Thursday, July 23, 2009

Beat the HEAT with COOL Games

It's summer time and in many places it’s hot, hot, hot! Don’t let the heat keep young children inside all day. A fun way to cool off is with some wet and wild water play—whether you’re 3 or 63 years old! Kids of all ages will enjoy these splashy summer games and activities that encourage movement, physical activity and cooperative play.

Drip, Drip… Drop!
Every participant in a swimsuit
What You Need:
Water source and a small plastic bucket or cup

How to Play:
1. The teacher, parent or caregiver has all the children sit in a circle
2. One child is chosen to be “IT” and leaves the circle
3. IT holds a bucket of water and stands outside of the circle
4. S(he) walks around the circle saying “drip, drip, drip…” as s(he) drips water
from hands and fingers onto the heads of the children sitting in the circle
5. When IT says “drop,” the entire bucket of remaining water is poured out onto one child
6. IT runs back to their place in the circle with the wet child running behind them.
7. The wet child is now IT and fills up the bucket to resume the game of
“drip, drip…drip…DROP!”

What if …
Children don’t want water on their heads? Designate another body part that IT can only drip or drop the water on (i.e., hands, shoulders, knees, etc.)

The game ends when everyone in the circle is wet.
It’s a cool way to end a hot day through fun and play!

Jump the Stream!
Children dressed to get wet, barefoot (or in shoes that can get wet) and a teacher/parent to hold the water hose
What You Need:
Water hose
How to Play:
1. The teacher, parent or caregiver has all the children stand in a circle
2. The adult squats down in the center of the circle holding the water hose
3. When the water is turned on the adult turns around slowly, keeping the steam of water from the hose close to the ground
4. When the stream of water gets close to the kids they are to jump over it to avoid getting wet
5. Each time the adult completes a full revolution, s(he) begins to turn a little bit faster and raises the stream slightly higher off the ground

While the object of the game appears to stay dry, young children often have the most fun getting squirted by the hose and, of course, getting very wet!

Outdoor playing area with designated boundaries
Children dressed to get wet
What You Need:
Foam ball, Plastic bucket of water, Cones to mark off boundaries
How to Play:
1. The children should be scattered around the playing area
2. One child is selected to be “IT”
3. IT is given a foam ball and soaks the foam ball in water.
4. The game begins with IT chasing the other children, trying to tag/touch them with the wet ball
5. When IT tags someone with the wet ball, that child becomes the new IT and the game starts again

Touched players are “waterlogged” and can be spotted very easily by the water dripping off the spot where they were touched.

Water Brigade!
Children dressed to get wet
What You Need:
Foam balls for each player, A water table or tubs filled with water, Buckets (one for each player)
How to Play:
1. Fill water table and/or one or more tubs with water
2. Set up empty buckets 10 (or more) feet from tubs/table
3. Give each child a foam ball
4. Children stand at water table/tubs with their foam ball
5. The game begins with each child thoroughly soaking the foam ball with water
6. Instruct the children to run to the buckets at the other end and squeeze the water out of their balls into the buckets
7. The game continues with the children running back to the water tubs, resoaking their foam balls and running to their bucket to wring it out and fill their bucket entirely.

This can easily turn into a fun summer team sport with partners at either end tossing the balls to each other for soaking and wringing. Being physically active with a purpose makes this game a real winner!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Abracadabra! Scarf Magic!

The thin, nylon juggling scarf has unlimited possibilities of play value. This loose material is lightweight and easy for children of any age—infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged kids—to manipulate and use to promote gross motor and fine motor development. Scarf play helps with hand-eye coordination and encourages movement of eyes and hands to cross the midline important pre-reading and writing skills for young children.

Teachers, parents and other early childhood caregivers don’t have to be a magician to conduct age-appropriate activities that involve all children in scarf play; just follow the child’s lead and have fun!

Here are some ideas:

--Throw the scarf in the air with one hand and catch with the other.
--Toss & try clapping once or twice before catching the scarf.
--Hold the scarf together with a friend as you move together around the classroom.
--Toss the scarf in the air, spin around and catch it before it falls to the ground. Try looking at the world through the fine mesh fabric. What do you see?
--Throw the scarf up in the air and clap until it touches the ground and count how many claps it takes.
--Move around the room with the scarf on a body part; try not to let it fall.
--Toss the scarf and try to have it land on different body parts (hand, elbow, foot, back and head.)
--Catch and toss with a partner.
--Pull out the CD player and put on some favorite music and dance with the scarves.
--Play “Follow the Leader” where the child at the head of the line does a movement with the scarf and all children will copy that movement (waving scarf overhead, swinging arms back and forth, jumping with the scarf, galloping with the scarf, etc.) When the music stops the child that was at the front of the line goes to the back and the next child in line becomes the leader. The music starts again and the game continues until everyone has had a chance to be the leader.
--Use the scarf to sing the following song and do the appropriate movements:
Shake to My Lou (Tune: “Skip to My Lou”)
Shake, shake, shake to my lou, shake, shake, shake to my lou, shake, shake, shake to my lou, shake to my lou my darling. (Shake scarf in front of body)
Other verses you can add:
Shake up high, shake down low (Shake scarf overhead, then down by feet)
Shake to the right, shake to the left (Shake scarf on one side of body and then the other)
Shake it out, shake it in (Shake scarf with arms extended to the sides, bring arms together in front of body)

The scarf also lends itself to exploring colors and shapes. Ask children what shape their scarf is. Can they make the scarf into a smaller square? Can you make it into a triangle? Can it become a rectangle? Discuss the geometric properties of each shape as they are made. Place all the scarves on the floor in color groups to see a graph of colors. Talk about sorting, quantities, more/less.

Use your imagination and be creative with the scarf… It can be a tail on a horse, a wing of a butterfly, the cape of a hero, a kite... The children can turn it into anything they can imagine and have fun as they incorporate movement into their day.

What else can you do with your scarf?