We know that not every participant could attend camp this summer, but we don’t want to leave ANYONE out of the fun! Here’s a list of some awesome ESP activities that you can do right at home!
Making a texture paper is a great opportunity for our campers to explore nature and be creative! The textured leaves/objects will provide amazing sensory experiences that never end! There are two options for collecting items that will be used on the paper. If you would like to have the items picked out beforehand, you can collect objects from outside and put them by where they originated. For example, leaves will be placed next to a tree for easy collecting! If you would like to let your camper find the materials themself, decide on a path to take outside and let them choose items that speaks to them!
Once you have all of the objects, go inside and let the camper pick out a piece of colored construction paper and begin gluing their objects onto it. They can place their objects to make certain shapes or even to spell their name! This is great for practicing fine motor skills and decision making. Some participants may require hand-over-hand prompting. If you’d like to make a texture paper too, do yours at the same time so the camper can follow along on their own sheet! This will help the participant learn how to model/imitate. When the camper is done, leave their sheet out to dry and then find a great place to show it off!
Oobleck is a great science experiment that everyone can enjoy! Oobleck is a non-newtonian fluid, which means it can act like either a liquid or a solid depending on the force applied to it. This makes it fun to play with and fascinating to watch! To make Oobleck, start by pouring a cup of water into a bowl. Begin adding the cornstarch to it while also mixing with either a spoon or your hands. If you need more than 1.5-2 cups of cornstarch, feel free to add it in until you get the desired state! If you add too much, just pour some more water in to even it out!
When your Oobleck feels right, add some food coloring to it and have fun trying to mix it into the strange goo! Now it’s time to play with it! Grab it and let it ooze between your fingers! Squeeze it fast, and then slow, and conduct other tests to see how it reacts to different touches! The name “Oobleck” comes from a Dr. Seuss book called Bartholomew and the Oobleck where a boy must rescue his kingdom from a green substance called Oobleck! Consider reading the book to your camper during the activity for added fun!
Spa day long overdue? ESP has the perfect solution for you! Create your own spa right at home and enjoy some relaxation time with your child! This activity is great for self-soothing and engaging in imaginative play. Play some calming music and start by making a face mask out of yogurt, honey, and oats. Have your child mix these ingredients together in a cup and take turns applying it all over each others’ faces! This delicious mask will leave you feeling rejuvenated and glowing. Add some cooling cucumbers on your eyes for even more refreshment!
Next, give each other soothing shoulder massages to get out some tension! You can also treat your camper to a manicure by painting their nails in their favorite color! Next, use brushes and hair accessories to give a total transformation! Consider giving your child with long hair fun braids or other unique styles that you can find in tutorials online! If you’re doing a spa day with an older participant, let them be the “owner” of their very own salon and run the show!
Make some feathery friends by creating a bird feeder out of a toilet paper roll! This is a fun way to be creative and sustainable by re-using some old items! Set up an area for painting, and have the camper paint their roll use a brush or their fingers. Let your camper choose what color they’d like their bird feeder to be, and put the paint onto a paper plate for easy-access. When the participant is done painting, leave it to dry in a safe space, and come back when it’s ready!
When the roll is dry, it’s time to put the seed and peanut butter onto it! If there are no allergies, have the camper spread the peanut butter onto the outside of the roll with a plastic knife. Next, press birdseed into the peanut butter all over the roll. Ta-da! Now you’re ready to hang the feeder outside so you can watch all the birds enjoy their treat!
Explore the ocean by making an edible aquarium with blue Jell-O for water, skittles for coral/shells, and Swedish Fish to represent sea creatures! The night before the activity, make the Jello-O, pour it into the clear plastic cup, and leave it in the fridge to set. One the day of the activity, the Jello-O should be all ready to go!
Place the skittles, Swedish Fish, and a plastic knife on the table along with the cup of Jello-O. Have the camper measure out a tablespoon of skittles and then press them into the bottom of the cup with a plastic knife. Use the knife again to press the Swedish Fish somewhere in the middle of the Jello-O, and voila! Your child has a fun and tasty dessert! This activity will help participants practice life-skills such as following step-by-step directions to make the recipe correctly. While doing this activity, you can also teach your child some cool things about the ocean and the beautiful creatures that occupy it!
This next activity comes straight from NASA! Become an engineer and launch your own rockets high into the sky for hours of fun! First, gather the PCV pipe, bottle, and tape and set it up on the ground for construction. Follow these instructions provided by NASA so that the materials are constructed in the proper way for launching https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/pdfs/sr_launcher_assembly.pdf. Your camper can help out in this process, or they can begin creating their rocket in the meantime! Give them a piece of colored construction paper and have them design it with markers. Once you’re both finished, help them roll and tape the paper into a cone to create a rocket-like silhouette. Now, you’re ready for blast-off! This activity can be done either inside or outside when it’s not windy! The camper will place their rocket onto the top of the open pipe and then stomp onto the middle of the bottle to make it fly! Re-inflate the bottle by blowing into the pipe.
