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School is out soon and kids are home for the summer! Your family, like many others, may be tightening its budget and foregoing travel plans. But you can still have a fun and interesting summer by planning a family staycation. Not sure where to begin? Here are three great family staycation ideas to get you started.
Staycation One: Library Week
Library Week goes beyond visiting the library each day. During Library Week you and your children will explore different genres of writing and develop an enhanced appreciation of the written word. Libraries are comfortable places to read and enjoy the books your children find. Spend a few hours at the library each morning of this staycation and plan related activities for the afternoon after lunch.
Browse the Fantasy section of your local library. Look for materials about faeries, monsters, dragons, magic and wizards.
After lunch, challenge your children to tell a fantasy story of her own. Spread out art paper so she can paint a fantasy scene. The scene can be her own fantasy story or her favorite story from the library.
Look for “whodunits” in the Mystery section. Suggestions for good children’s mystery books include:
- Sammy Keyes Mysteries by Wendelin Van Draanen. Her first Sammy Keyes Mystery, Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief won the Edgar Award for the Best Children's Mystery, 1998.
- The classic Encyclopedia Brown series by Donald J. Sobol
- Boxcar Children Mysteries by Gertrude Chandler Warner
There are many more to find and choose from. After lunch, gather some of your child’s friends for a Mystery Solving Game.
Get the whole family involved for this one, and have each person research an interesting person from history. That night, host a Founding Father’s Feast!
Today is about reading humor, comedy, and funny comic books. Children will be inspired to draw their own comic strips at home. Check out these comic strip activities to do at home:
Read a variety of children’s poems. Shel Silverstein’s books are popular and fun. At the library, expose your children to different types of poetry including haiku, sonnets, and free verse. Then, at home host a Poetry Party:
Staycation Two: Staycamping
If you have a backyard and live in an area with some walking trails, this is the perfect staycation.
- Maps of local walking trails
- Sturdy walking shoes
- Water bottles
- Small backpacks or book bags
- Pup tent, blankets, and sleeping bags.
A compass is not necessary but using one adds to the fun. Choose three to five area trails for this week, and go on one hike per day. On Monday, show your children the compass and how it always points North. Practice using the compass in your yard; hand one child the compass and instruct him to walk East, now West, etc. Do this for each child. On the trail, allow the children to take turns holding the compass. Talk to your children about the parts of a map, including the key, the legend, and help them learn to read the map as you walk on the trail. Point out landmarks that are on the map as you pass them.
On each day that your family goes for a hike, pack portable lunches and water bottles. Carry them in daypacks or book bags, just as you would if you were staying away from home.
DAY ONE: JOURNAL
Bring along a nature journal in which your child can write notes about plants and animals. Bring colored pencils with which to make colorful drawings of the scenery. Take photographs of interesting things that you see so that you can research them later on.
DAY TWO: SCAVENGER HUNT
Compile a list of things the children will likely find on the trail. Some things may be collected and placed in a paper bag, others should be noticed and marked off on a list.
Things to collect:
- A colorful rock
- A feather
- One pinecone
- One acorn
Things to notice:
- Growing mushrooms (do not pick)
- Moss on a rock
- A bird’s nest
- Frogs or toads.
At the end of the day, ask your children what they liked about the things they found.
DAY THREE: TREES!
Challenge your children to identify different trees on your hike. Write down similarities and differences among the various trees. Take note of how you can tell which type of tree you are identifying. Later, look up any trees that you could not identify.
DAY FOUR: BIRDS!
Listen and look for birds while hiking and enjoying the great outdoors. See how many different types you can find. Take notes about the kinds of birds and their individual characteristics.
DAY FIVE: ROCK SKIPPING TECHNIQUES
Choose a hike to an area with a pond, lake, or river. Young children are mesmerized by picking up small rocks and dropping them in the water. Notice with little ones the sound that the rock makes, “plunk!” Also discuss that the rock is causing ripples in the water.
Older children will enjoy the opportunity to hone their rock skipping skills. Look for flat rocks (or rocks with a flat side) and hold them like a tiny frisbee. Hold the rock perpendicular to the water. Reach back and put spin on the rock as you let it fly forward. See how many times you can make one rock skip on the water.
To make this week complete, set up a pup tent or temporary shelter in the backyard. On a warm summer evening, simply laying blankets on the ground under sleeping bags may be sufficient and your family will enjoy going to sleep under the stars.