Summer Activities for Kids

A few ideas for when life slows down a bit.

 

 

A few great things to do away and at home with your kids… for when they ask to get on the computer, iPads, WII, Xbox… Well, you know…

Nothing wrong with extra time to enjoy their electronics during the summer, but here’s a list of alternatives to “gaming” their summer away.

The ebb and flow of summertime.

This morning, I enjoyed coffee with my dad as we chatted with my six-year-old.

We listened to her account of a nightmare about spiders, followed by ther dream of giant pink bugs. We speculated on the relative scariness of bugs that are huge, even if they are a shade of pink… It was good to just sit and talk and laugh a little with the morning cheer shining through the window.

Just two and a half weeks into June and we’ve already enjoyed: 1) A family reunion, 2. Two summer camps, 3. Family visiting in our home, and 4. A wedding weekend out of town. For the next few days, we’ve got the pleasure of having my dad here. Then we’ll finish out with another summer camp (for my younger kids this time). What a fun whirlwind – talk about a full month with many precious memories made!

The remainder of my calendar for this summer looks pretty empty, with enough time to be a bit more leisurely. There’s plenty of space to enjoy more coffee and conversation in the morning. I’ll have room in my days for contemplation. We won’t have places to rush off to and  I’ll have no piles of post-camp-laundry to catch up on. Our pace will slow down.

As my kids adjust to having greater ammounts of free time, I want to make sure those days aren’t all filled up with screen time . I’ve been strategizing about mostly “unplugged” activities we can enjoy. When my kids are asking to be on the computer all day, I’ll be ready with these ideas.

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A list of activities to enjoy with kids this summer:

Berry picking and peach harvesting.

We have so many orchards and berry farms around us. I missed the strawberry picking season (busy!), but this week is the perfect time for picking blueberries around here. For information about farms and orchards near you, go to this website: pickyourown.org.

To extend the fun, you can also read the classic, Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey while you eat your fresh berries over ice cream.

Journaling to inspire the love of writing and build confidence.

My husband and I sell used books on Amazon and occasionally I snag one from the “sell” pile if I fall in love with it.

The book, In the Company of Children, by Joanne Hindley, falls into that category. This is a warm, friendly book which helps you and your reluctant writer get past the paralysis of the blank page. It is not only a “how-to” book on journaling but also a “why” for motivation. She’s encouraging and injects a sense of community into the writing process.

I’m looking forward to bringing this into our family and seeing what it does for our family. I can see the influence of this book reaching into the adult years of my children, enhancing their grasp of good communication and their enjoyment of it as well.

Planning for when it’s too hot or rainy outside:

Watching this series on YouTube

Last year I studied Geography with my kids and about three months ago we stumbled across this channel Geography Now, created by Paul Barbato, pretty much from the first video we were hooked. He uses humor, and great visuals to make all the countries you’re a bit unclear about memorable. I want my kids to have a working knowledge of the world and it’s people. That’s a pretty tall order but this channel is a great starting point for both. For an overview, take a look at this:

Create a cooking lesson for your kids.

Whether you create your own (using favorite recipes) or use a monthly kit like Radishkids.com, summertime has the best opportunities to find pockets of time for cooking with your kids.

I know it’s kind of scary for some of us, but it really is worth the time and the mess to do this with your kids. The key is: Don’t do try cooking lessons with your kids when you’re in a hurry. Seriously, a four-hour block of time will make you much more relaxed about the process and cleanup! Maybe you only do this a couple of times this summer, but that’s okay!

Resources from Bear Paw Creek

Bean Bags.

I’ve got a set of bean bags from Bear Paw Creek, which my kids love. They are great for tossing inside (or outside) into bowls, knocking over empty bottles, for practicing juggling (Yeah, still working on that one.) and with an oversized checkerboard (squares painted or drawn on a sheet or fabric).

We use them at church as a way to get busy bodies moving before or after the lesson. Every Sunday (I’m not exaggerating. EVERY Sunday!) the kids ask to get the bean bags out. These are a great tool for every parent to have in their Summertime Boredom Toolbox.

Stretchy Bands in Circle Time.

