Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bug Camp

The kids had one of their best weeks ever this week. Each day they came home from Bug Camp exhausted and talking how they didn't have enough time at the house they were at that day. At their ages, it's VERY hard to get stories of interactions throughout the day or even what projects they did but thankfully, each mom sent a follow-up email to say what they had done, learned and what projects they made.

Day Two was at the Coleman's and it was Spider Day. From Leslie's rundown, I learned that the girls and boys played separately all day. They made a spider web craft with their fingerprints, crawled through spider web cave (AKA the closet under the stairs covered in cool webbing) and watched a Hermie movie about spiders.

I was able to get from Carolina that they had ding dongs at lunchtime which they made into spiders. Clay's not a chocolate man so he said he didn't eat his and Mike and I were not surprised at all. On Ladybug Day, he wouldn't eat a ladybug cupcake but couldn't get enough of the honeydew melon from the strawberry ladybugs. :)

They also made yarn spiders and watched capsules grow into foam insects in the water. They wrapped up the day by going outside and having a water gun fight and eating popsicles.

They brought home mechanical bug pencils and glow-in-the-dark bug stickers along with their crafts from the day. Clay told us over the course of the evening that a spider molts his skin because he gets too big for it and that every spider in the whole world has 8 eyes. I'm so glad he was listening! They had a great day and were ready for more the next day!

Day Three was Caterpillar Day at the Birchfield's. It was a rainy day so they stayed inside for the day. Their first activity was caterpillar jars. They cut and hole-punched food out of green paper for their caterpillars and then strung caterpillars out of Apple Jacks and dental floss.Jessica said they were very quiet and focused for this activity. :)

While they worked on caterpillars, Jessica pulled each one aside to work on bookmarks. Working with them individually was something each of us did and it helped so much with focus for the kids.

The kids ate a lunch with a caterpillar theme of PB&J crawlers, veggie straws, holey cheese, yogurt with strawberry butterflies and cherry limeades. They watched some educational videos about caterpillars while they ate. Most of us planned a book or movie while the kids ate and everyone had good eaters and a not-so-crazy lunch table.

They read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Caterpillar Spring Butterfly Summer. They played with balloons for a while that were left over from the caterpillar decor and then played follow-the-leader with hula hoops. I heard it was interesting with different heights and levels of understanding the instructions but a good time was had by all! 

Jessica sat them down for another more in-depth lesson on butterflies and she said they were a very captive audience. Yay for 8 kids 5 and under listening quietly!! 

Their final activity was to spin themselves into crepe paper cocoons and then burst out and fly around the room with imaginary butterfly wings. The kids wore butterfly headbands and Jessica said it was quite a sight to see the graceful flying--especially for our rough and tumble boys! The crepe paper quickly turned into mummies and ninjas, though. :) 

They had a snack of banana-PB-grape-pretzel caterpillars. Cute! They brought home treat bags with a sugar cookie decorated to look like a green apple with a red worm crawling through it. Carolina asked Clay several times in the car if he was going to eat all of his. :) They also got slinky caterpillars, stickers and punching bags left over from the caterpillar decorations.

Jessica hasn't had the chance to upload pics from her day yet but I'm looking forward to some good pictures from that exciting day!

Day Four was Bug Day at the Keeney's. We were all a little nervous for Gretchen since she had the last day and we knew the crew would be tired from a big week. She said they did really well and were cooperative throughout the day. Good for them!

They made egg carton caterpillars and bug fingerprint pictures for their crafts.

They had caterpillar bread for lunch (a fun recipe with bread, sausage and shredded cheese), a cheese sticks grapes and dirt pudding with worms for dessert.

I absolutely love the picture above because it totally captures a little of my kids' spirits. Carolina is making funny faces at her friend and Clay has his arms crossed like he's too cool for school (although his silly side is just as big as hers).

Gretchen read The Very Busy Spider over lunch and the kids got free play time for the afternoon.This crew LOVES to play so this was a great to finish out Day 4. She had coloring pages for them to do and also pattern blocks with bug patterns (fun!).

They had a snack of Ritz crackers in butterfly shaped packages and Gretchen read The Very Quiet Cricket.

