Tuesday, December 25, 2012

10 Days of Group Games: #10 Clap Clap Stomp Stomp


The last post of our 10 consecutive days of play ends on a cheery note! 

Just a few weeks back, I joined an amazing nonprofit for a day of spreading joy and laughter to children in Philadelphia who are living in poverty and those without a home. See the video of 500 kiddos dancing along to the Clap Clap Song! It was such a sweet sweet moment and thought it was appropriate to share today!
Try it at home too!
Clap Clap
Stomp Stomp
Turn Around
And, Touch the Ground
Drum on Your Knees

And Jump up Please
Touch Your Feet 
And Take a Seat!

Repeat again and again, each time going a bit faster! 

Play On!
Yvonne ( YoYo)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

10 Days Of Group Games: #9 - Simon Says

Whether or not you're celebrating holidays this time of year, most people are thinking about family right now. And many of us are going to be seeing extended family soon. In that spirit, we thought that it would be fun to post some of our favorite games to play with 2 or more kids that don't require too much adult guidance. Check in over the next 10 days for more fun game ideas!



#9: Simon Says

This is a classic game that's great for any number of kids. It teaches them to listen to each other & play well together. It doesn't take a lot of instruction or direction, so it's also a good way to empower the kids to play on their own and initiate an activity without being instructed by an adult. In case you've been living under  a rock your whole life, here's how you play!


To play the game:

  • One kid will play the part of 'Simon'. The rest of the kids do anything that 'Simon Says' (Simon Says hop on one foot. Simon Says pat your head. Simon Says rub your belly...). But it's 'Simons' job to trick the other kids into following a command without saying 'Simon Says'. If someone does something without the 'Simon Says' command, they're out.
  • Whoever is the last person standing is the next 'Simon'.
  • Remind 'Simon' that there is a big mix in age. So the commands should vary in difficulty. You may be surprised by how well some of the younger ones do with some of the active challenges.
 

Variations:

  • Pick the next 'Simon' from a collection of names put in a hat or a bowl. That way, everyone gets a chance.
  • Get this game moving! Have the group follow 'Simon' through the house or through the yard copying the things that Simon is doing. You could even set up an obstacle course for them to maneuver through.
  • Bring rhythm & music into the mix. Simon can tap a beat on his or her knees or stomp a rhythm on the ground and the others have to try to replicate this pattern. 
  • Simon can use objects or colors to get the group thinking outside the box (i.e. 'Simon says find something green in the room' or 'Simon says find something that starts with the letter T.'). Encourage the older kids to help the younger ones with some of the more difficult commands.

Most of all, have fun! If the kids have a hard time getting the hang of it, encourage them to keep trying until they get it right. Everyone makes mistakes! It's amazing how much kids can learn from their older cousins and friends, so keeping the game going is bound to be rewarding & fun for everyone.

10 Days Of Group Games: #8 Bubble Wrap Pop!


Whether or not you're celebrating holidays this time of year, most people are thinking about family right now. And many of us are going to be seeing extended family soon. In that spirit, we thought that it would be fun to post some of our favorite games to play with 2 or more kids that don't require too much adult guidance. Check in over the next 10 days for more fun game ideas!


#8 Bubble Wrap Pop!
It's that time of the year for lots of cheer and yes, lots of left over bubble wrap.  Last week in our kids fitness classes we pretended to use the bubble wrap as life vest and swam across the ocean wearing them.  Next we spread all the bubble wrap on the floor and pretended to be underwater animals who like to pop the bubbles!    *One quick shout out to our local market, Grapevine, for generously donating a box full of left over bubble wrap for us to reuse in all of our classes! They told me I could be their official bubble lady (I'll be back every month for another box full!).
Pop Away!

Life vest!
High Jumps!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

10 Days of Group Games: #7 the 2 Minute Dance Party


Whether or not you're celebrating holidays this time of year, most people are thinking about family right now. And many of us are going to be seeing extended family soon. In that spirit, we thought that it would be fun to post some of our favorite games to play with 2 or more kids that don't require too much adult guidance. Check in over the next 10 days for more fun game ideas!



#7: the 2 Minute Dance Party!

2 minute dance parties are always a big hit at our house. Is your son in a funk? Throw on some James Brown! Is your daughter bouncing off the walls? Put on some Oingo Boingo! The whole family is just a little off? Nothing that Sly & the Family Stone won't fix. There's something about calling a 2 minute dance party that sets everything right. Because sometimes all of the energy that's flying around the house just needs to be focused instead of quieted down. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!


