Tax Deductible Summer Camp and Childcare: Things to Know

Did you know that some summer camps and after school activities qualify as childcare and can reduce your taxes? Find out more about what qualifies and how to get the tax credit.

by ActivityHero Staff

Updated for 2018 tax changes

Your family’s after-school care and summer day camp expenses may lower your taxes as a Child and Dependent Care Expense. If you paid a summer camp, daycare center, babysitter, or other care provider to care for a qualifying child under age 13 or a disabled dependent of any age, you may qualify for a tax credit up to 35 percent of qualifying expenses of $3,000 for one child or dependent, or up to $6,000 for two or more children or dependents. Even coding camps and after-school language classes can qualify, as long as your child is under 13 and meets the other criteria.

Here are some of the key points you need to know to get the tax credit:

  • Expenses are deductible only if the main purpose is the “person’s well-being and protection.” Summer school, private school tuition, tutoring and overnight camps don’t qualify.
  • Children who required care must be under 13 years of age.
  • Both parents must be working, or looking for work (with some rare exceptions).
  • Only day camps qualify, not overnight camps.
  • Day care centers or after-school care qualifies if only if the center complies with all state and local regulations.
  • There is a maximum yearly dollar amount of $3000 for one child, or $6000 for two or more children.

To get the tax credit, you must file a form 1040 or 1040A (not a 1040EZ) and additional forms (at least Form 2441) are also required. Be prepared to include the care provider name (camp or child care center), address and taxpayer identification number. Tip: you can find tax ID’s, also known as EIN, by searching for the name on ActivityHero. If you are married, you must be filing a joint tax return, not separate returns.

Please keep in mind that we know a fair bit about summer camps and kids activities, but are NOT tax experts. There are additional restrictions to this tax credit, so read IRS publication 503 carefully or consult your tax advisor before claiming the tax dependent care credit.

When booking summer and school holiday camps, consider whether the camps will be eligible for a tax credit next year. The tax credit can cut the price of camp by up to 35%.

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Camps for Providers

SF Bay Area Summer Camp Fairs 2018

Hey Bay Area! Get a chance to meet summer camp directors and ask questions by checking out a local camp fair. It’s a great opportunity to discover new camps and plan a summer your kids will love.

By ActivityHero Team

Bay Area Summer Camp Fairs
ActivityHero is pleased to be co-hosting several SF Bay Area camp & activity fairs with local schools. These fairs will a blast for kids — with hands-on maker activities, giveaways, and more. Fairs are free for families to attend, but camp directors are making a donation to help support the hosting school. Scroll down to find the fair nearest to you.

We’ve also gathered together information about other summer camp fairs happening in the area. Please be sure to let us know if you’d like to host a fair at your school, or if you know of another fair we should include here.

SF Bay Area Camp Fairs Co-Hosted by ActivityHero

SCEF and ActivityHero having fun at the camp fair!
Raising money for the San Carlos Education Foundation

San Carlos Camp Fair
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Heather Elementary School
2757 Melendy Drive, San Carlos, CA
(Register for a table)

Palo Alto Camp Fair
Thursday, March 1, 2018
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Ohlone Elementary School
950 Amarillo Avenue, Palo Alto, CA
(Register for a table)

Other SF Bay Area Camp Fairs

SF Bay Area Camp FairsSan Francisco Camp Fair
Saturday, February 3, 2018
9:30 am – 12:30 pm
French American International School Gymnasium
151 Oak Street, San Francisco

San Francisco Resource Fair
Saturday, March 10, 2018
11:00 am to 3:00 pm
County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park

Marin Camp Fair
Sunday, March 4, 2018
10:00am – 1:00pm
Dominican University, Conlan Center gymnasium
1475 Grand Ave San Rafael, CA 94901

Cardinal at Work: 16th Annual Summer Activities Fair
Thursday, March 22, 2018
10:30am – 2:30pm
Burnham Pavilion, 615 Serra Street

Contact us for more information or to host a camp fair at your school.

If you can’t make it to one of these fairs, check out ActivityHero for the latest summer camp schedules and reviews.

Camps Featured Posts Holiday Break Camps

Top 10 Winter Camps in the SF Bay Area

Plan ahead for winter break. Discover popular winter camps in the San Francisco Bay Area.

By ActivityHero Staff

Young Builders Woodworking Winter Camps
Young Builders Woodworking Winter Camp

This year, several popular winter camps are offering single day options for the greatest flexibility if you aren’t planning to take the whole week off. One-day camps are the first ones to fill up, so if you see one still available, book it now.

You’ll find camps that fit all interests, like LEGO, art, sports, or chess to make the most of your winter break. Top winter break camps in SF Bay Area include:

Adventure Camp – San Francisco 
Fun filled adventures for kids 4 and up.