Gretchen asked them some questions about the things they learned during the week and she was impressed by how much they had retained. I know my kids came home with several fun facts during the week that I learned from, as well! They took their last group pictures of the week and called it a day!

On Friday night we had our end-of-camp celebration at the Birchfield's. The kids got to swim and the parents got to visit and eat dinner together. There were no pictures taken because we were all too tired from the week and too busy talking! Clay said last night was his favorite part of Bug Week, though.

Everyone had positive things to say about their day of hosting and I'm so thrilled. This was so much bigger and better than I expected when I threw out the idea of a friend camp. The mamas all went above and beyond my expections. I was really nervous to try and get any kind of guidelines for the week because I didn't want anyone to feel too much pressure or that it would be tons of work (even though taking care of 8 kids for 4 hours is tons of work as it turns out!). I also knew that this group of women is very creative and the kids would be happy doing anything any one of them planned. Each day was different and the kids had nothing but good things to say about the whole week. They enjoyed everything!

Jessica made each child a memory book folder to remember their week. Each day has a paper craft that they did or something from their day along with the synopsis about the day from the mom. Monday's is the Ladybug Quiz, Tuesday is a spider web with fingerprint spiders, Wednesday is a caterpillar page with a different kid's face for each lump and Thursday has fingerprints made into bugs. I love that the kids have something they can look back on and remember their week and since it's a folder, I can always add pages with the pictures from the week.

What a great week we had. The kids had a fun, educational week while the mamas got some free time (and precious memories of their day with the kids)--mission accomplished!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ladybug Day

A few months ago,  I started looking into different summer camp options for the kids. I soon realized that either A) Carolina wouldn't be old enough for most of them B) They were really expensive or C) I wasn't sure the kids would love enough to do it the whole week.

I really wanted them to do some different things away from home and I knew that I would need some school planning time, as well. That's when I came up with the idea of a friend camp. I proposed the idea to a group of moms I love and trust and whose children are close friends with mine. Thankfully, they were on board for my crazy idea!

There are four of us and we decided to do one day at each house Monday-Thurday from 10-2. Our theme is "Bugs". Each mom does one day and then has three days to herself. Friday is our end-of-camp swim party celebration.

Today was Day One and we did Ladybug Land! Here are a few fun things from our day:

We started working on our first project at 10:30. We had eight kids so we divided them into two groups (youngest and oldest). They each painted a 4" clay pot with their favorite color.


We got the groups working and took lunch orders while they painted. They played for a little while and then came back for lunch at 11:30. I read "Ladybug Girl" while the kids ate. It worked out nicely since they ate well and listened intently.

We finished lunch and had more playtime as we called the kids in one-by-one to do ladybug spots on their pots and make Ladybug Crowns. I measured heads while Mike monitored "spotting" at the table.

While they were eating their ladybug cupcake snack, I crowned each of them "Ladybug King" or "Ladybug Princess". It was totally on a whim but they loved it and couldn't wait for their turn.

We also read "Ten Little Ladybugs" during snack and they loved doing the counting. We wrapped up with a talk about the life cycles of ladybugs and I passed around a kid-sized laminated chart while I held up the larger poster. The kids also got to pass around the plastic figurines of the life cycles. 

The kids played for the last few minutes while I did a page for their scrapbooks for the week (another mom volunteered to make these :)).

When it was time to bring Ladybug Day to a close, we sent our friends home with some special memories of our day. They took home ladybug bubbles and a bug microscope necklace. The ladybug table decoration that I found was made up of treat boxes. I loved the double-duty decoration and so did the kids!

They also took home their handmade wind chimes and their ladybug crowns.

And the day wouldn't be complete without a snack for the road so everyone got a ladybug strawberry too!

We had the BEST day and my kids loved it. We are blessed that our friends were willing to share their little ones with us for the day and are willing to take ours for the next three!

Clay asked me at dinner tonight how we could learn more about ladybugs. I was thrilled to have piqued his interest! When I asked Carolina about her favorite part of the day, she told me she didn't have one because it wasn't long enough (her daddy disagrees ;)). Tomorrow is SPIDERS!!