Monday, June 23, 2008

Cooking Camp, Day One

When I looked at my summer and saw weeks and weeks of empty squares on the calendar, I panicked. Then I calmed down and told myself it wouldn't be that bad. Then I had all three kids home for a day and it was an unmitigated disaster. So I panicked again. Then I came up with a plan.

The plan is to create "camp" at home for my three kids all by myself. I've chosen a theme for each week, starting with "Cooking Camp" today and ending with "The Olympics" at the end of August.

This isn't just to fill up days. It's also to keep Jack in the school mentality and to keep teaching him skills he's going to need in kindergarten—things like sitting during circle time and doing the projects the person in charge asks him to do.

So I let my kids futz around this morning until they started getting antsy. Once the first argument broke out, I convened circle time to distract them and explained what we were going to do. Then I read Green Eggs and Ham because it's one of about six books we own that is marginally about food.

Jack asked if we could make a schedule, and I figured if it's part of his IEP (it is, and his special ed teacher used one last year), there must be a reason for it. So we wrote down a schedule:

Seems full for a summer day? Yeah, I'm not fucking around here. We're having camp, for real.

Don't worry, we'll have lots of free time and fun too. I promise.

We started by making collages from pictures of food we cut out from magazines I am recycling. I never imagined that all three of them would happily sit and glue pictures to a paper for 45 minutes. But they DID!

(Please turn away from the giant wet spot on the tablecloth. Apparently there was an accident at breakfast.)

It turns out that to make Sam behave, you just have to make him believe that he's in school.

"I'm the hardest working guy in the class!" he said proudly, showing off his collage.

Things went swimmingly until I tried to get Jack to sign his paper. He insisted he was Kung Fu Panda and refused to write his own name.

He kept asking, "How do you spell 'Kung Fu Panda'?" I told him that I would tell him after he wrote his own name. But the determined little jackass just sounded out the words.

He wrote a K and then asked, "How do you spell 'ung'?"

Then, "What makes the nnnn sound? N or M? N! What makes the gggg sound? G or Q? G!"

Then the little bastard wrote the whole damn thing by himself. And put an exclamation point at the end. So much for forcing him to conform to the ways of school.

You've won this round, Kung Fu Panda. But the war is yet to be decided.

The little dudes had an afternoon playdate at A's house and I went to the grocery store. Then we went to karate and came home all ready to complete Cooking Camp, Day One by working together to make homemade macaroni & cheese.

And then I seriously ran out of steam. So I'm making macaroni & cheese from a box. Yep, we managed to have a full day of cooking camp without actually preparing food as a group. (Having a kid stick his entire arm in the peanut butter jar to "get a lick" of peanut butter while I'm making sandwiches for lunch doesn't count.)

Wish me luck for Cooking Camp, Day Two. We're planning on making macaroni art and tacos.


  1. Hey, that's pretty damn clever of you...ALL of you! Can't wait to read the camp newsletter, er uh, post tomorrow!

  2. wow. I'm impressed. You make me look bad. We had a summer like that last summer, now if I even look at Bubba, he squeals and flops on the floor like a two-year-old. I can't get him to do anything "fun." *pout*

    Keep posting your activities....maybe I'll get motivated. :)

  3. My kiddo needs a schedule too - especially at that age - while he switches gear into summer mode. I hated having to schedule 'play' and different kinds of play, but it did help him in the transition.
    Yea for Jack for realizing what he needed and advocating for it!

    PS - your camp sounds like lots of fun!

  4. I think this is a seriously awesome idea. I am so going to steal some of your projects. I'll give you credit though, don't worry! :)

  5. I'm so impressed-
    I'm trying the cutting out pictures from magazines

    TOMORROW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. What an awesome idea! And yes, Green Eggs and Ham is most certainly food related, Jack can be Kung Fu Panda if it motivates him to write, and mac and cheese from a box is more than ok. There. I've provided a teacher stamp of approval on your camp. Not that you needed it though.

  7. Oh AWESOME, Stimey!

    That is the best thing I've ever heard.

    I can't wait to hear about the other camp weeks.

  8. You're braver than I am; the mere thought of doing something like that with my two makes me quake in my boots. I should probably just put on my big girl panties and deal with it. ;)

  9. I think it is a fantastic idea. I have a huge container of macaroni that is supposed to be for making pictures, but it kinds turned into a sensory thing, they like to put their hands in it.

    Oh, and Joey insists on signing everything "Little Bear" when we are at home (including homework). I have no idea how Mrs. S and Mrs. H get him to sign his real name at school.

  10. you are my hero! I definately need to get my butt off the couch and get my boys doing stuff this summer. Preschool will be a rude awakening come august.

    We are going to start cooking camp tomorrow at our house :)

  11. You are like some kind of child-entertaining genius. I'm not kidding. You should seriously consider keeping your daily schedules to share with us other, less creative and innovative moms.

  12. He asked to make a schedule?! That's great!

    I think that your cooking camp sounds really fun and a great way to pass time.

  13. Brilliant! Ph, oh, will you include jello in your cooking camp? Do you think you could convince them to sit still with a hand in a bowl of hardening jello for a few hours? You could always tell them it's really peanut butter ;-)And then when it never really solidifies you can teach them about exothermic reactions...I'm getting way too far ahead now right? -Monica

  14. Wow, I've done theme days with my kids but never a week. I bow to anyone who can sustain such creativity over a period of days.

  15. How was the macaroni art today? (And are you keeping it, or is that Junk Pyramid Stimey's problem?)

  16. Oooh that's so clever! I say you have them make their own postcards to send to whomever they miss while at camp. What the heck!

  17. You are such an awesome mom. I have to pay people to do these things for me (science camp, safety city, vacation bible school).

  18. We tried to do this last summer and I lost steam FAST on it. But these are good ideas. Simplier than what i tried to do. I will give it a try again this year. Great ideas!

  19. I like to cook very at home. Greetings from Poland.


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