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!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Backyard Camp-Out!

If your kids are new to camping and you want to test-drive the experience before committing to an actual camping trip, try a Backyard Camp-Out!

Grab (or borrow) a tent, sleeping bags, pillows, and folding chairs. Then enlist your kids to help set up your camp site.

 Don't forget some stuffed animals to snuggle at night! And a few extra blankets; it can get chilly at night.

Once the camp site is ready, it's time to have some fun! Take a dip in the pool, play catch, get out your lawn games, even unleash a few surprises. As long as you're outdoors, any activity is fair game.
Splash time in the kiddie pool.
Game-face during Bocce Ball.
Surprise! Silly String time!
To help keep everyone outside during the Camp Out, be sure to pack snacks to keep at your camp site and load the cooler with water and other beverages. Enjoy your meals picnic-style, or just lounging in chairs. Of course, trips inside to use the bathroom are allowed.
Lunch break.
Play a few more games, blow some bubbles, have another splash in the pool or sprinkler, then take a walk to gather sticks for the fire. After the walk, it's time to prepare the fire.

We decided the barbecue grill was in-bounds for our camp out, so we grilled veggie burgers for dinner, along with some side salads that were prepared ahead of time.

Another walk and a little more play time, and then it's time to settle down. The boys had their first S'mores by the camp fire!
S'mores face.
Then we changed into pajamas and read stories by the fire. It's a good idea to keep flashlights or camping lanterns handy for night-time bathroom runs.
Once the kids were asleep, my ROCpoppa and I got to enjoy the camp fire in peace and quiet for a little while. Then we snuggled in with the kids. Miraculously, everyone stayed asleep until their normal wake-up time. Woo Hoo! Success!

Now that we know the kids enjoy camping, we are definitely going to plan a real camping trip. How about your family? Be sure to Post a Comment and share your camping tips and experiences! As always, thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Backyard Summer Camp: Numbers, Letters, Shapes, and Colors Week

Get ready for back-to-school with this Backyard Summer Camp theme week! Help your young ones review the basics in lots of fun ways. Of course, these ideas are just the beginning to a boredom-free week at home with the kids. Be sure to come up with your own creative ideas - and encourage the kids to come up with some, too.

If you're interested in the other Backyard Summer Camp theme weeks from this season, be sure to check out Wacky Sports WeekUnder the Sea WeekOuter Space WeekIn Our Neighborhood WeekDinosaur WeekMessy Stuff WeekGames WeekAnimals WeekPirates Week, and Things That Go Week. Enjoy.

Numbers, Letters, Shapes, and Colors Week

Active Play
  • Alphabet HuntMaterials: camera, scrapbook supplies or digital photo book site (such as Shutterfly.com). Instructions: Go for a walk and take photos of things that begin with A-Z. Upload or print out your photos and make a photo book together. 
  • Play Hop Scotch. Use sidewalk chalk outside or painter’s tape indoors.
  • Rainbow Ice for the Water Table or Kiddie Pool. A little preparation is necessary for this one. Day 1: fill an ice cube tray or muffin tin with water and add drops of food coloring to each section. Day 2: pop the cubes out into a water table or kiddie pool of water and watch the kids go crazy!
  • Jumping Letters. Draw a chalk grid with a letter in each square – use a Scattegories die to roll and call a letter; players run to that letter…or take turns spelling names by jumping to letters.
  • Target Practice. Use sidewalk chalk to write age-appropriate words (i.e., Kindergarten sight words, or just letters or shapes for Pre-K); give kids a bucket of water balloons; call out a word or letter and have the children find it and hit it with a water balloon.
Quiet Play
  • Sponge-shape stamping. Materials: new kitchen sponges, safety scissors, paint, paper. Help your kids cut the sponges into a variety of shapes, then let them stamp the sponges into paint and onto the paper for some unique artwork. For even more fun, try vegetable stamping!
  • Play BINGO.
  • Shape experiment: roll card stock into different shapes (cylinder, triangle, square); stand on one end and test to find out which tower can hold the most books (see All for the Boys blog)
  • Mixology: fill two clear cups halfway with water and place an empty clear cup in between; place drops of one primary color (red, blue, or yellow) into the water of one cup and a different primary color into the other water cup.  Twist up two paper towels; place the end of one into the first color and the other end into the empty cup. Place the end of the second paper towel into the second color and the other end also into the empty cup. Check back every few minutes to see what happens.
  • Check out some fun math problems on Bed Time Math. Each day features a new story with related math problems for all age groups.
  • Make LEGO letters, numbers, and shapes; sort LEGO bricks by color.
  • Use colored dominoes to make numbers, letters, shapes, and even a rainbow.
  • Read stories about numbers, letters, shapes, and colors.
  • Write a story together about numbers, letters, shapes, or colors…perhaps a story about what crayons do while we are sleeping. Let kids illustrate. 
A domino rainbow.
Making LEGO numbers.
Field Trips
  • Playground Shapes. Make a list together of all the shapes your kids recognize; visit a playground and tally the number of times you spot each shape.
  • Go to the library for books about numbers, letters, shapes, and colors (e.g., “LMNO Peas” or "1-2-3 Peas" by Keith Baker, "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" or "Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3" by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, "Dog's Colorful Day: A Messy Story About Colors and Counting" by Emma Dodd, "Secret Agent Josephine's Colors" by Brenda Ponnay, "Click, Clack, Quackity-Quack: An Alphabetical Adventure" by Doreen Cronin, "SuperHero ABC" by Bob McLeod, "Alphabet Mystery" by Audrey & Bruce Wood, "One Fish, Two Fish, Three, Four, Five Fish" by Dr. Seuss, "Ship Shapes" by Stella Blackstone & Siobhan Bell, "The Greedy Triangle" by Marilyn Burns, and "Clay Quest Minis: Search for Shapes!" by Helen Bogosian.

