural on the sidewalk outside.
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.
More than 100 crafts, recipes, and activities 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.
Books – Make a trip to the library and/or check your kids’ bookshelf for books on bugs and butterflies. You may find some classics like The Very Hungry Caterpillar or The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle. You can also find books being read aloud on YouTube videos like this one.
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.
Years ago when my kids were younger, I had a cluster meeting at my house and a few au pairs commented on the chore and behavior charts I had posted in my family room. With four kids, I sometimes found it difficult to keep track of who had done what and who had gained or lost various privileges. So, over the years, I have used charts to keep everything on track. I have also created charts for host families and au pairs dealing with behavior the children may be having.
I uploaded a few of these charts in case you may find them helpful.
Positive Behavior – Recognizing and rewarding positive behavior can often be a good way to reduce negative behavior. The goal behind lots of children’s actions is the same, attention seeking. Try to show them more positive attention when they do well and make less of a fuss over negative behaviors.
Explain how the chart will work and then look for times when you can call their attention to something they did that was kind or helpful. It is nice to have short term and longer term goals. For example, the thrill of putting a sticker on the chart can be exciting for toddlers and preschoolers and that along with your words of praise are instant gratification. Saying when you get 5 stickers you get a larger reward (trip to the park, extra story or video, special activity) is intended to make them want to keep up the positive behavior. Positive Behavior Chart
Tracking Privileges – For school aged children it can be helpful to tie how they are behaving to privileges they want to have. I used this chart with different colored push pins, so my children could see where they were on the ladder and I could remember who I had told they could do what. The ladder style chart is based on an idea of the Dilley Family (famous parents of sextuplets.) I figured if it worked for them with six kids, it might work for me- and it has for many years. You can make this chart your own by substituting the kinds of activities your kids enjoy. Ladder Chart
Chores – Having chores teaches children that they are an important part of the family and their efforts count. This teaches responsibility and promotes positive self-esteem. Chore Chart with Basic Chores
These are just a starting point, you can make your own charts and even involve the children in the process.
#1 Tip – Be Consistent!
All adults in the house need to be on the same page. It takes time to change behavior. Don’t expect instant results.
Passover is the Jewish celebration lasting seven to eight days (seven in Israel, eight outside of it) that marks the freedom of the Jews from enslavement by the Egyptians. According to the Old Testament, the Jews, led by Moses, had requested freedom from the Pharaoh of Egypt but were denied. To punish the Egyptians, God sent the 10 plagues to Egypt to convince the Pharaoh to release the Jews. The last of these plagues, and the most devastating, was to kill the firstborn male in each Egyptian household.
When is Passover?
Passover in 2022 will start at sunset on Friday, the 15th of April and will continue for 7 days until Saturday, the 23rd of April.
How is Passover celebrated?
Family and friends gather together after nightfall on the first and second nights of the holiday for the high point of the festival observance, the Seder. During the Seder, which means “order” in Hebrew, the experience of the Exodus is told in story, song, prayer, and the tasting of symbolic foods. The Seder meals include four cups of wine, eating matzah and bitter herbs, and retelling the story of the Exodus.
Here are some websites, with Passover activity ideas for kids.
“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: