Tag Archives: games

Animal Splicing!

Here’s a totally silly way to occupy small children online!  The Animal Splicer 1.0 allows you to cross cartoon animals in its magical machine to make brand new creatures.  Alex is crazy about the Manke (monkey snake) but I personally love the Octobunny.   The Frobster is adorable too, while the Wartopus is just plain odd.  Next time you have a bored or cranky little person (or a bored or cranky big person!), give it a try!

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101 Summer Kids’ Games

Family Fun has compiled 101 games for kids to play in the summer time.  Here’s July’s page!  Have fun!

We’re off to Grandma & Grandpa’s for some 4th of July fun.  Sorry I spaced out on wishing the Canadian mamas a happy Canada Day earlier this week.  For those in the states…

Happy Independence Day!


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Fun on the Road

Stuck in a car together and looking for ways to keep the kids happy?  Whether you’re headed cross country or are just looking for ways to make a trip the grocery store more fun, here’s some activities and ideas that work for us.  Some of these also workgreat IN the grocery store to keep the kids happy too!

    • Play alphabet games.  For instance there’s the biography one where you go through the alphabet making up identities to match each letter: "A my name is Anna, I’m from Arkansas and I like arguing…".

    • Get books on tape.  Your library carries oodles of these, from storybooks read aloud to little song and rhyme collections.  They’re fantastic.
    • Silly counting:  Daryl dreamed this one up.  Have your child slowly count.  As she is counting, start asking questions to get funny answers.  For instance… 1, 2, 3, "How many noses do you have?" …4 "You have 4 noses?!" 5, 6… "How old is your mother?" 7… "7 years old?  Wow she’s young!" 8, 9, 10… "How many cats can you fit in your mouth?" 10….  This makes little ones howl with laughter if you do it silly enough.

    • Play children’s music.  Victoria says it’s important that children sing it too.  No matter how cool adults are, she always prefers to sing along with other kids.

    • If you’re brave enough, give them washable window markers (Crayola makes some) and a wet wipe, and let them decorate their windows as they ride.  Truth be told, we use regular washable markers on windows too.

    • Bring a ziplock bag of colorform shapes.  These are the little peel and stick people, pets, shapes, etc.  They cling to windows so kids can create scene after scene.

    • Lend the kids a digital camera and ask them to take pictures as you go.  This is a huge treat for our kids during trips and some of the photos have been really wonderful.
    • Balance things on your head.  Give the kids something like a beanie baby to balance on their heads and challenge them to see how long they can hold it there.  Our girls sat for an amazing amount of time quietly concentrating on doing this.

    • Put older kids in charge of keeping "the log."  We’ve had this tradition on trips since before we had children.  We keep track of times, mileage, sights seen, weather, stops, you name it.  The goofy entries make us laugh years later.  Each night, read the day’s log together.

    • Make up a treasure hunt list.  Write down 20 things to seeon the trip and have the child cross them out as he spots them.  Younger kids can do this with picture lists.  Examples of things to list– tractor, semi truck, billboard with a person on it, motorcycle, green house, dog, deer crossing sign, mailbox…

    • Bring paper and crayons so the kids can do art.  A cookie sheet makes a good lap tray since crayons can’t roll off.

    • Print out activity pages from online and keep them in a folder just for car trips.

    • Bring the magna doodle
    • Sing songs together.
    • Play "would you rather."  This game occupied a car full of kids ages 4 to 14 for hours in Maine a couple of years ago.  Ask the kids to make choices like would you rather take a trip to the moon or the bottom of the ocean, never eat ice cream again or never have chocolate, live in a zoo or a shopping mall, be a surgeon or a painter…

This site has printable bingo cards, games, coloring pages, you name it:
this site goes with the book Carschooling.  You can sign up for a newsletter, mailing lists, etc.

What are your favorite ways to stay busy in car rides? 

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Whack a Molar!

I’m not sure if this will really get kids to brush more often (or better) but the Whack a Molar game is silly fun even if it doesn’t reduce cavities.  Very silly and a little creepy!  🙂  My high score was 20 molars.  How high can you go?!

If you want to continue the theme, here’s a whole slew of dental games, printouts and activities for kids of all ages to help them take care of their pearly whites.

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I happened upon this bird watching bandana online the other day and thought it was so cute I went looking for a source.  I found out that it’s a Fundana, and there is a whole series of these clever bandanas with Bingo and scavenger hunts printed on them in different themes. 


There are fundanas for winter, rainy days, bugs, wild birds and even tracks and scat!  Most are designed to take on nature walks (with different environments, seasons and themes for each) and ones to keep you busy inside.  Some of the themes include beaches, prairies, autumn, horses, recycling and senses.  Some are geared more towards the 3-6 crowd and others more towards 7 and up, but many look like they’d work for the whole family. 

Best of all, they are designed without a winner in mind — the goal is to find all of the items and have fun.  As the "Knee High to Senses" fundana (a scavenger hunt involving the senses to use outside) says:  "The winner is everyone!  If you had fun and learned something new!".

I found them offered at quite a few places online but I found the best prices here (which looks like a sweet nature-themed small bookstore) and here (which seems to be the actual supplier and is the only place online where I found the entire line).  I have not bought from either place but I’m planning on buying at least a couple of these… if I can ever narrow it down.  🙂

Here’s a close-up of Pond Bingo (for older kids) and here’s one of Knee High to Nature Quest (for younger).

If money is too tight to splurge right now, the ideas could also be adapted to a little family scavenger hunt on paper too.

As always, no kickbacks, bribes or chocolates were promised in the making of this post! 

Happy weekend!

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The Importance of Play (for Parents!)

