Tag Archives: activities

Earth Day Activity: Planting Seeds with Children

In honor of Earth Day, our April cluster meeting topic was planting seeds with children. We met on Zoom with several other clusters from the DMV area and discussed different activities we can do with our kids planting seeds.

Here are some of the supplies needed to complete this activity with your host kids:

  1. Potting soil
  2. Cups for planting the seeds (biodegradable cups can be planted directly in the ground. If using small plastic cups, you’ll need to remove the plant from the cup after they sprout before you plant them in a bigger pot or in the ground). There are links below showing how to make your own biodegradable cups out of newspaper.
  3. Seeds (we planted Black-Eyed Susans – the Maryland State flower, but sunflower seeds are easy to find and grow).

Below you will find some of the resources we used during this meeting.

Information sheets on growing seeds.

Making your own biodegradable planting cups from newspaper.

This time lapse videos showing the growth process of a sunflower.


Big Kids Need Interaction Too

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.

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.

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.

  • Cooking
  • Making things (check craft stores like Michael’s for kits and models that are age appropriate)
  • Going fun places (pottery painting, jewelry making, farms, museums, mini-golf, go-karts)*
  • Sports (soccer, tennis, swimming, bicycling, roller skating, ice skating)*
  • 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.
  • Check on the APIA Pinterest page and here on our cluster blog for ideas.
  • If you have a GPS, try taking them geocaching. Here is a website with all the details.

*Always get permission from your host parents before taking the kids places and remember to follow social distancing and mask-wearing protocols.


Camp Au Pair Week #5 – 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.

TelevisionThe Discovery Channel has an annual Shark Week. This year it will be August 9-16, 2020. 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.

Photo: mimisdollhouse.com

Camp Au Pair Week #2 – 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. 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:

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.

Au Pair Contest:  Message Christine or Lisa with your favorite dinosaur, to win a prize. 

Photo: krojotak.com

Make Plans for Summer Fun with the Kids!

4133298507_b0f2fecd9a_nWhen 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 themed weeks for the entire summer break.

Photo: MissMessie (Flickr)

Valentines Day Fun With Your Kids

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, recipe and craft ideas? Look no further…  Au Pair in America has a Pinterest pinboard devoted to Valentine’s Day.

                      APIA Valentine’s Day Pinboard

Photo: Clever Cupcakes (Flickr)

Camp Au Pair Week #10 – Pirate Adventures

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Pirate Adventures

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Pirate Adventures pinboard. Since there aren’t that many pirate-themed places to go in our area, this theme is best played out in your own home and back yard. This pinboard features lots of great ideas to bring the pirate theme alive for kids.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences.

Videos – Look for fun videos about Pirates on YouTube.

Movies – Hook, Muppets Treasure Island, Peter Pan, Treasure Planet, Return to Neverland, Veggie Tales the Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything, Treasure Island, Goonies and Pirates of the Caribbean are all movies that fit in great with this theme. Check the ratings to make sure they are age-appropriate for your children.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on pirates.

Image: Casey Hugelfink