It’s been a while since I last posted – because even though we’re stuck at home, I’m still crazy busy! I realized after we officially ended our school year that the kids were going to have a long and boring summer if I didn’t DO something. And as always, that “something” is a time-consuming, way-out-of-my reach kind of thing that I tackle anyway because I’m stubborn like that.
Although our local area seems to be back to “normal” despite the rising Covid-19 cases, we’re still in lockdown mode over here at Homeschooling2e. My high-risk level means we’ll probably be isolated until a vaccine comes out. Knowing this, and knowing how frustrated our kids already are, I decided that we needed fun things to do now that we don’t have the routine of school days to keep us occupied. Enter, summer camp @home!
I polled the kids with four different option for summer camp. They unanimously decided that we need to do all four, rather than just one or two. Yikes! They also unanimously decided on the one they wanted to do first: Jade Mountain Academy from the Wings of Fire book series by Tui T. Sutherland. This is the series we’re currently reading (all the kids on different books) for our bedtime stories, and they’re entranced with DRAGONS!
For this post, I’m going to list all the activities and crafts I came up with for the Jade Mountain Academy camp. The other camps – scout camp, fairy camp, and Harry Potter camp – will have their own separate posts. Just as soon as I come up with the stuff we’re doing. Yup. No pressure there, right?
Camp was five days long because I couldn’t handle more. Some days had an unofficial focus on one tribe of the dragons – which, if you’ve read the books, you’ll know there are waaaay more than 5 tribes. Other days were random, generic dragon things because Google is a beautiful thing. Pinterest is confusing and annoying, but Google… that works well for me. The camp was structured somewhat like the actual Jade Mountain Academy, with similar names and ideas. The kids got a huge kick out of going to classes that their dragon counterparts did too!
For each transition between classes or start of the camp, I used a small chime I found at Target. A bell or small gong would work well too – it helped the kids transition (something they struggle with) and really made it seem more authentic than just mom gave us a craft to do.
- Select Name and Tribe – check in each student with their dragon name and tribe type. I asked the kids to chose several days before camp started, to give them time to discuss it and decide on what they preferred. Most of them were some sort of hybrid dragon with the best features of each tribe. And we had an astoundingly large number of Animus dragons (magic) enrolled at our camp
- Decorate Dragon Wings – I pre-made dragon wings for each child out of cardboard, and covered them in felt. Lots and lots of hot glue! For this activity I provided sparkly “jewels” and glitter glue for them to decorate their wings like Queen Scarlet (dragon who embedded jewels all over herself.) We ended up with wings covered entirely in glitter.
- Prey Cave & Exercise Time – snack time and a wiggle break
- Scavenger Class – I plopped my daughter’s Lottie doll on the table and we discussed scavenger habits and activities while the kids drew a picture of her. Lottie dolls are quite small, about 7.5″ tall, and similar body proportions to a kid. Any similar sized doll figure or even a Lego figure will work.
- Hunt for Queen Oasis’ Treasure – I sent the kids out on a treasure hunt, scavenger hunt style. Each clue sent them on to the next, with pieces of the treasure found at each clue rather than one big hoard at the end. I used some glass gemstones I had, but any fun, pretty gemstone, marble, or small jewelry kind of thing will work.
- History Class – a read-aloud of a dragon story.
- Flight Practice – the kids put their wings on and we practiced landing correctly (back winging) jumping off a cliff (retaining wall) and generally zoomed around getting wiggles out.
- Art Class – We sculpted a dragon from air-dry clay. Foam modeling clay or playdough will work too, or a 3-D pen for older kids.
- All About Rainwings Class – we discussed all the characteristics of the Rainwing tribe of dragons. At the end, I pulled out a massive platter of different kinds of fruit for the kids to sample. Rainwings are vegetarians who prefer eating fruit. Most of the fruit the kids had already tried, but I added a few new ones along with Rainwing favorites like pineapple and mango.
- Camouflage Practice – Rainwings are great at camouflage because of their special scales. We practiced being Rainwings – the kids had to go hide while I hunted for them. Hide-and-seek, but with a dragon twist.
- Care & Keeping of Dragonets Class – my daughter collects dragon stuffed animals. I “borrowed” all of them, and the kids had to teach the dragonets to do different things like fly or jump. At the end, the dragonets all practiced their hiding skills and the kids had to find them.
- Venom Spitting Class – We discussed the venom-spitting capabilities of Rainwings. Since none of my dragons could spit venom, we compromised with blow-dart practice instead. You’ll need two plastic straws of different sizes. Cut the small one slightly shorter and into a point on one end, tape it shut smoothly to form a dart. Slide the small straw into the large one and blow on the end of the large straw. It shoots out! Provide a target or basket for practice.
- Dragon Egg Craft – these are the ones pictured above. They’re a wooden egg, with hot glue looped around them in varying semi-circles. We painted a base layer of their preferred color, then a layer of glitter, and finished it off by rubbing metallic gold or silver over the raised hot glue part. Super easy and a lovely effect.
