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Summer Time Fun: 12 Games to Play Outside

June 8th, 2017

by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor

 

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Holiday weekends. Birthday parties. Park gatherings. Church picnics. Camps. Summer is full of opportunities for families and programs of like to get outdoors and have some fun.

You never know when you’ll find yourself with a few people ready to play. Here are a few crowd-pleasing outdoor games sure to keep your group moving, laughing and having fun.  Summer energetic. Some are challenging. And some are a mix of both. Pick and choose to find the activity just right for your group.

Water Games

Water games are a great way to cool off and make some smiles. The games can be as simple as:

  • Water Limbo – Using a hose instead of a broomstick, players bend to go underneath the line of water without touching it. The line is lowered each time. How low can they bend before getting wet?
  • Water Balloon Dodgeball – Two teams stand across from each other and toss water balloons at each other to get members out.

 

Lawn Games

Lawn games call for skill but also leave enough space for casual conversations to take place while playing. Great for being active while fostering relationships at the same time!

  • Corn Hole – In this lawn game, players take turns throwing bags at hole in a raised platform. Points are awarded for direct hits or near hits while points are subtracted if another team’s bag knocks yours off. First team or player to reach 21 wins. Want to save money? Make your own set: www.youtube.com/watch?v=41tZPYkAFvE
  • Kubb – A favorite of our families, this yard game is a game of skill. No running involved! Aim? Very important. Kubb is a great way to focus, get rid of energy (you get to throw things!) and work on your eye-hand coordination.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=liMZ-dFMJSc

 

Running Games

These invigorating strategic games are sure to leave you energized and revitalized after you work off excess steam or build up your energy. And you use your brain!

  • Streets and Alleys – This chase game of a cat to dog or cop to robber (whoever the the chaser and chase are) involves the entire group creating streets and alleys that make life interesting for the chase . . . www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hDBIVwOwp4
  • Giants, Wizards and Elves – This interactive game of tag and strategy creates fun chaos and hasn’t lost its popularity over time . . . it just changes with the times! youtube.com/watch?v=qCt14bCSjoQ
  • Don’t have a crowd of Hobbit lovers? Then try putting it in a superhero setting. Wolverines, Spiderman and Thor:  Wolverine beats Spiderman (slashes the web). Spiderman beats Thor (gets hammer stuck in web). And Thor beats Wolverine (breaks his claw with his hammer). See a quick clip here:  youtube.com/watch?v=AymQ8fadMQg
  • Capture the Flag – The most complicated of the games in this post, Capture the Flag involves two teams, two flags and strategy as teams try to win by capturing the other team’s hidden flag. Of course, all the tagging and going to jail gets in the way of accomplishing such a simple task. Check out how to play: wikihow.com/Play-Capture-the-Flag.
  • Adult Recess – Outdoor games and play isn’t just for young people. It’s for adults, too. Want to take advantage of good weather but aren’t particularly the iron man or woman type? Then gather some friends for an hour or two of adult recess. Bring it all back with dodge ball, tag, potato sack races, water balloon tag . . . The choice is yours. Just get outside and get active. It will do you good.

 

We would love to hear about your favorite outdoor games, so tag us in your pictures or stories on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram; or send them to us at team@WriteCreationsGroup.com.

 

 

© 2017 by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor at Write Creations Group, LLC.  For permission to reprint, contact team@WriteCreationsGroup.com

Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor have created over 891 activities in 8 published works and led training experiences together with groups of all sizes since 2001. They help people craft fun, engaging experiences where children and teens learn and thrive. See more of their work online: Facebook Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn for Ann LinkedIn for Susan | Books 

 

It’s Raining! It’s Snowing! Cabin Fever Busters for Families

January 20th, 2017

By: Ann Saylor

originally published at www.parentfurther.com

When cabin fever starts to kick in, it’s time to get creative! Here are some fun ways to make indoor memories with your family when it’s cold outside.Get tips >

Host an International Night. Close your eyes and put your finger on a map of the world. The spot where your finger lands (or closest to where your finger lands) will be your country to explore on International Night. Do some searching online to find a recipe from that country for dinner; find a game from the country that your family can play together. Create a playlist of music from that country and dance, sing, or simply listen together. Use Google Translate to learn a couple of phrases in the country’s language.