Here's what to do:

  • Whenever you need the family (especially the kids) to switch gears, just throw on some of your favorite music and start a dance party! I love '2 minute dance parties' because you can use this activity as a transition. And, depending on how it goes, you can keep dancing until you're worn out, or you can move on to something else once the song is done.
  • Use the opportunity to expose your kids to new music! Try some reggae, some afro-funk, British invasion, punk, classical, doo-wop... anything you'd like! You never know what kind of music is going to speak to a child. How was I to know that Rowan's favorite band would be Siouxie & the Banshees?
  • Use the opportunity to expand their imagination. Ask them what they see when a certain song comes on. Do they see a ballroom of dancing princesses when a baroque waltz is played? Or do they see dinosaurs playing in a jungle when you put on some David Bowie? Are they flying through space when New Order comes onto the stereo?
  • Join in the fun! This is a great way to bond with your family & friends. And it's good for your body and your mind. We could all afford to burn a few extra calories, especially when it's accompanied by laughter & song.
  • Try a 'freeze' dance. You can do this manually (just pause the song periodically) or you can find songs that have built-in 'freezes'. Try this one: http://lollyhopwood.bandcamp.com/track/freeze (shameless plug!). You can make a game out of the 'freeze dance' if the spirit moves you. Anyone who moves when the music is frozen is 'out'. The last one standing wins! Or you can keep it light and just keep the 'freezing' going until the song is done. Try freezing like your favorite animals. Or do a funny-face-freeze. Either way, it's a fun game.
None of us have to be reminded these days that the time that we have with our kids is precious. Hugs & kiss them! Love them! Play & dance with them! We'll all be glad that we did.

Friday, December 21, 2012

10 Days of Group Games: #6 Newspaper Pirate Hats


 Whether or not you're celebrating holidays this time of year, most people are thinking about family right now. And many of us are going to be seeing extended family soon. In that spirit, we thought that it would be fun to post some of our favorite games to play with 2 or more kids that don't require too much adult guidance. Check in over the next 10 days for more fun game ideas!




Game #7: Newspaper Pirate Hat
One of my favorite memories at Christmas dinner was of my grandfather and I wearing homemade paper hats for no reason but to be silly and enjoy the festivities! So, I broke out this tradition in my kids fitness class today and together we created them and danced all around.  We pretended they were our pirate hats, but of course anytime is a good time to make a party hat! 


Quick and Easy Instructions:
1. Find a piece of newspaper (this is the most difficult part b/c for it to fit on a child’s head you want to get a smaller sized paper.  I used the grocery ads that come in the mail.)
2. Fold the paper in half
3. Take the top right and left corner and fold it in towards the middle while leaving 1 – 2 inches of paper below. Press the edges down.
4. Fold the top sheet of the bottom up two times.

5. Flip the paper and repeat.
6.  Either fold the corners over or place a piece of tape on the ends to prevent it from coming undone.

IT'S PARTY TIME!  ~ Yvonne









Thursday, December 20, 2012

10 days of group games: #5 - FORTS!

Whether or not you're celebrating holidays this time of year, most people are thinking about family right now. And many of us are going to be seeing extended family soon. In that spirit, we thought that it would be fun to post some of our favorite games to play with 2 or more kids that don't require too much adult guidance. Check in over the next 10 days for more fun game ideas!



#5. FORTS!


I don't think this one needs much explanation. Nothing sets a child's imagination going like a home-made fort. It's great for one kids or a whole group of them.


Here are some of my suggestions:

  • Use binder clips for a secure hold. They're an easy way to attach sheets and blankets to just about anything.
  • Find something to prop up the center of the fort. This is obviously optional, but a tall chair, a music stand, or a coat rack can make the fort so much bigger. The bigger the fort, the more fun you'll have!
  • Create little cubbies of activity within the fort. The best one that we ever made was attached to Rowan's dollhouse (just in case she wanted to play with dolls) and her bed (which created a great cubby which she could use as a place for her stuffed animals, a lookout, a reading nook, or anything else she could think of.
  • Let there be light! Make sure the kids have flashlights, a safe lamp, or some other light source.
  • If you have a lot of kids around, think about making 2 forts. They can play 2 teamed games and the forts could be the home base for each team. Or each fort could be designed with a certain age group in mind.
  • I know you're going to want to take this project over. This is one of those things that throws you right back into your own childhood and it's easy to want to just make the whole fort yourself. But try to supervise, help & guide your kids rather than take over the whole project.

