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Fill Your Bucket Activity

July 24, 2016

What You Need:

  • Paper cups, 1 for each child
  • Large safety pin
  • Empty plastic buckets, 1 for each child
  • Water-filled plastic buckets, 1 for every 2 children playing

What You Do:

  1. Poke a few holes in the bottom and middle of each cup. Make sure to poke them in the same place on each cup so nobody has an advantage.
  2. Take the kids outside. Show them the starting and finishing lines. There should be at least 10 feet between the lines.
  3. Fill the buckets with water and put them at the starting line. There should be one between each two children playing.
  4. Have the children line up at the start line.
  5. Set one empty bucket in front of each child at the finish line.
  6. Give each child a cup with holes poked in it.
  7. On your signal, the kids can fill up their cups with water and race to the finish line to dump the water in the bucket.
  8. The game can go on for as long as you like. With the water spilling from their cups, kids will be motivated to run to their buckets as fast as they can.
  9. The kid with the fullest bucket when time is called is the winner!

Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest Activity

July 23, 2016

What You Need:

  • Watermelon (not seedless!)
  • White paper
  • Markers
  • Large knife
  • Measuring tape
  • Chalk

What You Do:

  1. Invite your child to gather the ingredients for the seed spitting contest. He can get started creating a scorecard to keep track of each participant’s seed spitting distance.
  2. Help your child use a large knife to cut the watermelon into several slices, making sure each one has lots and lots of seeds.
  3. Remember, watermelon seeds can be a choking hazard, so make sure those participating in the seed spitting contest are over three years of age!
  4. Now your child can find the perfect spot for the seed spitting contest—a driveway works wonderfully. He can use a piece of chalk to mark where the participants should stand.
  5. Each person can take a turn standing on the line while eating a slice of watermelon, and spitting the seeds. Your child can use the measuring tape to measure and mark the distances. Not only is he having fun participating in a game, but he’s also learning more about measurement.

Sneaky Sneaky Activity

July 22, 2016

What You Need:

  • 2 chairs
  • 2 squirt guns or wet sponges
  • 2 blindfolds
  • 4 or more players

What You Do:

  1. Set up two chairs outside, facing each other and about 5 feet apart. Make sure that someone can walk between the two chairs easily.
  2. Pick two players to be the guards. Have each one sit in a chair and hand them squirt guns or wet sponges.
  3. Blindfold the guards.
  4. Tell the guards that if they think someone is trying to pass through, they should squirt the water gun or throw the sponge to nail the sneakers.
  5. The rest of the players are the sneakers!
  6. Tell the sneakers to try to quietly sneak through the space, one by one, between the two guards.
  7. If a sneaker is hit, he takes the place of one of the blindfolded guards.

Sponge Relay Activity

July 20, 2016

What You Need:

  • Index cards
  • Pencil or pen
  • 2 sponges
  • 2 buckets of water
  • 2 medium size plastic containers (called knowledge containers for the purpose of the game)
  • 4 or more players
  • Sponge station monitor (teachers, parents and older kids make the best monitors)

What You Do:

  1. Take the index cards and write age appropriate trivia questions on them. Simple math equations, geography questions, even questions about grammar and science can be included. Each question card should have a question on one side and a number on the other. Don’t repeat any of the assigned numbers.
  2. For each question card, you’ll need to create a corresponding answer card numbered to match the question card.
  3. Fill two buckets with water and drop a sponge into each.
  4. Set up the empty plastic containers, called ”knowledge containers,” one next to each bucket.
  5. The bucket and knowledge containers will be supervised by a monitor. The monitor will give each player permission to squeeze the sponge to fill up the knowledge container.
  6. Divide players into two teams.
  7. Place the question quiz cards in a pile in between, and about 5 feet in front of the sponge stations. 
  8. Set up the answer quiz cards beyond the sponge station and have the answer facing down. Also, make sure all the numbers are visible.
  9. Have the two teams line up about 20 feet away from the question cards.
  10. Explain to the players that when it’s their turn, they should run to the stack of question cards and draw one.
  11. After a player has drawn a card, he should continue on to the sponge station and tell the monitor the number on his card as well as his answer to the question.
  12. The monitor should pick up the corresponding answer card and check to see if the answer is right.
  13. If the player gets the answer right, he should submerge and squeeze the sponge so it can soak up water. Then, he should hold the liquid-heavy sponge over the knowledge container and squeeze to fill it with knowledge.
  14. The player should then put the sponge back in the bucket and run back to tag the next player.
  15. If the player doesn’t get it right, the monitor should give him one more opportunity to answer correctly.
  16. If the second answer he gives is wrong, he should return to tag the next player.
  17. The first team to fill up the knowledge container wins!