Another great tool to pull out when you prefer to be inside is the Connect-a-Stretchy Band. These stretchy bands can be used for Circle Time each morning.

What is Circle Time you ask? Here’s an example from a mom at home: Creating a Circle Time in Your Home, by Jamie Martin on Simple Homeschool gives an overview and links to her vlog so you can see them in action.

Below is an example of a singing and movement Circle Time using a stretchy band from Bear Paw Creek (with plenty of giggles included):

If you want more tips and ideas on doing Circle Time take a look at this recent post by Carol Stephens of Macaroni Soup. She gives very practical tips and has great songs to use on her website.

If you want to know the “why” of using the stretchy band during Circle time, take a look at this post, by Allysa Wilkins of Dynamic Lynks, to understand the benefits the stretchy with your kids.

Summer Snowball Fight!

Have you heard of the Instant Snowball Fight? 

It’s great for winter fun when you live somewhere that doesn’t get snow and it’s great for the summer! This is an activity you can do inside, outside, in the pool, at a lake, really, anywhere. 

Snowball Movement Prop Set+ Kids = Indoor Snowball Fight

Don’t even get me started on the scarves and ribbons!

 

Have you seen what kids do when you get dancing scarves and ribbons in their hands? Whether dancing on the lawn, or in your front room, your kids will have a blast! Take a look at the resources I have listed in Ribbons Dancing and Scarves, Oh My!

I hope your summer is filled with fun. That it has a good ebb and flow of activities and rest.

Be sure to check out all of the movement props that Bear Paw Creek carries. Be prepared with these low-tech, high-fun ways for your kids to interact and play. Be prepared when your child says, “Can I play on the computer?” for the 50th time in a row. 😉

 

Jenette is a freelance writer of web content, blogs, and podcast show notes. She is also a wife and imperfect mother, whose family mean the world to her. She’s looking forward to July, when you’ll find her carving out time for all of this fun stuff and more. Jenette’s business website is at www.mywordsforhire.com.

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3 Bean Bag Games For Thanksgiving

Games to Encourage Thankfulness.

Are you looking for a few low-prep games to inspire thanksgiving on the part of your students, your family and even yourself?

Well, here are three you can play with bean bags.

For two of the games, bean bags are all you’ll need. For the last one, you’ll need some buckets or a few bowls (or boxes… Whatever you have handy.) Each of these games can take up just fifteen minutes or can be played as long as you like.

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Thanksgiving is good for the soul.

Autumn is a time to enjoy sweaters, cool walks, and baking sweets and bread without overheating the house.

It’s cozy.

Yet everything seems to speed up this time of year and we can find the holidays upon us if we dare to blink. In the stores we see Thanksgiving items laid out beside Christmas decorations before October has even closed her door. This used to frustrate me, but honestly, this year I’m filled with anticipation because Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite celebrations. 

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Woven throughout my family’s history, is a struggle with various kinds of depression and anxiety. As I grew into a woman, my mom shared that history with me and she also shared with me the role thanksgiving can play in refocusing our thoughts.

My mom relied on three strategies when she was depressed:

  1. Focusing on her belief in the goodness and love of God and casting her cares on Him.
  2. Giving thanks for past graces and gifts in her life.
  3. Finding ways to bless other people.

Depression is no light matter, and these are not easy-as-pie strategies, in fact, body chemistry is often involved in depression. However, these strategies have played a part in keeping me going through my bouts with nonclinical depression. 

  • A spirit of thankfulness helps us and blesses other people as we express our appreciation for them.
  • Thanksgiving is an attitude we want to instill in our children as much for their benefit as for the benefit of others.
  • Memories of hard times and how we made it through, are especially strengthening (as much as those memories of good times.)

In the midst of the coming Thanksgiving season, these fun games can turn our hearts toward being thankful and perhaps spark some good conversations about memories of times past.

“The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” -Henry Ward Beecher

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Here are three fun & simple bean bag games for promoting thankfulness.

These games can be played in or out of doors depending on the weather in your neck of the woods. They work great:

  • In a preschool with little ones.
  • For a rainy day recess at school.
  • In your living room for a circle-time homeschool activity.
  • For recreation time in a nursing home.
  • For Sunday school or youth group time.
  • For your family on Thanksgiving Day, when the kids are restless. 

