Saturday, July 28, 2012

Travel Scavenger Hunt

Summertime is a big time for traveling. And, no matter how amazing and fun you destination may be, spending hours in a car, train, or plane can be tough on kids. While trips to the park before and after your journey are great ways to prepare for sitting still for so long, it doesn't change the fact that everyone is about to be buckled into a seat for hours on end. Here is a game that we love to play on our long road trips.
You'll need a plain old notebook, some pens and some crayons or colored pencils. If you're not very confident in your drawing abilities, you can do the same thing by cutting out pictures from magazines or printing up old snapshots. What you need to do for this game is come up with a list of things that you might see on your trip. It can be as simple as a red or blue car, it can be as neat as a river or a bridge, or as exciting as a zebra or a helicopter. The trick with the list is to make it easy in parts so they know that there will always be something they can find, but interesting enough that it'll keep them engaged and curious for hours.
For each item, draw a line so they can mark off how many they find, write out what it is that they're looking for, then draw a picture of it! You can see one of my scavenger hunt lists below. You can assign points for each item, too, if you want to make the game a little more motivating (10 points for a stoplight, 100 points for a helicopter, 5 points for a tractor trailer).
I love this game because it gives kids some control over the trip. It gives them a task, and that can really help make the journey a little more enjoyable. It also helps to make them aware of the world around them. We live in an interesting world filled with fascinating things. Sometimes life is about the journey, not just the destination.
Safe and happy traveling!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

DIY Ribbon Wands and easy ways to play!

Kids love playing with ribbon wands in the Let's Play Today fitness classes that I teach, so I thought you would really enjoy trying these ideas at home or in the classroom! Sometimes we use store bought ones from SSWW, (these wands are great because the ribbon doesn't get tangled around the stick part) - but we also had a lot of fun making our very own, with painters stirring sticks, cray paper (or ribbon), and some stickers,stamps, and crayons. See the video for a closer look!

If you're looking for ones that will last a little longer, visit  the SSWW website where we buy them from.

Here are 3 easy activities to do with ribbon wands:
1. Pretend they're kites and run around the room holding the ribbon wands up high.

2.Go on an adventure and use them as props. Pretend they are lots of silly things, like a horse tail (and gallop around),  a fishing rod (and catch some fish!), an elephant trunk (stomp around while holding it at your noes), a snake (slither it around on the floor), windshield wipers (move back and forth)...endless ideas! 

3. Make shapes or letters - spell out your name or make a circular, zig zag, or figure eight shape (use both the right and left hand to develop proprioception and coordination).  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Making Popsicles

Popsicles (or 'bicycle pops' as she likes to call them) are one of Rowan's favorite summer afternoon treats. And I certainly don't mind that. It's an easy way to make sure that she's staying cool & hydrated. But most store bought pops are loaded up with all sorts of dyes and sugars that I would rather do without. Thankfully, popsicles are one of the easiest things to make with kids. All you need are popsicles molds and juice! You could get fancy adding fruits or yogurt, but sometimes it's nice to keep things simple. I like to let Rowan pour the juice into the molds herself. I think that it helps her get excited about making & eating things that are good for her. It may be a little messier than doing it yourself, but it's well worth the clean up. If we show our kids how eating healthy is delicious and fun, then they'll follow suit. Here's to popsicles!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

We had way too much fun playing these summer olympic themed games this week... this video makes me chuckle every time I watch it! Try burning some official Olympic music from itunes and you'll be all set! 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Go for the GOLD! Fun summer Olympic games to play

On Friday, I spent the morning with 50 kiddos at a local preschool lighting the torch, running during the flag ceremony, throwing the discus, and completing it all with gold medals for everyone. Since we are just 18 days away from the Olympic Games in London, here are some easy and fun activities you can do to get the games going! 

1. TORCH LIGHTING: Use a paper towel roll and balance an egg or small ball (the flame) on top from one point to the other.

2. FLAG CEREMONY: Use a scarf and walk/run around in a circle while holding the "flag" high to display it proudly! For fun hand-eye coordination games, toss and catch the "flag" on different parts of the body, such as the head, arms, or legs. For a challenge, try tossing, spinning, and then catching.

3. DISCUS TOSS: A fun fact to note is that this game dates all the way  back to the Greek Olympics! Instead of using a heavy piece of metal, it was originally a stone throwing game based from hunting practices. And, in our version, it evolves even further to paper plates. Try taping two paper plates together and throw them like a frisbee.  Or, purchase a dozen animal print frisbees from for $10.50. 

4. TRACK AND FIELD: Set up a fun obstacle course with 5 hula-hoops  to jump in, lines to jump over, tunnels to crawl through, and plenty of places to run!  We used 5 different colored hula hoops to mirror the interlocking Olympic Rings (good time to pull out the world map and show them the 5 different continents that the rings represent... Africa, North & South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia)

5. GOLD MEDALS: What is sportsmanship?  This is a great time to talk about it.  From a kids perspective, it means giving your buddy a high-five or a handshake and saying good job! You can make your own medals with ribbon and paper or find them at a local dollar store.    

For details on the 2012 Summer Olympics, and to read about all the games played, see below.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Paper boats and swimming pools

The summer is off to a hot start. With the temperatures in the 90's already where we live in Bucks County, PA, I'm anxious to get our season started off with the right attitude. My family has a little back yard. As far as summer recreation goes for my three year old daughter, all we can reasonably fit back there is a sprinkler and a kiddie pool. So you can imagine my chagrin this morning when she was already showing the beginning signs of boredom when I suggested that we go outside and play.

I decided to take a queue from one of her favorite story books and make paper boats to float in her little pool (You can get the instructions from most beginner origami books). Then we made little drawings of our family to put onto the boats. And off we went! We had our own little seafaring vessels complete with adventurers!

There are lots of games you can play with these boats. Rowan & I started off by tying string to the boats and then racing them around the pool. Then we got into the water ourselves and created a little whirlpool, which didn't take much time because the pool is so small. And we watched the boats travel on their own. The boats, since they're paper, don't last forever so I made some extras so we could switch vessels as needed.

You can make up lots of games to play with paper boats and little paper people. Pirates are always a favorite. Or imagine that the boats are going to some far off island. The possibilities are plentiful. All you need is some paper, some water, a little creativity, and your imagination. Rowan & I both loved this game. There is nothing quite like making crafts with your child. And these little boats got us outside playing on a hot day when we were tempted to just stay inside. Yay!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Chalk Games.

Today is a day of many first.  Our first blog ever, on July 1st, doing our very first video on super fun chalk games.  Thanks to all the kiddos, and friends who came out to play these games with us.  See the video below for easy, active ways to play with chalk. We'd love to hear your ideas too!