Legarza Basketball & Volleyball Camps – San Francisco, San Mateo and San Carlos
Sports camps for kids 5 and up.

Camp Edmo – San Francisco, Oakland & San Jose
Science, crafts and engineering for kids 4 and up.

GrowFitRedwood City and San Jose
Sports and screen-free activities for kids ages 4 and up.

Kidizens – Belmont and Los Altos
Kids 5 and up build LEGO cities and learn problem solving.

Aviation Camp – San Carlos
Learn about flight and aerospace design for kids 5 and up.

Brainvyne – Providers of LEGO Education – Palo Alto
LEGO building and robotics for ages 5 and up.

BayAreaChess – Palo Alto
Chess and strategy games for ages 5-16.

Brushstrokes Studios – Berkeley
Pottery painting and art for 5-10 year olds.

CD’s Kids Art Studio – San Jose
Painting, drawing and mosaics for 5-8 year olds. Advanced art for kids 9 and up. 

You can see the latest availability, prices and reviews for these camps and more on ActivityHero

Register on ActivityHero

Guest Posts Holiday Break Camps Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Super Activities for Super Kids

World Holidays for Kids: Books, Movies & More

Are you interested in helping your children become “global citizens”? The holidays are a nice time to enjoy our own traditions while exploring others, too.

world holidays

By the Kids’ Media Experts at SmartFeed

The winter season offers the perfect backdrop for introducing your kids to holidays celebrated by different cultures, both in the United States and abroad. And media can provide us with a window into their varied and colorful traditions.

Here is a collection of books, along with a few other media treats (a movie, TV show, and app) that will help your children broaden their horizons and learn more about others who share our planet. Enjoy these titles with your kids, and you all may learn something new!

Shop for kids’ holiday break camps near you >>

Books About Favorite Holidays From Around the World

Let’s Celebrate Diwali
Ages 3+
Diwali, or the festival of lights, is celebrated around the world. This book explores the different traditions and customs of many different groups. The colorful illustrations make this an especially engaging read.


AmmaAmma, Tell Me About Holi!
Ages 4+
This colorful tale shares the story of the Hindu holiday of Holi, using colorful pictures and simple rhymes to make it easily understood by children.


CelebrateCelebrate: A Book of Jewish Holidays
Ages 4+
This book is a terrific introduction to the traditions and stories behind many of the Jewish holidays.


OskarOskar and the Eight Blessings
Ages 4+
As a refugee from Nazi Germany, Oskar finds the people of New York to be kind and giving on a day that is both the seventh night of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve. The people’s warm welcome shows Oskar that there is love and compassion in the world still.

RamadanUnder the Ramadan Moon
Ages 4+
In this picture book, a family’s month-long celebration of Ramadan is connected to the moon’s movement. The giving, sharing, praying, and caring for others that occurs during the month is beautifully conveyed.


Day-of-the-DeadDay of the Dead
Ages 5+
Brightly colored illustrations and detailed descriptions draw the reader into the preparations, foods, and celebration of the Day of the Dead.


Egg-TreeThe Egg Tree
Ages 5+
One grandmother’s childhood tradition of an Easter Egg tree is discovered by her grandchildren, who are quick to embrace the custom themselves. This winner of the Caldecott Medal is a true classic.


MarcoMarco’s Cinco de Mayo
Ages 5+
Narrated from the perspective of a young dancer in a Cinco de Mayo parade, this book brings the holiday and its history to life.

Shop for kids’ holiday break camps near you >>

holidays_around_the_worldHolidays Around the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year
Ages 6+
With over a billion people celebrating Chinese New Year worldwide, it’s a great idea to learn about the food, gifts, visiting, and celebration that are key to this holiday.


Seven_spoolsSeven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story
Ages 6+
The seven principles of Kwanzaa are brought to life through the story of seven brothers in an African village. When their father dies, they must cooperate and make gold from seven spools of thread. As they work together, they learn to value each other and their community.

A Movie About Favorite Holidays From Around the World

The_Black_CandleThe Black Candle: A Kwanzaa Celebration
Ages 9+
This documentary, filmed around the world, explores the African-American experience, both the triumphs and sorrows. Of particular focus is the Kwanzaa holiday, which now is celebrated by over 40 million people.


A TV Show About Favorite Holidays From Around the World

RugratsRugrats Holiday Collection
Ages 6+
Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah get the Rugrats treatment in this holiday special.