Game 1:

You’ll need one bean bag for this game. 

  1. Have everyone sit in a circle facing each other (on the floor or in chairs.)
  2. One person has a bean bag in his hand.
  3. He tells what how he is thankful for someone else in the circle, then tosses the bean bag to that person.
  4. That person tells how she is thankful for someone else in the circle and tosses the bean bag to that person.

Make sure the teacher is also seated in the circle so that he or she can make sure that thankfulness can be expressed for each child in the circle. If needed the teacher start by being the one to express thankfulness for each child and having that child toss the bean bag back after she has tossed it to him. The teacher then repeats this until each child has heard what the teacher is thankful for in that child.

 

How long has it been since you've played with bean bags-

Game 2:

You’ll need one bean bag for this game.

  1. Have everyone sit in a circle facing each other.
  2. Start by saying something you are thankful for that starts with the letter A.
  3. Toss or hand the bean bag to the person beside you.
  4. That person tells something she is thankful for which starts with the letter B.
  5. Continue around the circle until you get to Z.

Don’t worry if this gets a little silly. The point is to have fun and get the juices going about being thankful. Another variation is to put on music and pass it around until the music stops, then have that person tell the thing that he is thankful for. Turn the music back on and continue around until it stops, then let the next person say what he’s thankful for.

 

Game 3:

You’ll need a dozen bean bags for this game and twelve sheets of paper.

  1. Put the sheets of paper side by side in sets of threes on the floor or on a table (no drinks, snacks or breakables on the table please.)
  2. On the papers write one of the following words, so that each set of papers has one of each word:
    • People.
    • Things.
    • Memories.
  3. Divide everyone into four groups (each group will have three bean bags). If you only have a few people, then just make two groups.
  4. When you say, “Go!”
    • The person at the front of the line says a person’s name for which he is thankful then tosses a beanbag in the bowl marked People.
    • He then tells something he is thankful for and tosses the bean bag in the bowl marked Things.
    • Lastly, he tosses a bean bag in the bowl marked Memory as he tells of something he’s thankful for doing.
  5. He then picks up the bean bags out of the bowl and passes it to the next person in line.
  6. The next person repeats steps four and five.

A few important notes: If you have a student in class who has trouble with speech, skip saying “Go!” and having the groups race each other. Instead, make it a turn-taking activity. You can still split large classes into four groups but have them go to different corners of the room to take turns.

This is a game which would be fun to play intergenerationally as younger people could share in the memories of their grandparents. 

A variation of this game which might work well in a nursing home would be to tape off the floor in the middle of the sitting area into four squares with a subject for each square which could be marked: Place, Person, Memory, Food. The residents could sit in the chairs and in wheelchairs surrounding the squares. If the bean bag lands on memory, the person tossing the bean bag can tell of a person they are thankful for. If the bean bag lands on place she can tell of a favorite place she is thankful for. 

 

 

 

Print out these bean bag games and take them with you.

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I know it’s handy to be able to file ideas like this, so feel free to print out this pdf of these games and take them with you to class, or wherever you’ll be using them.

If you’re looking for a great resource to buy fbean bags, Bear Paw Creek has got them for you. You can buy a dozen bean bags and they’ll come with a handy tote to store them in. Speaking of storage, have you taken a look at this post Julie Palmieri wrote about storing movement props and musical instruments? She has great tips and links for organizing. Take a look!

 

What games will you be playing to connect and get the “wiggles” out with your kids this Thanksgiving? Leave a note in the comments and share your ideas with us.

 

Hello, my name is Jenette Clay. I’m a freelance writer, but most of all a wife, mom, daughter and friend. I blog at www.mywordsforhire.com about how small businesses can improve their internet presence. I’m thankful for the inspiration and encouragement Janet has given me as a friend and client through Bear Paw Creek. If you’re looking for an example of how to build an effective small business website, Bear Paw Creek is a great place to start.

