Fun Stuff for Kids

Games We Play

Did you know that there are conventions dedicated to playing games? Furthermore, did you know that one happens every year in Indianapolis?  To tell you the truth, I didn’t either until I met my husband.  While we were dating, he took me to Gen Con  for the first time.  Gen Con is the original, longest-running, best-attended gaming convention in the world!  Featuring hundreds of game companies, costumed attendees, more than 10,000 events, a Family Fun Pavilion, and the debut of exciting new games, Gen Con truly isThe Best Four Days in Gaming™!  Since that first excursion, I have trekked with him several more times.

While I was packing for last year’s convention, I reflected on the games that I really like to play.  While I really enjoy cooperative games (where everyone works together for a common goal), my husband enjoys more strategy and competitive games, so we play them all.  Lucky for him, I grew up in a family that liked to play games (i.e. Clue, Euchre).  I wish that he could have met my Grandma Hirschy.  She would have given him a run for his money in Scrabble.

Depending on the game, we sometimes have our own “House Rule.”  For example, I don’t necessarily like to play with a traitor in some of the games, so when we play the game, we do not play with a traitor.  If it is a necessary part of the game, we play that role together.  Therefore, it is our twist on the original rules, thus our House Rule.  You can make your own twists as well. As long as everyone agrees to the rule change before play begins, where is the harm?  My thought is if it makes the game more enjoyable, have fun with it.  However, at the convention this weekend, everything is strictly by the rules.

Previously I shared a list of games that our 5-year-old loves to play.  Today,  I am sharing some favorites that my husband and I like to play together, with older kids, or with other adults.  A surprising number of the games on the list were discovered at the convention in years past. Maybe I’ll come home with some new favorites this year.  I’ll let you know.

Have a Great Week!

Lisa

Loot, by Gamewright – The Plundering Pirate Card Game. Yo-Ho-Ho and a barrel of fun! Set sail for an exciting adventure of strategy and skullduggery in this captivating card game. Storm your opponents’ merchant ships and seize valuable treasure. But watch your back, matey — plundering pirates are out to capture your ships as well. The player with the most loot rules the high seas. Note: This is a fun game to play with a group of people.

 

We Didn’t Playtest This At All, by Asmadi Games – The most aptly named game ever. In this exceptionally silly and awesome game, your objective is to win. Simple enough. Sadly, all of your opponents have the same simple goal, and they are trying to make you lose. Between rock paper scissors battles, being eaten by a random dragon, or saved by a kitten ambush, there are many hazards to avoid. Note: Some rounds can last 10 minutes, others last only 30 seconds.  A game that is more fun the more people that play.

 

Sitting Ducks, by Playroom Entertainment – No duck is safe in Sitting Ducks Gallery where the object is to maneuver your ducks down the row and avoid getting in the line of fire! Get your ducks out of the water before feathers start flying because cards can target, shoot, or move the line in various ways! If your birds of a feather can stick together and keep from getting hit, you could be the last Sitting Duck in the lake!  Note: We have sooo much fun playing this game.  In fact, my sister-in-law and nieces request this game when they visit from Virginia.

 

10 Days in the USA, by Out Of The Box – Start your engines.  It’s time to hit the road for a fun-filled journey across the USA. You have 10 Days in the USA – travel the country by jet, car, and on foot. Plan your trip from start to finish using destination and transportation tiles. With a little luck and clever planning, you just might outwit your fellow travelers. The first traveler to make connections for their ten-day journey wins the game.  Note: If you like this version, you will want to check out the multitude of other versions available, i.e. 10 Days in Africa, etc.

 

FLUXX, by Looney Labs – A card game where the cards themselves determine the current rules of the game. By playing cards, you change numerous aspects of the game: how to draw cards, how to play cards, and even how to win. There are many editions, themed siblings, and promo cards available.  Note: A game that is always changing, but very fun to play.

 

Aquarius, by Looney Labs – Kids love the colorful design, fast play, and familiar matching strategy. Adults love the game’s competitive edge. It’s the perfect family card game. The player with the longest hair goes first connecting element cards to complete a secret goal. Deal the cards and plan your move, but don’t get too comfortable — you may get zapped!  Note: Fun even as a player game, but better with four.