Shop for kids’ holiday break camps near you >>

An App About Favorite Holidays From Around the World

My-MenorahMy Menorah
Ages 2+
A fully featured Hanukkah app with a menorah to light, a dreidel game, songs, and some foundational Hebrew. Included are “Eight Days of Happiness” tips for parents on teaching children about the meaning and traditions behind the holiday and expressing appreciation for the miracle of the oil lasting eight nights.

Guest Posts Holiday Break Camps Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Super Activities for Super Kids

14 Christmas Classics to Spark Kids’ Holiday Spirit

Are there any favorite titles from your childhood that you haven’t yet shared with your kids? Dip into this list for some old-fashioned holiday fun.


By the Kids’ Media Experts at SmartFeed

Many of the following movies, books, and TV shows will be familiar to you, bringing back fond memories of Christmases gone by, but they may be “new” for your kids! Take some time this holiday season to introduce your family to a title that made you feel like you just couldn’t wait for the holidays. There might even be a few titles here that you missed out on when you were just a “tiny reindeer” yourself.

Shop for kids’ holiday break camps near you >>

Books to Spark Kids’ Holiday Spirit

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story

Ages 5+
A mother’s love for her child, memories of missing loved ones, and a Christmas tree are all important elements in this beautifully told and illustrated classic.



The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
Ages 6+
Part mythology, part fantasy, this tale of Santa Claus growing up as an orphan is well told by L. Frank Baum, the creator of the Wizard of Oz. An excellent choice for reading to a child.



Too Many Tamales
Ages 4+
While helping with the annual Christmas Eve tradition of tamale-making, Maria finds herself giving into temptation. This is a funny, heartfelt story with lovely illustrations and strong messages about love and family and honesty.



The Gift of the Magi
Ages 10+
This classic O. Henry story is a bittersweet tale of a husband and wife who sacrifice in order to buy presents for each other. Love for each other becomes all they have, and all they need. A true lesson about the meaning of Christmas.

Shop for kids’ holiday break camps near you >>

Movies to Spark Kids’ Holiday Spirit

A_Charlie_Brown_ChristmasA Charlie Brown Christmas
Ages 3+
Charlie Brown finds that love and friendship can overcome his holiday blues. Bonus: Now your kids will understand what you mean when you talk about buying a “Charlie Brown tree”!


FrostyFrosty the Snowman
Ages 3+
This holiday favorite tells the story of Frosty, a snowman that magically comes to life on Christmas Eve.


grinchDr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
Ages 4+
The original animated movie from 1966 is always worth watching during the holiday season. Family, friends, and togetherness are what’s important, and even the Grinch finally learns that.


santa_claus_is_comin_to_townSanta Claus Is Comin’ to Town
Ages 4+
The story of Santa Claus is creatively told in this excellent special from the 1970s with guest appearances (and a catchy tune) by Heat Miser and Snow Miser!


christmas_carolA Christmas Carol (1951)
Ages 6+
Christmas Eve visits from three ghosts persuade miserly Mr. Scrooge to change his ways. Always a classic to watch during the holiday season.


year_without_a_santa_clausThe Year Without a Santa Claus
Ages 7+
Hard to imagine a holiday season without watching this stop-motion animation favorite.

wonderful_lifeIt’s a Wonderful Life
Ages 9+
This perennial classic is sure to remind you and yours what the holidays are about. George Bailey learns that he is, in fact, the luckiest man in the world because of the love of his family and community.


Ages 10+
This is a bit of an unusual choice for a holiday movie, but the messages of selflessness, giving, and kindness will resonate with the whole family. Note that this is best for ages 10 and up, as there is some language, along with a few iffy situations.

Shop for kids’ holiday break camps near you >>

TV Shows to Spark Kids’ Holiday Spirit

ArthurArthur’s Perfect Christmas
Ages 5+
In this special, all different ways of celebrating are explored by Arthur and his group of friends, including Francine, whose family celebrates Hanukkah. Everyone has a different idea of what makes a “perfect” holiday.


hanna_barbera_christmasHanna-Barbera Christmas
Ages 5+
Yogi Bear, the Flintstones, and the Smurfs celebrate Christmas in this fun and nostalgic collection of cartoons.

Adventure/Outdoors Camps Overnight/Travel Sleep away camps Uncategorized Wilderness

10 Media Choices for Kids Going to Sleepaway Camp

These books, movies, and TV shows offer a glimpse into the magical world of overnight camps — and can help ease kids’ minds before packing their bags.

By the Kids’ Media Experts at SmartFeedchild sitting at a campfire, happily

Overnight camp can be an exciting adventure; however, going for the first time can cause some jitters for parents and kids alike. Soothe the nerves of your camper by sharing these interesting camp experiences — some completely silly, some true to life. In the media choices below, we explore nontraditional camps like spy camp and roller derby camp, as well as the more common sleepaway camp in the woods. Share them with your soon-to-be campers and see their excitement grow!

