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)
Being an au pair is an important role in a child’s life. When you are caring for young children up to 45 hours per week, there are lots of opportunities to help them learn language. Many host parents are eager for their children to be exposed to more than just English. If this is true of your host parents, you can try the suggestions below, in both English and your native language.
Below are a few tips to start with, for more ideas, check out Ready at Five.
- Read – Read to them daily, point out pictures and ask questions. Even if they can’t answer the questions, this is still modeling conversation.
- Talk – Point out objects around them, names of their body parts, explain what you are doing and places you are going. Long before babies can speak, they benefit greatly from being spoken to.
- Sing – You can sing childhood classics or make up your own silly songs. If you are looking for song ideas, HERE is a great website with lists of songs, lyrics and links to youtube videos* of the songs. Children’s music is also available at the public library and even on iTunes.
- Words – As children move from toddlers to preschoolers begin to point out written language.
- Writing – Toddlers and preschoolers can begin to learn pre-writing skills by drawing with crayons or doing finger paints.
*The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for babies under 18 months of age. For children 18 months to 5 years they recommend no more than 1 hour of high quality content. You can play the songs on youtube for the audio and not necessarily show the screen to the child.
Photo: Quinn Dombrowski (Flickr)
Many years ago people had to use the sun to tell him. Learn how people told time before the invention of watches and clocks by making a sun clock.
What you need:
- paper plate
- plastic straw
- sharpened pencil
What you do:
- Start this project on a sunny day just before noon.
- Use the pencil to poke a hole through the very center of the paper plate. Write the number 12 on the edge of the plate with a crayon. Using the ruler as a guide, draw a straight line from the number 12 to the hole in the center of the plate.
- At noon, take the plate and the straw outside. Put the plate on the ground and poke the straw through the hole. Slant the straw toward the line you drew. Now carefully turn the plate so that the shadow of the straw falls along the line to the number 12.
- Fasten the plate to the ground with some pushpins. Have your child predict where he/she thinks that the shadow of the straw will be pointing in one hour.
- One hour later, at one o’clock, check the position of the shadow along the edge of the plate and write the number 1 on that spot. Continue each hour predicting the position and then checking and marking the actual position and time on the edge of the plate.
- At the end of the day you and your child will have a sun clock. On the next sunny afternoon you will be able to tell time by watching where the shadow of the straw falls on your clock.
Note: Observation, prediction and communication are all very important science skills. This activity helps to develop them. Be sure to have your child talk about why he/she thinks the shadow is moving.
There are some toys that kids usually play with on their own while you watch on the sidelines. However, you can make those toys feel like something new and fun, by suggesting different ways to play with them. Another thing that will make it more fun is if you become actively involved rather than just watching.
- Teach your host children how to say the names of some of the food and dishes.
- 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 kids 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)
Block, Lego Blocks and Other Building Toys
- Divide all of the blocks up between the people playing by taking turns for each person to select block by block.
- Suggest specific things to build (robots, house, mountain) 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.
- Play a game asking them to put on the body parts by naming them in your language.
- 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.
I often find myself translating the meaning of various idioms to au pairs. Idioms are phrases and expressions that do not make sense when literally translated, but have meaning to native speakers of that particular language.
Here’s an example:
A Piece of Cake – A task that can be easily accomplished.
Putting together those shelves will be a piece of cake.
There are a seemingly limitless number of idioms in the English language. So, I am challenging myself to tweet an idiom a day on my Twitter. Follow me if you want to learn some new idioms to increase your English comprehension and sound more like a native English speaker. You can also view my most recent tweets here on the Twitter Feed on my blog.
I love learning idioms from other languages. If you have some you would like to share, please post them here.