 

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Down Syndrome Awareness Month: Big Giveaway, 15% Sales Donation

October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

 

 

 

In honor and remembrance of my nephew, Brandon Nelson, I have been inspired to support Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

For the month of October, Bear Paw Creek will be running a big giveaway and also donating 15% of sales to a local group, Down Syndrome Group of the Ozarks.

There will also be a two part blog post about Down Syndrome and celebrating worth.

Down Sydrome Awareness Month Big Giveaway, donation of sales to local group

The Year My Parents Added Three More Grandchildren

The year 2002 was a year of booming growth in our family. This is the year that my brother and his wife, my sister and her husband, and my husband and I were expecting new additions.  Since there are only three of us siblings, my parents were being blessed with adding three grandchildren to their growing family tree!

This was our second child, and my brother and sister’s first! Our daughter, Madison, was born first in April, with our nephew Brandon being born in August, and our niece Sammie arriving in October.

I can still remember the day my brother called to tell me that they had found out their little one would have Down Syndrome.  We soon found out that he would also have issues with his heart.  Heart defects and disease is more common in children with Down Syndrome; here this article states that their risk is between 40-60.

So my nephew was scheduled to have a life saving heart operation shortly after birth, and more down the road.  After Brandon was born and before our niece Sammie was born, I was able to head to Wisconsin to visit family with our two oldest children.  My oldest was 4 at the time, and baby was 5 months old.  I am so glad I was able to meet Brandon in person and hold him.  Back then we didn’t have digital cameras, or phones with cameras in them, so I do wish we had more pictures from that trip.  In the bottom left corner, our oldest son is holding Brandon with me assisting.

Nephew Brandon

When I left Wisconsin, my sister was end of pregnancy huge!  I was hoping baby would come early so I could be there, but our niece had her own idea on when she’d arrive. Sammie was born a few weeks after I arrived back home in Missouri.

I sure wish we could have had pictures of the three cousins born in 2002 together, because 2003 brought sad times.  Shortly after marking his five month birthday, Brandon’s little heart couldn’t keep up and he went to be in Heaven.

When I saw a few months ago that October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, I thought of Brandon, I thought of our neighbors with George, and another family that has two children with Down Syndrome.  What started out as wanting to give back to the community with another sale donation has grown.

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Big Giveaway, Featured Posts, 15% Sales Donation

For the month of October we will be running a month long giveaway. It’s a big one!  It will include: two connect-a-stretchy bands, balloon ball, bean bags, drawstring bags, and streamers of your choice.  MSRP:  $145.00

Oct 2016 Giveaway, connect-a-stretchy bands, balloong ball, bean bags, drawstring bag, streamers

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We will also be giving 15% of our sales for the month of October to a local group, called Down Syndrome Group of the Ozarks.

Founded in 2006, the DSGO is an organization made up of a committed group of parents, professionals and other interested parties dedicated to creating an extensive network of support for individuals with Down syndrome and those who love and serve them in Southwest Missouri.

It is our goal to become the leading resource of Down syndrome information for new and expectant parents, students, healthcare professionals, educators and all Southwest Missouri citizens.

Our mission is to help individuals with Down syndrome become successful by providing support and education to loving families. We also are striving to bring awareness to early intervention services, promote inclusive education, highlight appropriate medical services, encourage quality employment opportunities and advocate for community awareness and acceptance.

We invite you to explore all that we offer and to join us in advancing the quality of life for individuals with Down syndrome.

 

Down Syndrome Group of the Ozarks

Go sign up for the giveaway, share often, and spread the love!

Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

Recreational Activities for Dementia & Alzheimer Patients

The Importance of Recreational Activities for Dementia & Alzheimer Patients in Nursing Homes and In-home Care.

 

 

Can caregivers of people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease interact with those under their care to help slow the progress of the symptoms?

This week I read an excellent article which addresses the frustration of experiencing Alzheimer’s. It outlines positive effects of daily mental stimulation from failure-proof activities.

Read more to find out what constitutes failure-proof activities and why they are so important for those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of Dementia.

Fail-proof activities for patients of Alzheimer's Disease

Therapy: moving beyond boredom, frustration, and isolation.

Autism, Lyme, Dementia, (including Alzheimer’s Disease)… the list goes on…

These are among the diseases which blindside families every day around the world. Each of these diseases strikes at the mind, body and emotions of the patient, and some have causes which are not completely understood.

