Guest Blog by Clarissa | Lakeshore Blog Ambassador from Munchkins and Moms
Active play is not just an important piece of all our homeschool days—it’s a vital part!
As kids move their bodies through play, they are not only improving their health but are also developing a sense of self and space. They are physically internalizing the concepts of left and right, above and below, forward and backward, etc. These are important prerequisites for reading (left-to-right, top-to-bottom progression), math (moving forward and backward on a number line) and so much more!
On warm, sunny days, it’s easy to get outside and play…but staying active when stuck indoors can be a bit more of a challenge. That’s why we’ve added a few new versatile toys and games to our home. They can be used outdoors in the beautiful spring weather, or they can be brought indoors when it’s rainy. Either way, we are prepared for fun and active play this spring!
Here are a few of our favorite ways to keep our minds and bodies active:
Idea 1: Go “alphabet” bowling.
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This isn’t your average bowling set! The Alphabet Bowling set from Lakeshore Learning comes with every letter of the alphabet and a foam “bowling” ball. We couldn’t wait to set it up!
We played this game both inside and outside for the chance to compare and contrast how the ball rolls on different surfaces. Bowling is also a great way to work on eye/hand coordination and practice friendly competition.
Here are some more ways we plan to use the game:
- Spell words (sight-words, kids’ names, etc.) to knock down using the ball.
- Use the foam letters in a seek-and-find game.
- Stack the letters to form alphabet towers.
Idea 2: Skip, hop and jump to boost math and reading skills.
We’ve discovered hours of learning fun using a sidewalk and some chalk.
To practice reading skills, we draw a 5′ x 5′ grid on the sidewalk and write a letter in each square. Then we call out simple words, and the boys hop on the letters that spell each word.
We use the same simple grid for a math maze by erasing the letters and replacing them with numbers. The boys love counting from 1 to 20 or skip-counting by 2s, 5s, 10s or 100s as they hop around the grid.
Next time, we plan to draw an out-of-order number sequence grid on the sidewalk and have the boys hop and skip over the squares to count in the correct order. When it’s time to learn multiplication, we’ll shout out numbers and have the boys jump on the two factors.
Idea 3: Play ball!
We love playing with lots of different balls—footballs, soccer balls and baseballs are some solid favorites. Playing ball is great for eye/hand coordination and promoting cooperative play skills. Our new favorite balls are these rainbow-colored, Soft & Safe Comet Balls from Lakeshore. They are unique and completely irresistible to kids!
The balls come in a rainbow of colors, and they’re so fun to throw! The ball portion is made from a soft, easy-grip material that won’t hurt other kids (or break windows).
My boys didn’t limit themselves to tossing from the head of the comet. They gleefully spun the ball from the tail and sent it flying sky-high, too! You can use these balls for countless games, such as:
- Comet tag. Simply toss the ball to tag a friend.
- Target practice. Aim balls at a chalk target on the sidewalk.
We took out a bucket and practiced making comet baskets for a fun twist on a classic activity. This game can also be taken indoors on rainy spring days!
Idea 4: Enjoy leapfrog (and other classic childhood games)!
Leapfrog, hopscotch, jump rope—these are some of the classic childhood games my kids and I enjoy together! The games only require a few supplies (or no supplies at all) for fun and active play and can be modified for both indoor and outdoor use. For example, use painter’s tape (instead of chalk) to make an indoor hopscotch game.
Leapfrog, hopscotch, and jump rope all provide great opportunities for kids to improve balance and coordination while having fun. As kids go through childhood growth spurts, their center of gravity shifts, so it’s important to play these types of games often! Their little bodies need the physical feedback this type of play provides to stay confident in their abilities.
Playing classic games is also a great way to connect and reminisce with your kids about your own childhood. (“I used to play hopscotch like this when I was a kid!”) Recalling a story from your past provides a great framework for teaching retelling skills, an important literacy skill in early childhood education.
Idea 5: Take aim with Lakeshore’s Indoor/Outdoor Kids’ Croquet.
Croquet is a classic game that I enjoyed playing as a kid, so I couldn’t wait to share it with my boys!
This set is unique because it can be played both indoors and outdoors. We played on grass and carpet—and had fun both ways!
Playing croquet develops eye/hand coordination, promotes good sportsmanship, improves muscle control and much more! It has been one of our favorite games to play this spring.
Here are some other ways to enjoy croquet with friends:
- Take a field trip to a senior home and invite the residents to play a game of croquet with the kids.
- Hold a neighborhood croquet tournament. If there are more than four players, create teams of two for more fun!
Idea 6: Go for a good old-fashioned run.
When it comes to active play, running is about as classic as it gets. Whether they’re running down grassy hills or racing against one another, kids always enjoy a good run! If you want to mix things up a little bit, here are some fun variations to include in your kids’ run game:
- Use a stopwatch to time their runs. Encourage them to beat their last times!
- Challenge them to change direction mid-run by calling out “left” and “right” at random intervals.
- Have them run while holding streamers behind them. (This is fun to do on a breezy day!)
There are countless ways to include running in your kids’ playtime activities! It is one of the most basic gross motor skills kids develop throughout childhood, and helping kids enjoy it offers long-term benefits.
There are so many ways to play and stay active this spring. These great games can all be taken outdoors for fun in the sun…or brought inside on rainy days. Enjoy!