Experimenting with a density bottle is the perfect opportunity to learn and practice the scientific method! Set up a table with the supplies above, and begin the activity by explaining to the camper what density. Try giving them examples of materials that are more or less dense than each other! When they have a good understanding of the concepts, have the participant form hypotheses about the densities of each item as compared to the water (ex. which is lighter/heavier). For example, if their hypothesis is that oil is less dense than water (lighter), then they expect it to float to the top.
Once they’ve made their guess, it’s time to put it to the test! Take the water bottle and begin layering the different liquids into the jar one at a time to see if they float or sink. Determine how many of the participants’ hypotheses were accurate! Try to keep campers from shaking the bottle as it might mix some of the liquids and make the results less clear.
Dream catchers are super easy to make and will be a great addition to any room! Take the paper plate and fold it in half. Cut the inside semi-circle out so that when you open it up, the center is wide open. Now, it’s time to get creative! Let your camper design the dream catcher any way they’d like. Consider taking this time to explain the myth of dream catchers and what they’re meant to do. When the participant is done coloring, help them use the scissors to poke small holes all around the paper plate. Now, it’s time to make the netting! Your camper will create a beautiful criss-cross design by looping the string in and out of each hole until the open space is filled with netting. Tie the string at the end to prevent it from coming out! Now, make a small hole at the top and tie a string to it so you can hang it up, either on an object or by using a thumb-tack and putting it on the wall. These beautiful dreamcatchers will DEFINITELY ensure a peaceful night’s sleep!
Weather yoga uses poses that are meant to simulate the weather! This activity helps participants demonstrate their flexibility through adapted yoga poses and learn how to imitate the behaviors of others. Yoga is also a great way to self-soothe!
Find a place with minimal noise and soft lighting. Lay your mat on the floor, and have the participant do the same. Make sure you’re positioned in a place where they can watch you and follow the moves you’re doing. Turn on some calming background music to aid in the relaxation! Begin instructing five minutes worth of stretches on the mats while your child copies you. When your muscles are loose, it’s time to begin the yoga! Start with the tornado pose, which is the mountain pose (stand straight up with arms straight against your sides), and begin spinning! Next, do the rain pose. Go into a forward fold (stand straight up and then bend at the waist and try to place your hands near the ground, as close to your body as you can) and begin sprinkling your fingers to mimic rain.
Now it’s time for the wind pose! Stand in place and begin swaying to the music like a tree in the wind. The thunderstorm pose is next! Sit criss-cross on the mat, circle your arms, and clap when they meet in the middle to create a “boom” of thunder!
The partly sunny pose comes next! Squat on the ground and try to raise your arms as high as you can by straightening your knees. Lastly, we have the snowy mountain pose, which is downward dog! Stand up and out your hands on the ground. Walk your hands as far as you can so you’re forming a ‘V’ shape. If you’d like to make the activity longer, use your creativity to come up with other weather-related poses. Now it’s time to finish weather yoga cool-down with some stretching, water, and clean-up!
These recreational activities focus on building physical fitness while also having fun! Our campers do these games on Monday morning to build energy for the rest of the day! Start off this activity with a game of “follow the leader.” Take turns being the “leader” and perform different movements for the “follower” to copy. Be silly with your actions and make it interesting! You can even build on each movement and make a competition of it! For example, have one person do one move, and then the next person has to repeat that move and add a new one!
The next physical movement game you can do is play hopscotch! Create a hopscotch course on the sidewalk using chalk and make each square a different color and number. For the first round, throw a rock and then have the camper hop to the square it landed on! Next, try playing hopscotch bingo! Call out different colors and numbers and have the participant put a rock on that square. You can also play freeze dance hopscotch where you play fun music and have them hop until the music stops, or have them freeze if you call out a certain number and they’re on that square.
There’s no better way to celebrate ESP Groovy Summer than by making lava lamps! This camp activity is arts and crafts and science all in one! It’s easy to do, and uses simple ingredients that you probably already have at home. Take a clear water bottle and have the participant decorate it using glitter or paint. Make sure that most of the insides of the bottle are still visible! When they’ve finished designing the bottle, help the camper fill it about ¾ of the way full with vegetable oil.
Next, have them pour water in the bottle until it reaches the top. Put a few drops of food coloring into the bottle to give it a groovy color! Pouring things into the bottle is great for practicing fine motor skills. If you have alka seltzer tablets, break one up and put a small piece into the bottle. Sit back and watch your lava lamp come to life! Now your camper has a cool new decoration to put in their room!
