Arts, Crafts + STEM…oh my!
Super easy to make and super fun to play with! All you need is water, cornstarch, and optional food coloring. Oobleck is a non-Newtonian liquid so it is neither solid or liquid. When pressure is applied hard and quickly an object will ‘bounce’ off the top of the concoction. However if an object is gently and slowly pushed into the mixture it will sink in. Some experiment ideas: What happens when you try to grab Oobleck and pull it with your fingers? Can you get an object to rest on top of the Oobleck without sinking? What happens if you put a soft/fuzzy/squishy object in the Oobleck?
Everyone loves Playdough! Now you can make your own and have an endless supply for molding, mixing, squashing, and sculpting. All you need is flour, salt, water, food coloring (I’ve even used paint in a pinch!), and optional natural scents. I have doubled the recipe for J-care to make enough for all the kids but you can easily follow as is, or halve it to make smaller more manageable batches. I recommend mixing together the salt and flour first, then adding the water gradually until you get the consistency you like. Once everything comes together add food coloring and scents!
This one is fun to watch! It’s a great way for kids to learn what happens when they mix colors together and how water can travel against gravity by capillary action. With a few jars or cups, water, paper towels, and food coloring you can make a whole rainbow. For more fun you can use different color combinations and predict what color will form when the colors blend.
Abstract art and sensory play, what could be better? All you need is some paint, paper, and plastic wrap. Kids have a blast smooshing the paint around the paper and it can be less messy than finger painting. For other variations try using tin foil, bubble wrap, fabric, anything really in place of plastic wrap and see how it affects the painting!
- Foot Drawings
Want a fun way to shake up boring old drawing? Try drawing with your foot! Hold the pencil, marker, crayon, ect in between your toes and go wild. You can do it seated or standing. Try it laying on your back with the paper taped to a large box or wall. You can have a contest to see who can draw the most accurate picture with just your feet (No hands!), or go the free and abstract route. The possibilities are endless.
- Unconventional Painting Tools
No paint brush? No problem! Try painting with what you have. In J-care we’ve painted with old sponges and cotton balls/cotton swabs and more! You can squirt paint on the paper and use cut up rectangles of cardboard to push it around. Thin the paint out a little with water and use straws to blow it around the paper. Try dipping leaves and flowers into paint and stamping them on paper. The best part? Easy clean up, most materials can be tossed or recycled after. No more cleaning out brushes or throwing away unwashed crusty brushes.
Healthy Eating + Nutrition
- Incorporate nutrition education into your home routine.
- Start the day with a healthy breakfast, and keep them going with healthy snacks.
- Introduce new foods with a taste test (and get creative with how items are prepared). Here are ideas for whole grains, dairy, and fruits and veggies.
- Try mindful eating.
- Cook a dish or meal with your kids trying one of these recipes.
- Freeze fresh produce to make it last.
Games, Games + More Games!
- Extreme Simon Says
Everyones knows how to play Simon Says, it’s a simple game and it can get you moving and being silly in no time. Want to kick it up a notch? Extreme Simon Says requires 2 people to be Simon. Each Simon stands on opposite sides of the room. Some players start out in front of one Simon and some in front of the other. During the game players follow their Simon, that is until they get out. This is where the extreme part comes in! When a player does, or doesn’t do, the right action their Simon said instead of sitting down for the rest of the game the player must run across the room to the other Simon and follow that Simons instructions! The more players the better but even in small groups kids have a blast whizzing past each other to join the other group and everyone loves getting to play and move without ever having to sit out.
- Catch, Don’t Catch
All you need is a ball, or any safely tossable and catchable object. Players stand in a circle around one person in the middle. The middle player will either say “ Catch!” or “Don’t catch!” and toss the ball to an unsuspecting player in the circle around them. The Player must catch the ball if the person in the middle says “Catch” if they drop the ball or don’t catch it they are out and must sit down. If the person in the middle says “Don’t Catch” the player can NOT catch the ball and if they touch it/ hold it in their hands and catch it they are out and have to sit down. The trick is to listen and pay close attention to what the middle player is saying. The game goes until only one player is left standing in the circle, they are declared the winner and switch places with the player in the middle.