We must continue to research causes and cures for these diseases, but how are patients and family members to cope with the impact of them now, in their daily lives?

How are they to move beyond coping, to enjoying life?

When children struggle with the sensory overload that often accompanies autism, more and more, parents are receiving support and seeing improvement through music and movement therapy for their kids. Occupational therapy is also helpful in building the child’s skills and confidence. This is good for the emotional wellbeing and health of the whole family.

There is also a growing body of professionals, who are addressing the need of various therapies for the elderly.

Therapists recognize the damage which feelings of boredom, frustration, and isolation inflict on the elderly who suffer from various types of dementia. They support family members who may feel equally isolated as they struggle to provide faithful care for their loved one.

  • Occupational therapists help patients figure ways to maintain daily routines which create a sense of dignity and control.
  • Music and movement therapists provide activities to stimulate the mind, promote stronger bodies and sustain healthier emotions.  

However, as these therapists know, not all activities are created equal. Some activities become overwhelming and lead to frustration which can increase the feelings of depression and isolation.

The objective is to offer simple activities, which help reinforce the patient’s self-esteem while relieving boredom and frustration. This, for the caregiver, involves being alert to the preserved abilities of the patient and helping develop and use the skills he or she still has. The more involved Alzheimer’s patients remain with the world around them, the more resourceful they will become at finding ways to keep their world from slipping away. AIGS.com

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Failure-proof recreational activities: Therapy that’s fun!

Eldergarden Adult Day Program

 

The most important aspect of a failure-proof activity is that it doesn’t frustrate.

Be open minded about any activities you present, if something doesn’t work, change it up or ditch it. It isn’t worth getting your feelings hurt over it. These ideas can be used (sometimes with modifications) nursing homes, or with in-home care. Keep note of what was a hit and what wasn’t.

Of course, that may change too, so be flexible and think of this as a worthy challenge and adventure. 

 

Here we go:

  1. Compile a track of oldies that are favorites to play, you are sure to get some toes tapping. 
  2. While they’re listening to some great music, why don’t you pull out a stretchy band! Use one long stretchy band for the group (you might want to have them sit), or a single band per person. Stretching in time to the beat is a great way to build up muscle and get the circulation going. 
  3. Hand out colorful scarves next, or beautiful ribbons streamers. I know, I know, we think these are for kids, but I’ll tell you, the times I sneak away with one of these to dance with, it makes me smile. That swirling color is mesmerizing.
  4. Speaking of oldies, some people love to play Corn Hole. Corn Hole uses bean bags which are tactile, soft and shouldn’t do too much damage if someone gets a little wild with their toys. You can build a corn hole using instructions, or use buckets or bowls or cardboard boxes for the holes.
  5. Watch old movies together. When you enjoy old movies together, you’re-not-doing-nothing. You are communicating the value that your loved one has to you.
  6. Walks are an excellent way to reduce stress for the elderly who able. However, if this is not a failure-proof activity for him or her, don’t agonize over it, move on to another option.
  7. Listen to stories. When you take the time to listen time and time again, you are allowing your loved one to feel connected.
  8. Have a reading time (this is good for a group or individual, as long as you have a way to make yourself adequately heard). Read old local newspapers, if you can get your hands on them, read magazines and classic books and poetry and the Bible.
  9. Have a sing time and take requests! Churches often are willing to come into Nursing Homes and sing hymns, find out if there is one near you that will send volunteers.
  10. Buy or print free from the web some beautiful coloring pages. It’s amazing what’s out there now! Provide plenty fresh crayons.
  11. Paint together and create a place on the wall to hang them using a long string anchored to the wall at two points. Hang the pictures using paper clips or clothes pins.
  12. Provide a piano, or a keyboard with headphones, whichever works best. Many people can still play instruments when other skills seem spotty. Need a guitar or other instrument? Ask around to see if someone wants to sell theirs, or will donate.
  13. Bring in someone who specializes in pets for therapy. Some people find pets very relaxing.
  14. Ask a school or homeschool co-op if they can send a choir, ensemble or instrumental group to come and play one afternoon. 
  15. Go for a drive on a beautiful day (I love doing this in Autumn).
  16. Play a board game or puzzle. If one is not the right fit, move on to another. Find inexpensive classics at garage sales second-hand stores.
  17. Cook familiar foods together and let your loved one do the parts she or he is comfortable with. 
  18. Create a calendar of local events that your loved one might enjoy. If outings are stressful, then don’t sweat this, do something fun at home.
  19. Have an ice-cream social with all of the toppings. 

