Welcome ROCmommas, ROCpoppas, and Friends!

Have fun with your kids - that's what it's all about. If you're looking for fun places to go in Rochester, NY (ROC), awesome
crafts to make, and yummy treats to bake with your kids - as well as some ideas for Date Nights - then you've come to the
right place. Welcome to ROCmomma. Happy reading, and please share your comments. Thank you!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Backyard Summer Camp: Animals Week

Backyard Summer Camp...Camp Mom...Keeping Them Busy...whatever you call it, this series is designed to provide some ideas to keep you and the kids busy with games, crafts, and field trips all focused around a theme for the week. These are a starting point; you and your kids can use your imagination and creativity to come up with your own ideas.

This week's theme is animals because almost every kid loves animals. Have fun with these suggestions, and coming up with your own!

By the way, in case you've missed them, be sure to check out Wacky Sports WeekUnder the Sea WeekOuter Space WeekIn Our Neighborhood WeekDinosaur WeekMessy Stuff Week, and Games Week, too. Enjoy.

Animals Week

Active Play
  • Animal Moves - take turns naming an animal, then everyone acts like that animal and makes that animal’s noise
  • Backyard Safari - make a list with two columns; in the first column, ask the child(ren) to name all the animals you typically see in your backyard (or at the park, etc.) such as chipmunks, squirrels, deer, birds, etc.  Leave the second column blank to tally the number of each animal you see on your “safari.”  
  • Feed the Animals/Bean Bag Toss – print a coloring page with a picture of your child’s favorite animal; secure to an empty cardboard box and cut a hole over/near the mouth; give your child a bean bag (or other soft object) as the “food” for the animal to throw into the animal’s mouth. Be sure the hole is large enough for the beanbag. 
  • Zookeeper Says – Just like Simon Says, except the caller says things such as , “The Zookeeper says hop like a bunny,” “The zookeeper says walk like a crab,” or, “The Zookeeper says slither like a snake.” 
  • Animal Obstacle Course – set up an obstacle course outside where kids can go over, under, around, and through anything you have on hand; the catch is that they must crawl on all fours, hop, or slither through the course. 

Backyard Safari (at the park)
Animal Obstacle Course
Quiet Play
  • Pinecone Bird Feeders (Materials: pinecones, bird seed, peanut butter – or substitute seed butter for any allergies, plastic knives or spoons, string to hang the bird feeder)
  • Popsicle Stick Animal Craft (Materials: craft sticks, paint, googly eyes, buttons for noses, glue, craft feathers, pipe cleaners, etc.) 
  • Make animal sock puppets & have a puppet show
  • Toilet Paper-Tube Farm Animals – paint toilet paper tubes and decorate with pipe cleaners, buttons, pom poms, shape stickers, markers, etc. to make your own farm. 
  • Animal Tracks Painting – dip plastic toy animals into paint and make tracks across the paper; add background scenery with paint, markers, or crayons 
  • Draw an Animal - Clip magazine photos of animal faces; adhere to paper and ask the child(ren) to draw the rest of the picture 
  • Watch animal videos on http://www.sandiegozoo.org/videos
  • Play animal games online 
  • Make LEGO animals
  • Read stories about animals
  • Write a story together about what it would be like to have your favorite animal as a pet. Let kids illustrate.

Making LEGO Duplo Animals
More LEGO Duplo Animals
Field Trips
  • Visit a zoo (Rochester Area: Seneca Park Zoo, or day trip to Buffalo Zoo or Syracuse Zoo)
  • Visit your local humane society (Rochester Area: visit the barn, the walking trail of farm animals, and the domestic animals inside Lollypop Farm in Fairport, NY)
  • Visit an animal sanctuary (Rochester Area: check out Wild Wings at Mendon Ponds Park in Honeoye Falls, NY: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, or Friday)
  • Visit a local farm (Rochester Area: say, “Hi!” to the animals at Wickham Farms in Penfield, NY: Tuesday = $2 specials on mini golf; Friday = story time at 11 a.m.)
  • Feed some animals (Rochester Area: feed the chickens, deer, sheep, goats, alpaca, pony, donkey, and rabbits at Powers Farm Market in Pittsford, NY)
  • Go to the library for books about your favorite animals: The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen, The Underpants Zoo by Brian Sendelback, Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann, If You Give A…series by Laura Numeroff, the Pigeon books or Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems, or the Llama Llama books by Anna Dewdney
Feeding goats at
Powers Farm Market
The lions at Seneca Park Zoo!
We hope you have fun with your own Animals Week this summer. Be sure to Post a Comment and let us know what activities you did. As always, thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Backyard Summer Camp: Game Week

I hope you have been having as much fun with this Backyard Summer Camp series as we are. My kids get pretty excited about picking a new envelope each week, and they are even coming up with their own ideas to add to our list. I love it! Of course, the list is just a starting point. It gets us going in the morning and then we go off on tangents. And the best part is: minimal whining. Yes!

Now, get ready for Game Time!