 

Pastiche, by Fred Distribution – A World of Beautiful Colors comes alive as players choose commission cards picturing 34 of the finest European art works of the past six centuries. Players score their commissions by mixing primary colors through clever tile placement and recreating the palette of colors used by the masters who created these works. Explore the paintings’ palettes and pasts of the artists in this unique and challenging game for the whole family. While placing hexagonal pieces to gain palette (color) cards, players become familiar with the different color combinations that produce the many hues of an artist’s palette… all listed on the Player Reference Card. Players also learn to recognize many great artists and their works as they complete commissions.  Note: I love this game.  Takes a lot of time to play, but it is well worth it.

 

Survive Escape From Atlantis, by Stronghold Games – In this game, you try to lead your people from the sinking central island of Atlantis to the safety of one of four islands nearby. Your people can get there quickly by boat (if they find one) or more slowly by swimming. But it will be a perilous journey as they must avoid Sea Serpents, Whales, and Sharks. When the volcano on Atlantis explodes, the game is over. The player with the most survivor points wins.  Note:  So much fun.  You never know until the end who is going to win.

 

The Downfall of Pompei,i by MayFair Games – Can you escape the inferno?  The rich, beautiful Roman city of Pompeii sits at the foot of majestic Mount Vesuvius. Renowned for exotic, easy and ample luxury, the wealthy town attracts the best of Rome’s proud citizens. But a terrible secret lies deep beneath the slopes of the mighty mountain. A primeval secret is about to unleash unspeakable horrors on this fateful afternoon. The mountain, so very long asleep, is finally reawakening. Come to beautiful Pompeii. Use your cards to attract your Roman friends and relatives to visit select sites. But beware. The dreaded Vesuvius card means the mountain is awake, spewing fiery lava onto the unsuspecting city. Now you must struggle to get your compatriots out of the doomed town before they are engulfed. Rushing to avoid lava flows, your people must flee before Vesuvius explodes and ash seals their fate. Lead the most survivors to safety and win.  Note: There is just something about throwing other people’s tokens in the volcano.  Always have a great time when we play this one.

 

Ticket to Ride, by Days of Wonder – Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure game. Players collect train cards that enable them to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn.   Note: This is one of our five-year-old’s favorite games as well.  He doesn’t usually make it through the whole game, but he is getting better.  This is one where we play house rules so that all the lines are open all of the time.  That way it isn’t so cutthroat.

 

Pig Pile, by R&R Games – Howdy Pawdners! No mud slinging allowed in this fun, fast-paced family game where players compete to corral the most pigs. Get rid of your cards first and be awarded the prime pile of pigs. Sounds easy, but pigs can be slippery! The more cards you have, the better your chances of calling out “Hog Wash!” and clearing away the deck! But don’t hog the cards too long or you’ll get stuck. Dump your cards the fastest to build the highest heap of hogs! The player with the largest Pig Pile wins!  Note: This is one that we play all the time with my parents.  Everyone has a great time and it can accommodate six people.

 

 

Cooperative Games:

 

Pandemic, by Z-Man Games – Four diseases have broken out in the world, and it is up to a team of specialists in various fields to find cures for these diseases before mankind is wiped out. Players must work together playing to their characters’ strengths and planning their strategy of eradication before the diseases overwhelm the world with ever-increasing outbreaks. But the diseases are breaking out fast, and time is running out: the team must try to stem the tide of infection in diseased areas while also finding cures. A truly cooperative game where you all win or you all lose.  Note: I can’t tell you how much I love this game.  If we don’t win a round, my husband and I usually stay up late to make sure that we end on a winning note.

 

Forbidden Island, by Gamewright – You and your team can be the first to breach the borders of the Archeans’ ancient mystical empire in the collaborative card game, Forbidden Island, by Gamewright. In this game, teamwork proves essential to locate the Earth Stone, the Statue of the Wind, the Crystal of Fire, and the Ocean’s Chalice as the Island floods beneath your feet. Adventure… if you dare!  If you like this game there is a second game by the same designer called Forbidden Desert.    Note: Great cooperative game!  Love that you can change the difficulty level to make it more challenging, if you want.

