Basic projects like masks, paper bag puppets, and play dough sculptures are a great way to add a craft to a learning unit. These craft projects are general enough that parents and teachers can adapt them to different types of animals, plants, or people, etc. With a little planning, these fundamental crafts can be reused many ways throughout the year.
Paper Bag Puppets
Lunch-size paper bags make straightforward hand puppets for young children. Color the bag with crayon or cut out construction paper eyes, ears, arms, etc. Use the flap as the creature’s mouth (color inside the mouth, draw or glue on paper teeth, or draw on glue on a paper tongue). Glue on the eyes, ears, arms, and any other details (such as a tail on the back).
Cardboard Tube Sculptures
The small tubes from the center of toilet paper rolls make great animal and person bodies. Stood on an open end, the tube creature can appear to be seated or standing on hind legs. Children can cut out a head, arms, legs, and tail from construction paper. Another option is to look for simple coloring page images and to photocopy the head so it is proportionate to the tube.
Color the tube the appropriate color(s) for the animal or person being created. Paint the tube (keep the paint thin so the paper doesn’t soften beneath the wet paint), color with marker or measure and cut construction paper so it fits around the tube and glue or tape into place. Glue the head onto the outside of the tube. Use the position of the head to place the arms and legs.
If kids stick a few fingers up into the tube, they can use this sculpture as a quick finger puppet.
Paper Plate Masks
Masks work both as wall art and as an imaginative play prop. Think about the key characteristics of the person or animal to be turned into a mask. Including every detail is unnecessary – pick the key features – dark circles around the eye of a raccoon, the pointy nose of a wolf, or the red nose of a clown.
Cut eye openings, add string to tie the mask in place, and decorate the paper plate mask as desired. Cut construction paper ears and even form an elongated nose from construction paper. Decorate the mask with construction paper details glued into place or color the paper plate with markers or paint.
Homemade Play Dough Sculptures
Play dough allows children to create any shape they can think up. Mix up the homemade play dough of one’s choice. For colored play dough, blend in a small amount of food coloring to batches of dough. Otherwise, work the dough into shape and then wait for the play dough to dry and then paint. Children can form whatever shape they want.
When connecting pieces, dampen the tip of the finger with water and rub it over the two spots to be connected. Press together and then smooth the seam with damp fingertip.
Treat these basic craft projects as templates. Whatever topic is introduced in class or camp, use one of these simple crafts to jumpstart ideas for a finished project to introduce to children.
Cheap Summer Camp Planning
Planning a do it yourself Summer Camp Co-op just might be easier than listening to a periodic chorus of “Mom, I’m bored.” Can you think of at least four other families with children the same age as yours? If so, then you have the makings of an awesome do it yourself summer camp.
Planning your Cheap Summer Camp
To begin with, choose a week that’s most convenient for you. If you’re flexible, it will be easier for the other families. If you’re not then you might have to search harder for families whose “available” days coordinate well with yours.
Begin making contact with the other families, making a general list of the days during that week that each family is willing to host the camp. Yours can be a day-camp or an overnight camp. If each of five families agrees to host the camp for a 24 hour period or a one-day period, then each set of parents ends up entirely kid-free for the other four days. Compare the cost of having a bunch of kids over for one day to the cost of sending your child away to camp for a week.
Have a Summer Camp Planning Meeting
Before you have a meeting with the other families, you might want to make an informational piece of paper with a phone directory on one side and the details of your camp calendar on the other.
Your meeting will have two purposes; one is so that all the families can get to know each other. A second purpose of meeting together is to make financial arrangements. A cooperative situation can consist of everyone contributing a few dollars to the host each day, or simply that each family bears the financial burden for the day they sponsor.
Summer Camp Safety Considerations
If your group of children ends up being more than you can provide supervision for, then consider having each adult sign up for a “helping” day at another family’s house. Before your day of summer camp, make sure each child’s parent has signed a medical release and provided you with all of his or her emergency contact information. Have an emergency contingency plan, with backup childcare arrangements and additional help that can be available in a pinch.
Do a safety walk through your home and take care of anything that might be a physical safety or health hazard. Prescription medications should not be accessible, nor should cleaning products or other chemicals. Loose wires and long cords should be secured and your homeowner’s insurance policy should be up-to-date.
If you’re planning to use your swimming pool, consider paying your regular babysitter to lifeguard the event.
Summer Family Fun and Games for Kids
You might want to consider messy fun, like making tie-dyed camp shirts. Sports are fun, and having a schedule of basketball, football, baseball and ping-pong would definitely keep them busy. You could make cool projects, like birdhouses or window box planters. You could enlist the help of a guest speaker or use the time to do a service project, like pulling weeds for a neighbor. Consider water play, like sprinklers or a balloon war.
Whatever activities or fun and games you plan to provide, your DIY summer camp is sure to be a memorable experience. Roasting marshmallows by a campfire, pitching a tent in the backyard, or watching Shrek on the big-screen TV is always more fun with friends. Enjoy finding more ideas for your summer camp ideas.