Have fun with your numbers, letters, shapes, and colors this week. Post a Comment and let us know your favorite book about numbers, letters, shapes, or colors! As always, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Backyard Summer Camp: Things That Go Week

If your kids are fans of cars, trucks, trains, and planes, then this Backyard Summer Camp theme week is for them. There are plenty ideas to get you started here, plus have fun allowing your kids to come up with their 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 WeekGames WeekAnimals Week, and Pirates Week, too. Enjoy.

Things That Go

Active Play
  • Backyard Car Wash. Materials: shaving cream (foam, not gel), toy cars, containers, a hose. Instructions:  for each child, fill a container with shaving cream for the car wash; fill a second container with water to rinse the cars. When the fun is done, hose everything off and leave them out to dry.
  • Chalk Roadway. With sidewalk chalk on the driveway (or painter’s tape indoors), this is perfect for racing toy cars around.
  • Marble Race Track.  PARENTS ONLY: Cut a pool noodle in half lengthwise with a serrated knife for instant marble race tracks. Add an empty box to catch the marbles at the end. 
  • Wash the car! Grab a bucket and some sponges or rags, and let the kids go crazy. Be sure to lock the doors first to prevent your helpful little ones from washing the inside. (Yes, it’s happened.) If your kids are too young to wash the car, turn this into a field trip and drive the car through a car wash together.

Washing the real car...
..."washing" the toy cars.
Quiet Play
  • Make box cars. (large boxes, paint) Although when we tried this, it turned into painting a vehicle onto a small box. Oh well; it was still fun!
  • Make paper airplanes and race them.
  • Clothespin Airplanes. Materials: clothespins, popsicle sticks, paint, glue. Check out the link for easy instructions. 
  • Make and race bottle-cap sailboats. Materials: cap from gallon of milk; glue dot; toothpick; triangle of felt, paper, or foam, container for water. Instructions: Attach a triangle of felt, paper, or foam to a toothpick. Place a glue dot inside the bottle cap and insert toothpick into the glue. Fill a container about half-way with water and launch your sail boat. Older kids may want to try a milk carton sail boat.
  • Make a counting maze or analphabet maze – kids can drive a toy car through the maze, following the numbers or letters in order.
  • Paint with vehicles. Pour washable tempera paints onto paper plates; have kids drive through the paint with toy vehicles, then run the vehicles over paper to compare the tracks they make.
  • Use Play-Doh to make your favorite things that go; or flatten Play-Doh and drive different toy vehicles over the dough to make tracks.
  • Color-Sorting Parking Lot: use painter’s tape in a rainbow of colors to create a parking lot on the floor (alternatively, line up pieces of construction paper); gather toy vehicles and “drive” them to their appropriate parking space by matching the vehicle color to the tape (or paper).
  • Make LEGO vehicles
  • Read stories about cars, trucks, planes, trains, boats, etc.
  • Write a story together about the fastest car ever. Let kids illustrate.
Painting box cars
...or painting cars on boxes.
Bottle-cap Boat Races
Closer look at the bottle-cap boat.
Painting with vehicles.
Play-Doh roads for toy cars.
Field Trips
  • Visit the airport and watch planes take off & land.
  • Play and picnic at a park near train tracks to watch for trains that pass by. (Rochester Area: Kings Bend Park in Pittsford, NY and Perinton Park in Fairport, NY each have train tracks on the perimeter)
  • Attend an airplane show in your area.
  • Visit a train museum or model train display. (Rochester Area: Visit the NY Transportation Museum and take aride on the trolley on Sundays only, or visit the Edgerton Model Railroad on the last Saturday of each month)
  • Go for a walk along a nearby canal or river to watch the things that go. (Rochester Area: walk along the Erie Canal to see boats and kayaks)
  • Go to the library for books about cars, trucks, planes, trains, boats, etc. Some examples: Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey-Rinker, Cars Galore by Peter Stein, Dig Dig Digging by Margaret Mayo & Alex Ayliffe, Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton & Tom Lichtenheld, The Wheels on the School Bus by Mary-Alice Moore, Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry, Thomas & Friends series by Rev. W. Awdry, Terrific Trains by Tony Milton, I Saw an Ant on the Railroad Track by Joshua Prince, Bob the Builder series, Road Work Ahead by Anastasia Suen, and books by Kate & Jim McMullan: I'm Dirty, I'm Fast, I'm Mighty, I Stink.