Practice Hula Hoop Times Tables! Activity

July 19, 2016

What You Need:

  • Hula hoop
  • Pad of paper
  • Pencil
  • Bowl or hat
  • Timer

What You Do:

  1. Make a list of the multiplication tables your child has learned during the school year. Your child will be reflecting on and reinforcing these lessons as she looks back on what she’s learned. Space these out on the page so that you will be able to cut each item into a separate strip of paper. Once the list seems substantial, cut up the paper, fold it in half, and place it in the bowl or hat.
  2. Now let the hula thinking begin! Start by having one person pick a piece of paper from the bowl, read the category out loud and get ready with the hula hoop. The other player will be the note taker, and should write down the times table category and name of the Hula Hooper for score-keeping purposes. Put the paper back in the cup once read, so it can be picked it in the future.
  3. The hula hoop player starts hooping, while reciting the times table category that she has chosen. For example, if she has chosen the 6 times table, she should recite “6, 12, 18, 24 …” as she keeps the hula hoop up. Using a stopwatch or other kind of timer, the note taker keeps track of how long the hula hooper keeps the hoop going while still managing to recite the answers. The turn ends when the hula hoop falls to the ground and stops or the hooper can’t come up with any more products.
  4. Now the next player gets a turn, following steps 2 and 3, until everyone gets a chance to play and all of the multiplication tables are practiced by each player. If a player chooses a number they’ve already done, they should place the paper back in the cup and choose again.

Learn Sight Words with a Water Game

July 18, 2016

What You Need:

  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Pail of water
  • 6” damp sponges
  • Stopwatch
  • Several energetic first graders

What You Do:

  1. Find an empty, clean spot of pavement, perhaps on a driveway or local playground.
  2. Have your child help you write out some common first grade spelling words like, “with” or “there” or “that.” (There are many possibilities. Take ideas from her spelling homework!)
  3. Dunk the sponge in the pail of water, and take turns throwing the wet sponge at each word. See how long it takes to “melt” away the sight word.
  4. For an extra twist, you can challenge your child to some “selective” melting too—for example, only vowels, or only first letters. Mix it up any way you want as she starts getting better at reading.
  5. Once the word is completely gone, put your kid’s memory to the test and see if she can remember how that meltaway word was spelled. If she’s not sure, pull out that chalk and those sponges again. Be prepared for hours of fun!

Sight Word Island Hopping! Activity

July 16, 2016

What You Need:

  • Colored chalk
  • Stretch of pavement
  • A few index cards and a permanent marker
  • 1–8 first graders
  • Stopwatch

What You Do:

  1. On one end of a paved surface, use your chalk to draw a circle big enough for a few kids to stand comfortably inside. For fun, invite your child to decorate it a bit, perhaps with drawings of palm trees or shells. This is “Shelter Island,” and it’s your home base. The object of the game is for each child to hop across a stretch of pavement to land safely on the island. Here’s the catch: the area all around may look like plain concrete, but today, it’s “Crocodile Sea,” and there are going to be the fearsome snapping of toothy jaws all around!
  2. Now draw a series of roughly circular 12-inch blobs between you and the island, leaving about a foot between each one. Each blob is an “island hop” that can guide a lively first grader to safety. On each “island hop,” have your child help you write a word that he’s studying. (Your teacher may have given you a list; if not, see below for common first grade words.) Draw enough blobs so that there can be several routes to the island, but try not to make any route longer than about four hops (at least at first).
  3. While the kids finish decorating the island and practice some hopping, take a minute to scope out some routes. On your index cards, write out five or more different routes of about four words each that a child can hop continuously before getting to the island.
  4. Time to get to the island! How fast can your child make it? Can all his friends make it, too? Pull out a card, call out a route, and let the leaping begin! If your child needs coaching on words, that’s fine: the whole idea is to practice those words…and get home safe for dinner too!

