Updated: Aug 15
A Companion to Busy Toddler's Summer Camp at Home
This post contains affiliate links for which I receive a small commission at no cost to you. Proceeds go to support this blog and my mission of inspiring parents of babies and toddlers to find quiet moments in the chaos to read to their children.
It's late July and despite the fact that we are living through a pandemic, we have actually managed to make some magical memories this summer. Maybe we are just getting used to staying home, or maybe we've gained a new perspective, or maybe we had a little help from my friend Busy Toddler. When Susie released her FREE Summer Camp at Home resource, I was all in.
We are going on our fifth week of using the program and what I love the most about it is that it is there when I need it. Like, this-morning-seems-forever-long and nap time is still an hour away and I'm desperate for something to do. Or when we've slipped past our screen time limit and I abruptly turn off the TV and need an activity - quick - before the whining starts. Or when everything is going right and I'm the fun mom who gives my kids enriching experiences like I planned it all along.
I also like that its not academic. The rest of the year we use Busy Toddler's Playing Preschool curriculum (click here for my review) but summer means school's out for us. Busy Toddler's Summer Camp at Home is a less-structured version of Susie's play-based curriculum that puts the focus on fun experiences and self-guided discovery. We still read tons of books because I am in pursuit of raising readers, but we read them for the pleasure of it.
This amazing resource is completely FREE and comes in the form of a simple, easy-to-use 10-page PDF that includes six weeks of themed activities and is designed to accommodate a wide age range - from toddlers to elementary students.
STEM WEEK – Science experiments - all the fun, no test
CAMPING WEEK – Camping-related activities are must for summer camp!
NATURE WEEK – Fun in the great outdoors or your own backyard
ART WEEK – Explore new art techniques and ways to create --> Scroll down
GAMES WEEK – Get ready for some good family fun and games
WATER & ICE WEEK – What says summer more than water play?
As a former teacher, I know the importance of front loading, so each week I head over to my library's website to put some books on hold to supplement our home library. I love having a "theme" to guide me when I'm picking out books.
Summer Camp at Home with Busy Toddler: Art Week
I have a confession. My toddler is not very good at art projects. Coloring, painting, drawing - nothing really holds his interest. I don't think it is an attention-span issue, because he will play in a sensory bin, or build with LEGOS or do some elaborate storytelling with his cars for half an hour or more. But give him a paintbrush and he's done in two minutes. Or he wants me to do it.
Maybe it is how open-ended art is. Or maybe he is just not developmental ready. Or maybe it is just not his jam. Still, I want to continue give him opportunities to explore different mediums because I think it is important, but I'm careful not to pressure him.
So when when we started the Art Week portion of Busy Toddler's Summer Camp at Home, I kept my expectations low.
Art Week Activities
We started with this one because I thought it would get my son excited about art week. It worked! But I think I watered down the paint too much because it didn't show up very well on the brown Kraft paper. See more on Susie's blog post: Splatter Paint Process Art.
The first time we did this, it wasn't a big hit. I modeled how to "dot" the paper with paint using the Q-tip to fill in the shape. My toddler made a feeble attempt (like four dots) and then wanted me to do it. But I've learned with him that a weak first attempt can lead to a stronger second attempt.
The next time I printed an outline of a hammerhead for interest, showed it to him and asked him if we wanted to "do pointillism". I had everything set up and turned around to put my fifteen-month-old in his high chair to let him try finger painting and when I turned back around there was this.
And when I turned around again, there was this. So while my toddler definitely showed improvement, I guess we know who the natural talent in the family is. See also, Busy Toddler's Instagram post for Pointillism.
Tape Resist Art
I decided to get my toddler involved in the design by letting him tell me where to put the tape in hopes that it would boost his curiosity. I modeled how to paint inside the tape, reminded him about using a different brush for each color and then continued to coach him. Maybe that is my problem? Maybe I should stop trying to tell him the right way to do it and just let him have it (except for mixing paint colors in the jar, I'm not sure I can live with that).
At any rate, he painted one shape and wanted to change to another color and shape and after that he was done. I wanted to see the finished product so I asked him to direct me what colors to paint each section. He wandered off, then came back and seemed somewhat impressed when we took off the tape. See more Tape Resist Art on Busy Toddler's Instagram.
This art activity was probably the most engaging for my toddler. He was interested in squirting the glue and loved shaking the salt onto it. We left it to dry and when we woke up, he painted a little but he doesn't really understand the concept of dipping the brush in the water, then the watercolor, then using it to paint. Chalk this one up to skill building. I painted the rest of the glue, then abandoned it myself. When we came back to clean up, my husband noticed how the color has soaked in and spread, which was kind of neat.
I saved this one for last because I had hopes that free-painting something on a larger scale would be something my "threenager" would think was cool. He was interested in painting our old Step2 slide for about three minutes but the part he thought was even better was hosing it off afterward. What can I say? We gave it a shot! Learn more about Outdoor Toy Paint in Busy Toddler's blog post.
While I wouldn't say that Art Week was my toddler's favorite of Busy Toddler's Summer Camp at Home, I do think it stretched him and that he will approach "art" with more confidence.
Art Week Book List
Raising readers is my passion and children's books are my jam, so each week I scour the internet to find a wide variety of books to go along with each week's theme and I'm happy to share them with you!
Books About Creating Art
An ABC of What Art Can Be - McArthur, Meher
The Art Lesson - dePaolo, Tomie
Harold and the Purple Crayon - Johnson, Crocket <-- Also used in Week 2
Beautiful Oops! - Saltzberg, Barney
A Little Bit of Oomph! - Saltzberg, Barney
The One and Only Ivan: Draw Me a Story - Ferry, Beth <-- Based on a true story
Ish - Reynolds, Peter H.
The Dot - Reynolds, Peter H.
Sky Color - Reynolds, Peter H.
I Am An Artist - Collins, Pat Lowry
A Paintbrush for Paco - Kyle, Tracey (diverse characters)
Why is the Dog Blue? - Rodrigue, George
The Day the Crayons Quit - Daywalt, Drew
Monsters Love Colors - Austin, Mike
The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life - Elhert, Lois
Press Here - Tullet, Herve
Spots: A Story About Creativity and Imagination - Alber, Diane
We Are in an ART-tivity Book! (An Elephant and Piggy Book) - Willems, Mo
When Pigasso Met Mootisse - Laden, Nina
Books About Artists
The Story of Paintings: A History of Art for Children - Mannig, Mick
This Little Artist: An Art History Primer - Holub, Joan
The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse - Carle, Eric
Henri's Scissors - Winter, Jeanette
My Name is Georgia - Winter, Jeanette
Frieda - Winter, Jonah
Diego - Winter, Jonah
Visit my website to shop and discover more great books based on your child's interest.
See Also: Summer Camp at Home: STEM Week, Summer Camp at Home: Camping Week, Summer Camp at Home: Games Week, An Introduction to Playing Preschool with Busy Toddler, A Day in the Life of Raising a Reader