Summer camp is an adventure that many kids participate in yearly.  Whether it is a day camp or a sleepover camp, these are days spent learning new skills, making new friends and creating great memories.

This year, camp may look a little different.  In many places across the country, “in-person” camps have been cancelled or there is a restriction on the number of children that can attend, leaving many parents and children wondering what to do for the summer.

This is where Virtual Summer Camps come into play, literally and figuratively.  With both free and paid camp options available, you can find virtual summer camps all over Canada offering a variety of different activities and learning experiences for your child(ren).

So check out your local camps or the links below and find the perfect summer camp for your child(ren):

Virtual Summer Camps for Kids

Virtual Programs in Canada

Stem Camp

Are you worried that your child may get hurt in the kitchen? Will they accidentally set the barbecue on fire? Or just how much of a mess will they make? Not fond of the idea that food could be wasted? While some parents may find the idea of cooking with their children or letting their children take over the whole task of cooking daunting, with a few tips and age appropriate tasks, this can become an enjoyable and delicious activity for the whole family.

And summer is the perfect time to “get cooking” with your child(ren) and let them try out new skills.  Divide up the meal preparation, letting them make a salad or side dish.  For older children, teach them how to “fire up the BBQ” and get grilling.  See what cool, refreshing summer dessert they can create.

Kraft Canada has divided their cooking tips by age appropriate skills:
Children 6 yrs & under
Children 7-9 yrs
Children 10-12 yrs
Children over 12 yrs

Here are some real-life tested recipes plus articles and tips on cooking with your kids
Parents – Cooking with Kids

Food Network – Cooking with Kids

Easy recipes for kids to make

Kid Chefs

 

The warm summer weather is starting to arrive, and the sunny days are perfect for being outside.  This is a great time to encourage your child(ren) to get out and explore, build or create.

Forts are always fun to design and build. Add an “outdoor kitchen” onto the fort and allow for fun dirt creations.  A sandbox can provide hours of fun.  Create a city or race track, using a mixture of materials with the sand like toys or building blocks.

Obstacle courses are not only a create way to promote physical activity, but are very creative as well.  Challenge your child(ren) to use as many different objects in and around the house to create different obstacle courses for the family to do.  Outdoor scavenger hunts are another fun option for exploring the yard, the neighbourhood or a local forest.  Or let their creative flow with different Backyard Games and turn your backyard into a giant board game.

The warmer nights allow us to extend our outdoor activities into the evenings. Turn your backyard into a “drive-in” movie theatre, and invite the neighbours to do the same.  Arrange for a movie night, using a projector and white bed sheet as the screen. Enjoy family campfires, experimenting with different fireside snacks like s’mores or banana boats.

Enjoy making your backyard more fun with these ideas.

 

 

We are always looking for different ways to stay busy with different activities.  While there are many options with the traditional board games and card games, sometimes you want something different.  This is where puzzles and dominos are great.  They are activities that will keep you and/or your child(ren) busy for a while.

Maybe you are looking to try something different for you next family video call or gathering.  Play Bingo (where one house is assigned as the Caller for the numbers).  This is a great game for all ages. You can print the cards or play online if you do not have the game at home.

Or play a game of Tenzi. If you have never played Tenzi, you have to try it. This game comes with 4 sets of dice, each a different colour and ANY age can play.  It is a simple game to follow and play, but can be fast paced.  The original set comes with a few game card ideas and there is a 77pc card set with different game ideas you can buy.  To prepare for this game, ensure that all the households have a set of Tenzi dice.

Looking to buy any of these games?  Or want to build on to your collection of games? You can purchase these and many others online:

Amazon

WalMart

Toys R Us

Mastermind Toys

Boardgame Bliss

One of my fondest memories of summer vacation is the card games my family would play at night.  As we got older, the competitiveness of the card games would increase.  Now when we get together for family vacations, the next generation is joining us with the nightly card games, bringing in new competitive partnerships.

