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Fun DIY Ideas and Activities for Stay at Home Summer Camps
Not sending your kiddos to camp this summer? So, now what? Why not design your own, complete with a variety of fun at-home summer camp themes.
Whether it’s closed due to the pandemic, or your children can’t attend camp this year for another reason, planning a DIY at-home summer camp is the perfect alternative.
The best part about hosting a summer camp in your own home is that it’s open whenever it works for you. No more working around the summer camp schedules. You can start and end whenever you choose!
Maybe you’ll jam pack one weekend full of fun at home summer camp activities. Perhaps you’ll spread them out over an entire month.
Or, if you prefer, you can even run your stay at home camp over the whole summer.
Whatever you decide, the first thing you need to do is decide on a theme.
Choose a theme for the summer, or change it up from week to week. Either way, your kiddos are sure to love these fun stay at home summer camp activities!
1. Culinary Arts
Teach your kids a valuable life skill while blending creativity + meal time.
Let them help prepare fun snacks, such as ants on a log or fruit and cheese kabobs. It’s much more fun to eat healthy snacks when they get to help make them!
When baking, allow your toddler to help stir the batter; older children can learn how to measure ingredients.
No time for coming up with new ideas and sourcing all the ingredients every week? No worries!
This summer, Baketivity is offering a limited edition virtual summer camp for kids (as of 2/9/2021, it’s still available).
Bake-A-Camp campers will get a big baking box featuring four themed Baketivity kits.
Each week’s kit will take them through progressively advanced recipes and techniques as they explore one topic, theme, or cuisine throughout the month.
Inside each box:
- 4 skill based recipes
- interesting tips, tricks, and how-tos
- illustrated guides for parents and little kids (or for big kids to mix up on their own!)
- Pre-measured ingredients
Did you miss out on the limited edition Bake-A-Camp box? It’s okay! Baketivity offers easy baking boxes for kids all year ’round, with a different baking project each and every month.
2. Summer Reading
Want to start reading with your kiddos more? A Summer Reading Camp is the perfect theme idea for that!
Set a reading goal for the summer, and track your progress in some way. Write each title down on a sheet of paper, create a sticker chart for it, or whatever works best for you.
Of course, you’ll need a place to sit down and read, whether it’s a cozy reading nook or a shady spot under a tree.
Then get busy reading!
Need new books for your kids to read?
You could always try your local library (if it’s open) or the digital library.
Audible is another option — they have lots of great audiobooks for kids! Use my link to try it free for 30 days (AND you’ll get two free audiobooks).
Gardening is a fun at home summer camp theme because there are so many garden activities you can do together!
If you already have a garden, allow your children to help out with age appropriate tasks. As part of your summer camp, you can even create decorative items, such as painted rock garden markers.
Nowhere to put a big veggie garden? No big deal! Create a window garden, an herb garden, or even a container garden for the deck.
A build-your-own terrarium or an enchanted fairy garden, complete with figurines, tiny trees, flowers, mushrooms, and fairy furnishings, will delight children of all ages! They can create a fairy garden in a potted plant, in the yard, or anywhere.
Short on time? Want to put on a gardening summer camp, but you’re not sure where to start?
Check out Mud & Bloom
Mud & Bloom offers a monthly gardening box, which includes everything you need for two planting activities and two nature craft activities.
You’ll also receive instructions, quizzes and games aimed at teaching children about the seasons, plants, insects, birds and animals.
You don’t even have to have a garden because organic compost pellets are provided in each box.
4. Arts & Crafts
There are so many arts and crafts activities you can do at home in your summer camp! Each “camp day” create art projects around a different theme.
Pinterest is where I get a lot of my project inspiration when crafting with my toddler and preschooler.
Here are a few ideas to consider for your Arts and Crafts Camp.
- Host a daily or weekly coloring contest.
- Create handprint art to document their current hand sizes.
- Set up a face painting booth.
- Build birdhouses and let each child decorate their own.
- Create a scrapbook to document your “stay at home” summer.
Not much of a crafty mom?
That’s okay, too!
If you want to engage your children in creative activities, but don’t want to spend all your time looking up ideas and sourcing the supplies, consider a monthly delivery service.
In fact, I’ve put together a list of our favorite preschooler and toddler craft boxes here (that even the bigger kids will love!).
5. Sensory Exploration
Sensory Exploration is an awesome summer camp theme for kids of all ages, from baby to school age.
Consider putting together sensory bins around daily or weekly themes.
Here are a few theme ideas to help you out:
- Bugs & Insects
You can use any container you have on hand, but if you wish to save it for another day, I recommend getting a container with a lid.
Fill the bin with water, sand, beans, rice, etc. Then add in some toys, such as plastic fish, bugs, or jungle animals, cars, or foam letters.
Add in some cups or scoops, then hand it over to the kids!
Other sensory activities include:
(Of course, younger children need close supervision when playing with small objects.)
Honor diversity by teaching your kiddos that being different is something to celebrate. An at home summer camp that revolves around diversity is the perfect way to do that!
