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.

[Tweet “All you need are bean bags, sidewalk chalk, & Bear Paw Creek’s Connect-a-Stretchy-Bands.”]

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. 

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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.

1-2-3-Counting-with-the-Stretchy-Band.jpg

 

 

 

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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?

Seven Links to Bean Bag Games and Activities

Seven Links to Bean Bag Games and Activities

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 has a high respect for business owners and entrepreneurs of all kinds. She enjoys helping them tell the story of their company, products, and services, connecting them online with those who would like to find them by the written word. You can find Jenette’s business website at www.mywordsforhire.com.

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

How long has it been since you’ve played with bean bags?

Let me point you to some indoor and outdoor bean bag games you can play this summer.

While I’m at it, I’m going to talk about a great website I found while researching for this post, and encourage you to think outside of the box in terms of who can and should make use of these colorful movement props.

Summer’s not coming, it’s here!

Join me in discovering ways to make use of this versatile and tactile movement prop for fun!

 

 

 

 

 

I love bean bags, so do kids; doesn’t everyone?

Honestly, I love just tossing a bean bag back and forth between my hands or pretending I can juggle with them (nobody gets hurt and no fruit gets bruised when I toss bean bags around instead of apples). I love the way the bean bags feel, I have always been very tactile and bean bags just feel good to me. If you watch kids playing with and handling them, you can see that I’m not the only who feels this way (yes, pun intended).

Last month I purchased a set of Bear Paw Creek bean bags and took them down to the church; it came in a handy drawstring bag (which I love). When I gave it to the kids in the Sunday School class, you would have thought it was Christmas. Big smiles all around!

Our kids have a great Sunday School teacher who has cut a hole in a box, letting the kids use it as a bean bag target (or paper airplane target).The problem was,  they only had two bean bags and they were getting pretty sad looking.

The drawstring bag filled with colorful brand spanking new bean bags was a hit. I had to make them promise to leave them on the shelf until their teacher gave them the green light to break them out! It was with regrets that I left those there, now I’m thinking I need to buy another set for myself (and maybe let my kids play with them too).

A dozen bean bags and that simple box with a hole gives the kids something to look forward to after sitting still  for their lesson.

It also keeps the class from becoming a free-for-all while they are waiting for their parents after church. It’s a small room and a small class, but surely you know how crazy a few bored kids in a small classroom can get, I don’t need to tell you right?

So the bean bags and box target game, let’s them move, play and have fun without descending into chaos.

Who doesn't like bean bags?

[Tweet “Who doesn’t like bean bags? “]

Taking the dread out of recess and summertime; inserting the fun!

As I was doing research for bean bag games and activities I came across this site, which fascinated me. It fascinated me because I thought, “Of course!” I love it when someone comes up with a beautiful solution to a problem which is doable and make so much sense. Recess gives kids vital time for getting out, enjoying sunshine and being able to move, but it can also be chaotic and an oportunity for bullying and trouble.

Playworks was developed to help educators take the dread out of recess and make it a time of fun and learning for the kids.  I love this quote from their about page:

Recess should be fun and energetic and safe and inclusive for everyone. Isn’t that what we want for all kids in elementary school today? When recess becomes a healthy, integral part of the school day, kids carry that positive experience with them beyond the playground.  

One of the ways that they accomplish this is through planning games and activities with a purpose in mind. Later I’ll be sharing their list of six games using bean bags (The second on their list is my favorite because of how it encourages empathy and teamwork.) Since summer is a three month recess of sorts, I thought it would be good to look at their tips. Also, I know you teachers are already keeping your eye out, looking for ideas for the coming school year. 

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[Tweet “We can change this. Recess should be fun and energetic, safe and inclusive for everyone.”]

Your links to fun activities with bean bags (not just for kids).

Before I share the links for these games, I want to encourage people to think beyond kids for these bean bag activities.

I recently read this article Exercise Programs: An Important Therapeutic Tool, from Nursinghome.org by The Illinois Council on Long Term Care’s website. They emphasize that lack of exercise by the elderly in nursing homes is increasing their fragility. They call for regular exercise programs to help them keep their strength, balance, flexibility and mental acuity. Many who are involved in elder care seek fun ways to encourage their clients to move and be active. Bean bags are able to be tossed from a standing or sitting position (for those in wheelchairs), feel good in the hand, and can be used in a variety of setting. Consider any of the games listed here and determine how they might be used with grandparents or in an elder care setting such as a nursing home. 

 

So, here are seven links to activities and games to do with bean bags:

  1. Bean bag fun for children through adults on Pinterest, from my Pinterest Board.
  2. Six Games to Play with Bean Bags, from Playworks Blog.
  3. Bear Paw Creek’s Youtube video of a playful song to get you moving with your bean bag.
  4. Bear Paw Creek’s Pinterest Collection of Bean Bag Games.
  5. Ten Bean Bag Games to Play from Meaningful Mama.
  6. Here’s a great PDF with bean bag activities.
  7. This last link is for Bean Bag Baseball from the website of an elder care facility.