Play games, of course! Raid your game shelf, or pick up a game at your favorite thrift store. For young children, try Memory, Candyland, or Guess Who. For older children, try Boggle, Battleship, Rummy, or Pictionary. For teens, try Spades, Hand and Foot, or Catch Phrase. Add some yums to your fun with popcorn! If you get snow outside, gather some fresh snow to make snow cream. Combine one gallon snow, one cup white sugar, one tablespoon vanilla extract, and 1-2 cups milk in a large bowl and blend with a mixer. Serve immediately. Add a little flair to your snow cream by serving berries or chocolate syrup on top.

Have an old school movie marathon via Hulu or Netflix. Pick a favorite old cartoon, television show or movie. Snuggle up on the sofas, and relish in the memories together. Not sure where to start? Some of our favorites include Knight Rider, Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo, A-Team or The Cosby Show.

Tell Us: What are some of your favorite old school movies or TV shows?

Make homemade hot chocolate and read together. Some great read-aloud stories for younger kids: Little House on the Prairie, Ralph S. Mouse, The Chronicles of Narnia, Velveteen Rabbit, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and Pippi Longstocking.

Tip: If you have older kids, let family members tell their own stories by candlelight or firelight.

Have a Marshmallow Olympics night. Do a marshmallow basketball toss into a Tupperware bucket. For a marshmallow drop, have one partner lay down on the floor with an ice cream cone held point down on his chin while his partner stands above him to drop mini marshmallows into the ice cream cone. Do a marshmallow baseball throw by seeing how far each person can throw a marshmallow (you can challenge older kids, teens, and adults by telling them that they can’t use their dominant hand!). See who can make the craziest or scariest marshmallow monsters with different size marshmallows, licorice, toothpicks, frosting and skittles. What else can you do with marshmallows?


Got a fireplace? Bonus: Roast and eat your marshmallows afterward…mmm :)
Photo credit: Dimitri N via Flick’r.

Make a home movie. Start with family photos or videos (new or old), a family talent show, or make a video tour of your favorite places around town. Use iMovie, PowerPoint, or Windows Movie Maker to make your creation.

  • Do you have an idea for an awesome Cabin Fever Buster? Comment below and share it with us!

_________________________________________________________________________________________________1. “Snowed In” image via Bohpix on Flick’r.

Resolve to Make Family-Focused Volunteer Efforts in 2017

December 27th, 2016

By: Ann Saylor

originally published at www.parentfurther.com

The holiday season is now behind us, but there are still many opportunities for families to help others. Instead of teaching children to focus on the gifts they have received these past weeks, teach them to share the gift of service with people in your community. Serving others can also empower youth, strengthen positive identities, build social competencies, and unify families.

Your family might choose to serve a meal at a homeless shelter, decorate cards for prisoners, or help children make crafts for their families. You could host a game night at an assisted living facility or bake cookies for firefighters. The possibilities are endless!

Volunteering doesn’t have to be “just another thing” on your to-do list this month. It can be a natural outflow of your family’s interests and talents, and a great way to build family memories. Here are some steps to get you started:

1. Ask family members about their skills, talents and passions—what do they love to do?Your list might include basketball, painting, singing, or playing games. Or organizing, hospitality, and making new friends.

2. Ask them what they would like to see change in the community (or neighborhood or school). You might hear interest areas such as helping the homeless, helping people with physical challenges, helping children learn to read, putting an end to bullying, or breaking up school cliques.

3. See where family strengths and community needs overlap, and start with a simple service project.

  • If your children like music and they are concerned about loneliness in nursing homes, plan a time to go sing with friends at a local nursing home.
  • If your family loves sports and they are concerned about their peers getting involved in negative activities, ask a recreation center if you can host a family sports night at the gym this winter.
  • If your family has a tradition of playing board games or solving puzzles, call a homeless shelter to see if you can host a game night after an evening meal.
  • If you have an artistic family, you might paint a mural at church, at school, or at a community center.
  • If you love the outdoors, you might pick up trash on a hiking excursion.

We all have unique skills and talents—how will you use your gifts to make a difference during this season and throughout the year?