 

Shadows Over Camelot, by Days of Wonder – Shadows Over Camelot is a unique collaborative game featuring a malevolent twist. As the incarnation of the Knights of the Round Table, players work together to defeat the forces closing in on Camelot. But beware, players must be vigilant for a traitor in their midst who is biding his time-secretly sowing the seeds of havoc and destruction. Yet too much suspicion will undermine the knight’s efforts to protect the kingdom. These are dangerous times indeed. Many memorable game nights await in this Days of Wonder game.  Note: One of my husband’s favorites.  Always a go-to game with a group of teens.

 

Castle Panic, by Fireside Games – In Castle Panic players must work together to defend their castle in the center of the board from monsters that attack out of the forest at the edges of the board. Players trade cards, hit and slay monsters, and plan strategies together to keep their castle towers intact. The players either win or lose together, but only the player with the most victory points is declared the Master Slayer.  Note: We found this at the convention a couple of years ago and what a keeper!  They have an expansion pack that keeps it very challenging and fun.

 

Flash Point Fire Rescue, by Indie Boards & Cards – Flash Point: Fire Rescue is a fully cooperative game; everyone plays on the same firefighting team – win or lose together. Every turn is filled with the tension of having to fight the fire back rescuing victims or investigating points of interest. Players can ride the ambulance to safety or fire the engine’s deck gun in a desperate attempt to control the blaze.  Note: One of the newer games in our collection.  Always a hit with a group of kids or adults.

Family Activity – Cleaning House

My house usually looks like a whirlwind has blown from one room to the next and left utter destruction in the wake.  Toys have made their way from the kids’ bedrooms to the living room or kitchen, and everything seems to be all over the floor.  The books are out of the bookshelf, and every video we have is piled up by the chair.  With a 5-year-old and an 18-month-old, that is exactly what happens on a daily basis.  Don’t get me wrong; the kids will help pick up if I am right there beside them, but my poor husband usually comes home to utter devastation.

A couple of months ago I came across something on Pinterest (The House Game) that has helped our family clean our house.  This simple tool gets us working together in the evenings or on the weekends to get the house clean.

It is a simple concept:

  1. Roll a number.
  2. Visit that room of the house as a team and clean.  Or do the assigned task on the chart.  Mom and Dad assign tasks to the kids, and everyone works together to accomplish the goal.
  3. Repeat until all tasks are completed.

The site has the printable available with either 9 rooms or 12 rooms.  I downloaded the 12 room printable and then customized it for our family.  I wrote in all of the areas of our home, or tasks that we can do together, i.e. Kitchen & Dining Room, Living Room, Laundry, Hank’s Room, Faith’s Room, Mom & Dad’s Room, Bathrooms, and Dusting/Sweeping/Mopping.  I also filled in the leftover numbers with some kind of physical activity, i.e. Jump up and down 10 times, Walk around the house backwards, Hugs all around, Hop like a bunny around the house.  I put our game board in a picture frame and we use a dry-erase marker to check off the numbers as we complete our tasks.  But you don’t have to go through all that work.  Just use a scrap piece of paper and write down the numbers.  Then as you complete each task, use a crayon or pencil to color the numbers that are done.  To make sure we hit all of the rooms/tasks, we roll only one dice until we get the first 6 numbers checked off.  Then we add the 2nd dice and play until the end.

The kids (and my husband) love it.  We go from room to room and really work together.  Hank loves to race back to the board and roll for the next job.  We get so much more done when we play the game rather than just try to “clean the house.”   So if you are looking for a nice change of pace with cleaning the house, I would recommend trying a variation of The House Game.

What ideas do you have to get your kids involved with helping around the house?

Have a Great Week!

Lisa

Family Activity – Fun Throughout the Year

Looking for ideas to do with your kids?  If you’re like me, I am always on the hunt for quick, simple activities to do throughout the year.  During the holiday season, we always have an activity a day to do together that is a lot of fun.  This year I want to try to do more hands-on activities with my kids throughout the entire year.  I want to make it as simple as possible, so we are using activity calendars, bucket lists, and fun lists that others have already created.  Then I can pick and choose the activities from the various calendars to keep us busy every month of the year.

It is my goal to have at least one fun family activity each week.  Won’t you join me in spending more time with our kids?

Here some of my favorite resources to draw inspiration from for activities – ideas for play, movement activities, reading ideas, and healthy eating, and more.  My favorite resources are activity calendars that have one idea for each day, or a list of ideas for the month or season.