A Carnival of Play is going on at PhD in Parenting right now and it got me thinking about how important play is — not for children (we already know that!) but for parents.

Parenthood can be hard work.  It can be exhausting, it can be challenging and it can wear us down.  One of the best ways to combat that and really enjoy parenthood is to learn how to be playful again. 

Most parents already play with their children, but it’s often in action only.  I’m not talking about getting down on the floor and playing Candyland for the 85th time or dutifully agreeing to play the part of Sparkle Pony (unless you really love Candyland and My Little Ponies).  Those things are wonderful for children, but they don’t do a whole lot for us.

The sort of playing that we need more of is the sort that makes us happy, too. 

We need to be present when we’redoing things with our kids, and find a way to do things to make it joyful for us at the same time.

One easy way to do this is to do things with our children that we love to do.  If we love gardening, we can introduce our kids to gardening.  If we love doing crafts, we can do them side by side.  If we love baseball, we can take our kids to games and volunteer as coaches for Little League.

We need to take it farther than that, though.  Those are hobbies and they’re enjoyable, but they are different from the world of play that children naturally gravitate towards.  If we join them in the truly magical play of childhood, it can do something magical for us as well.

When’s the last time you ran barefoot in the grass with your child?  When’s the last time you jumped in a puddle?  When’s the last time you squished your toes in the mud or built a sand castle?  Hopefully just this week!  If not, why not?  These things are fun!

There’s even a bit of science behind the importance of play for all of us.  Playing outside gets us more sun exposure, which gives us more Vitamin D (deficiencies are linked to everything from lowered immune function to depression) and sunlight is also a natural mood lifter.  Physical exercise releases endorphins, which boost feelings of happiness and fight pain.  Sensory activities help ground us and redirect our attention from stressors.  Some movements that kids typically use in play (such as spinning, jumping and swinging) are even helpful for stabilizing our emotions and helping us focus later.  And laughing… well, that helps us in an infinite number of ways.
Here’s some more ways to play today….

  • Go to the park and swing on the swings and use the equipment with your kids.  Put a child on your lap or playfully chase her around if you need a good excuse for using the stuff.
  • Fly kites.
  • Blow bubbles.
  • Get Hyper Dash and play it with the kids.  You’ll all get exercise and I’ve never met a person (of 4 or 40) who didn’t have a blast playing it.  (No kickbacks, incentives or even lovely thank you notes were offered for this recommendation)
  • If it’s warm enough, go run in the sprinkler together.
  • Get down on the floor with your baby or toddler and try to laugh together.  Try to make him laugh and then see how contagious it is.  Laugh together, as much as you can.
  • Be randomly silly.
  • Do puzzles, paper dolls or something else that you miss from your childhood.
  • Go rollerskating or rollerblading.
  • Get a big group game of frisbee or volleyball going.
  • Invest in some family games that really are fun for the whole family.  One that we like is the Scrambled States of America card game.  It happens to be educational but I have as much fun as the kids when we play it.  Twister is a classic, too, and we love to play Hyper Slide.  (Again, no kickbacks, just honest recommendations!)
  • Climb trees together.
  • Jump on the trampoline (or bed!).
  • Play tug of war.  To make it even, put all the kids against you or play one-handed.
  • Take your dog (or borrow a friend’s) to the park with the kids and wear everybody out playing fetch or something similar.
  • Buy a pack of rocket balloons and find a wide open space to shoot them off.  Try to catch them before they hit the ground on the way back down.  (Note: we get ours for $1 or $2 without pumps at discount stores.  We’re always sure to retrieve all the balloons and any scraps of popped ones afterwards so wildlife isn’t harmed, too.)
  • Have a water balloon fight.  Aim for legs unless people ask to be hit higher so the little ones aren’t terrorized.  🙂
  • Play the alphabet balloon game inside.  Blow up a balloon and take turns bopping it with the kids.  The catch?  You have to say a word that starts with whatever letter you’ve chosen before you can hit it.  Older kids need to say 2 syllable words and grown ups need to say 3 (or even 4) syllable words. 
  • Play a video game together.
  • Shoot hoops in the driveway or park.
  • Play a nighttime game of hide-and-seek or flashlight tag in the back yard.
  • Find a big mountain of dirt and climb it together.
  • Play Marco Polo and other water games in the pool.
  • Play marbles.
  • Hula hoop.  I bet it’ll be harder than you remember!  🙂

Whatever it is, just try to get messy, get active, get goofy and have fun!

Parenthood can be hard work, but it can also be a lot of fun if we let it.  It is also so much more fun for kids when we are truly having a blast along with them. 

We parents need magical moments, too.

Have you had your fun today? 

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Fun Letter Games

Here’s some fun games to do with a child who’s just learning her letters or phonics, and some more advanced ones.  These are a nice way to pass the time in the car, waiting room and such.

Play "I Spy" with letters….  Tell your child you’re thinking of something in the room that starts with the letter c and ends with a t, for instance.  Or "I spy something with oo in it."

Another fun game to convert into a phonics game is charades.  Take turns going through the alphabet and acting out something that starts with each letter.  First you act out an A word that you think up, like anteater.  Once your child guesses it, she acts out B and so on.

In the car, try to find something that starts with every letter of the alphabet, in order!  Words on billboards count.

For more advanced spellers, take turns thinking of words that contain two consecutive letters…. first a word that has an a and then a b somewhere in it, then onewith a b and then a c…….  absolute, because, code, develop, effervescent……  it gets tricky at times!

A nice way to look at things…

"All the masterpieces of art contain both light and shadow.
A happy life is not one filled with only sunshine,
but one which uses both light and shadow to produce beauty.

-Billy Graham

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