We hope you enjoy your Things That Go Week! Be sure to Post a Comment with your favorite ideas for this theme. As always, thanks for reading.

P.S. If you like this post, check out Kids Birthday Party Idea: Race Cars for even more ideas.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Backyard Summer Camp: Pirate Week

We're in the home stretch of summer, so let's make the most of the next few weeks with some more Backyard Summer Camp theme weeks...

Ahoy mateys! Grab an eye patch, a bandana, some gold doubloons, and perhaps a sword (or a cardboard tube from a roll of wrapping paper, as the case may be) and prepare yourselves for a swashbuckling adventure with plenty of opportunities to say, "Yo ho ho." Have fun with these Pirate Week 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 WeekGames Week, and Animals Week too. Enjoy.

Pirate Week

Active Play
  • Have a Treasure Hunt. Make a map the night before - indoors or outdoors, depending on the weather forecast - while the kids are sleeping. Hide something fun for the kids to find – bubbles, punching balloons, etc. 
  • Make a Pirate Fort with some chairs and bed sheets. Check out this Fort Round-up at the All For The Boys blog.  
  • Canon Ball Toss! Use sidewalk chalk to draw a pirate ship for each player on the driveway or sidewalk; fill some water balloons. Have each player stand on their ship and play catch with the water balloons.
  • Build a Pirate Ship. Grab a cardboard box (the bigger, the better), some paint, and any other embellishments you can find to make your very own pirate ship. Check out this post on At Home With Ali for some inspiration.  
  • Make an Active Treasure Map! If your kids had fun with a regular treasure hunt, blow them away with this variation. Add instructions to any ol' treasure map: hop on one foot down the walkway, walk backward from the back door to the tree, do 10 jumping jacks by the swings, etc., plus add in some letter recognition. Head over to the ReadingConfetti blog for the how-to.
  • Panning for Treasure. Fill a large bin or kiddie pool halfway with sand then water; hide treasure – craft store jewels, seashells, or fool’s gold – in the sand, then give each child a sieve to pan for treasure.
Treasure Hunt - we found a clue!
Quiet Play
  • Make paper pirate ships & decorate them.
  • Make a LEGO pirate ship.
  • Make a Play-Doh pirate ship.
  • Read stories about pirates.
  • Go through the costume bin and dress like a pirate.
  • Make a pirate snack! Create a Pirate Island using your kids' favorite veggies: corn for the sand, sugar snap peas for palm trees, zucchini slices for a hammock, and cherry tomatoes resting on the hammock. Yum!
  • Write a story together about your adventures on a pirate ship. Let kids illustrate.
Pirate Island Veggies
    Shiver me timbers!
Field Trips
  • Visit the beach to dig for buried treasure (sea shells).
  • Rochester Area: visit the Palmyra Pirate Weekend, August 9-10, 2013.
  • Go to the library for books about pirates (e.g., Olive's Pirate Party by Roberta Baker, Follow That Map by Scot Ritchie, Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC by June Sobel, How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long & David Shannon, On a Pirate Ship by Sarah Courtauld & Benji Davies, Captain Abdul's Pirate School by Colin McNaughton, Pirate Girl by Cornelia Funke, No Bath, No Cake!: Polly's Pirate Party by Matthias Weinert)
Aye aye, cap'n!
We hope you enjoy your Pirate Week! As always, thanks for reading.
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