  • An Activity A Week – 52 fun, simple indoor and outdoor activities to do with kids.  I created this resource as my starting point to make my goal a reality.  Whether we do the activities one-on-one during the day or during family time in the evenings or on weekends, it really doesn’t matter.  The point is to start doing more things with the kids.  It is a compilation of some of my favorite activities listed in the resources below.  Enjoy!
  • 10 Ways to Play, by Let’s Explore – Each month has simple, creative play inspiration. Print it out, hang it up, and have fun!  The 10 activities each month don’t require a lot of special supplies or preparation and can be enjoyed by a wide variety of ages.
  • Reading Activity Calendar –Wondering what to do with your child today? Whether you’re at home, at school, or out running errands, use the Reading Activity Calendar to find fun, simple ways to make reading a part of your everyday life. Flip through the calendar above for ideas, activities, and silly holidays to celebrate together.
  • Healthy Calendars from Nourish Interactive – Calendars are a great way to remind children of healthy actions they can take each day to promote general wellness. A variety of calendars that you can print to post in classrooms or after school activity programs, hand out to children to follow individually or as part of a family project.

Do you have a favorite activity resource?  Please share!

 

Have a Great Week!

Lisa

Indoor Fun – Snow Day

Some days it’s just too cold to go outside and play, or the weather doesn’t cooperate in another way.  Whatever the weather, I have a special day planned for the kids – an indoor snow day.  I have come up with a list of some games, activities, and treats that we can pick and choose to do throughout the day.  This would also be fun as a family activity anytime of the year.

Have a Great Week!

Lisa

 

snowballgames

Snowball Games are Minute to Win it Style games.  I found this list a couple of years ago, and Hank looks forward to doing them every year – especially the indoor snowball fight.  This year we are going to start out the games by hiding all of the “snowballs” around the house and have a scavenger hunt.

Also, to go along with the games we already have, we are adding a couple of new ideas.

 

snow_fun

 

The kids both love craft time, and here a couple of projects that I know they will enjoy.

 

Who doesn’t love a good book?  Here are a couple of resources with a variety of snow or winter books.  A couple of our favorites are Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton, and If It’s Snowy and You Know It, Clap Your Paws! by Kim Norman.

Here are a couple of math-related activities that we will incorporate into the day.

We love experiments, so here is a great resource with ideas.

 

snowscience

from Inspiration Laboratories

 

We kept a couple of the larger boxes from Christmas to use for our snow bricks activity (see below).  I also saved white tissue paper and collected snowflake stickers.

 

snowfort

from Things to Share and Remember

  • Snow Bricks (boxes covered in white paper and snowflakes) to build a snow fort or Igloo
  • Or make a fort or igloo with blankets and a table

Here is a list of props to use with this snowy dramatic play activity:

  • Ear Muffs and Hats
  • Scarves
  • Jackets and Snow Suits
  • Sweaters
  • Boots
  • Long Underwear
  • Buckets and Shovels
  • Snow (cotton balls, styrofoam)
  • Thermos and Cups
  • Snowman Blocks (see below)
  • Let your imagination go wild!

Idea:  Try putting your dramatic play and block play materials together.  See what happens?

 

snowblocks

from No Time for Flashcards

We have saved quite a few spice jars to use for our snowman “blocks” idea from No Time for Flashcards.  We also saved small Pringles cans to use as a larger version of these blocks as well.

snowytreats

 

I thought it would be fun to incorporate themed snacks into our day of fun!  Here are a couple of quick, simple ideas that we are going to try.

We are going to continue the fun through dinner.  The kids are going to help prepare 2 “Pizza Snowmen”  – one with mushrooms for eyes, mouth & buttons, and one with black olives instead so each child has his/her favorite topping.

snowpizza

Snowman Pizza from Delia Creates

 

Family Activity – Scavenger Hunt Fun

Do you like to go treasure hunting?  Do you like antique stores?  Are you looking for fun, easy, inexpensive dates to go on with your spouse or as a family?  If the answer is yes, then I have an idea for you.