Books for Kids Going to Overnight Camp

rollergirlRoller Girl
Ages 8+
This terrific graphic novel tells the story of a young teen learning to work hard and become a good teammate at roller derby camp one summer. Her ideas of friendship are tested outside of camp, but she comes through strong and inspired to do her best.


spy-camp-bookSpy Camp
Ages 8+
This sequel to Spy School reports on spy summer camp. A thrilling adventure awaits the main character as he heads to camp for high-stakes survival training camp, but encounters much more. Please note that while there is violence in this book, it is cartoon violence.


lumberjanesLumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy
Ages 10+
Supernatural creatures run the show in the wacky summer camp portrayed in this comic book series. Five girlfriends band together and have a great time dealing with strange critters and a tough camp counselor. Ultimately, they empower each other to have a summer full of adventure.


blessBless the Beasts & Children
Ages 13+
This classic novel tells the difficult but poignant story of boys sent away to camp because of challenging home lives. Set in the West, it shares how the boys unite and defy authority to do what is right. Beautifully written, this story will be best for enthusiastic teen readers.

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Movies for Kids Going to Overnight Camp

parent_trapThe Parent Trap (1961)
Ages 5+
Whether you prefer the 1961 original or the remake, the story is funny and engaging. Twins are separated by their parent’s divorce and raised as singletons. They rediscover each other at summer camp, scheme to reunite their warring parents, and chaos ensues. Quaint and old-fashioned, the actors in the original will charm you.

girls_rockGirls Rock!
Ages 7+
Girl power is the message in this documentary set at the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, Oregon. Several girls from differing backgrounds are featured as they learn to play an instrument and build confidence through their performances. These girls share their feelings and their creativity. It’s an empowering movie, at times infuriating and sad, but with a powerhouse of a message.

moonrise_kingdomMoonrise Kingdom
Ages 13+
This movie shows a stylized world like no other. It’s a quirky movie with laughter, sadness, and hilarity. The pair of runaway tweens are decent and devoted. Not your usual camp experience, but entertaining and lovely.


Ages 15+
Great love for the theater supersedes any differences that this group of campers discovers about each other. Every two weeks, campers put on a Broadway show. Personalities are strong but, always, the show must go on! Be aware that there is strong language and situations in this PG-13 rated movie.

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TV Shows for Kids Going to Overnight Camp

Ages 5+
A spin-off from the popular Disney series Jessie, this fictitious camp experience is full of pranks, silliness, and friends.


camp_lakebottomCamp Lakebottom
Ages 7+
Completely imaginary, this camp is run by monsters, with very few rules and regulations for the campers. Bathroom humor is popular and frequent. Obviously, this is not what overnight camp will be like, but it’s funny to imagine.

Crafts Holiday Break Camps

5-Minute Fall Crafts for Kids

Holiday dinners and cleanup leave parents tired … but kids still want something to DO! Here are quick, clever crafts to spark playful fun and learning.

By Anne Carey, from Left Brain Craft Brain

Girl having fun making fall crafts

Why Craft with Your Kids?

It’s already busy during the holidays, and it might seem like a chore to prep craft projects for your children. But it’s well worth the few minutes of simple setup. Crafting creates a break in the day that’s fun (for kids) and relaxing (for you). Also, art projects and sensory play help kids recharge their batteries and trigger creative thinking — both of which are especially helpful as the year winds down. Try these fall-and-winter-themed “5-Minute Crafts” to inspire your kids to create … and maybe even learn a little!
doh with leaves and pineconesPumpkin Pie Spice Play Dough
Relive that heavenly smell of baking with this simple, homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Play Dough. Free play with play dough encourages children’s creative problem-solving skills while stimulating their senses. Add some pinecones, acorns, and leaves for a natural “creation station” for the kids. Plus, did you know that washable markers can turn play dough into art?

Find Holiday Break Camps >

Tree sculptures from nuts and boltsTinkering Trees
Inspire the tinkerer in your kiddo with this fun tree-building activity. (It’s also a perfect way to start making the transition from autumn decorations to winter ones!) Nuts and bolts are great supplies for developing fine motor skills, math learning, and design thinking.

pie plate paintingPumpkin Pie Painting
You just might have a few pie pans lying around after Thanksgiving, right? Turn them into a fun art project and pretend-play combo with Pumpkin Pie Painting. Kids will love this unique sensory art especially once they add the “whipped cream” paint.

use red tape to create a glitter forestTape-Resist Glitter Forest
Tape, paint & glitter … These are a few of our favorite things when crafting with the kids. Lay out the supplies for this Tape-Resist Glitter Forest, and let the kids explore the patterns that emerge when the tape is removed. Creating shapes for the trees is an opportunity for spatial learning, which has been shown to aid math-skill development in kids.

feathers and balloons to make whirly turkeysWhirly Twirly Flying Turkeys
Did you know that turkeys can fly? Up to 55 mph even! Kids can learn what makes birds fly with this easy balloon craft. It’s science made silly and fun!