Card games are a great way to spend a rainy afternoon, help with number recognition and counting or as a way to learn how to do an activity by yourself (with all the variations of solitaire)

Here are a few of the classic card games that my family loves to play:

  1. Uno and all the new variations – Uno Spin is definitely a new favourite for my family.
  2. Skipbo
  3. Ratuki
  4. Rummy
  5. Go Fish
  6. Crazy Eights
  7. Old Maid
  8. War
  9. Concentration / Memory games
  10. SlapJack
  11. Snap
  12. Solitaire and all the different variations
  13. Cheat
  14. Spit

If you are looking for a refresher on some of the card game rules, here are a few links to help:

Bicycle Cards

10 Kid Friendly Card Games/

 

Or if you are looking for online playing options where you can play against “the computer” or other online players check out:

Cardz Mania

Card Games

World of Card Games

The warm spring weather is returning, allowing us many opportunities to get outside and be active while enjoying the sun. However, there are also many rainy days where we are stuck inside. Here are a few different ideas that you can do with your child(ren) on these rainy days to stay active:

1. Indoor Scavenger Hunt – get creative and use age-appropriate clues. Try an Alphabet hunt, where you “hide” letters around the house and your children have to find them and match them to the game board. For older kids, give cryptic clues for regular household items.
2. Board games or Card games – see our Games list for classic ideas and additional links
3. Forts/inside camping adventure
4. Puzzles
5. Dance Party
6. Sock Toss Game
7. Keep the Balloon up
8. Exercise Videos
9. Crafts – see our Craft section for different craft ideas and additional links

Here are a few websites with other indoor activity ideas:
15 Ways to Keep Kids Active Indoors

Indoor Activities for Kids

Best Ideas for Kids – Indoor Activities

For some of us, working from home is new and still a novelty.  For others, they have been doing it for years.  And they can provide us with great tips on ways to ensure we are staying productive while working from home.

 

  1. Create a workspace or home office – Each person who is working in the house should have their “own” area to work (to the best of your ability).  Be flexible and maybe have a few spots in the house for working, this allows for “privacy” if one family member is on a video meeting.  Make your workspace as comfortable as possible.
  2. Set a firm “start” and “end” of the day work hours – keep office hours that are in-line with your coworkers.  Having set hours helps establish a sense of routine.  This routine also helps if you have kids, as they can set their “school work” schedule around your work day and know when not to disturb you.
  3. Take breaks – Just like when you are in the office, it is not good to sit for too long.  Build into your daily schedule short breaks to get up and move.  This could be as simple as walking into another room to fill up your water bottle or doing a few squats at your “desk”.
  4. Get dressed – As tempting as it is to stay in your pajamas all day, get dressed, whether you are leaving the house or not.  And keep your morning hygiene routine; shower, shave, brush your hair and teeth – it is the little things in our daily routine that helps keep “normalcy” in our lives.
  5. Keep your routine – this is more than just your morning routine, this includes your work day routine.  If you have certain business tasks that need to be done daily or weekly, continue to do them around the same time or in the same order each day.  And if you have trouble starting in the morning, make your commute to your home office a little longer and go for a walk around the block.
  6. Build in physical activity – whether it is going for a walk, doing an online/virtual exercise class, or playing outside with kids, build in physical activity into your daily routine – it can be in the morning, on a lunch break or after your working hours.
  7. Designate a “work-free” zone – This is important as it gives your family a space to be in to do other things (watch tv, games, puzzles, etc) while you are working. This also allows your downtime to be without distractions. You won’t be tempted to check your email one last time.

What are things we can do to bring more physical activity into our lives and move as a family?  Mother Nature still provides the best “medicine” for us.  On warm sunny days, get outside and go for a walk with your family and dog (if you have one). And try taking a different “path” each time you are out.  If you always turn left when you leave your home – turn right the next time and see where the streets take you.  Explore (in a social distancing appropriate manner) different neighbourhoods, take the time to listen to nature as the birds are returning from their winter homes and the furry animals are coming out of hibernation.