Here is a link to the article which discusses the role of Failure-Proof Alzheimer’s Activities (I highly recommend it.) Failure-proof activities are beneficial:

  • For stimulating the brain.
  • Slowing progress of the disease.
  • Lessoning frustration.
  • Giving purpose, enjoyment and hope.
  • Preventing the spiral into isolation.

 

These are additional links which I found helpful.

 

To you who are struggling with Dementia-related diseases in your loved ones: My heart is with you.

To those who are researching, writing, providing therapy and creating tools for all of us who are caring for our loved ones, young or old: Thank you. You help us know we are not alone. 

The Songaminuteman:

Beauty in the midst of Alzheimer’s Disease

 

Mac McDermott shows us the perfect example of what a failure-proof activity can look like and the enrichment can bring to your family and others. Be inspired what he has to say on his Facebook About Page

Dad was a singer all his life – he was a Butlin’s Redcoat and then travelled around singing in clubs around the country. He worked in a factory after he got married and still did the bit of singing on side. His nickname is The Songaminute Man – simply because of how many songs he knows.

In the last few years his memory has deteriorated a lot – often not recognising family and with many aggressive episodes.

However, now when we’ve got him singing again he’s back in the room. It’s these moments that we treasure.

The plan is to share as much of Dad’s singing as we can and hopefully help raise money to fund the work of the Alzheimer’s Society – more specifically to go towards paying for a person at the end of the phoneline to help other people like us.

You can donate here: www.justgiving.com/songaminute

Janet Stephens, co-founder of Bear Paw Creek, is an important provider of movement props for therapists and activity directors. Bear Paw Creek makes colorful, high-quality movement props for use in stimulating and fun activities. You can get some today to use with your recreational activities in nursing homes or as part of a nursing home ministry in your church. 

What ideas or insights do you have about the topic of failure-proof activities? Let us know what you think in the comments!

 

I’m a freelance writer who enjoys writing content for small businesses. I am the wife of one and mother of many. Our family has dealt with issues in the last few years which have made me take a closer look at many diseases which affect the brain. My hope is that better relief will be found soon for so many suffering from Dementia and related diseases.

One Dozen Back to School Game Ideas!

Back to school ideas for moving and learning.

I’m a home-schooling mom and a free-lancing writer. I don’t love to be in charge, but I have to be, so I step up to the plate (because I love my kids). I’m so thankful for teachers who step up to the plate and pour their lives out for children everyday. You inspire me.
 

 

 

 

Ready to get back to school? I’m sharing games that help kids learn.

We all know how important movement and play are in children’s development, but with so much to learn it’s easy for our children to spend too much time trying to sit still.

Why fight their need to squirm?

Learning facts: Make it fun!

When my boys were young they memorized a whole host of math facts by playing Math Adventures (which came with our new computer), then a Reader Rabbit game on the computer. The games were intriguing and each had a quest to be accomplished. They were colorful and filled with humor as well. That was years ago, now people use apps and online games.

Yet, with all of the apps and online educational games out there, I still haven’t found something for their younger sisters to enjoy which quite matches up to the fun and learning value. I’m sure it’s out there, but for now, I’m going with a different approach to help make memorizing facts fun.

I’m going with movement and active play as one of the tools in my box. 

I’ve made up some games we can do (inside or outside) and I’m sharing them with you. All you need are bean bags, some sidewalk chalk, and Bear Paw Creek’s wonderful Connect-a-Stretchy Bands.

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Here’s what you can do with the stretchy bands, bean bags & chalk!

Learn your facts with hopscotch.