Slime is all the craze these days, and this yummy activity will serve as a sticky toy AND a snack! Begin by setting out all of the ingredients and having the camper wash their hands! When they’re ready, help them measure out and mix together ¼ cup of cornstarch and ¼ cup of sugar in a bowl. Your child can then sort and unwrap the color Starbursts of their choice and place them into a separate bowl.
Assist your child in putting the mixture into the microwave for 30-second intervals until the Starbursts are completely melted. Wait for the Starbursts to cool, and then knead the melted goo into the powder until it starts to have a slime-like consistency! Kneading the tough slime is great for building up muscle strength! The participant might need help unwrapping the Starbursts or kneading, so don’t hesitate to provide assistance! This colorful and delicious slime can now be played with and devoured!
Puppets are an awesome way for a participant to express their imagination! This activity will help campers use their fine motor skills, work on decision making, and express their creativity! Gather all of the supplies listed above and lay them out on a table. Brainstorm with your camper to get an idea for what their puppet will be (do they want to make an actual person or create something totally new). If it would be helpful, have your child draw a design of their puppet so you have a reference. When they’re done deciding, pick out the materials that will bring their design to life!
Help your child execute their vision by cutting clothes out of felt, gluing on buttons as eyes, and incorporating any other details! When the participant is happy with the finished product, leave it to dry and don’t forget to give it a name! When the puppet is ready, have your child create their very own puppet show! They can have their puppet tell stories, perform a talent, or make funny jokes! If you also made a puppet, both of the puppets can exchange dialogue or act in a scene. You and the participant can even design a puppet stage out of construction paper or boxes!
Having a plant is a great way to teach a camper responsibility! During this activity, participants will have the chance to decorate a flower pot and pick their own seed! Set out the paint supplies and flower pot on a table. Ask the camper which colors they would like to paint with, and put them on a paper plate for easy access. The camper can paint the flower pot using a brush to practice their fine motor skills, but they can finger paint if it would be easier! When the camper has finished decorating, set out the pot to dry overnight.
On the next day, it’s finally time to put the seed into its newly decorated home! Retrieve the dry pot and help the participant to fill it with soil. This is a great opportunity to have campers who dislike being dirty learn to cope with it. While doing this, teach them about growing plants and what they need to live, such as sunlight and water!
When you’re finished with the soil, take your seed of choice and have the camper place it into the pot and bury it. Tell the camper about the specific seed (such as the plant’s future colors) and let them guess how tall it will grow. Have them put the plant by a window or outside, and let them pour a cup of water onto the soil to nourish their new friend!
Do you have a bunch of broken crayons laying around the house? Well this activity is perfect for you! These candles will smell great and add a pop of color to your home! Gather up some old crayons and help your camper take all of the wrappers off. If you have a hard time getting them off, use cold water. Once you’re done, let your child choose the crayons that will give you your desired color. Making colors like purple out of red and blue crayons is a great opportunity to learn more about colors!
Break the crayons up into pieces, and put them into a paper cup. Do the same for paraffin wax and dump it into a second cup. Next, it’s time to attach the wick to the candle container. This can be done with hot glue or double-sided tape. Set a popsicle stick across the top of the candle container and wrap the wick around it so it stands ups straight.
Now it’s finally time to heat up our candle mixture! Fill and pot with water and bring it to a boil on the stove. Put a smaller receptacle in the pot and slowly combine the paraffin wax and candle wax. Help the participant stir until melted. Add in an essential oil to the melted wax to give it a magical scent! Now take the wax and assist your camper in pouring it into the candle container. Once it’s cool, light it up and enjoy the aroma!
Obstacle courses are a fun way to practice motor skills and create healthy competition! You and your camper will compete to see who can finish the course the quickest, so set a timer on your phone for each of your turns. The obstacle course will begin with some juggling! Set up a ball on the sidewalk outside and have the camper juggle (throw and catch) the ball 3 times. Then, draw a straight line in chalk and make the participant “walk the tightrope” like an acrobat!
After the line, put a beach ball down so the camper can balance it on their nose like a seal! Then, lay down a stick or string so that you can hold it up for the camper to limbo underneath. See how low they can go! Next, put down the hula hoop and have the camper hold it up. You will act as a lion as your participant guides you to jump through it and has you perform any other moves they want (jumping, rolling, etc.)! Encourage the camper to jump through the hoop as well! When the camper completes the obstacle course, stop the time, and now it’s your turn!
Make sure to cheer your child on and give them a high-five when they finish! Remember, you can always get creative and add your own stunts in!
We home these awesome actives will help you bring a little bit of ESP into your home and make your summer a little more groovy!