A couple of months ago my parents had the kids for the weekend, so my husband and I decided to have an impromptu date but didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  We both love to go antiquing but rarely do with the kids, so I thought it would be fun to do a scavenger hunt at a local antique store.  The night before our date I looked on the internet and finally found an Antique Mall Scavenger Hunt Game from More Creative Juice.  I printed it out, put it on a clipboard with a pen, and off we went.  We had so much fun!   I never thought we would have such a great time scouring the store for the items on the list.  Granted we didn’t find everything, but the experience was a huge hit.  The store owner even got in on the fun!  She said she had never had anyone do a scavenger hunt in the store and even helped us find a couple of last minute items.

We had such a great time that we want to do it again at a different store and eventually include our kids in on the fun.  Even though we enjoyed the already compiled list, we decided to create our own list for future use.  We added several items to the list and deleted some others.  We created a picture list to use as a family with our kids with a lot fewer items to look for during the hunt.    This would also be great for a group activity.  You could have teams work together to look for the entire list, or divide the list so that groups are looking for fewer items.  However you do it, plan to take an hour or two and just have FUN!

 

Adult_Hunt

Printable Adult Scavenger Hunt

 

Kids_Hunt

Printable Kids Scavenger Hunt

 

Have a Great Week!

Lisa

Family Activity – Let’s Go On A “Real” Treasure Hunt

Do you enjoy treasure hunting?  In another blog I wrote how my husband and I like to search for treasure in Antique Stores.  What you don’t know is that we also like to go treasure hunting for real.  On the night we met, we discussed a hobby of his called Geocaching. I didn’t know very much (or anything) about it.  Needless to say, on our first official date I experienced Geocaching in action and have enjoyed it off and on ever since.  In fact I have even gone a couple of times without my husband.

 

Geocaching_logo

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.  The only necessities are a GPS device or a GPS-enabled mobile phone so that you can navigate to the cache, and a Geocaching.com Membership.  Free memberships are available.

Here are some links to videos with an overview of what Geocaching is all about.

  1. What is Geocaching a good overview from Geocaching.com
  2. Geocaching: Treasure Hunting With Your Kids – from Dadlabs.com takes you through the entire process from start to finish.
  3. Introduction to Geocaching –  from REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) about finding a cache and etiquette to follow during the game

Three main rules for the game:

  1. If you take something from the geocache (or “cache”), leave something of equal or greater value.
  2. Write about your find in the cache logbook.
  3. Log your experience at .

Suggestions:

  • Select caches with easier ratings for difficulty and terrain if you have young children. Move up to more advanced ratings as you and your kids gain experience.
  • I know we all want to be the one to find the treasure, but let your children discover the cache. Most of the time they are located within a few feet of the coordinates and just off a trail. Caches can sometimes be hidden under a rock or in a tree stump. Open the cache back on the trail: You don’t want to tip off or alarm non-gamers and hikers of the cache’s location. Also, be sure to follow the rules of any park or public land you visit.
  • Always sign the logbook, re-seal the cache, and return it to its original hiding place as you found it. If you’re taking a treasure from the cache, be sure to replace it with another item of equal or greater value. You want to leave the cache in better condition than when you found it.
  • Keep it clean! “Cache In, Trash Out” (CITO) is a Geocaching tradition, where you collect and dispose of litter along the way.  By cleaning up after others, you are leaving the environment better for everyone.

I love that through caching you can visit new places, even in your hometown, which you never even knew were there.  I like spending time outdoors with others, working together to find the hidden prize.  I enjoy the challenge of locating the smaller caches and uncovering new ways to camouflage the containers to fit in with the surroundings.  However, I prefer looking for the larger caches and look forward to discovering trinkets to collect and trade.

Since we have had children, we haven’t had as many opportunities to cache, but since the kids are getting older I think this is the time to get back into it.  We have cached a couple of times with our kids, and I can tell you my son is hooked.  He keeps asking to go look for more caches.  I’m glad he likes it because with a couple of upcoming road trips in the near future, caching will give us some great stretch breaks along the way.

Want to try geocaching?  Begin by looking at the website for start-up information and helpful hints. Chances are there are several geocaches near your home. You can make an afternoon out of searching for one or more. Make it a fun adventure for the whole family.  I would love to hear about your adventure!

Have a Great Week!