Find Holiday Break Camps >

Keep Your Creative Kid Inspired All Season Long!

These crafts are a great way to feed the creative spirit in your child, while building important skills and offering a little insight into the world of science, too. To keep kids’ creative juices flowing — and find a little extra time for your own holiday preparations — consider enrolling your child in a fun and creative drop-in art class or holiday STEAM-inspired session. Check out ActivityHero for local options near you. Slots fill up fast, so don’t wait too long!


ActivityHero’s May “Free Week of Summer Camp” Giveaway Winners

Every month this summer, ActivityHero is giving away a free week of summer camp. These lucky folks were our May winners:

Congratulations to Rachelle O!

Jasmine2Her daughter picked Art Camp at Art Bash Studios,
San Jose
. At Art Bash, students get to unleash their creativity using paper-mache, glass, mosaics, paintings, drawing, and much more!

Art Bash instructor CD Hullinger has over 25 years experience as a children’s book illustrator and professional tutor. Kids can sign up for one or more days, or a full week. Come join CD and the rest of our friendly staff and have fun creating lots of art!

Congratulations to Alicia O!

Cowgirl-Leilah1Her daughter picked TechKnowHow Lego and Technology Summer Camps, San Francisco

TechKnowHow offers fun and enriching Computer and LEGO® Summer Day Camps for students, ages 5-14, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Classes include LEGO® and KNEX® projects with motors, Game Design, Electronics, Stop-Motion, and NXT Robotics. Classes feature high-interest, age-appropriate projects which teach technology and science skills.


Congratulations to Sergei H!

sergie1His son picked Camp Marco Polo, Palo Alto

Camp Marco Polo is a unique, hands-on, role playing summer camp experience for kids 8-13, interested in art, culture, languages and history.The program immerses kids into a different place and time each week during the 10 weeks of summer, as kids are asked to bring word of Marco Polo back to Venice from China.

Kids experience travel along the Silk Road in their imagination, accompanied by expert leaders who guide them in age appropriate Caravans, discovering many cultural wonders in a playful setting along the way. Each week the campers will discover age old secrets of paper, silk, ceramics, and much more with creative hands-on clay, paper textile art and food projects. They will enjoy live performances of beloved folktales and legends and create skits of their own to play out with friends.

Want to enter to win a free week of summer camp?

Get all the contest details and submit your entry now!

Holiday Break Camps Time-Saving Tips for Busy Moms

Create a Boredom-Busting Spring Break Bucket List!

Are you ready for spring break? Here’s a bucket-list plan that will keep the kids occupied and won’t break the bank.

happy father and little girl with colorful kite

Whether spring break is right around the corner or months away, it’s never too early (or late) to start planning what you’re going to do to keep the kids occupied, engaged in activities, and (shhh … don’t tell them) even learning. That’s why starting a Spring Break Bucket List today is a great idea.

Wondering why you need a special bucket list just for spring break? Isn’t one bucket list enough for a lifetime? Creating a specific list of spring break activities will help you be more intentional about your use of time. To put a finer point on it: You’ll be less likely to wind up glancing at the clock halfway through Day 3 and wonder how it got to be 4 p.m., what on earth you actually did for the last few days, and why you have virtually noting to show for it. Plus, your kids’ “what I did on spring break” essay can include more than a Netflix mega-marathon and junk food fest.

One last note before you let the kids in on your plan: While children love the idea of generating ideas for this bucket list, it’s probably best if parents have the last say on what makes the final cut. That way the elements included are more likely to be doable, affordable, and enjoyable for the whole family.

Shop for kids’ holiday camps near you > >

What Should Be on a Spring Break Bucket List?

Get your creative juices flowing with the following guidelines and ideas.

Mix it up. Choose a variety of activities that will be fun for the whole family. If you’ve got kids that span a wide range of ages, maybe have one parent do something with the older ones while the other takes the younger kids elsewhere. For instance, half of the clan might go to a local playground, while the older family members go roller skating.

Keep tasks short and less expensive. That is, compared to what you’d put on a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list. So, for instance, a three-day stay at Disney is perfect for your “lifetime” list, but “visiting three parks” might be a better fit for spring break.

