Creating a Day Camp for Kids at Home

With do-it-yourself spirit, you can organize mini neighborhood-based camps for your kids.

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Creating a mini-camp for your own kids is a great way to have an experience tailored to their interests, along with your budget. Yet organizing a camp shouldn’t be taken lightly, or your small-scale camp might soon dissolve into a babysitting job. Here are some ideas for mini day camps for kids to have at home:

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Preschoolers

  • Little explorers. Purchase plastic magnifiers, plastic baggies and notebooks for preschoolers to bring to a local park. Lead the children on a nature walk and have them examine what they see, collect samples and color drawings in their notebooks.
  • Artists in training. Focus on a different art medium each week of camp. For instance, let the kids do finger paints one week, colored pencils another and sculpt with Play-Doh the week after. Finish each session by reading a picture book about famous artists.
  • Intro to sport skills. Teach basic hand-eye coordination skills. Each week you could focus on a different skill required for a different sport – throwing a ball, catching a ball, kicking the ball.

Elementary-aged kids

  • Moviegoer madness. Many local theaters offer free or reduced-priced movies. Take elementary-aged kids to a movie and meet for snacks and to discuss the movie afterward.
  • Dance days. Invite the children to learn to dance by checking out how-to DVDs at the library. Crank up the classical music and allow them to freeform dance at the end of each camp session.
  • Sport skills. Teach specific skills necessary for success in a certain sport. Run dribbling drills for soccer enthusiasts or practice shooting baskets with your Pistons wannabes.

Middle schoolers

  • Budding scientists. Visit each of the three area science museums – the Detroit Science Center, Cranbrook Institute of Science and Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum. Check out books from your local library on experiments that you can do at home.
  • Cooking skills. Teach children to read and create basic foods like muffins, cookies and pizza. You might want each mom to take a turn each week and teach how to cook a particular family favorite.
  • Theater training. Help the kids write, design and create their own play. Or pick a favorite picture book and have the children create their own costumes, learn the lines and perform the show for their parents.

This post was originally published in 2009 and has been updated for 2016.

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