Happy fort building!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

10 Days of Games: #4 Ice Cube Melt

Whether or not you're celebrating holidays this time of year, most people are thinking about family right now. And many of us are going to be seeing extended family soon. In that spirit, we thought that it would be fun to post some of our favorite games to play with 2 or more kids that don't require too much adult guidance. Check in over the next 10 days for more fun game ideas!

Game #4:
The Ice Cube Melt is a super simple and silly game and quite apropos for this time of the year too!  Plus, no equipment necessary!

How to play:
1. Start by asking: "What items in our house or outside are cold?"   Examples might be a refrigerator, ice cubes, or snow flakes.  

2. Next, ask the kiddos to pretend to be like a frozen ice cube (they can stand, sit or be in any position they like as long as they are staying completely still). 

3. You (or a family member) get to pretend to be a giant blow dryer and melt just one part of their body.  Do this by saying the body part out loud and exclaim, “Tada, your nose is melted!”  Or pretend to blow hot air to melt them. 

4. Whatever part you melted the child is allowed to move… but nothing else.  Then melt another part and ask them to move just those two areas.  Repeat while giving them a chance to try moving the new areas, until the whole body is melted.  This could take about a minute or as long as you like.  It’s quite silly to see them just move around on one melted foot and arm while still keeping everything else still!

5. Next, have them freeze back up again and try to melt in a different sequence.  The best part is that it can be different every time.

Options: 
A. Have the children decide which body part to melt.
B. Pretend to be frozen with them.  You can take turns calling out a different body part that each of you can now melt.  
C. Pretend to be a dragon blowing a fire breath... or other things that blow hot air!  ;) 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

10 days of group games: #3 - Scarf toss!

Whether or not you're celebrating holidays this time of year, most people are thinking about family right now. And many of us are going to be seeing extended family soon. In that spirit, we thought that it would be fun to post some of our favorite games to play with 2 or more kids that don't require too much adult guidance. Check in over the next 10 days for more fun game ideas!



#3. Scarf Toss


We play this game at almost all of our shows and it's absolutely one of our favorites. All you need is some light scarves. You can even make them yourself with fabric & scissors.


Here's how you play:  


Set the scene by coming up with some kind of adventure. What are these scarves? Are they birds? Snow flakes? Butterflies? Then you count. One. Two. Three. And toss!  


Variations:

  • Once they're comfortable with tossing & catching, try having the kids catch the scarves on their heads, their noses, their feet, their backs, or anywhere else they can think of.
  • Get the kids to toss it to each other. 
  • Have them throw the scarf in the air, spin, and then catch it behind their backs.
  • The older the kids, the more difficult you can make the game. Can they toss it high up and then run and catch their friends scarf instead?


Once they get the idea, they can play on their own for ages. This game can be blast with brightly colored balloons, too. However you play it, the object is to use your imagination and have lots of fun. Enjoy!

Monday, December 17, 2012

10 days of group games: #2 - A Bucket Of Fun


Whether or not you're celebrating holidays this time of year, most people are thinking about family right now. And many of us are going to be seeing extended family soon. In that spirit, we thought that it would be fun to post some of our favorite games to play with 2 or more kids that don't require too much adult guidance. Check in over the next 10 days for more fun game ideas!



I love playing this simple and easy game in my classroom, because it gives each child an opportunity to have an active role in the games we play.  Cut up a bunch of paper and give a few strips to each person in the family.  Have them write down their favorite active game or draw a picture of what it should look like.  Fun examples could be: pillow fight, tag, hide and seek, sock toss or create a brand new game!  Next, fold it up and place it in a bucket, or another special container.  For little ones you could name it something fun like a jiggle jar, or a treasure chest.   Everyday one person in the family gets to pick out one of the pieces of paper and everyones gets to do the activity together!   

What silly things do you do around the house? 



Friday, December 14, 2012

10 days of group games: #1 - 'Mommy' Race Tag!

Whether or not you're celebrating holidays this time of year, most people are thinking about family right now. And many of us are going to be seeing extended family soon. In that spirit, we thought that it would be fun to post some of our favorite games to play with 2 or more kids that don't require too much adult guidance. Check in over the next 10 days for more fun game ideas!



#1. 'Mommy' Race Tag

I thought up this game over the summer when we were up helping a friend who had a lot on her plate. She has a little girl who is Rowan's age, and all the girl wanted was attention from her mother, which is natural and fine, but became an issue when the mother was fielding important phone calls or dealing with other essential business. This game was a way to turn the little girls' energy towards a positive game that involved the mother, but also gave her enough space so she could do what she needed to do.