The key to quality youth development that keeps a kid coming back

November 25th, 2016

Originally published by Karen Beranek

A simple hello is important but it’s not enough. For some youth, you’ll need to go a step beyond that. My son’s active wrestling career began five years ago. It has been amazing to watch his growth through the program. Yes, he’s getting better at take downs, staying off his back and putting his opponent on his back. But that’s not why he goes to practice twice a week. He goes because he is building a relationship with a caring adult – his coach. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is! In the first two years, he couldn’t say hi to the coach because he was so shy. Coach hadn’t had a wrestler quite like that before, but he knew the importance of a welcoming environment, so he re-thought his approach: he took the time to talk to my son individually and show him how to improve on one specific technique. He asked him if he was coming to the next practice. These simple actions showed my son that coach cared about him, that he belonged to this team, and that he could be himself in the practice room.

I am so thankful the coach recognized my son’s need and took it upon himself to re-evaluate how he works with this young person. Now in year five, my son is willing to ask questions, share stories and work directly with this adult who took the time to create a welcoming environment for him, even if this willingness to speak up was years in the making.

Have you had to change how you welcome youth to meet the need of a particular group or an individual young person?  Do you use the “eight keys” in your work?

Read the full article here:  http://blog-youth-development-insight.extension.umn.edu/2016/05/the-key-to-quality-youth-development.html

Who are you grateful for?

November 25th, 2016

originally published by Dr. Lauren Tober

Today I’m inviting you to consider WHO you are grateful for.

 

Take a look at this wonderful video by Soul Pancake.  I had tears.  And smiles.  Lots of smiles.

 

After watching this video, your task, should you choose to accept it, is take photographs of people you’re grateful for.

 

And then share it with them (you knew I was going to say that didn’t you?).

 

Post it on their facebook timeline.

 

Tag them in instagram.

 

Send it via email.

 

If it’s your grandmother, print it out and post it to her.

 

Do whatever you need to do, but be sure to tell someone you’re grateful for them.

 

With gratitude,

A Gratitude Song

November 18th, 2016

Here s a beautiful song called ‘Grateful: A Love Song to the World’  Check it out here...

Thanksgiving Poem

November 11th, 2016

 

I had to share this sweet little poem written by 9-year old Anna Kate.  Make your own Thanksgiving acrostic.  What are YOU thankful for?  Ask others that you care about to tell you some of the things they are most grateful for.  thanksgiving

National Service Dates for November

November 1st, 2016

Veterans Day (November 11)

Plan something to honor veterans in your community!

http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/

Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar®: A Teacher’s Review

October 19th, 2016

Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar is definitely a very worthwhile, unique find.   I have used it in my classroom in many different ways since it serves multiple purposes.  My students, primarily 5th graders, have absolutely loved the crazy challenges found on the cards.

 

This game comes with 101 small cards in a plastic jar and a die.  There are four categories: Make a Melody, Show Me Your Moves, 20-Second Challenge, and Wild Cards.  The 20- second challenges are my favorite.  These cards are great for when students need a quick break from long stretches of learning, yet I do not want to lose valuable instructional time.  Many of these cards include debates, like arguing whether texting or face-to-face conversation is more important.  Others include telling a story about a time the teller was brave, or acting out a scene from a movie.  With these cards, I usually give one to each of my six groups, and each person in the group gets to go around and do it.  Because each student only has 20 seconds, the groups get done at the same time, making it easy to resume the lesson.

 

The Make a Melody cards were my students’ favorite.  They elicited hilarious responses, such as singing a song using a cat or a dog voice (woof-woof or meow-meow), and seeing if the group could tell what it was.  The only problem with these is that when multiple groups are doing this category at once, the room gets pretty noisy! I ended up using these with the whole group, and would have one representative from each group perform them, and then they would rotate. This solution worked well.

 

Most of the Show Me Your Move cards require movement in the classroom, so they are great when I had to have indoor activity time.  Some of them include making up dance moves, completing stretches, and doing short relay races.

 

Wild Cards can be any mixture of the following, but most of them include writing and discussing.  My favorite ones are those that have students share information about themselves with each other, like their favorite hobbies.  The card also tells them to roll the die to determine how many things they share about that hobby with the group.  These really help students get along better in my classroom as they make stronger connections with each other.

 

I highly recommend choosing the cards that students receive. The one factor that I am always concerned about is time. It was very important for me to pre-select the cards, as some of them can be more time-consuming than others.  I also factor in noise level of the cards occasionally, depending on how I use the cards that day.  Selecting them matters as well because some of them need materials, like tape, balls, and various other objects.

 

Students do always have the choice to pass if they feel too uncomfortable doing the activities.  On the first day we tried the cards, I had a handful of students who did not want to participate.  However, once they realized how much fun the other students were having who did participate, everyone engaged with them from then on.