 

Have a driveway or backyard, here are more ideas on activities we can do outside.

  1. Basketball
  2. Hockey “practice”
  3. Playing Catch
  4. Roller Blading/scooter – great on the larger driveways
  5. Yard work/Gardening
  6. Football toss
  7. Soccer (a fence works well for practicing kicks)
  8. Nature Scavenger hunt/Nature Bingo – this is good when out on the walks, have a list or “game” card that you and the kids are trying to fill out with different things in nature in your neighbourhood or yard
  9. Sidewalk Chalk – draw, obstacle courses, leave inspirational messages, shape/letter/number game, tic tac toe (can use beanbags as well)
  10. Jumping Rope
  11. Hula Hoop
  12. Hopscotch (use chalk to design course)
  13. Mini-Golf – create your own course
  14. Games from stores/online – bean bag/cornhole toss, washer toss, ladder toss, croquet, badminton, ring toss, bocceball

 

The Active for Life website offers a wide range of physical activities that you can do with your child(ren) both inside and outside:

Active For Life

 

Here are a few additional websites with other outdoor activity  and game ideas:

31 Outside Activity Ideas

Outdoor Game Ideas

Did you know that according to the Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines, youth (ages 5-17 years) need to sweat, step, sit and sleep the appropriate amount each day for optimal health.  There are many health benefits for our youth that come from moving more, including improved fitness, maintaining a healthy body weight, growing stronger, learning new skills and feeling happier.  When children move more and sit less, it has been shown that they have improved concentration, enhanced learning and creativity and an improved mood with less stress and anxiety.

 

So what does a healthy 24 hours look like for youth?

Sweat – at least 60 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity per day

Step – several hours of light physical activity, especially outdoors

Sit – no more than 2 hours per day of recreational screen time; limit sitting for long periods

Sleep – a night of uninterrupted sleep (5-13 years: 9-11 hrs; 14-17 years: 8-10 hours)

 

For more information on the Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines, you can check out their website:

Canadian 24-hr Movement Guidelines

 

The Participation website offers tips on the benefits and guidelines for all ages on why we all need to stay physically active and how we can do it.

Get Physical: Early Years (0-4 yrs)

Get Physical: Child and Youth (5-17 yrs)

Get Physical: Adults (18-65 yrs)

Get Physical: Adults (65+ yrs)

Whether you are building a birdhouse from scratch or painting a pre-made store bought birdhouse, these make great Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gifts.

 

Building a birdhouse from scratch can be very satisfying for kids. Their creativity can expand as they design it and create the templates for cutting the wood. Just remember that any power tools being used do need adult supervision.  And here are a few websites that have several different styles of birdhouses that are easy to make.  Check them out and find the design your child(ren) want to make.

Build a Birdhouse in 7 easy steps

Free Birdhouse Plans

 

The pre-made designs available in stores are still great activities for kids, especially if there is no access to the power tools needed to cut the wood. They can still add their own personality to these when they use any combination of their favourite colours as they paint them. Order your pre-made house and any paint supplies from your favourite local art supply store or Michaels website.

Michaels

 

And don’t forget the Bird Seed Mix.  You can find bird seed mix at any pet store, in the pet section at most grocery stores or you can make your own from bulk ingredients.  All you will need is:

Sunflower Seeds – raw and a mix of in-shell and hulled

Peanuts – non-salted, in shells, crushed, whole

Cracked Corn

White Millet

Dried Fruit – raisins, cranberries, apple (torn in smaller pieces), blueberries

The Sunflower seeds and peanuts are the main mix, with the corn and millet about 1/2 of the amount.  The dried fruit will only be about 1/8 of the amount of the sunflower seeds.

If you are looking for more feeding ideas, the Farmer’s Almanac has a great reference list of what seeds which bird likes to eat.  This way you can “customize” your feed to bring your favourite birds to your birdhouse.

Seed Guide for Wild Birds