Don’t have any bean bags? No problem, do what I did and order them from Bear Paw Creek. I think I may even need to order another set to have here at home (maybe I’ll get the textured set). One thing I love about Bear Paw Creeks sets is they are machine washable, so you can use them inside or outside. How do you use bean bags? Do you use them at home, at school, at church? Or maybe you have used them in for adults in an elder care facility. If so, we would love to hear from you and have your favorite bean bag activities in the links! Thanks, and enjoy your summer!

 

 

 

Why American Made Matters to ME!

Why American Made Matters to ME!

Today, November 19, is American Made Matters Day! For several reasons, that matters to me personally and for our business.  A few years ago I learned that one of our customers had taken two of our products and was getting them manufactured over seas.  It was a hard time both personally and in business, but as what happens through many difficult things in our life, the silver lining is shining through.  It put me on an amazing path of learning and growing, building a new wholesale customer base, and reaching our customers on a growing retail basis for the first time since 2000.  It’s been the proverbial “kick in the butt” I needed!  (FYI: they came back to us and are carrying ours once a again.)

There are several organizations/movements that are helping spread awareness of the importance of buying USA made products. I appreciate all of their efforts!  American Made Matters struck a chord with me from a manufacturing and consumer perspective. 

I am proud that Bear Paw Creek is a member of American Made Matters.  I appreciate Don Rongione and the team at AMM for their efforts and what they are accomplishing.  Their mission is to “Educate consumers that buying US-made products strengthens the American dream.”  You can learn more about them here.  

American Made Matters

As in all things, there are two sides.  It’s pretty hard to find some products that are even capable of being made in the USA.  Some products may be finished here, but with imported materials.  American Made Matters standards for being a member are: The AMM logo can now be found on thousands of products that comply with our standards which are at least 50% of the cost (labor, materials, and overhead) is incurred in the United States and the final assembly or transformation takes place in the U.S.

All of Bear Paw Creek’s products are manufactured here in the USA 100% of the time with the help of our team.  I have a goal of using 100% USA made materials and am always on the look out for it. There are some hidden mills out there that are still making material state side.  As of now, we have several products that are 100% USA materials!  The Q Chord Gig Bag and hoop streamers are two of them.

I am giving away an AMM hat and a set of our scarves (minus the plastic cord lock – all USA materials!)  Leave a comment here or on social media and you’ll be entered.  @bearpawcreek or #bearpawcreek

AMMDAY15

American Music Therapy Association Conference

#AMTA15

The American Music Therapy Association Conference is in our backyard this year and I sure wish I was attending in person. I am looking forward to meeting many of those that will be there – someday.  The other part that makes this more personal, is that the location is a place I have looked at on all our treks to Children’s Mercy Hospital for our daughter’s cancer treatments.

I am so excited about the opportunities Bear Paw Creek will be part of at the conference this year. So if you’re going, I hope you’ll find us there in the following ways.

Take-A-Chance Ticket Prize Donation

We donated three “Music Therapy Makes a Difference” bags of movement props/cd to the following: “AMTA will be offering its conference attendees an opportunity to “win” a prize through “Take-A-Chance” tickets bidding.  Participants will be able to purchase “chances” to win one of our big ticket items that will be prominently displayed during our Opening Session event.  All proceeds from the “Take-A-Chance” ticket bids will go to support AMTA’s mission of public education and awareness.”

#AMTA15 Donation

#Cadenza5k

We are supporting the Cadenza 5K to raise awareness for music therapy and support for student scholarships.  This happens on Saturday, November 14 at 8 p.m. and I can’t wait to see pictures from this fun event. 

Michelle Ss

Innovations in Music Therapy Interventions – Strategies
for Adapting Music

I sent Michelle four connect-a-bands and hub to play with and I’m looking forward to see the creative way she incorporates it.  Here is the information on that.

Room: Chicago C
Presenter(s): Laurie Farnan, MMT, WMTR, MT‑BC; Michelle Schumacher,
MSE, WMTR, RMT
This presentation will explore innovative strategies for adapting
popular and classical music to meet client goals. Methods and
strategies of pre-listening will be explored to identify and find
repeated sections of melody, rhythm or lyrics. Selected instruments
will be suggested for optimal interaction and active participation
to meet client goals.

#MTTribe

Not quite sure where they will pop up, but Brianna over at The MT Marketplace and her Tribe sure have some fun goings on happening, and we sent connect-a-bands and a hub over for them to play with.  Will add more as the information comes out.

West Music

Since 2002 our products have been exhibited by West Music at all the national conferences, and some regional conferences as well.  I hope you’ll stop by and enjoy seeing them, and while your at it, tell them you appreciate them carrying our USA manufactured products!

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