Seeking Moms Making Their Own "Summer camp"....what Are You Doing This Summer?

Updated on May 09, 2008
D.M. asks from Grafton, MA
4 answers

My 2 girls (3 and almost 5) are going to be home with me all summer. I'm foregoing any camps because of $$ we've spent on our house recently.

My 'rough' plans for the summer:

1. Develop a theme (ladybugs, ocean, flowers) for each week. Schedule activities, meals, arts/crafts, etc., around that theme.

2. List out destinations within a 30 minute driving radius (save $$ on gas, save aggravation of long travel time with little ones!). Plan one destination every other week.

My standard local activities are: library, park (picnic, play, kites), my local YMCA. Any other great standbys? I need some more 'easy destinations'.

I'm looking for any other great ideas that you have for keeping the kids (and your sanity) in check over the summer.

Thanks in advance!!

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for your good advice on summer activities! I have my 'summer family fun' schedule nearly complete and the kids are really excited. My 5yo keeps talking about 'vacation' as if it's the best thing in the world. I know money is tight for everyone this summer, one thing we're doing to relieve the pinch is to keep our trips within a 30 minute driving radius. We have 3 big trips that are longer than that, but no more.

I think this is going to be a GREAT summer. Moms looking for summer ideas, please come in and read these awesome ideas!

Thanks again everyone!

More Answers



answers from Boston on

Hi D.,

This is so great! I do the same thing as well. The theme thing is what will keep you organized & sane. There are lots of great playgrounds to check out too. I don't know what area you're from but if you're in central mass there's auburn playground (rocketland), oxford playground (treasureland) and the spencer playground -- those are my 3 favorites.

You can get free and/or discounted passes to different places from your local library as well. Aquariums, zoos, museums, etc. The ecotarium has supposingly gotten better lately (i haven't been in a while, but last time it wasn't that great) but definitely call your library (you'll need specific dates though when you ask) - SO worth it!!!

Some gyms like gigures or twisters have 'play time' for a small fee. The kids go in & use the equipment for like an hour or so. Not expensive at all.

Also, check your library for any special events - story times, puppet shows, etc.

I don't know how much your girls like the 'great outdoors' but there are some wonderful (and free) hiking trails around as well. You could do a nature scavenger hunt while you walk. It's great exercise too. There are trails all over the place. Also, if you can, check out Purgatory Chasms in Sutton (you don't have to do the rock climbing area, there are regular trails as well, and a playground too).

You can also get discounted tickets for certain things through AAA if you're a member & also if you have an Entertainment Book, there's lots of discounts in there as well.

I also do a Summer Reading Tree. This year my oldest (now 6) can read himself so he'll have his own leaves. But we make a tree out of paper & stick it to the fridge & each day we read a book & write the title on a paper leaf & add it to the tree, by the end of the summer it's quite full (we're bookworms over here), this year should be great for my oldest as well with his new reading skills.

You can also go to your local track & let the girls ride their bikes or scooters.

As far as easy goes - the simple things like bubbles, side walk chalk, bikes, baking (jello, cupcakes, banana bread, etc), make pine cone bird feeders (using peanut butter, pine cones & bird seed & yarn - all very cheap).

There's watercolor paints & story times with a craft afterwards (one of my favorites is reading 'The Jolly Postman" and then letting the kids write their own letters (or draw a picture) & let them fill out the envelope & mail it out!). You can also Act out a story or tell it as a puppet show - make puppets with old socks, yarn , buttons & markers & use an old box for a stage. The possibilities are endless.

Other easy things are puzzles, colorforms, felt boards, and magnet boards.

Have a movie show (make your own tickets & popcorn & candy & set it up like a real theater. Afterwards you can make a craft from the movie -- ex) if you watch peter pan, make a treasure map after or make your own fairies or fairy houses for tinkerbell. )

Fun games for the kids (and if you need a rest so you can sit down & take a breather) are simon says, mother may i, red light green light, leap frog. We play the guessing game as well ex) what's big, bright, yellow, hot & up in the sky --- THE SUN. That's always fun.

Try some music & dancing. There are plenty of wonderful cd's - Laurie Berkner ROCKS for kids. And if you don't want to buy the cd - then listen to your own music - there are plenty of songs w/o any crude & rude lyrics in them.

There's also the animal game - walk & cluck like a chicken, slither & hiss like a snake, etc.

Ok, I'll leave you to this monstrous list of ideas. I apologize - you got my creative juices flowing & have in turn given me some great ideas for my own little ones.

Have a wonderful summer!
C. B.



answers from Boston on

Hi D.,
Two of my favorite places to go in the summer are Davis Farmland (Sterling) and Southwick Zoo (in Mendon). There is lots to do and see and my 2 year old loves it!!! On the dreaded rainy days, we hit Chuck E. Cheese, McDonald's playland (route 9 Westboro), and Barnes & Noble.
Have a great summer!


answers from Boston on

Check with the libraries on free passes for residents to places like the Ecotarium and the Children's Museum. They also have story hours too. Not sure where you live, but in the Westboro/Northboro area there are Harvey's Farm (farm animals, rabbits and a covered bridge over a pond filled with catfish) - bags of animal food for sale but no charge to visit; Nourse Farm on Route 30 west of Westboro - strawbery picking, cows in the field - you can get pumpkins in the fall; Tougas Farm in Northboro - seasonal picking, hayrides, etc. There's a sheep pasture and a llama pasture in Westboro, and a horse pasture too - just park and watch, then get books on those animals at the library. There used to be a big playground in Natick - I think it's on Route 27 just north of Route 30. Maybe someone else would know. Also the state parks - Hopkinton, Ashland, Cochituate in Framingham. There's a parking fee but you can picnic and swim. If you have a dog, head out to the Tufts Vet School on Route 30 in Grafton - lots of huge fields to roam and socialize with other dogs & owners.

Have fun! Sometimes home-based camps are the best!!!!



answers from Boston on

Check out the Ecoterium in Worcester, Southwicks Zoo (print a coupon off their web site), check with your local town to see if they have any kind of play groups, bowling (Milford & Franklin have allies), town pond for swimming. My children are in Daycare and I know each week they plan out a theme. Check out, I am sure you can get lots of ideas from that. TyeDye Tee Shirts is fun!! Create your own spa, maybe paint finger & toe nails, get that calendar out, I am sure you will have not problem filling it!

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