By the way, in case you've missed them, be sure to check out Wacky Sports WeekUnder the Sea WeekOuter Space WeekIn Our Neighborhood WeekDinosaur Week, and Messy Stuff Week too. Have fun!

Games Week

Active Play
  • ·      Life-Sized Angry Birds (Materials: cardboard boxes, Angry Birds coloring pages, water balloons, etc. Instructions: Select images of the pigs from the Angry Birds coloring pages and secure to a few boxes. Stack the boxes to look like the game and launch filled water balloons as the birds. Take turns trying to knock down all of the “pigs.”)
  • ·      Play Twister outside
  • ·      Play tag or freeze tag
  • ·      FrisbeeTic Tac Toe (Materials: 9 frisbees or paper plates in 2 different colors; square blanket or tablecloth; duct tape to make the Tic Tac Toe grid on the blanket. Instructions: players throw their Frisbee or plate and try to get three squares in a row.)
  • ·      Hang a felt “target” outside; cover balls with adhesive Velcro (you'll want the stiff side of the Velcro; not the soft side) and have kids throw to try and hit the target
  • ·      HopScotch on bubble wrap ...or in the driveway with sidewalk chalk...or on the floor with painter’s tape
  • ·      Life-sized Candy Land: use masking tape or painter’s tape to secure a variety of colored construction paper on the floor to make the game board. Use the cards from Candy Land to move to a certain color (be sure to use colored paper that matches the colors in the game), or roll dice and move that number of spaces. You could make up silly rules to add more movement to the game. For example, when a player lands on red s/he jumps three times, when a player lands on blue s/he barks like a dog, when a player lands on orange s/he touches his/her toes, etc. ECO-NOTE: Save the paper after your game! If you roll a piece of masking tape and place on the back of the paper to secure it to the ground, you can save it. The tape pulls off easily; just stack the paper and return to your craft supplies for future use. 
Life-sized Candy Land!

Quiet Play
  • ·      Play board games
  • ·      Set up a domino run
  • ·      Make your own board game (large piece of paper or inside of a cereal box, paint, stickers, etc. - let the kids make up the object of the game and the rules!) 
  •      Play online games, such as the games for kids in grades K-8 at funbrain.com
  • ·      Make a game board out of LEGO bricks
  • ·      Read books about games
  • ·      Write a story together about playing your favorite game. Let kids illustrate.
Super-fun Domino Run

Field Trips
  • ·      Go bowling (school-age children bowl one free game per day this summer at AMF lanes; check out kidsbowlfree.com)
  • ·      Visit a local children's museum to play games (Rochester Area: check out the new Game Time exhibit at StrongNational Museum of Play)
  • ·      Play video games at an arcade such as Chuck E. Cheese (Rochester Area: The Clubhouse in Henrietta, NY and Adventure Landing in Greece, NY are also kid-friendly)
  • ·      Go to the library for books about games: Games: Traditions Around the World by Godfrey Hall, Games: From Dice to Gaming by Liz Miles, The Games Book by Huw Davies, Play These Games by Heater Swain, The Big Book of Games by Dorothy Stott, and Games Galore by Shari Ann Pence.
Giant-sized fun at the new
Game Time exhibit at
Strong National Museum of Play
Ginormous Battleship at
Strong National Museum of Play
Playing dominoes on
a larger-than-life domino
Giant light-up Connect Four

    We hope you enjoy your Game Week, and as always, thanks for reading.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Backyard Summer Camp: Messy Stuff Week

Last summer I scoured Pinterest for ideas and created a Messy Backyard Fun Week for my boys. They had such a blast that they still ask to "do messy stuff" on a regular basis. I suppose that was the impetus to all the Backyard Summer Camp theme weeks this year.

When I was brainstorming theme-week ideas, I had to include a Messy Stuff Week once again. It was just too much fun. Most of these can be done outside to minimize the clean up. Trust me, the mess will be worth it for the smiles on your kids' faces!

By the way, in case you've missed them, be sure to check out Wacky Sports WeekUnder the Sea WeekOuter Space WeekIn Our Neighborhood WeekDinosaur Week, and Game Week too. Have fun!

