Mosquito Badminton

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Are you kids sick of swatting away mosquitoes this summer? Then this quirky take on backyard badminton is sure to have them giggling!

To make our “mosquito”, we first inflated a balloon. Any color would work, but Travis chose blue.

I twisted together a mosquito body out of black pipe cleaners. Certainly there is some imagination at work here, but it featured two antennae, a proboscis, and wiggly arms and legs.

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Cut eyes from cardstock or poster board and then tape the mosquito body and eyes to the balloon.

Use flip flops as the “racquets”! Travis thought it was hilarious to bop the mosquito around outside.

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We didn’t make it a true competition, but if you want to keep score, try this: If the balloon lands on the ground on your side, that’s a point for the other team or person. First side to reach 5 points wins!

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Backyard Bean Bags

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Travis and I made these adorable homemade bean bags this morning before his first day of camp; I wanted to send him off in high spirits after quality mom and son time!

To prepare the bean bags, spoon about 1/2 cup dried beans into small zip-top bags.

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Squeeze out the air and seal tightly.

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Insert each bag into the toe of a small sock (or an old, longer sock that you’ve cut just above the ankle). Twist the top of the sock into a knot to tie.

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These were so cute (Travis loved that they were circular instead of square like ones from the store) and have great heft. Already they were fun to play with, just tossing or juggling!

But now we needed to play with them! First we set up a classic Bean Bag Toss with buckets.

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It was mommy versus Travis for a few rounds to see who could get it in!

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Next up: Target Practice! I drew three different colored circles of different sizes and labeled them as worth 10, 20, and 30 points.

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Travis not only loved it, but made up a new rule. If you hit this blade of grass, you were instantly out.

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In the evening, we found a few more ways to play with the beanbags. First, a round of Stuck in the Mud. With this game, you run with a bean bag on your head. If it falls, you freeze in place until another person returns the bean bag to your head.

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This was a highlight of our day, getting the whole family out running around in the new yard! But keeping the bean bag on our heads proved very tough, so Travis changed the rules: you simply had to pelt another player with a bean bag to make him or her It.

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Luckily the bean bags are the perfect soft item for a game like this.

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Soon we were all silly and rolling around in the grass.

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Baby sister loved just watching!

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As a final game, we played Tower Toppling, a riff on a classic carnival game. We only had one rinsed and empty can to play with, but will be repeating this game with a whole tower for sure!

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For our game, the goal was to see who could knock over the can first.

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If you have a full tower, see who can knock down all the cans with the fewest throws to declare the winner.

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Any and all of these games would be fantastic with a crowd; consider them your next summer gathering, whether a barbecue, block party, or family get-together.

Update: After collecting a few bean cans, we could truly play topple the tower.

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Travis loved getting out his energy with a round of this before dinner!

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Sneak Through Laser Beams

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Travis returned home from school to discover that, in order to reach his lunch, he’d have to sneak through laser beams!

To set up the surprise, I set out stools and chairs and wound yarn in and out, up and down. For the best results, vary the height and width between your “lasers”.

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Travis practically dove at the setup when he walked in from school, barely sparing a moment to take off his shoes.

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On the first attempt, he got nipped slightly by one of the lower “lasers.” I challenged him to think of how he could go over it, since under hadn’t worked, but this would mean ducking his head from those above.

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Soon there was lots of slithering and maneuvering about. This one will have the kids delighted and sneak in some exercise: a win-win.

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Finish up by sharing this clip with your kids!

Button Toss

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This fun game (another winner from Highlights magazine) involves crafting on the front end and then becomes a sport with some math involved by the end!

To put it together, you’ll need 3 boxes, ideally of different sizes and heights. Paint each box a different color, for the best contrast.

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We also squirted on some puffy paint because, puffy paint.

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Note: If you don’t have paint, you can wrap them with wrapping paper instead. Glue the boxes together in any configuration and let dry.

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To play, I cut out paper circles and marked each with a different score for each box. The easiest was worth a 1, the second was a 2, and the hard one was a 5. (Note: Big kids can skip count by 5s, labeling the boxes 5, 10, and 15).

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In an empty egg carton, add paper circles numbered 1 through 12 (or 5 through 60, if skip-counting).

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Each player now needs 2 buttons – one to toss and one as a score piece.

Travis took his first toss – a lucky 5!

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I helped him count his button five spaces forward through our scoreboard.

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He loved the challenge of the game, and the challenge of counting his score each time.

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The first person to 12 (or 60) wins!

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Penny-Eating Monster

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Roar! This terrifying monster craft is a blast to put together, and then the game you can play with it is great for hand/eye coordination.

First, we needed a tissue box. Ours had a few tissues left in it, but I let Travis go to town ripping them out (and making them part of a super hero game), so already the craft was a hit.

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Next, he decided what color our monster should be.

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Travis dabbled in silvers and yellows, before declaring it was a wood monster. So mostly brown it was! Let dry.

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Then it was time to put his scissor skills to the test. He helped cut out triangles for the teeth, while I made shapes for spikes and eyes.

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Glue on all your monster’s decorations.

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Now gather some pennies, and stand back! Because this monster wants to gobble them up.

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The goal is to work as a team, and toss in as many pennies as you can from a few feet back.