Here's how you play:  

You need one adult or older kid to be in charge and a bunch of little kids to play. All of the kids gather at a 'start' place. The person in charge gives them all the 'ready, steady, GO!' and all of the kids run off as fast as they can to find their mother, give her a big hug and kiss, and then race back to the starting place.

Variations:

  • Use this as a way to get kids excited about getting to play with family members that they may not have seen in a long time or may not know very well. Turn it into 'Uncle Greg Tag' or 'Grandma Tag'. 
  • This may also be a fun game that will involve family members who may WANT to play with the kids but have some physical limitations. They can be the ones that the kids race to. Or everyone can 'start' where that adult is stationed.
  • Add obstacles into the mix. Make the kids run around a tree or a chair before they come back to the 'start'. Or have them bring something to the person that they're tagging. A note, a toy, a present...

I was thinking that this would be a good game to play when you have a lot of family around because, although the adults are involved, they are also going to be able to carry on doing whatever they need to do, whether it's catching up with old friends or family, preparing for dinner with guests, or just spending some time relaxing. 

Kids just want to play. It's their life! As well is should be. 
So let's play. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Beeswax Candles in Recycled Teacups


During this time of the year, I'm normally crazy busy creating homemade gifts...except this year I wanted to keep it super simple, healthy, and be eco-conscious.  At first I started making ripped T-shirt scarves, which on the  pinterest pictures  looked adorable, but in practice turned into a huge mess of little fabric pieces all on the floor and myself.  So, Plan B was creating candles in recycled teacups.  

I decided to go with beeswax because it's an eco, non-toxic, all natural product with no additives, chemicals, or fillers.  During my research I found out that most manufactured paraffin candles (the kind you find at the dollar store or name brand candle or a craft store) are made of poisonous chemicals.  According to the American EPA, paraffin candles are known to release carcinogens like benzene and toluene.  Often, the candle wicks contain lead, the scents are artificial chemicals, and the paraffin wax is a waste product from the petroleum industry.   A popular alternative are soy candles, but unless they are marked as 100% soy, they also contain the toxic paraffin and are not an eco choice because there is a lot of energy involved to make soy into a soy wax.  

Instructions:
1. Place wick in middle and fill the teacups to the very top with beeswax pellets.  Press them down a lot and fill it up again.  
2. Cut up two strip of card board, staple together and place on top of tea cup, with the wick in the middle. This is to hold the wick in place. 
3. Place in oven at 200 - 250 degrees on a tray that you don't mind getting wax on.  It could take 30 minutes to an hour for the wax to melt. Once melted, adjust the wick and make sure it's in the middle of the cup.  Turn off oven and keep it in over night to prevent the wax from cracking. 
4. I designed my own labels and attached to the cups (see the image below - you are welcome to use it!).  

For the beeswax, I ordered an 8lb organic bag of Beeswax pellets through Amazon for about $70.   I bought natural, lead free wicks on amazon as well.  And all of the teacups, are upcycled from the local Goodwlll and thrift stores.  What a super fun and healthy craft to do with kids, the family or on your own that will brighten anyones day! 

Happiness and health!
Yvonne 


 

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Little Bit Of Sunshine For a Rainy Day

video
This is YoYo's Ukelele debut. Well done, YoYo! We hope that you enjoy our little song and that you're all enjoying warmth and happiness despite a little gloom outside.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Egg Characters

I can hardly believe that it was a week ago that I was writing about playing in the snow! It's in the low 70's and feels a lot more like spring than early December. But, hey! I've never been one to complain about a beautiful day.
Before Rowan and I hightailed it to the park, we got a little picnic basket together. Picnics gives a normal park visit a little bit of an adventurous feel, so we always bring something along with us. She was happy to pack up some pears and juice, but since it was lunchtime, I wanted to bring something else that would be filling & nutritious. I suggested hard boiled eggs, but she wasn't very enthusiastic at first about that idea. However she changed her mind when I suggested that we decorate the egg shells. All it took was some boiled eggs and some crayons (non-toxic of course). Easy peasy. She loved drawing little faces on them. I made a lizard monster face on one of mine. She asked me to help give hers lipstick.
When we got to the park, she gobbled down our eggs. And she hasn't stopped talking about her Egg Characters all day! What a fun way to get kids excited about eating a healthy, portable snack. Now if I can only figure out how to get her to devour a salad...