This summer marks a second year of trying our own version of summer camp at home, rather than spend hundreds of dollars each week for our kids to attend theme camps. Each day is filled with fun, low-cost or free adventures, hands-on projects, and learning about science, history, and art. We intersperse each day with plenty of free play and add an hour of “relaxation time” after lunch so I get a break too! A lot of Stroller Hikers have asked for more information on what we’re doing, so we’ll post about them and link them to the curriculum page of Stroller Hikes.
Summer Camp with Mom 6: Bay Beauty
Week 2 of Summer Camp with Mom centered on the topic of the Bay Area. We started the week by drawing out a huge poster on butcher paper with what we expected to see at the Baylands in Palo Alto, our field trip for the day. We headed out, parking near the duck pond, a historic salt water swimming pool that had once been used by bathing beauties from Palo Alto, and is now a sanctuary for geese, ducks, coots, egrets, herons, pelicans, and more. We made quick work hiking all around the pond and to the observatory at the Baylands (sadly, closed on Monday), then settled down to paint with some watercolors.
I have seen artists at Palo Alto Baylands many times, and today was no exception. But today, the artists included three young kids, drawing rally trucks, forest landscapes, rainbows, and fireworks. I was the only one drawing the local landscape, but it was a treat to see that these kids are never lacking for creativity. Some had never painted with watercolors before, so it was fun to offer them this new experience. Everyone enjoyed blending colors and trying to draw things they could imagine or see.
We headed home and added to our poster what we had seen that we had not drawn before – a lot more birds, flies, and bugs. I brought home a small sample of muddy water from one of the estuary regions of Palo Alto Baylands, so we enjoyed watching a water boatman bug zip to and fro, and watching little protists shake about and squiggle, amongst nematode worms. As before, when we had looked at yeast for making bread, there were no creepy-crawly responses, and the kids were impressed and amazed at what they could see through a microscope lens.
After a taco lunch, the kids relaxed. I cued up movies summarizing the natural beauty and diversity of the Bay Estuary (there is an exemplary, award-winning series titled “Discover the Bay” on YouTube), then we delved into Native American history of the region. There was some nice review about the flora and fauna of the area, including some ocean foods like we had discussed or tasted the week before. We watched as a Native American built a canoe out of reeds, and checked out the homes and dress of natives in the area centuries before. While the natives lived in thatch and mud structures, we opted to build something a bit less messy – Tepees out of tyvek and balsa dowels. The opportunity for design and experimentation with construction was just what the kids needed – something that initially took 15 minutes to complete lasted for 90 minutes, as the kids made their structures stronger, more complex, and prettier. Holly even grabbed some blankets and cuddled beneath hers for a catnap.
The day ended well with some bike riding around the block.
– Debbie (Founder), Max (8), and Holly (4)