Lisa

 

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Family Activity – Camping Adventure

There is something very appealing about unplugging, spending time in the fresh air and sunshine, cooking over an open fire, and relaxing with family.  What better way to do that than to go camping?  I grew up with a family that camped.  When I was younger, we would pitch our massive tent at the lake.  We spent our summers swimming, reading, relaxing, enjoying times with family and friends, and sleeping in that old tent.  Then Mom and Dad purchased a pop-up camper.  We took many a family trip with that camper exploring Indiana and staying at many of the state parks.  I was a typical child that went through phases with liking to camp and not wanting to camp at all.  However, as I get older, I look back on all of the memories of family campouts, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Now as an adult, I enjoy the weekends where I can get away with my own family and leave everything behind for a camping trip. In fact, I like almost everything about camping.  I like being outdoors, not having a schedule, the food, and the memories made around a campfire.  Sure, it is a lot of work to plan and pack, but once camp is set, it is a very enjoyable time.  In fact, every August we go camping with a group of friends to Ouabache State Park in Bluffton.  This year, my parents and brother Bryan will be joining us, so we are taking both the camper and tent to accommodate our family.  Hank is soooo excited that we are taking the tent.  It will be his first experience with tent camping.  Or like my brother Scott likes to say, “Real Camping.”  Scott doesn’t believe that taking a camper (equipped with a refrigerator, stove, bathroom, and air conditioning) qualifies as camping.  However, with the crazy warm weather we have had the past couple of years and the time-saving convenience, I gladly disagree with him and love taking a camper.

Want to go camping, but don’t have equipment?  No problem!  Have a camping adventure around your home.

  • Sleep “under the stars” in the living room
  • Go on a bear hunt throughout the backyard or neighborhood
  • Read stories by flashlight on the couch
  • Fix camp food in the convenience of your own kitchen

Here are some of the menu items and activities we are planning to do on this year’s campout.  You can adapt them for your own campout as well.

Have a Great Week!

Lisa

 

images

 

Camping foods:

 

S’mores

For Each S’more:

  • Marshmallow roasting stick
  • 1 large marshmallow
  • 1 graham cracker
  • 1 (1.5 oz) chocolate bar

Directions

  1. Heat the marshmallow over an open flame until it begins to brown and melt.
  2. Break the graham cracker in half. Sandwich the chocolate between the cracker and the hot marshmallow. Allow the marshmallow to cool a moment before eating.

 

Pudgie Pies

For Each Pie:

  • Pie iron
  • 2 Slices bread
  • Butter
  • Canned pie filling; apple, cherry, peach, blueberry, etc.

Basic Directions

  1. Place slice of bread, butter side down, on lower half of cooker. Spoon fruit filling on center of bread.
  2. Place second slice of bread, butter side up, on top of fillings. Latch the pie iron; trim off excess bread if necessary.
  3. Toast over campfire, fireplace or fire pit until golden brown on both sides. A delicious snack in 4 – 6 minutes.

 

Tacos in a Bag

For Each Bag:

  • Taco Meat
  • 1 (2.5 ounce) package corn chips or Doritos
  • Taco toppings:  shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, chopped green onions, chopped avocado, sliced black olives, shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream

Directions

  1. Heat your favorite taco meat.  I usually do this in the microwave in the camper, but it can be done over the fire if needed.  Note: I like to make and freeze the taco meat ahead of our camping trip.  Then when it’s time for camping, I let it thaw in the cooler or in the camper’s refrigerator.
  2. With the bags unopened, gently crush the corn chips. Snip the corners off the bags with scissors and slit open the bags along the side edge. Spoon in toppings. Serve in the bag and eat, using a fork.

 

Camping Crafts:

 

Rainstick

  • Mailing tube
  • Nails
  • Child-Size hammer
  • Duct tape
  1. Hammer many nails into the cardboard mailing tube. (I put dots on the tube with a marker where the nails would go to make it easier for Hank to see.)
  2. Fill the tube with river stones, pipe cleaner pieces, and rice.  (I put the materials that Hank was going to put in the tube into an empty water bottle.  That way, when it was time to pour it in we didn’t have to use a funnel.)
  3. Decorate with Duct Tape.  (I found some great duct tape decorated with leaves and pinecones on it to go along with the camping theme.)

 

Bubble Creature

  • 1 empty green plastic bottle (such as Mt. Dew)
  • Scissors
  • 1 sock
  • 1 rubber band
  • 2 Google eyes
  • 1 piece of green foam
  • Hot glue gun
  • Bubble solution
  1. Cut the bottom off plastic bottle with scissors.
  2. Place the cut end of the bottle into the sock and pulled it tightly onto the bottle.
  3. Place a rubber band around the sock to keep it in place and then fold the sock back over the rubber band.
  4. Glue the eyes in place.
  5. Cut 3 triangles out of the green foam for the back decoration and glue to snake.