- Intro To Library – we pulled out some of the books that had been boxed up for a while and shelved them. Alternatively, you could collect a bunch of different dragon books for the kids to see, create “scrolls” for them to look out or color, or make a trip to your local library. Lots of options!
- Library Card Holder Craft – in the books, the students at Jade Mountain Academy had a special leather pouch that they wore around their neck to hold their library card, because dragons don’t have pockets. I purchased a small piece of leather from the craft store and round leather cording, and pre-punched holes in it for the kids to thread the cord through. Older kids could punch it themselves with an ordinary hole punch but make sure the leather isn’t too thick. For those who prefer not to use animal products, look for the super stiff, thick black felt instead. The kids made a library card to go into their pouch, and instantly went looking for “skyfire” rocks to wear too.
- Prey Cave & Exercise – the all important snack time!
- Geography Class – I printed out a map of Pyrrhia for them to color in the dragon tribe territories. I also printed out little dragons for them to glue on to the territories. Once the kids were finished, we mounted the maps onto a 12″x12″ piece of tan scrapbooking cardstock to make it look “old” and official. The maps were then hung in their sleeping caves.
- Hunting Class – I borrowed a small amount of my son’s Wild Republic stuffed animal birds. They have the recorded Audobon bird calls for an extra bit of realism, but any small stuffie will do. Each kid held a small basket, and I tossed a bird their way for them to catch. The goal was learning how to track their prey in motion and catch it.
- Art Class – paint the next layer of glitter on the dragon egg.
- Library Free Time – go read a book!
- History Class – a read-aloud of a dragon story
- Seawing Aquatic Class – we discussed different ways of communicating without our voices like sign language, music, and morse code. I printed out the morse code alphabet and gave a copy to each child. They wrote their name, and underneath the code for each letter. When they were finished, they used small flash lights to “read” their names.
- Art Class – Paint a dragon (or whatever subject they way) with glow-in-the-dark paint. Most craft paints will have a glow-in-the-dark paint option, but make sure the kids know to put the glow paint on the top of any other regular paint.
- Prey Cave & Exercise – snack time!
- Pearl Diving – we have a small above-ground pool, but a bathtub or kiddie pool works for this too. Purchase large pearl beads from the craft store. Plop them in the water and let the kids hunt for them. This works best outside in swim clothes if at all possible.
- Fish Hunting Class – attach a “fish” to a long string and drag it through the water (or grass) for the kids to try and pounce on. Grabbing the string doesn’t count, and the “fish” is allowed to hop around to avoid the kids. Make sure your “fish” has a little weight to it – a light “fish” won’t stay in the water well.
- Art Class – Purchase an assortment of medium and small plastic pearl beads to go with the large, and a few “jewel” beads too. Also purchase an elastic cord sized to fit the beads. Have the kids make jewelry like Queen Coral and the Seawings wear.
- Dragon History – read-aloud of a dragon story.
- Herbology Class – purchase or collect a selection of medicinal or edible plants (chamomile, willow, ginger, aloe, cucumber, etc) and discuss their uses. Take a small pot with potting soil and plant a seed or cutting of one of the selected plants for the kids to grow.
- Art Class – Dreamvisitor craft. Use a large glass flat marble to paint the back with glitter (first) and different shades of blue. Finish with a metallic coat and sealer for a dreamvisitor gemstone. You may also use the glass marbles to create a dragon eye, but that takes a little more finesse and might be too difficult for younger kids.
- Prey Cave & Exercise – snacks again. A summer camp staple.
- History Class & Craft – a read-aloud story, while the kids make pipe cleaner dragons. Glue on googly eyes with a hot glue gun.
- Paint clay dragons if dry
- Student Choice – I gave the kids the option to pick any of the activities we had done this week to do again. Not surprisingly, they chose to do pearl diving and fishing again. We ended the week with their favorite activity and had a great time!
Dragon wings (cardboard, glitter glue, sheets felt, hot glue and glue gun, cutting tool, wing pattern, ribbon for arm cuffs)
Scavenger treasure, drawing paper or notebook, pencil, assorted short dragon stories, air dry clay, assorted fruit prepared ahead of time, stuffed dragons or dragon stand-ins, 2 sizes of plastic drinking straws, scotch tape, wooden egg, assorted craft paints. Book, leather and leather cord (or leather alternative) hole punch, printed map of Pyrrhia, 12″x12″ tan cardstock, crayons, markers, or pens, pearl beads of different sizes, elastic cord to fit beads, glow-in-the-dark paint, canvas or wet-media paper, string, “fish” stand-in, assorted medicinal or useful plants, small pots, dirt, flat glass marbles, pipe cleaners in assorted colors, and a wide array of different snack.
We had a blast this week, and it really didn’t cost a lot of money. All we needed was some ingenuity, imagination, and a lot of fun!