 

Ways that I utilize them in my classroom:

  •  Short brain breaks for students during long periods of work time (like essay writing)
  • Icebreakers/getting to know you activities when students are placed in new groups
  • During indoor activity time
  • As tie-breakers following review games (especially the 20-second challenges)
  • At the beginning of the year as students simply get used to group rotations
  • As bellwork when the card coincides with the lesson (debate cards, for example)

 

There are many other ways that the cards can be used, I am sure! I am very pleased with them, and I definitely plan on using them in my classroom again this year.  Overall, this is a great product, and it certainly deserves two-thumbs up!

- Bethany Riggs Weeks, Fifth Grade Language Arts & Volleyball Coach

Sycamore Middle School

 Jar_3d

 

Get the jar directly from Free Spirit or online from Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Click to order: http://tinyurl.com/boosters16

5 Ways to Make “Make a Difference Day” a Family Tradition

October 7th, 2016

By: Susan Ragsdale

originally published at www.parentfurther.com

Mahatma Gandhi taught us to Be the change we wish to see in the world. National Make a Difference Day is a celebration of the change that people make. It is also a reminder that everyone has power. Everyone has gifts. Everyone can make a difference by showing up and making the choice to care about others and the world. We have power. We just have to use it.

This year, Make a Difference Day falls on October 27, 2012. Why not take a cue from Ghandi and make this day a part of your family fabric? Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • At home, talk about the importance of making a difference, and as a family go do something! Commit!
  • Find a need or concern in your community. Are you concerned about a neighbor next door? Is the fact that grandma moved into a nursing home upsetting to you? Are you concerned about the environment (trash in your neighborhood)?

  • Find an agency that works around that concern. If you don’t know of one, ask friends and neighbors, call local nonprofit organizations and ask if they are participating in Make a Difference Day, or do a web search (try www.volunteermatch.org) and see if you can find a project that matches up with your family’s interests.
  • Celebrate what you did together. Talk about what you learned and what you experienced: the funny moments, the scary moments, the “it felt so good to help” moments.
  • If you want an even BIGGER challenge, register your project at the Make A Difference website and recruit others to join you in your project.

Download: Tips to Help You Reflect on Your Family Volunteering Experience

Here are 5 service ideas to help you get started!

This summer my youth organization worked with 13 girls in a service camp to make a difference. Perhaps one of these memories from our own experiences will spark an idea for how your family might volunteer together.

1. Volunteer at the Humane Society – Popular with young and old alike, volunteer opportunities include walking dogs, bagging up pet snacks (we did 57 in one hour), making treats, making and decorating bandanas for pets who will be going home to wear, updating photos on the website, and cleaning cages. At our site, anyone under the age of 14 had to be accompanied in a one-to-two adult to child ratio.

2. Volunteer at Feed the Children – Our volunteer work was done assembly line fashion. Adults cut open boxes, and youth helped fill, tape up and stack the boxes. Bonus: Standing side-by-side gives families lots of time to chat while working. Want a goal? Fifteen of us packed 571 boxes (that’s 571 families impacted by our behind-the-scenes service) in 2 hours. What can your family of 3 or 5 do?

3. Volunteer at a retirement center – Here, visits are never overrated. Put on a smile, a happy heart, and simply share the gift of yourself (and your time) with others. Visit, play games, sing, gather around the piano, give manicures, do arts and crafts . . . There is almost nothing you can’t come up with to bring life and happiness to residents in a retirement center. In one day, our group made and distributed 130 bookmarks and engaged in games and conversations with 11 residents by the end of the day. The interactions and mutual exchange of learning and sharing were simply priceless in value.

Our girls’ favorite part of this experience was hearing the women’s life stories and sharing in their passions. One powerful woman, age 93, was a dance instructor until the age of 85. She gathered a small group of us around her table and gave us a quick belly-dancing lesson! One camper took the initiative to teach two women how to play scrabble. She was a self-proclaimed “not so good speller” but she didn’t shy from sharing what she knew with two women who had never played.

4. Volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House – Making brownies, cooking a meal, collecting soda can tabs, writing notes of encouragement for guests, bringing in comic books, movies, toys, or books–these are all things that families can do to help brighten a day for worried families and sick children. In one day, our group decorated 40 doors with cut out paper dolls and words of encouragement. We made 20 necklaces to be distributed to teenage girls and 35 encouragement stones that people could put on their desks.

