The space that I had available for camp was the open outdoor area between the building I work in and the next building over. It has parking lots on either side, so I knew we would need a bit of a buffer so that it was very clear that activities were nowhere near the parking lot. Also, it was required for adults to come and stay with their kids, not drop them off, so that meant I didn’t have to worry about having sufficient staff to make sure to keep everybody safe…caregivers were personally responsible for keeping their own kid safe.
Within that available space, I set up a variety of stations (you could call them “play invitations”) each day. The most common setups either involved a table, a big piece of paper on the ground, or a kiddie pool as the sort of central focus of what play materials were available here and one way that they could be used. However, children were welcome to — and often did — bring materials from one area to another area, or combine types of play in novel ways.
These stations were very loosely grouped into categories, which in my notes I called: “organised tabletop craft”, “imaginative/free play tabletop craft”, “water play”, “sensory play”, “gross motor/whole body”, “scavenger hunt/writing game”, and “little bitties”. These are probably not perfect names to describe what each station was, but it helped me get my mind around what I was hoping to accomplish each day. I made sure that I had at least 1 of each thing per day, but most days I had 2-3 of some of them.
My notes to myself for Monday’s camp day.
-For the category “Organised Tabletop Craft”, the events of the day are “Bracelets of all sorts: Friendship bracelets with loom, Friendship bracelets without loom, Beaded bracelets, Make pom-poms, Yarn Bowls, Magic wands (yarn, beads, a stick)”
-For the category “Imaginative/Free Play Tabletop Craft”, the events of the day are “Glue table + Tape table — you can glue and tape any treasures from elsewhere too; Vertical tape wall with boxes to roll pom-poms and balls”
-For the category Water Play, the events of the day are “Water beads – can have “pirate treasure” hidden in it; Taste safe water beads for littles with chia seeds”
-For the category Sensory Play, the events of the day are “Dig up “treasures” from sand; sift with a strainer; wash in water; add them to your bracelets/necklaces if you’d like or add them to the glue table”
-For the category Gross Motor, the events of the day are “Pendulum painting; ABCs match to keyboard mat; Crawl in boxes and color with markers”
-For the category Scavenger Hunt/Writing Game, the events of the day are “Mazes in the mailboxes that are the answers to kid jokes”
-For the category Little Bitties, the events of the day are “Water play – chia seeds; Musical instruments”
(The scavenger hunt/writing game probably needs the most explanation. I made 8 “mailboxes” out of shoeboxes. Each day, they were set around the perimeter of the camp area. Each mailbox had a different paper clue or puzzle of some kind in it, that was inside of a page protector so it could be written on and wiped off with a dry erase marker. There were also clipboards and pens. The kids could take a clipboard and pen around to the different mailboxes and open them, solve the clue inside, write the answer on their clipboard, and so on until they had solved all 8! I’ll end up writing an entire separate post about how this particular activity went, but that way you at least know what I’m talking about.)
Here are the rest of the play invitations set up around Monday’s camp:
A few of the items in the notes from Monday are not pictured. I got better at taking pictures of what I knew I’d want to write about as the week went on, but on Monday I didn’t get pictures of some things without any kids in them. This includes the water beads station, the chia seeds, and the babies’ musical instruments. Each of these was very simple though. Water beads were just set up in a bin. Chia seed slime was the same — set up in a bin, with mouthing-safe blocks embedded in it for the babies to find the same way that the big kids were finding their (non-mouthing-safe) treasures in the sand and water beads. The musical instruments were just an array of maracas, tambourines, clackers, etc that I set out in the “baby area”.