To blow bubbles, dip your sock end of snake into bubble solution to get the fabric wet, and then blow through the mouthpiece of the bottle. To add color to the bubbles, put drops of food coloring directly on the sock.

*Original idea from Two-daloo.com

 

Camping Fun:

 

Frisbee

Bocce Ball

Ladder Golf

Bike Riding – The park has a wonderful bike trail for hours of fun.

Swimming

Balls

Scavenger Hunt (printable from Creative Homemakers.com)

 

Camping Games:

By now you know that my family plays games whenever we can, and camping is no exception.  We have accumulated a surprising number of outdoor-/camp-themed games that always seem to find their way on the packing list.  These come in very handy if there is inclement weather, or for late-night fun around the picnic table.

 

EcoFlux, by Loony Labs – In the wild, you must adapt to survive! Will you win by having your Bears Eat Fish? Or will some change the goal so that their Frogs and Insects can make Night Music? Play ecology-themed Actions and Rules like Scavenger or Composting, but watch out for Creeper cards, such as Forest Fire, that can hurt everyone! Discover a little about how things go together, with EcoFluxx – the nature game of ever-changing rules!

Scavengers, by Zombie State Games – Each year the Hamburger family escapes into the great outdoors for a little rest and relaxation. During their stay eager animals scavenge for food that has been left unattended to take home and make meals of their own.

Squarrels, by Home Lantern Games – If you enjoy playing card games, you will fall in love with S’Quarrels! S’Quarrels is an exciting (and addicting) card game built around the theme of squirrels collecting acorns before winter. Ambushing, Hoards, Quarrels, and Whirlwinds are all part of the fun. Get the Golden Acorn but watch out for the Rotten Acorn.

Hike, by Moosetache Games – Brave the Elements, Blaze the Trail in Hike! Go for a trek, get lost on a trail, ride out avalanches, and always remember to watch out for Poop! There’s no littering allowed in Hike: The Card Game!

Camp, by Education Outdoors – Camp is a game where both children and adults can play and learn fun facts about the great outdoors. The game is designed to grow with the player, starting at level one questions, which are primarily identification of animals. As the players increase in their knowledge about the outdoors, they grow into the higher level questions. A fun and educational game where parents and children can play against each other to get to camp first.

S’mores The Card Game, by Education Outdoors –  S’Mores the Card game is fun for the whole family. Be the first player to get all of the ingredients to make the perfect S’mores.

Hit The Trail, by Education Outdoors –  A unique, fast paced, nature-inspired family game that comes packaged in a handy mini backpack. Test your knowledge and have fun doing it, inspired by the great outdoors.

Bears, by Fireside Games – You and your friends are on a relaxing camping trip. But as you hammer in the last stake, you hear rustling. Bears are romping through the campsite. Who will survive the rampage? And who will be eaten by bears? Bears is a fast-playing, competitive game in which you score points by pairing dice. Shoot bears and run from tents for a few points, or take a risk and score big by sleeping through the attack. But watch out. If Bears are left at the end of the round, your sleeping campers are done for.

 

After Dark Fun:

 

Glow Toys – Instead of the usual glow sticks, this year I found some light up glow wands.  You press the button and the top of the wand (which looks like a pinwheel) starts spinning and changes all sorts of glow in the dark colors.  It runs on batteries so it can be used over and over again.

 

Catch The Firefly Game – The firefly carries a flashlight and silently counts to 10 as he walks away from the group. When the firefly reaches 10, he flashes the light once. Other players then count to 10 and take off to find the firefly, who tries to evade his pursuers. The firefly continuously counts to 10 and flashes the light at the end of each count. The first one to tag the firefly becomes the new firefly.

 

Campfire StoriesNo camping trip is complete without stories around a campfire. To make it easier to see, we read stories by flashlight. I know that typically you tell ghost stories, but since we have a 5-year-old and almost 2-year-old, ghost stories are a little too scary.