Draw a hopscotch grid on your sidewalk and fill in the squares with facts that you’re memorizing together. As you hop on the squares recite the facts written on the square you’re hopping to. You can use this for:

  1. Skip counting to help with multiplication tables. For example 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18…
  2. Addition and subtraction (you could arrange the squares so that you have two squares (with addends) followed by one with the sum etc.
  3. Historical facts and names from one lesson. Alternatively, you could arrange events in a timeline on your grid giving two squares to major events and give pause and emphasis as you say those.
  4. A process such as the process of evaporation, rain, water flowing from springs and rivers etc.
  5. Creating grid for storytelling. In the first grid write, “beginning”, followed by “who/protagonist,” where,” “what”, then use two squares and write “problem/antagonist,” followed by, “struggle” then maybe “comic relief,” “climax,” and resolution. And let each of the kids take turns telling a story using your hopscotch storyboard. Let them be silly or serious, and you should take a turn as well. It’ll be good for you.

Learn Facts with Hopscotch

 

Bean bag math.

  1. Preschool: To help make counting fun, snap the Connect-a-Stretchy Bands into individual rings and toss bean bags into them. Now count together to see how many you were able to get into the rings. Now try tossing two in each ring and count all of those bags with them. Continue with other variations.
  2. Basic Addition and Subtraction: Set up two rings and let your students toss some in each ring. Have your students create an addition problem using the bags in the rings. This is a great way to reinforce the concept of which numbers add up together to make ten. You toss some in the first circle and let them decide how much they need in the next to make ten. To practice subtraction, remove the bean bags from one circle and ask them to use a math formula to describe what happened.
  3. Visual Multiplication and Division: Using the stretchy band rings, ask the students to toss 9 bean bags into three of the rings making sure to have an equal amount in each. Now explain that 9 divided into 3 is like saying 9 divided into 3 groups. Ask them to take turns making more examples and explaining them to you (4 rings with 12 bean bags). For a change put one ball in each of the rings with the bean bags and ask them if they can figure out a way to describe the fraction of items in the rings which are a ball and not a bean bag.
  4. The simplest, yet most enjoyable game:  Have the students team up in pairs and practice counting or skip counting while they toss the bean bags back and forth to each other. 

tbt-19

Stretchy band skip-counting and memory facts.

  1. Introduction to Skip-Counting: First, take Bear Paw Creek’s wonderful Connect-a-Stretchy Bands and join them into one large ring. Have the students arrange themselves equal distance around the ring. Explain that you are going to count while emphasizing certain numbers as you count by raising up the stretchy band above your head. Tell them to follow your lead and see if they can figure out the pattern. Now you can say, “1,2,3,4, [raise the stretchy band] 5, [back down] 6,7,8,9, [up] 10, [down] 11, 12,13,14, [up] 15.” Once they catch on to what you’re doing, ask them if they think they would be able to speed it up a bit. As they get the hang of that, try using other numbers to do the same thing.
  2. Skip-Counting Team Work: In this game, each person takes a turn saying the next number in skip counting (with the teachers coaching the first few times, if necessary). For Instance, the first student says 2 while raising up his portion of the stretchy band above his head, the next student says 4 and so on. A more complicated version (when they’re skip-counting with odd numbers) would be to raise it for the odd numbers and push it down for the even ones. Like this, “3 [up] 6 [down] 9 [up] 12 [down]. See whether your students can figure out why this works while skip counting with odd numbers but not even.
  3. Memorizing Facts: You can use this method for reciting grammar facts, historical dates or parts of a plant as well. Moving the body as you recite facts helps your brain retain the information, so it’s very useful to do even simple motion such as swinging your arms together to move the stretchy band as you recite. Also the is movement is such a relief to kids who have a hard time concentrating when the are still for too long a period.

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I’ve gotten the props that I need to do any of these activities on hand from Bear Paw Creek and I’m ready to go this year.

I imagine you’ve got sidewalk chalk or can easily find that, but if you don’t have Bear Paw Creek’s colorful Bean Bags or Connect-a-Stretchy Bands, then now is a great time to get them! 

What are your favorite ways to use the stretchy band and bean bags to enhance learning? Do you have any tips to share as we celebrate going back to school?

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