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If more pennies land inside the mouth than outside, you all win!

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Travis loved the game, and we had to fill the monster’s belly and empty it over and over. It was also great for counting practice, since he made sure he and I started with the same number of pennies each time.

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All in all, frightfully good fun.

 

Exercise Cube

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Stuck inside on a winter day and need to get moving? Look no further than this game to get those kiddos some exercise, no playground required!

I gave Travis an empty tissue box, and told him we needed to think up an activity for each side of the cube. This was a nice quick math lesson, since we counted to see how many sides our cube had: 6!

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Travis was really into brainstorming the activities, and actually came up with some I wouldn’t have thought of, including… yoga! Great idea. By the end, our list included:

Yoga

Jump up and down

Run in a zig-zag

Touch your toes

Roll onto your back

and Spin in a Circle

Older kids can have fun drawing a picture to go with each caption. Travis liked my little drawings; no points for artistry here, I stick to stick figures, but these got a giggle.

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We used a glue stick to attach one activity per side of the box. It dried in no time, and then it was time to play.

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Travis loved it! We took turns tossing the big dice, and got quite silly, especially when mommy had to spin multiple times in a row, or when he got to run in a zig-zag (his fast favorite).

Here he is spinning:

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And rolling over:

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Uh oh, toe touching was tricky for mama…

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…but a cinch for Travis.

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The only note of caution here: He wanted to keep playing long after I was winded! Needless to say, we got in our exercise on this gray cold day.

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Early Explorers Sports

 

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This month’s offering from Early Explorers, all about sports, was a fantastic one for getting active and introducing new games that even mom and dad didn’t know about! The booklet not only had us doing normal preschool activities – mazes, matching, patterns – but also brushing up on yoga poses and learning about neat new sports.

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And of course putting stickers on our map.

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Sports Craft: 

First up was making a game of tabletop soccer. First, glue green construction paper down into the bottom of a shoebox. We actually found that the shoebox lid worked better, since the sides weren’t as high.

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Use white paint to mimic the lines of a soccer field. Travis liked watching and naming the shapes I painted (which bigger kids can do themselves). 

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Fold pipe cleaners into the shape of goals and tape down. Now all you need is a pom pom and two straws to play. Players take turns blowing toward the opponent’s goal, while the person on defense tries to blow the pom pom away.

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Great fun!

Sports Science:

Ok, perhaps the following activity isn’t science, but since the booklet didn’t have anything that properly fit into this category, this will do: learning new games from around the world. The first, Semut, Orang, Gajah sounded like the Sumatran equivalent of Rock, Scissors, Paper but we got to learn cool new words and hand gestures. Here’s Travis with his semut (ant!) ready to defeat my gajah (elephant).

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The next game was a bit of a pickle: an Armenian form of egg jousting (!) played around Easter, where children crack hard-boiled eggs together until the loser’s egg cracks. How to veganize such neat sounding fun? I needed a food that would crack easily… So here we are chip jousting!

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It might not have been authentic, but it was certainly a delight.

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Sports Keepsake:

Travis loved the paddle ball from “Max and Mia” that came in this kit. He was determined to master the game, and I liked that it introduced him to a new activity.

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Sports Field Trip:

We had to go see a sport being played, naturally! Looking for cheap family fun? Check out minor league teams in your area. You’ll get great seats right up close to the action but minus the crowds, prices, and noise of major league parks. If you can’t make it to a local sporting event, tune into something on TV as a family and discuss the new game.

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Sports Further Activities:

We wanted to take the booklet’s suggestion and try a game we’d never played before. Little Passport’s blog post on games from around the world was the perfect resource. Okay, so we didn’t have enough players for a true game of Egyptian Drop the Handkerchief, but Travis loved diving in to catch it before the count of 5.

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We also got a great dose of physical activity with a family obstacle course. Stops along the course included: navigating a crepe paper spider web;

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and paper cup golf.

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As always, we hit up the library to further our exploration, opting for books on sports not featured in our packet.

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We talked about our favorite and Travis said his was baseball.

Finally, hit up the park and just play! Toss a football, kick a soccer ball, play a game of croquet, or whatever else suits your family’s fancy. Many thanks to this kit for getting us moving.

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Football Fever

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Travis might not care much about his dad’s team yet, but Sunday football is a tradition in this house, and this mini version makes it exciting for even the littlest fans.

To make our footballs, I cut brown construction into strips that were 2 inches x 11 inches.

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Starting at one end, fold up in a triangle, and repeat until you reach the end of the strip, tucking in the last bit of paper; glue to seal. Let dry and then decorate like a football with marker.

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To prepare the field, we covered an empty snack box with construction paper. Before sealing off the box completely, add a few pebbles inside to weight it down.

Travis had fun scribbling a decoration for the top of the box; older kids can make it look like a real end zone!

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To make the goal post, fold a pipe cleaner in half, twist the bottom a few times. Bend the top ends to look like a goal post. Poke a hole in the top of the box and insert the pipe cleaner. I added a drop of glue to keep it more firmly in place.

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Now “kick” your footballs into the end zone for a field goal! Little kids can have fun tossing about the paper footballs, even if they can’t reach the goal. The game is also great for talking about shapes.

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