  • The Very Lonely Firefly, by Eric Carle
  • The Very Quiet Cricket, by Eric Carle
  • Let’s Have A Tree Party, by David Martin
  • We’re Going on a Nature Hunt, by Steve Metzger
  • Bear Feels Scared, by Karma Wilson
  • Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell
  • S Is for S’mores: A Camping Alphabet, by Helen Foster James

Family Activity – Our Summer A to Z List

Like most parents, I look forward to spending more time with my preschool child this summer.  However, I also know that he is going to miss the activities, fun, and socialization he gets during the school year from his preschool.  To help alleviate some of the anxiety of planning activities to do for the summer by myself, together we worked on an A to Z List of things he wants to do over the summer.  Please feel free to use these ideas, along with the other resources listed below, as a starting point for your own summer activity list.

Have a Great Week!

Lisa

 

 

Summer A to Z List

A – Arts & Crafts – Make a couple of art projects each week.

B – Bike – Take a family bike ride around the neighborhood.

C – Camping – Go on a family camping trip.

D – Drive-In Theater – Go to the drive in and experience watching a movie outside.

E – Exercise – Do some type of exercise each day.  Participate in the Family Fitness Challenge –  make family fitness a focus throughout the year.

F – Frisbee Golf – Go to the local park and play Frisbee Golf.

G – Geocaching – Go on a Geocaching adventure.  Geocaching is a treasure hunting game where you use a GPS to hide and seek containers with other participants in the activity.

H – Hike – Take a family walk on our local walking trail.

I –    Ice Cream – Make homemade ice cream.

J –   Just spend time together. It is alright to just unplug and spend a leisurely day together doing whatever the kids want to do – play outside, read books, go swimming, etc.

K – Keep Safe – Take a swimming class.  Hank fell in the swimming pool last summer and it really left a lasting impression.  Even though we got him in the water soon after the experience, he is still very hesitant.  I want to give him the tools he needs to feel confident in the water and feel safe in case it happens again.

L –   Library – Participate in the summer reading program at our local library.  To find your local library visit Public Libraries – Indiana

M – Museum – Visit a local museum ( i.e. Historical Society Museum – to find your local Historical Society information visit  http://www.indianahistory.org/our-services/local-history-services/local-history-contacts through the Indiana Historical Society website).  Visit the local Visitor’s Bureau of ideas of interesting places to go in your area – be a tourist in your own town/county.  For information on Indiana and your local visitors bureau visit http://www.in.gov/visitindiana/

N – Neighborhood Garage Sale – Sort through toys and pick some to sell, and some to donate (i.e local preschool).

O – Obstacle Course – Set-up an obstacle course in our back yard.

P – Plant a vegetable and flower garden.

Q – Quick, Easy Fun.  Have family game night. Make popcorn and watch a favorite family movie together.  Put a puzzle together.

R – Read, Read, Read – Read books together every day.

S – Scavenger Hunt – Go on a scavenger hunt.  Check out some pre-made scavenger hunts – A Year’s Worth of Scavenger Hunts for Kids – from the Mother’s Niche Blog.

T – Trains, Trains & More Trains – Ride a train, visit a model train, and play with trains at home.  Hank enjoys riding the Little River Railroad in Michigan, but for his birthday we are taking him to Heston.  He also enjoys visiting the model train layout in Garrett.  On a daily basis you can find him in his room creating train layouts with his wooden train set.

U – Unplug – Have time where no electronics are allowed.  We are going to make a conscientious effort to turn off the TV, tablet, computer and other distractions for enjoying time together.

V – Visit the Fair – Go to the 4-H Fair or The Indiana State Fair.  Every once in a while nothing makes you happier than fair food, animals and carnival music. For 4-H Fair Dates, visit Countyfairgrounds, USA – Indiana.

W – Wonderopolis – Participate in Camp Wonderopolis, a fun, free opportunity for parents and children to learn together during the summer.

X – X-tra Special Times with Friends – Make time to see friends.  Nothing beats time with friends!  Hank enjoys seeing his school and church friends at VBS.  We also have an annual get together with a group of friends over July 4th and have “Camp” for the kids.

Y – Yard – Have fun outside in our own backyard – set up the tent, play in the sandbox, enjoy water fun, etc.

Z – Zoo – Visit a Zoo.  We enjoy the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, but there are other options available in Northern Indiana as well.  Check out the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, or Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in Albion.