Messy Stuff Week

Active Play
·      Color volcanoes (food coloring, vinegar, baking soda, plastic cups)
·      Sock bubble-blower (cut off the bottom of an empty water bottle and secure a sock over the cut opening; dip the sock-end into bubble solution then blow through the other end)  
·      Make sponge balls; play sponge ball tag (cut three sponges into six strips each; pile the strips and tie in the middle with a piece of string; fluff pieces out into a ball) 
·      Jackson Pollock painting. Materials: drop cloth; poster board; washable tempera paint; old kitchen utensils, sticks, rulers, etc. for flinging paint. Instructions: Place poster board on the drop cloth and have kids dip the utensils/rulers/sticks into paint and then splatter to their hearts' content.
Color volcanoes
Jackson Pollock painting
Quiet Play
·      Make Jell-Doh Materials: 1 c. flour, 1/2 c. salt, 1 Tbsp. oil, 2 tsp. cream of tartar, 1 c. water, and 1 pkg. Jell-O mix. Instructions: Combine and cook all ingredients on medium heat, stirring until thickened. Cool, then knead until dry to touch.
·      Make Lava LampsMaterials: empty plastic bottles, oil, water, food coloring, glitter, and salt. Instructions: Fill bottle 3/4 with water; add food coloring and glitter. Fill almost to top with oil; let separate. Pour salt into jar and watch the lava-lamp-like bubbles!
·      Bubble wrap print Materials: bubble wrap, paint, brushes, white paper. Instructions: Paint directly on the bubble wrap, then press clean paper on top to make a print.
·      Microwave Ivory soap Materials: paper towel, Ivory bar soap (no substitutes, or it won't work). Instructions: place bar of Ivory soap on paper towel in microwave; heat for a couple of minutes, until it "grows." Remove your soap blob and play!
·      Dissolving egg shells & bouncing eggs Materials: eggs, vinegar, water, clear jars. Instructions: Place eggs in vinegar and observe. Leave eggs in for 1 week, then observe; remove and bounce them. Bonus: put vinegar-eggs into corn syrup for a few days then observe.
·      Milk Art Materials: dish, whole milk, food coloring, dish soap. Instructions: Pour milk into a dish; drop in food coloring. Then add dish soap a few drops at a time and watch the colors dance!
·      Blow Up a Balloon with Yeast Materials: empty bottle, balloon, ½ cup warm water, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 packet active dry yeast. Instructions: In the bottle, mix warm water and yeast; swirl around to dissolve then add sugar and swirl again. Stretch out the balloon then place over the top. Let sit in a warm place for about 20 minutes; observe.
·      Read science books
·      Write a story together about a crazy science experiment. Let kids illustrate.

Field Trips
·      Visit a science museum (Rochester Area: check out the Rochester Museum & Science Center)
·      Go to the library for science books: Science Experiments: Shiny, Slimy, Stinky, Shocking by Steve Parker; 60 Super Simple Science Experiments by Q. L. Pearce; A Moldy Mystery by Michelle Knudsen;  Crazy Concoctions: A Mad Scientist's Guide to Messy Mixtures by Jordan Brown.

Have fun getting messy! As always, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Backyard Summer Camp: Dinosaurs

Who doesn't love dinosaurs?! Herbivores, carnivores, Cretaceous, Jurassic...they're all fantastic. Check out these dinosaur-themed activities, easy crafts, and fun outings to fill another week of summer vacation.

We hope you have been enjoying the Backyard Summer Camp series so far. In case you've missed them, be sure to check out Wacky Sports WeekUnder the Sea WeekOuter Space Week, and In Our Neighborhood Week.


Active Play
  • ·      Ice Age (freeze toy dinosaurs in a plastic bin with water; the next day, kids use child-safe tools to break them out) 
  • ·      Dig for Dinos (hide toy dinosaurs in a sandbox or a large bin filled with rice or bird seed)
  • ·      Make dinosaur feet (tissue boxes with the top-slit opening, paint, sponges to cut & use for claws, glue)…then be sure to stomp around and roar! 
Diggin' for Dinos!
Quiet Play
  • ·      Make “fossils” with air-dry clay and toy dinosaurs 
  • ·      Make dinosaur terrariums (clear container, rocks, soil, plants, toy dinos) 
  • ·      Make stand-up dinosaurs (cardboard, paint, safety scissors, and this freedownloadable template
  • ·      Visit kidsdinos.com to play dinosaur games
  •      Make dinosaur eggs early in the week; have a dino-egg hunt later on 
  •      Make a Fruitasaurus Salad for lunch or a snack (watermelon, strawberries, orange, blueberries, and pineapple)
  • ·      Make LEGO dinosaurs
  • ·      Make dinosaurs with Play-Doh
  • ·      Read stories about dinosaurs
  • ·      Write a story together about what would happen if you saw a real dinosaur. Let kids illustrate.
Stomp, stomp, chomp, chomp...it's Fruitasaurus!
Field Trips
  • ·      Check out a local science or natural history museum and visit the dinosaur display (Rochester Area: visit the Rochester Museum & Science Center to dig for mastodon bones)
  • ·      Rochester/Buffalo Area: Visit the Penn Dixie dig site in Hamburg, NY
  • ·      Go to the library for books about dinosaurs, such as the How Does A Dinosaur series by Jane Yolen, "Dinotrux" by Chris Gall, "I'm Bad" by Kate & Jim McMullan, "Beyond the Dinosaurs" by Charlotte Lewis Brown, "Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs!" by Kathleen V. Kudlinski, "Edwina The Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct" by Mo Willems, "Dora and Diego Help the Dinosaur" adapted by Lara Bergen & Ellie Seiss, "The Magic School Bus: Dinosaur Detectives" by Judith Bauer Stamper, and the dino-sports series by Lisa Wheeler: "Dino-Soccer," "Dino-Baseball," "Dino-Hockey," and "Dino-Football."

We hope you enjoy your Dinosaur Backyard Summer Camp Week! As always, thanks for reading.
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