What kid doesn’t love tag? Here’s a fun spin on a classic. Depending on the number of players 1-3 players are Monkeys (aka taggers) and everyone else is a Banana. Monkeys will chase Bananas around the space and try to tag them. When a Banana is tagged they must freeze where they are at and hold their hands above their heads to look like a banana. Once tagged players are frozen like this until a fellow Banana comes along and taps them to ‘peel the banana’. When a tagged Banana has been peeled by a friend they are free to run again, peel other tagged players, and avoid getting tagged by Monkeys! The game goes until all the Bananas have been tagged and the Monkeys have won, or for about 1-2 minutes and new Monkeys are chosen.
- Puffball Mazes and Races
This one always gets the group pumped! First set up a maze, J-care usually uses Playdough to make the maze walls but you can use anything, popsicle sticks, tree twigs, ect. As long as it makes a border. Give every kid a cotton ball or craft puffball and a plastic straw, kids will use the straw to blow through to guid the puffball through the maze. Once your maze is set up there are many options for how to use it. Kids can simply have fun taking turns blowing the puffball through the maze to solve it, you can time kids to see how long it takes them to solve the maze, or if you have 2 identical mazes set up you and your child can race to finish the maze! Too easy? Add an extra challenge by setting the rule that if you puffball gets blown out of the maze you must restart from the very beginning!
- Ant Tag
Here’s a group favorite! Depending on the number of players pick 1-3 taggers, these will be your Exterminators and everyone else will be Ants. Ants will run around the area trying to get away from Exterminators. If an ant gets tagged they have to fall to the ground, roll on their back and get in the ‘Dead bug” position by sticking their hands and feet in the air. Ants are ‘dead’ until another Ant comes and taps the Dead Ants hands and feet. Once the Dead Ant is alive again they continue to try to avoid the Exterminators again. The game is over when either every single Ant has been tagged or after about 1-2 minutes has passed and new Exterminators are chosen
- I Spy Races
Just like regular I Spy but with an active twist! This is a great one to play outside but could also be modified to play inside with lower energy levels. One player starts out by picking an object and saying “I spy with my little eye something that is…” and chooses a description of their object. Kids then take turns guessing what the object is. When the child finally guesses the object they, and any other kids playing, must run to the object. Whoever gets their first is the next one to pick the object. Alternatively, if you are playing with just you and your child you can remain the ‘I Spyer’ and time your child to see how long it takes them to race to the object and back before choosing another object.
- Silly Monkey
For this game all you need are some scraps of paper! On 5-7 scraps of paper write an emotion, (happy, sad, angery, scared, ect.) and on another 5-7 scraps of paper write an animal (cat, dog, rabbit, elephant, ect.) and separate them into two piles. Kids will pick one paper from the emotion pile and one paper from the animal pile and act out their emotion/ animal combination, for example a Scared Dog or a Happy Elephant. After that anyone else is free to act out what they think the animal emotion combination would look like and then the next child picks another emotion/ animal combo and so on. You can also play this in a charades way where the emotion/ animal combination is secret and kids must try to guess what the combination is.
- Don’t Let the Balloon Hit The Ground
Just like the title says, blow up a balloon and see how long kids can keep it in the air before it hits the ground! You can time kids, count how many times they hit the balloon, or count how many passes back and forth they can get before the balloon falls. The possibilities are almost endless.
- Balloon Volleyball
Here’s a great indoor game to get kids moving! All you need is a balloon and a few chairs. To set up, place the chairs in a line to represent the Volleyball Net. Kids will stand on either side of the line and try to tap the balloon to the other side. You score a point when the other team fails to tap the ball before it hits the ground. If you don’t have chairs to use you can alternatively use tape or a jump rope on the ground.