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Easy Summer Camp Program Lesson Plan Guide
A summer camp program is a project that lasts the entire summer, providing school-aged children a safe place to continue learning, play and make friends. The teacher has to create the lesson plans for the entire two and half to three months well before summer even begins, usually without knowing who their students are or what they like.
To create the lesson plans, the school-age teachers have to get together and brainstorm ideas that are engaging, educational and within state regulations. This is the hard part of the job.
When creating a summer-long lesson plan, remember the four important parts of lessons… theme (of the week, summer, or day), age/grade divisions, naptime, snack time and other such interruptions, and playtime.
Create a Cool Theme
When creating lessons, whether it is for the summer camp program or the regular school year, a theme is important. The theme of the day, week, or summer promotes unity in the lessons and limits the amount of confusion from the children in why they are doing something when.
For example, creating an Olympics theme for the entire summer and then placing each week as a different sport will help the children feel less jumbled and rushed as summer often has a way of doing. The children will be able to focus on the theme of the day/week and less on what are we doing right now. The ‘right now’ factor is what causes the ‘I’m bored’ factor just after an activity has ended.
A basic example of the Olympics themed summer camp week:
- Monday – Place pictures of skiing around the main room. Get skis and the necessary clothing for a visual aide. Put wax paper on the bottom of children’s shoes, in teams, and ‘ski’ around obstacles set up in the room.
- Tuesday – Teach about velocity and friction. Do experiments using blocks and race cars. For information on teaching children physics, go to ScienceForKids
- Wednesday – Field Trip - Take them roller skating (or save this for figure skating week.)
Example Lesson Plan
Introduce the sport - skiing
Play with skiing
Teach about velocity
Emphasis on skiing
Teaching to Age/Grade
Remember that a first grader will not understand the concepts a fifth grader might, such as velocity. Teach each lesson in multiple ways, without repeating yourself, so everyone can understand.
For example, teaching about velocity and friction, you wouldn’t throw out a formula, not at a day care summer camp program that’s supposed to be fun. You explain that velocity is moving in one direction at a speed. When the skier is moving in one direction, downhill, they’re going to go super-fast. Friction is what is keeping the skier from speeding down the slope like a car. Friction from with wind and friction of the snow against the skis cause the skier to slow down once the slope of the ground straightens out.
Snacks, Naps and Other Interruptions
Each child must be given access to snack in the morning and in the afternoon. These are DCFS regulations in every state. This takes time out of your lessons. You have to account for these times and ‘quiet time’ or nap when creating the lesson plans.
Other interruptions during the day must be accounted for also. These times are regular trips to the bathroom. On field trips or trips to the park, there has to be an allotted amount of time for applying sunscreen and going to the bathroom. These times are usually unruly if you do not have a good plan in place.
Having extra teachers is always helpful because you can split the children up into groups. Set it up so you have one group to go to the bathroom, one to apply sunscreen and the other to play a quiet circle-time game whilst waiting.
Believe me when I say bathroom and snack time take up a lot of time during summer camp and you must plan accordingly or your day will get away from you. If you feel rushed and upset, the children will feel rushed and upset. Do you want 50 little kids under the age of 12 getting anxious all at the same time?
Lessons are great. It’s incredibly important for the children to have learning during the summer to counter the loss of information that happens during summer.
However, it is equally important that the children have playtime. They need time away from your lessons and schedule. You cannot constantly have them running your obstacles like little trained puppies. They need to relax.
Yes, they have quiet time whilst the younger ones nap, but they also need loud, fun, obnoxious time without you trying to make them learn about x=mc2.
What Do You Think?
What summer camp theme do you like best?
To create the best summer camp lesson plans, think up a theme for the entire summer program, teach to each student’s level, include plenty of time for interruptions, and give the children free playtime each day. The lessons will start to write themselves if you follow these easy guidelines.