Blind Trust Activity

July 15, 2016

What You Need:

  • Scarf to use as a blindfold
  • Medium-sized objects, to be used as obstacles
  • Ball
  • Bucket or a basket

What You Do:

  1. Set it Up. The first step in this activity of extraordinary trust is to set up the obstacle course. A large grassy area is the ideal setting for the event. Use a variety of medium-sized objects to set up the obstacle course. For example:
    • Cones- to go around
    • Pillows- to step on top of, or over
    • Small boxes- to step into, or pick up
    • Hula Hoops- to jump inside of, or pick up and drop over the body!
    • Jump ropes- to duck underneath, put inside of a nearby box, or wrap around something

    The idea is to create a course that your child can maneuver around safely by following your directions. Place the objects about four feet apart, ending at a box or basket, which will be used as the ‘goal’.

  2. Talk About Left and Right. If your child has difficulty remembering which is which, show her that if she holds her hands up with her thumbs down, the left hand will make an ‘L’ for left.
  3. Introduce the Course. Walk your child over to the starting line and explain that you’re going to give her directions to the finish line, where she’ll place the ball in the basket to make a goal. Emphasize the need to listen very carefully and do only what you say (sounds like a dream come true!). Then cover both her eyes with the blindfold.
  4. Direct! Keep your directions short and simple, giving one command at a time. For example, “Take three hops forward” or “Take one big step to the left”. As she becomes comfortable with the game you can give her a two-step direction to follow, such as “Take one large step backwards and two steps to the right.” Guide your child around the obstacle course to the finish line, where she can place the ball into the basket. Goal!

Plan a Treasure Hunt Activity

July 14, 2016

What You Need:

  • Small token to serve as the treasure (This can be anything, from a toy from the dollar store to a handful of small rocks coated with a metallic spray paint to resemble gold or silver coins)
  • Small paper bag
  • Black felt pen
  • Sheet of white paper
  • Pencil (colored pencils work too)
  • Coffee grounds or black tea (optional)
  • Lighter or matches (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Bundle your rocks or other treasure in the small paper bag and write a bold X on the outside. Aaarg, matey!
  2. Once you’ve got your pirate booty lined up, choose your location—inside or out—for the hiding spot. Hide the treasure well, but make sure it won’t be too hard for your child to discover.
  3. Now it’s time to make the treasure map. This can be as simple or elaborate as you wish, but remember, your child will need to read it independently in order to find the treasure. Keep words to a minimum and use pictures to the max. Let your artistic side shine, but don’t get too intimidated—this is just silly pirate fun! A simple sketch of the area where the treasure can be found is sufficient, with an X marking the spot of the booty.
  4. If you have the time, consider creating a more authentic-looking map by soaking the white paper in coffee grounds or black tea. To give the paper a brittleness, try drying it in a 200° oven. For a truly special touch, carefully burn the edges of the paper with a lighter or matches.
  5. Once you’ve got the main locations on there (bushes, the house, a favorite tree), add a dotted line that shows the path for finding the treasure. This is a visual cue to reinforce simple directions.

Make Quick and Easy Bath Salts Activity

July 11, 2016

What You Need:

  • Epsom salt
  • Food coloring
  • Fragrance (you can use perfume or cologne samples or purchase fragrance oils from a craft store)
  • Small jar (baby food jars work well)
  • Plastic baggie

What You Do:

  • Allow your child to examine the ingredients.Discuss characteristics of each item (is it a solid? Is it a liquid?). If your child isn’t familiar with Epsom salts, allow her to examine the Epsom salt carefully.Discuss her observations.
  • Encourage your child to use her predicting skills to predict what she thinks will happen when the fragrance, food coloring, and salts are combined.
  • Have your child fill a small jar with Epsom salt.
  • Add one to two drops of food coloring and mix well.
  • To complete this project, add perfume or cologne to the Epsom salt mixture until it has the desired scent.
  • Pour one or two handfuls of the bath salts under warm running water to create a soothing, fragrant bath. Enjoy!
  • To give as a gift, cut a colorful piece of fabric to cover the lid and tie the fabric onto the lid with a piece of ribbon.

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