Select a different culture to learn about each day, week, or month of the camp.
- Try different recipes and foods from around the world.
- Learn basic words, such as “hello” and “good-bye” in their language.
- Read stories and watch videos about each culture.
Not sure where to start?
An adventure activity box, such as Our Little Globe, will help you and your children explore a different country every month.
They provide kids with craft, cooking, coloring, reading & writing activities that will inspire them to explore, understand, and celebrate the world we live in.
7. Adventure & Exploring
Go on adventures from the comfort of your home!
- Explore the world from home by embarking on virtual field trips during “stay at home” summer camp.
- Select your next vacation destination and spend your camp days learning about it.
- Learn about the food they eat and the language they speak (if different than yours). Find out what kind of fun activities the locals enjoy. Draw pictures and create artwork of your family doing these activities.
- Go on adventures in your own backyard and create artwork out of the things you find. Think leaf rubbings, glitter pine cones, and so on.
- Explore nearby trails and nature preserves, then go home and learn more about what you saw (animals, flowers, trees, etc.).
8. Health & Fitness
Get the whole family moving and teach your kids healthy habits during an at home Health & Fitness Summer Camp.
This is a camp that could really last all summer long, and you might want to plan healthy snacks and fun physical activities to try every day.
They don’t have to be complicated (and you could save more complex activities for the weekends!).
A few tips for your health and fitness summer camp for kids:
- It’s more fun if you let them help prepare healthy snacks!
- YouTube is a wonderful resource for kids’ exercise videos.
- Set a good example and join them!
- Consider their ages and fitness levels when planning activities.
- Take it indoors when it’s hot outside.
Are you stuck in a rut and need quick-and-easy healthy snack ideas?
Subscribe to a Healthy Snack Box
When you subscribe to a healthy snack box, like Healthy Living Kids, you’ll get a variety of Registered Dietitian approved snacks delivered to your door every month.
This is a great way to sample new and healthy snacks each month without breaking the bank. Plus, you’ll save waste by discovering snacks your kids love without having to buy the whole package.
You could have a lot of fun with this one!
Explore different types of music and musical instruments with a Music Summer Camp theme.
Make homemade instruments using items from around the house. Write your own song, practice singing it accompanied by your instruments, and then record it.
Not musically inclined yourself? That’s totally fine!
Check Out Songbird Box
Songbird Box will deliver either a subscription box or even one-time gifts available to babies, toddlers and young children age 0-6.
Their Hummingbird Box introduces babies and toddlers to music with an instrument, board book, and plush toy.
And their Woodpecker Box makes learning fun and accessible with engaging activities to learn note reading, pitch, rhythm, and more.
A dramatic summer camp at home revolves around dressing up and dramatic play.
Let them show off their creative skills by designing a “set” or backdrop for a fashion show, talent show, or play.
Then practice it until you’re ready to record the final video!
11. Nature & Outdoors
An at home Nature & Outdoors Summer Camp focuses on spending as much time doing fun family outside activities as possible.
- Why not pitch a tent or spend the night sleeping under the stars, weather permitting. Try to name as many constellations as you can.
- Sit around a bonfire and roast marshmallows, telling campfire stories.
- Go on a nature hike or an outdoor scavenger hunt. Look for flowers, bugs, critters, interesting rocks, and so on.
- Birdwatch and learn about each type of bird you see, looking up videos and drawing pictures of them.
- Look for fun shapes in the clouds.
And when it’s not nice enough to go outside? You can work on fun nature-inspired crafts or watch nature documentaries with the kids.
12. Local History
What do you know about your town’s history? Why not find out! Work together to learn about when and how it was established, along with the people who lived there in years past.
- Visit the local library or do some online research.
- Come up with stories and draw pictures (or even maps) of your town when it was first established.
- Find out where the founding families came from and discuss the foods they probably ate (and try to recreate those dishes together).
- Talk about how your family came to live in this area.
This one really provides a great family bonding opportunity!
If you’ve been wanting to teach your kids about taking care of our Earth, then this is the perfect at home summer camp theme for you!
There are SO many things you can do to learn about sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint.
- Start a recycling bin and have them help sort the items by type of material.
- Create crafts out of miscellaneous items found around the house.
- Come up with a list of ways you can use less water, electricity, etc.
- Plant a tree in your yard or start a garden.
- Read books and watch documentaries on sustainability.
Green Kid Crafts
Another way to teach your children about the Earth in a fun and creative way is to sign up for Green Kid Crafts. Each box is rooted in sustainability, and contains 4-6 activities. You can read our review of Green Kid Crafts here.
Fun Stay at Home Summer Camp Themes
Are you keeping your kiddos at home this year? Which of these fun at home summer camp themes will you choose?
Read more: 21 Awesome Summer Camp Ideas at Home
Want more fun “stay at home” activities for your toddler or preschooler? Click here or use the form below to grab your copy of the FREE Stay at Home Bucket List for Kids. (It has more than 100 activity ideas!)