Instead of doing themes for the summer, we decided to use one big over-arching theme or idea to cover our entire summer program. We did this to become more project oriented in our planning, and to provide the kind of flexibility we strive for within our program. (And in my opinion, what all early childhood programs should strive for, we are working with children, flexibility is vital!) To cover all the bases of what we wanted to do and where we anticipated the children would take those activities, we chose the theme “Trek Around Va”. We planned activities that would encourage map skills and early literacy, as well as activities that advocated pretend play and creativity. The kids had the opportunity to explore different parts of Virginia, and where they wanted to “go”. These places included Luray, Washington DC, the Beach, Roanoke, Richmond, and of course a dozen or so places in our home town. To learn more about some of the activities we did on our Trek, please click HERE or on the hyper-links listed above. (If there are no hyperlinks, please check back as I will be adding them as we go!)
One Virginia centric activity, that everyone seems to do, is Camping! The transition into camping from learning all about the beach was seamless! The underlying connections between the two revolved around fish and well, you can camp on the beach if you want! I love when transitions like these happen, and they keep the activities open ended enough that if we needed to explore the topic of the beach or ocean again, we’d be able to without missing anything! (always look for a way to enrich the activity!) To start things off we set up a tent on the playground. Not a kiddy tent, a real, fully functional tent. And of course, the kids helped! I let the children explore the tent and a few camping items on the first day, just to introduce the new topic, and they loved it! The next day was water play, so my team and I put our heads together to make a complete camping inspired water play. Next to the tent we added a mock fire pit. This was very easy. You can pick up a grill replacement grate at Lowes for $10! (or maybe you already have one lying around or found one at a yard sale) We layed the grate over two pieces of wood, placed sticks between the pieces of wood and under the grate, then the children and I collected rocks to make a fire wall on either open side of the pit. Here is a picture!
Once the fire pit was made, we pulled out pots and pans and started using it! Then the children all changed into their bathing suites, because the next part gets messy! Fishing! We made fish out of felt, and added paper clips to the tips so that they could be picked up with magnetic fishing pools. (which we also made, aren’t we just so resourceful!) We put all of the fish into a baby pool, and the children fished them out!
After the children caught the fish they took them to the fire pit and cooked them up! Yummy! We also added a hanging flower pot hook to the camp site so children could hang a pot of food, a kettle, towels, lanterns, or whatever they wanted from it! Children also brought over logs, buckets, and tires to sit on around the fire! How adorable!