Don’t take on too much. Depending on how time-intensive your activities are, you shouldn’t aim for more than three a day. Since kids still will have to do all the usual things — meals, baths, maybe even homework — consider how much time you actually have before making any promises. You might also consider devoting a day or two to chores and schoolwork (if needed) and then designate other days for bucket-list adventures.

Give back to the community. You’d be hard-pressed to find a parent who doesn’t want to teach their kids to do random acts of kindness for others. And many schools, clubs, and religious programs require a certain number of hours of volunteer service. When generating your bucket list, include activities that allow your family to help others and give back to the community. To get started, check out the ideas in Volunteer Options That Teens and Tweens <3 (Love) right here on the ActivityHero blog.

Continue to collect ideas. Tack a paper to the fridge where kids and parents can write down a new bucket-list idea when they think of one. You certainly can’t do everything during one spring break, but you’ll have plenty of ideas to stay busy during summertime or on the next three-day weekend.

Ideas for Your Spring Break Bucket List

  • Fly a kite or teach kids another low-tech activity you loved as a child.
  • Choose one bookshelf and read all of the picture books on it.
  • Research authentic cuisine from a foreign country, then prepare some of the dishes as a family.
  • Bake cookies and take them to neighbors.
  • Make homemade cards and deliver them to a nursing home.
  • Go through a drive-thru and pay for the car behind you.
  • Try a new-to-you restaurant or cafe.
  • Park the car on the main street of a nearby town, and take a walk to discover hidden gems.
  • Stay at a hotel in your own town. Choose one with a pool, if you don’t have one at home, and ask the concierge for local activities to try.
  • Have a family slumber party, complete with pizza, games, and movies at night … and chocolate chip pancakes in the morning.
  • Invite grandparents over for a meal made by the kids.
  • Deep-clean closets and dressers in prep for a family garage sale.
  • Host a neighborhood ice cream social.
  • Go to a state or national park.
  • Plant seeds for a garden — veggies, herbs, and/or flowers.
  • Visit a zoo or aquarium.
  • Play mini golf.
  • Create a music video to a favorite song and upload it to Youtube.
  • See what special programs the local ski resorts and other tourist spots are offering during break time.
  • Take a class as a family, in art or cooking or something else you all enjoy.

How to Display Your Spring Break Bucket List

Instead of writing down your ideas on a sheet of paper, you can boost everyone’s excitement by typing up the list using fun fonts in bright colors. Put a small check-box beside each item so you can X it when it’s complete.

Another option: Write down each idea on a small slip of paper, fold the papers in half, and place them in a clean bucket or sand pail. Then when someone says that they’re “boooorrrrrrrrrred,” tell them to go to the bucket and select an activity.

Shop for kids’ holiday camps near you > >

Need a Little Break Yourself?

Check out ActivityHero for kids’ holiday break camps in your area! There’s something for everyone, and you can find options that last for a few hours, a whole work day, or a few days at a stretch — whatever suits your family’s needs!

Camps Parenting Resources Sleep away camps

Preparing Kids for Summer Camp: Why Communication is Key

Prepare Kids for Summer Camp
Image by Flickr user foreversouls

Summer camp is a great experience for kids. The memories they make at camp will be treasured for a lifetime.

One question that we hear from parents often is, “How do I prepare my child for summer camp?”

Day camps, and especially overnight camps, can be a tough transition for some kids.

We’ve put together some helpful tips on preparing kids for summer camp to ensure that they will have an unforgettable experience.

Let them know what to expect

  • Review the camp website or brochure with your child, showing them pictures and discussing the activities that they will be doing.
  • Let them know what the camp day schedule is like.   Many camps have an example of their daily schedule on their websites.
  • Discuss what there will be in terms of snacks and meals. Are meals from home or provided at camp?
  • Tell them how long will they stay.  Will they be picked up after a half-day, even if other campers stay all day, or will they stay until late afternoon?   Who will pick them up?
  • Especially for younger children, many camp directors encourage visiting the camp before it begins.  Some camps have specific orientation days, and most will allow visits.  Meeting the camp staff beforehand can be very helpful for both the child and the parents!  Try to attend the parent information session if there is one.

Build it up positively

  • A child is more likely to have fun if that’s their expectation. Mike Dobson of Urban Adventure Camps describes it like this:

Help kids get excited.  Children feed off of what parents tell them.  If a parent sends them off in awe about what a great experience they are going to have on that day or that week, the child arrives at camp with a great attitude that is immediately contagious throughout the group.  The same goes the opposite way, if a parent is hesitant when they are leaving them or says things like, “I am going to miss you so much” or “I don’t know what I will do without you”, the children take them literally and it can really stress them and put a damper on their entire experience.

