1. NATURE BRACELETS
For Ages: 1-5
You can start your little one’s exploration and appreciation of nature with this game of making a masking tape nature bracelet. They’ll notice all the lovely color and shape variations there are in petals and leaves and adorn their wrists with beauty.
Leaves and flower petals
Wrap a piece of masking tape around your child’s wrist, sticky side up, and then go exploring to find wonderful leaves, beautiful flower petals and other interesting things to attach to the bracelet.
Before bedtime, snip the bracelet off and attach it next to his bed or somewhere in view so he can admire his work and remember his fun time.
2. RING OF STRING
For Ages:3-10 years
In this game, children are encouraged to really look closely at one spot and see all there is to see. There is a lot of pleasure to be had from noticing the tiny wonders of nature that are in our own back yard.
Magnifying glass or jar with water in it (optional)
Make a small circle on the ground with the string. Look carefully at the enclosed area with your child and notice what is growing there. Pull out a weed or blade of grass and see what the roots looks like. Is there a seedpod in the area? What’s inside?
Poke a hole and see if there are any insects around. What are they? What are they doing? Use a magnifying glass or a jar with water in it and look at different things up close.
Gather small things to examine and collect such as pinecones, acorns, petals, seeds, bark, leaves and pretty pebbles.
3. A SPOTLIGHT IN THE DARK
For Ages 1-5 years
Babies are fascinated with anything new. It’s fun for us to be with a little one when she discovers something for the first time. In this game it’s the delight of a flashlight in the dark
One or two flashlights
Keep the lights off in the room that you are in and scan the room with a flashlight, spotlighting different familiar things. “Look there’s the television. Here is the table and there is your high chair.”
You know your little one is going to want a chance to hold the flashlight. Let her. She can shine it wherever she wants or she has to find, with her flashlight, an object you name.
As she gets older and more coordinated, continue this game, but this time you both have flashlights and you encourage her to “catch” your spotlight. You move your spotlight around the room and she has to move hers so it “catches” yours by covering your spotlight with hers.
Your turn to chase next.
4. THE KNOCKING GAME
For: All Ages
Listening to and identifying the different sounds objects make when you knock on them is a game that can be played at any time. When you want to change the focus of fussing children, try saying: “Hey, let’s play a game. Close your eyes and see if you can tell what I’m knocking on. No peeking”
Common objects found around the house
Ask your player to close her eyes and turn her back to you. Then see if she can guess the object you are knocking on with your fist (or a spoon). Start with easy things such as a table and a window, and work towards sounds that are harder to identify, such as knocking on a book or lamp.
Take turns being the identifier and the “knocker”.
5. TOOTHPICK ART
For: All Ages
There are many ways to teach the hands to have more finesse. This is one of them that you can play together.
Toothpicks, plain or colored
Make an abstract design by laying toothpicks out on a table or floor, with each player adding their toothpick to the design. The first player puts down one toothpick. The next player adds his at just the angle that seems pleasing to him. The next person then adds theirs to that design and so on and so on until an interesting design is formed.
Instead of an abstract design, you can make a specific scene. For example, make a house with a picket fence and trees.
!It takes concentration to pick up a skinny toothpick and decide the best place to put it. Placing each toothpick down carefully and trying not to jiggle the design encourages awareness of hand movements.
It also develops the pincer grasp, the small muscles that control the index finger and thumb.
But mainly, it’s fun to make art together.
6. TOE STEPPING
For: All Ages
Here’s a fun and silly game that requires concentration and quick movement. Try it sometime at a birthday party gathering, when you want to redirect excess energy, or when the kids are bored and want something quick and new to do.
None but fancy footwork
Two people, both barefoot or in stocking feet, face each other and hold hands. Each person tries to step on the others toes while at the same time keep their toes from being stepped on.
You might remind the players to step lightly on each other’s toes so that others will do the same to you. In other words, follow this game’s Golden Rule: Step on others as you would want to be stepped on.
Concentrating on both keeping out of the way and going for the goal is a kind of trial by fire. Pressure on their foot lets them know when they weren’t paying close enough attention!
7. BALLOON BASEBALL
For Ages: 1-5
Baseball may be fun but those balls can hurt and are hard to hit. For young ones, use a balloon!
Bat: Make a bat out of anything handy, such as the inside cardboard tube of a paper towel roll or a rolled up section of yesterdays newspaper secured with tape
. Give the bat to your player and toss the balloon to her. The slow movements of a balloon floating towards her gives her plenty of time to line up her bat, swing at the ‘ball” and get the satisfaction of “connecting.”
If there is just the two of you, take turns being the pitcher/catcher and the batter.
If there are other players, their job is catching the “ball” as it leisurely floats down. Who ever catches it can have the next turn at batting or give it to someone who hasn’t had enough turns.
After everyone gets all the turns they want, you can change the game to “Golf”. Use boxes turned on their sides as “holes” and players see how many strokes it takes to hit the balloon in the box.
8. BACK WRITING
For Ages: 5-12 years
Writing invisible letters on a child’s back a fun way to write a secret message.
One person sits with his back to another and a pad of paper and pencil in front of him.
The other person, using his finger, “draws” a letter on the person’s back.
At the same time, that person draws on the paper what he thinks is being drawn on his back.
Keep writing letter by letter until a whole message is given. The message could be a clue to where a treat is hidden!
Take turns so both the writer and the person written on get to experience what it feels like.
Have an older child play this game with a younger sibling as a fun way to help him learn his letters.
9. SELF PORTRAITS
For Ages: Teens
Many teenagers go through a phase where they become fascinated with their reflection in the mirror, especially during the period when their faces make that change from a child’s to a young adult’s.
In this activity, you and your changing child can take advantage of this fascination by drawing your mirror reflection
Felt tip marker
Both of you sit facing a mirror and draw your reflection directly on the mirror using a felt-tip marker.
You can also draw each other’s on paper but don’t look at the paper until the drawing is done. This often gives a kind of Picasso look to the work
10. SHOE MOUNTAIN
For: All Ages
When the kids are bored but antsy with energy, here is a quickie that is guaranteed to win the hearts of all ages. Your twelve year old will l be just as excited to play this game as your two year old.
Pile all the shoes you can readily find in a pile in a large cleared out space in the room. Tell the kids that this is not a pile of shoes (silly them to think that!) but is actually a huge mountain and they have to start from a distance away and run towards the mountain and then with one gigantic leap, make it over the top of the mountain to the other side.
It adds to the thrill if the others provide a drum roll–slapping their hands on the floor or on a table or on their knees as the next Leaper makes her run and then when that person is in the air, call out her name!