My sister is the mother of all mothers. (She’s also an award winning fourth grade teacher – she’s got a leg up on us.) She came up with this concept during Spring Break when she had five kids under her watch (two of ’em were mine).
It’s pretty simple. Mommy~Auntie Emily Camp is basically a picture chart of the activities that the kids were already doing anyway, but re-framed as camps.
Here’s how it works:
“Print a bunch of these out – one per kid. When they’re doing the same things day after day, they get bored and grouchy with each other,” she explained. “They want structure and adult interaction. This satisfies that need without putting a lot of extra effort into it – because I’m on vacation too.
“I thought about the things each kid liked to do, the materials we already had on hand, and added a fancy (to a kid) name. And a lot of these kids already go to camp, so this was a familiar concept.
“I tied it into nap-time too. The first person to fall asleep got to choose the first camp. It was an incentive to fall asleep. Obviously the idea was that everyone would get to pick a camp.
“The camps aren’t difficult – Wheels Camp means go outside and ride bikes. Cooking Camp was frosting the cake I made for Annabel’s birthday. Dance Camp meant that everyone got to pick a song and we all danced along. And we already planned on going to the baseball game too – so that became Sports Camp.
“When finish they activity (sometimes based on a timer, sometimes because on their mood) they color in the corresponding box. But of course you can redo any activity as many times as you want.
“There’s no reward or anything. There’s no tic-tac-toe. They like it because they all have their own paper, and they have their names on it. They get to color it in, or do stamps. Whatever they choose. Ultimately they like the structure and seeing their options laid out like that.
“We were doing the same thing day after day – but all the kids don’t necessarily want to do the same activity all the time, so this gave them an opportunity to switch it up. And if they start getting antsy, we just switch camps. It’s a way to interact with them in a limited way.”