5. Volunteer at Mobile Loaves and Fishes – Work in the garden, chop veggies, decorate lunch bags, make cookies, make sandwiches to distribute, ride the mobile food van, and distribute meals to others – these are some of the possibilities when working with agencies that are dedicated to getting fresh produce into “food deserts.” Our girls went to work and decorated over 100 lunch bags and made 71 cookies.

I just shared various ways that we made a difference in one-to-two hour time slots during a five day week. What can your family do? I want to challenge you to use your power! BE THE CHANGE and make a difference. What will you do this National Make a Difference Day?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________For more ideas for family volunteering visit:

1. Family Volunteering

2. Reasons to Volunteer

2. National Days of Service, a calendar of various service-oriented days

3. National Family Volunteer Day, coming up in November

4. Image via Yukari on Flickr.

National Service Dates for October

October 1st, 2016

Make A Difference Day (October 24)

 

Plan a project that will make a difference!

http://www.pointsoflight.org/signature-events/make-difference-day

Meditation on Tough Questions

September 30th, 2016

“Stay with the question. The more it troubles you, the more it has to teach you.”

Remind yourself not to run from the hard questions in life. Train yourself to sit still. Listen to your heart as it struggles.  And challenge those that you care about to do the same!

Technology and Life

September 27th, 2016

An anonymously shared story:
I had spent an hour in the bank with my Uncle, as he had to transfer some money. I couldn’t resist myself & asked…

”Uncle, why don’t we activate your internet banking?”

”Why would I do that?” he asked…

”Well, then you wont have to spend an hour here for things like transfer.  You can even do your shopping online. Everything will be so easy!”

I was so excited about initiating him into the world of Net banking.

He asked ”If I do that, I wont have to step out of the house?”

”Yes, yes”! I said. I told him how even grocery can be delivered at door now and how amazon delivers everything!

His answer left me tongue-tied.

He said, ”Since I entered this bank today, I have met four of my friends, I have chatted a while with the staff who know me very well by now.  You know I’m alone… this is the company that I need. I like to get ready and come to the bank. I have enough time, it is the physical touch that I crave.

“Two years back I got sick. The store owner from whom I buy fruits, came to see me and sat by my bedside and cried.  My wife fell down few days back while on her morning walk. My local grocer saw her and immediately got his car to rush her home as he knows where I live.

“Would I have that ‘human’ touch if everything became online?  Why would I want everything delivered to me and force me to interact with just my computer?  I like to know the person that I’m dealing with and not just the ‘seller’ . It creates bonds. Relationships.  Does Amazon deliver all this as well?”’

The writer ended the story with this forwarded message from their inbox:
Technology isn’t life .. Spend time with people .. Not with devices…

Your Student Leaders Want More

September 16th, 2016

Taryn Seemann riginally published this article at https://www.leadertreks.org.  She was writing about youth interns in church youth ministry, but I think the advice crosses over to student leadership in general.  See how her principles might work for you as you engage youth as leaders…

Fed Up Female Intern Fetching Coffee In Office

Several years ago, AT&T ran a series of commercials in which comedian Back Bennett sat with a focus group of elementary school kids. In one of these ads, he asked this curious panel if they preferred having more or less. A sweet, logical girl responds, “We want more, we want more … like, [if] you really like it, you want more.” Your youth ministry interns want the same. They took the internship because they care about youth ministry. They want more than just a good experience; they want to be developed.

This summer your interactions with your interns should be motivated by a commitment to raise up the next generation of church leaders. Every youth worker has the opportunity to develop skills, character traits, and habits in their interns and to equip them to become more effective servants in God’s kingdom. With that purpose in mind, here are threeDon’ts and three Dos for your summer internship program. I pray you’ll avoid the disappointments and frustrations associated with the Don’ts and pursue the long-term growth and impact that can result from the Dos.

Don’t just delegate the parts of the job you don’t like.

Do give interns a variety of experiences to help them discover their gifts.

Don’t give too much freedom or too many restrictions.

Do set clear expectations with defined responsibilities.

Don’t make experience the only teacher.

Do create a growth plan for your intern.

Read the full article, where the author talks more about each of these do’s and don’ts here.

National Service Dates for September

September 5th, 2016

National Preparedness Month

Congressional Recess Ends (September 5)

15th anniversary of 9/11 honored on September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance