Inside: Ready for summer camp at home? These themed summer camp ideas for preschoolers are super fun, inexpensive and great for families!
It’s the hottest time of year and it’s two whole months. Do you have a plan for what you’ll do with your preschooler every day at home?
As a stay at home mom, having a solid daily routine is everything. Rather than waking up every day and wondering “what am I going to do with these kids today?” – it helps to have a plan! A routine doesn’t have to be a strict schedule, it’s meant to be a road map for your day.
And it’s no secret that we love a good daily routine post around here. Last summer I shared my basic summer daily routine for toddlers and preschoolers. This year I’m taking it up a notch with these fun summer camp theme ideas for preschoolers.
Now you may be thinking:
How can I make summer fun at home?
You may be relieved to know that you don’t need a bunch of expensive toys to create a memorable summer for your little ones! Here are my top tips for making summer fun at home:
- Just add water! Preschoolers love water play. Whether you only have room for a water table, or you set up a big splash pad in the backyard, make use of what you have to create a fun water environment (yes, even playing in the bathtub counts!)
- Pick a theme for each day to guide your activities (see more below!)
- Take a trip to the dollar store and load up on inexpensive supplies like bubbles, sidewalk chalk, measuring cups, scoops, funnels, ice cube trays and other essentials for a mud kitchen 🙂
- Schedule screentime as a tool when you need it most! Rather than having the TV on all day in the background or saying yes at inconsistent times, pick a time of day like an afternoon movie after lunch, or morning TV while you make breakfast, so everyone knows what to expect.
How do I make a summer camp schedule?
Rather than trying to plan out the whole summer, I like to take it week-by-week and have a theme for each day. This helps defeat the “what should I do with my toddler today?” question. Here are some tips for creating a summer schedule that works for you:
- Make a list of summer activities for preschoolers: this could be a bucket list of all the things you want to do this summer, or a list of ideas you’ve seen on Pinterest or Instagram.
- Pick a time of day to do these activities: This is an important part of creating your schedule, where do these activities fit into your daily routine? For us, the best time to do our “summer camp” activities is after breakfast and before lunch, so usually between 9 AM – 12 PM.
- Use a planner, chalkboard or dry erase board: Write down your weekly theme or daily activities, This will help keep you organized and will also help your preschooler know what to expect!
This is my basic summer camp schedule template:
- Make Something Monday
- Take a Trip Tuesday
- Water Play Wednesday
- Thinking Thursday
- Foodie Friday
It’s also important to remember that life happens! There’s no reason you can’t do a Field Trip Friday if Tuesday gets rained out. The specific days are not as important as having fun and making memories, so don’t feel that you need to stick to your schedule to a T.
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Fun Summer Camp Ideas for Preschoolers
These easy summer activities for preschoolers are sure to keep your little one entertained this summer! These activities work best for kids ages 2-6. Remember that all activities require adult supervision.
Make Something Monday
You can incorporate your “make something” activity into the part of the day you need it the most. As a morning activity, after nap-before dinner “time filler” activity or even as a fun themed playdate with friends.
- Try a new recipe that you pick together
- Do a craft kit from Michael’s or Target Dollar Spot
- Choose something to try from Pinterest
- Make a card to send to grandparents or family
Take a Trip Tuesday
We’ll use the term “trip” lightly since this activity usually involves a short adventure out of the house. Our favorite little adventure usually involves a combination of a new playground + lunch + treats.
Here are some more little trip ideas!
- Visit a relative who lives nearby and bring them something special
- Try out a new playground, park, or walking trail
- Ride bikes around a new area/neighborhood
- Go to the children’s museum, aquarium, planetarium, wildlife center or whatever you have available to you
Take a Trip TIPS
- Always keep a travel potty in the trunk (with a roll of TP!)
- Bring lots of snacks and reusable water bottles
- For toddlers who still nap, plan your day trip so you can be home for naptime or so that you head home around that time and they can sleep in the car
- Bring your stroller or baby-wearer if needed
- Ask a friend to tag along and make it a playdate!
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Water Play Wednesday
Water play just has this simple way of turning the day around. When things feel like they’re dragging on or someone complains of being “bored” – water play will solve it.
Here are some ideas for Water Play:
- Set up a baby pool, splash pad, sprinkler, or water table
- Take some favorite toys and freeze them in ice cube trays
- Fill squirt bottles with water and food coloring – endless possibilities
- Visit a local pool, beach, splash park or kid-friendly water park
Water Play TIPS
- Water Play always requires adult supervision at all times
- Be sure to fully drain your baby pool and flip it over when done (so it doesn’t refill with rain water) – leaving a baby pool full of water will attract mosquitoes AND it’s a drowning hazard for little ones
- Make sure your child has a well-fitted life vest such as a Puddle Jumper before heading to the pool, beach, or water park!
One way to beat the heat this summer is to plan outings where you can be INDOORS! The heat here is crazy in the summer. Some days the UV index is over 10 and my fair-skinned babies just need to be kept inside.
Here are our favorite ideas for Thinking Thursday:
- Head to the local library to check out books
- Visit the children’s museum
- Go to Barnes & Noble to play and buy a new book
- Visit a local museum to check out an exhibit
- Do an age-appropriate science experiment at home
Thinking Thursday TIPS
- Bring the car potty and a roll of TP for any outings
- Pack snacks or a lunch for the day
- Give each kid a gift card or “allowance” to spend at the bookstore
- Make a board on Pinterest to save science experiment ideas!
Alright, last but not least – Foodie Friday!
Here are our favorite ideas for Foodie Friday:
- Try out a new recipe from a cookbook or Pinterest
- Go to Barnes & Noble and pick out a kid’s cookbook together – then try a recipe from it!
- Send the kids out for donuts with dad (personal favorite 😉)
- Try a new restaurant or bakery
- Have a make your own pizza night
- Set up an ice cream sundae bar
And for more help with easy summer activities (like the ones shared here), routines, road trip tips, water safety & more, check out our Summer Survival Guide below.
What to Read Next:
- 5 Screen-Free Summer Activities for Toddlers
- Summertime Routine for Toddlers & Preschoolers
- 40 Healthy Preschool Snack Ideas (great for road trips!)
- How to Create a Daily Routine for Your Toddler