Updated: Aug 7, 2020
A Companion to Busy Toddler's Summer Camp at Home
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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.
This is our fifth week of using the program and what I love the most about it is that it is there when I need it - no pressure. 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
GAMES WEEK – Get ready for some good family fun and games --> Coming soon!
WATER & ICE WEEK – What says summer more than water play? --> Scroll down
As a former teacher, I know the importance of front loading (yes, even the fun stuff) 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: Water and Ice Week
We live in the South so we have been doing water play since late March. It is just about the only way to beat the heat. A friend gifted this splash pad to my son for his birthday and it was pretty much the thing that saved our sanity during lockdown.
I would have ventured to say that we were "expert level" when it came to water activities by the time it was May and we were about to begin the last unit in Busy Toddler's Playing Preschool Year 1 curriculum. But it was almost like Susie saved the best for last as the unit's theme was "water." This was hands-on learning at its finest: we got to do cool science experiments and learn about the properties and different forms of water. It was the perfect segue into summer break. You can read about it in my post: A Companion Guide to Playing Preschool with Busy Todder - Unit 19: Water.
Now it is July and it turns out we still had a few things to learn from Summer Camp at Home with Busy Toddler's Water and Ice Week. Sure, some of these activities I had heard of, but this gave me (and my toddler) a reason to try something new.
Water and Ice Week Activities
My toddler had learned the concept of "sink" and "float" when we were learning about water, but the idea that he could make something that was floating sink was a novel one. I did help him make the foil boats but he had to use all the change I could scrounge up to take the ship down (another unusual side-effect of COVID-19: a national coin shortage).
Ice Cube Paint
If you've read my post about Art Week, you know that my son is not really into painting. But I thought the melting action would appeal to him so I actually prepped the activity the night before (shocker). When it came time to do, it I had to give the baby a Popsicle as a decoy so he wouldn't try to eat the paint. My toddler was mildly interested but then of course he needed a frozen treat too. But then, the paint began to melt and the colors started to run together and it was totally worth the small effort on my part to see him mesmerized. For more frozen fun with a surprise twist, check out Susie's Frozen Paint: Process Art Activity blog post.
This was an activity I tried when I first started following Busy Toddler on Instagram. My son would have been a year and a half at the time and I remember him liking it but I also remember that I was very pregnant at the time. Something about it didn't work. Either I had too much water or I tried to use the cheap bubble bath. At any rate, I put him in the tub and tried making a batch in a plastic bin using an immersion blender. The bubbles didn't last long and I was too tired to try again.
Now that I am a mom of two, I am not so easily deterred. This time I made three batches using my KitchenAid stand mixer with the whisk attachment and I'm proud to say, my bubble foam game was on point. Both of my children played in it happily, scooping and stirring. At varying intervals, each walked away, then came back and the foam was still standing. I can't say how long exactly, but I was able to water my garden (which all started with our Playing Preschool Unit 14: Plants) and re-pot three plants, so let's call it an eternity. Susie has more ideas for playing with Bubble Foam on her site.
We actually did this activity as the grand finale activity of Year 1 so it was a bittersweet celebration of all we had learned. I didn't think we could top that experience, so I'll share those photos here. You can also see Susie's kids do Sponge Targets with more accuracy and without the quarantine haircuts on her site.
As sensory bins go, water bead might be my personal favorite. They are so slimy and squishy and bouncy and everything a sensory bin should be. The problem is that the baby loves to put them in his mouth and they are not taste-safe. Because they take a few hours to grow to full size, I have a hard time keeping this activity limited to his nap time. But when we do, they are always a blast.
For Busy' Toddler's Summer Camp at Home Water and Ice Week, we tried them three different ways: in our Step 2 Busy Ball Play Table, coated in shaving cream (one of my favorite add-is) and as Frozen Water Beads. See Susie's Six Quick and Easy Water Bead Activities post for more ideas!
Water and Ice 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!
Non-Fiction Books About Water
I Get Wet - Vicki Cobb
Water Can Be... - Sals, Laura Purdie
The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks - Cole, Joanna
National Geographic Readers: Water - Stewart, Melissa
Down Comes the Rain - Branley, Dr. Franklyn, M.
The Great Big Water Cycle Adventure - Barnham, Kay
All the Water in the World - Lyon, George Ella
Why Water's Worth It - Harrison, Lori
One Well - The Story of Water on Earth - Strauss, Rochelle
A Drop Around the World - McKinney, Barbara Shaw
Floating and Sinking - Hansen, Amy S.
What Sinks? What Floats? - Williams, Rozanne
Water Dance - Locker, Thomas
Fiction Books About Water
Hey, Water! - Portis, Antionette
Wet - Sookocheff, Carey
Rain - Ashman, Linda
The Big Umbrella - Bates, Amy June --> An inclusive picture book
Piggy in the Puddle - Pomerantz, Charlotte
The Little Raindrop - Gray, Joanna
The Water Princess - Verde, Susan
Nya's Long Walk: a Step at a Time - Park, Linda Sue --> A picture book adaptation of the middle grade novel "A Long Walk To Water"
Swashby and the Sea - Ferry, Beth --> Some wave action brings together unlikely friends
Float - Miyares, Daniel --> A wordless picture book adventure
Who Sank the Boat? - Allen, Pamela
Shave Ice in Hawaii - Beachouse Publishing
Dream Big, Little Pig! - Yamaguchi, Kristi
Visit my website to shop the Water Book List 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: Nature Week, An Introduction to Playing Preschool with Busy Toddler, A Day in the Life of Raising a Reader