  • Avoiding a long separation process during drop-off can help with this as well.

Talk to them about their experience

  • Each night ask your child what they liked at camp, and what the plans are for the next day.
  • If they are not having a good time, let the camp director know.  In general, camp directors are some of the most kid-friendly people you can find, and they really want their campers to have fun.

Prepare for homesickness

  • Most sleep-away camps are well-prepared to handle homesickness, since it’s not at all unexpected.  Read what the camp has to say on their website about how they handle it and how you can help ahead of time.  Talk to the camp director if you are particularly concerned.

Summer camp is fantastic experience for the kids.   A little communication with both your child and the camp can assure that everyone starts having fun right away.

Preparing Kids for Summer Camp: Why Communication is Key

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Academic Camp: A Summer “Must” for Curious Kids

Summer academic camps can unite kids with like-minded friends, prevent summer “brain drain,” and help them explore hobbies, interests, and future careers.

By Sarah Antrim


Looking for ideas for your kids’ summer camp lineup? Don’t feel bad about looking up academic camps and experiences that center around common school-year subjects! Kids actually love to learn new things, especially in the more relaxed setting often found at summer academic camps. Choosing one or two such programs for your child can offer plenty of benefits — some of which might surprise you! For instance, camps held at colleges might offer college or continuing education credits. They also help kids get familiar with the campus, which might ease their transition from high school to university or help them choose a school to apply to. Other camps might give them an edge in their future science, math, or other courses during the upcoming school year. Or them could help them test whether a current interest in a subject like art or cooking might be a phase … or a career path. Here are some popular types of academic camps to help you narrow down your search for the perfect picks for the upcoming summer.

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College-Based Summer Camps

College Camps Summer Courses
Photo by Flickr user PNCA YOUTH PROGRAM

Teenagers and pre-teens will be thrilled to tell their friends that they spent part of their summer at college! Many universities offer summer courses for high school students, whether they’re run by the university itself or in conjunction with another organization. Some colleges even offer sleepaway camps where kids get to spend the night in the college dorms and eat in the dining halls. Kids will be excited about testing the waters and getting the mini-college-experience … and parents will have peace of mind knowing that their kids are safe in university housing.

The icing on the cake? Many times the summer courses count for college credit or “continuing education credits,” which will look great on your child’s resume when applying to schools in the future.

Learn more about college camps and find some in your area here!

Nature and Science Camps

Nature Camps Summer Course
Photo by Flickr user IntlWolfCenter

Have you got a science fan on your hands? If you live near a nature preserve or national forest, chances are there’s a nature camp nearby. Traditionally, most nature camps are guided by counselors who are well-trained in natural science. Your “nature nut” will learn about plants, animals, and all that our planet has to offer.

Find the best nature camp in your area!

Music and Band Camps

Music Camp Summer Course
Photo by Flickr user alankin

Even kids who love music might have a tough time finding the discipline to practice during the lazy, hazy days of summer. Music is supposed to be fun! What makes it more fun? Summer music camps that offer kids a chance to enjoy friendship, the outdoors, and their love of music. Best of all, kids who attend music camp will be surrounded by peers who share their love of song. They might even build relationships that will last a lifetime.

Find the perfect music camp in your neighborhood.

Computer and Technology Camps

Tech Camp Summer Course
Photo by Flickr user samsungtomorrow

These days, kids and technology go together like bread and butter. Unfortunately, many kids don’t get to delve into the processes and tech that creates what they see on their computer screen. All kids can benefit from getting a sneak peek at coding, even if it’s not their first love, so consider basic technology courses, robotics camps, and other tech fun. For a true techie, look into camps where they can learn a programming language, try digital art and animation, design video games, and explore other computer-based subjects.

Find specialized computer and technology camps near you here!

Culinary Camps

Art Camp Summer Course
Photo by Flickr user NC San Diego Cooking Classes

Picture this: Come home from a busy day of work, and dinner’s waiting for you. Who’s wearing the apron? Why, your child — surprise! Depending upon your child’s age, that’s actually a possiblity. Did you know that cooking camps were one of the most popular camps in recent summers? Kids who learn how to cook are likely to eat healthier and be more willing to try new foods. You’ll also feel good about knowing that they’ll be more self-sufficient as they get older and are on their own. Who knows? They might decide they love all that goes with being a chef and want to wear that white hat for the rest of their life!

Find culinary camps right in your neighborhood!

Still not sure which camp might tickle your kids’ fancy? Not to worry, we have hundreds of new camps listed every day at ActivityHero!

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8 Great Holiday Activities You Can Do With Your Kids

Christmas break and other holidays can leave kids bored or blue. Beat cabin fever with these low-cost family-fun activities that kids of all ages enjoy.

