The Best of Kat Camp- Fun, Easy Activities to Excite Imagination

I can’t believe another session of Kat Camp has almost come to a close.  I have one more class this week, and camp will be behind me for the summer.

It is always interesting to see which activities work, and which ones bomb.  It is often the opposite of what I anticipate.

This summer, I had two classes- a drop off class for kids 3 and older, and an adult/child class for kids 2-4 years old.  The older kids class had a theme of “Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire.”  The adult/tot class focused on habitats- desert, rain forest, polar, and marine.

If you are struggling to fill the summer days with the kids at home, give one of these activities a try.  They have been kid-tested to ensure they are fun!

1.  Scented Liquid and Frozen Sidewalk Chalk

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P1060329Mix equal parts of cornstarch and water.  Use Kool-Aid packets to add color and scent.  Pour into squeeze bottles and freeze in ice cube trays.  Craft stores are a great place to get squeeze bottles for cheap.  Let kids squeeze paint on sidewalk and draw with melting cubes.

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P1060373Best part, the clean up is so easy.  Let the chalk dry and sweep up with a broom.

P10603822.  Rain watercolor paintings

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Buy cheap kids watercolor paints- the kind that come in little discs lined up in a piece of plastic, inside a plastic case.  Break them out of the plastic.  Have the kids break them into pieces and place them on a sheet of watercolor paper.  Watercolor paper can be purchased at craft stores.  Spray with water bottles to make the color run.  Blot with paper towels when too much water is accumulated.  Remove any remaining paint pieces and let dry.  Kids love spray bottles and painting.  This is great for small children because they can do it with little assistance.

3.  Animal scavenger hunt

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The kids enjoyed this activity way more than I thought they would.  I printed out pictures of animals and placed them around the house.  I also prepared scavenger hunt sheets with the same pictures, so the kids would mark off each animal on the sheet as they found it.  I made pretend binoculars with toilet paper tubes, glue and yarn.  The kids really thought this added an extra element to the exploration.  My boys loved it so much, I had to print out new animals to hide so they could do it again and again.

4.  Simple sailboats

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Water tables are no-brainer fun for kids.  Add boats and kids love them even more.  These boats are plastic bowls and straws from Ikea, plastic place mats and play dough from the dollar store.  Cut the mats into a sail shape.  Use a hole punch to create a hole and the top and bottom of the sail.  Stick a straw through the holes.  Put the bottom of the straw in the play dough and the play dough/sail in the boat.  The dough does get slimy in the water, but the boat is usable right away.  If you have kids willing to wait, you could use a bit of glue instead of dough and let it dry before sailing.

5.  Sand art

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This was another surprise as far as how much the kids really loved the art they made.  You don’t have to get a specific sand art kit- any jar will do.  Make a funnel with tape and a piece of paper.  Put the funnel in the jar.  Let the kids spoon in sand, rocks, and gravel to create their jars.  Best bet is to print a 40% off coupon for JoAnn’s or Michael’s.  They offer large kits of miscellaneous sand colors for $10- with the coupon, that drops to $6 and you can use the left over sand for the next activity.

6.  Magic Sand

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P1060204Cover a tray or cookie sheet with foil.  Spread sand in a thin layer on the tray- try to keep the colors separate.  Spray sand with Scotch Guard.  Let dry.  Use your hands to shake up the sand, and spray again.  Do this three to six times.  The sand gets coated so that when you put it in water it clumps and looks like a corral reef.  The first time is especially beautiful because the colors are separate.  You can dry and reuse.  My kids got a kick out of adding toys and seeing which floated and which sank into the reef.

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7.  Puffy Paint Polar Bears

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Mix equal parts of shaving cream and white school glue to make puffy paint. Print a picture of a polar bear.  Cut and glue the bear to a piece of construction paper.  Let the kids paint the snow bank and storm for the polar bear to walk in.  Kids love the texture both wet and dry.  Another art project that is age appropriate for small kids because they can do it themselves.

8.  Drilled necklace charms

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Kids love to make their own necklaces because it is art they can wear.  Combine necklaces with drilling, and your kids will go nuts.  Power tools and preschoolers sounds like a scary combination, but drilling is a very easy skill for kids to master.  I used small thin plastic fish- whatever you use, drill a couple yourself first to see how it goes.   Use a clamp to hold the fish so the kids do not have to hold it in place, or see you hold it in place and get ideas.  Drill with a hand over hand method until you know they can handle the weight and speed of the drill.  Wear safety goggles.

9.  Wind Experiment

I did not get photographs of this but it really was a hit.  Use straws to blow various items across a table- feathers, tissues, crumpled paper, blocks, cars, etc.  After each item is blown, mark where it stopped with a piece of masking tape.  Talk about what a hypothesis is, and ask what their hypothesis is for the next item- will it go further than the last?  Why or  why not?

10.  Sticker Octopus

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Use office stickers to put suctions on the tentacles of an octopus.  Younger kids get the fine motor skills of peeling the stickers.  Older kids can use the stickers to practice pattern making and recognition.

Bonus:

11.  Out Of This World Paintings

P1060269This one wasn’t done at Kat Camp, but I loved making it so much with my boys, I had to include it.  This will be a multi-session activity.

Paint a canvas with a solid coat of black.  You will want to use a canvas for this, not paper since there will be a substantial weight to the picture.  Let your child paint the canvas with acrylic or craft paint in various colors.  This creates the colorful burst of stars behind the planets.

Dip lids of various sizes in paint  and then stamp on the canvas to create planets.

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Put a few drops of food coloring in a plastic bag.  Add a handful of rock salt and shake to mix.  Let salt dry.  Squirt white school glue in scribbles on the canvas.  Put glitter and rock salt on top of the glue to make the asteroid belt.

P1060266There you have it!  Eleven activities to keep your kids busy in the summer months, inspire creativity, and encourage learning.  Don’t want the mess?  Sign up for the next session of Kat Camp and the mess stays at my place 🙂  Enjoy!

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