By Jennifer Moore

 kids winter holiday activities

The holidays are one of the best times of year to promote family bonding, and doing activities as a group can help strengthen those ties even more. Keeping your kids’ brains and hands busy also makes for fonder memories, since boredom and cabin fever are sure-fire triggers for sibling squabbles. The following are a few activities that cost little or nothing and can be enjoyed by children of all ages. With each one, think about your own favorite holiday activities from childhood, and use those fond memories to add your own special touch.

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Get Crafty

From Flickr user sararuthberry

Start making holiday crafts, tree ornaments, wall ornaments, and frames. You’ll get keepsakes you can bring out every Christmas, and your kids will get a kick out of seeing their crafts on display for years to come. (Be sure to have your child add their name and date to each item.) Even if Christmas is over, creating decorations is a great way to keep kids busy during the break. Plus, you can see what areas of the house could use some extra adornment next year, then make items just for those spots. This is also a great time to do minor repairs and touch-ups on decorations from years-gone-by.

Stir Up Some Fun

Kids of all ages love to cook, and the holidays are the perfect time for parents and kids to bond while baking. Get out the cookie cutters, icing, and edible decorations (such as sprinkles and candy letters), and create unique cookies, cupcakes, and candies. If you’re not much of a baker, purchase a gingerbread house kit and have fun decorating it. Clean-up tip: If you’re not planning on nibbling on the gingerbread house later, you can adorn it with old candies that are left over from Halloween or school goodie bags.

Have a Movie Marathon

From Flickr user DavidDMuir

Don’t forget family movie night! A dreary or cold day is the perfect time to pull out all of those must-see holiday classics. Or break out the new DVDs that the kids recently received as presents. This is especially great when siblings are tiring of each other or when they don’t like to play the same games. Having the “shared experience” of watching a movie will provide siblings with an enjoyable interaction. Plus, they’ll have something to discuss later, such as favorite scenes, lines, and characters from the film. If they tend to bug each other, be sure to have them be bookends, with you sandwiched between them as a buffer.

Soon-to-be classic holiday movies > >

Throw a Goodies-Be-Gone Party

The best way to get rid of extra Christmas cookies is to invite some of your kids’ friends over. This may seem like a lot of work when you’re already trying to amuse your own children all day during break, but it actually may give you time to regroup while the kids show friends their new toys and games. You and your spouse can take turns supervising the play date, while the other does chores … or relaxes with a good book.

Get Out of the House

From Flickr user Michael Allbritton

It’s easier to get rid of cabin fever if you don’t spend the whole break in your “cabin.” If you live in a place that gets winter weather, then go out and enjoy the snow. Building snowmen, making snow angels, having snowball fights, and even constructing snow forts or igloos are all classic family activities because they just never stop being fun. But if you live in sunny California or Florida, winter is also the perfect season for a family walk in the neighborhood, a sing-along with the local kids, a hike in a local wildlife refuge, or a sight-seeing trip to a local tourist spot. Check out local travel guides and newspapers to see what family-friendly events are coming up.

Boost Kids’ Brainpower

School’s out, but that doesn’t mean your children have to stop learning. For kids who love tech, sit down together and check out interactive games on websites like, and Or plan an educational family outing to a nearby planetarium, zoo, children’s museum, or state park. Many such locations offer free talks from experts, guides, or rangers. (Kids don’t need to know that they’re educational!) You can also document the visit with photos, then research fun facts on wildlife or relevant subject matter when you return home.

Beat Boredom With Board Games

From Flickr user Crazybananas

When you ask adults what they remember most from their childhood, many will place “family game nights” among the “best nights of their lives.” Though kids will love playing against you on some of their video games, they’ll also get a kick out of playing those “old-fashioned” games from your childhood. Get out the Monopoly board or play Clue. Even a game of Scrabble can be fun when you divide the family into teams — particularly if your teens are obsessed with Words with Friends.

Burn Off Some Kid Energy

Many public parks set up ice-skating rinks for the winter, complete with cheerful Christmas lights and skate rentals. Or simply grab some hot cocoa, soak up the holiday music, and sit and watch the skaters twirl by. Not a fan of ice? Hit the roller rink or ski slopes instead. Or try a physical activity that requires less athletic talent, such as bouncing at a trampoline park, or a different kind of skill, such as playing laser tag. These latter options may be less holiday-oriented, but they’re just as good at burning off holiday-cookie calories and kids’ excess energy.

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Jennifer Moore is a mother of three, juggling work, kids, and family time. Promoting family time is usually a job that falls on Mom’s shoulders, but the benefits are long-lasting, keeping a family united over generations.