I’m not sure whether or not you have noticed, but it’s cold outside; really, really cold. At this time of year, going out is a less than attractive prospect, and as a family, we tend to bunker down a bit. The problem is, this can mean everyone goes a bit stir-crazy. So here are some simple games and activities that will get you all up and moving, but allow you to stay in your slippers and in front of the heater.
These activities can just as easily be done with chalk outside when the weather warms up.
Of course, being from The Sunshine Collective, everything has an educational spin – shh – don’t tell the kids!
For each of the games listed in this section, you will need some masking tape or painter’s tape to make a grid on the floor. Make a grid with 30 squares – 6 rows of 5 would work well.
Stomp and Spell.
Into each square in your grid, place a piece of paper with a letter of the alphabet written on it. Make sure all letters are included in the grid. You will have 4 blank squares, but that is fine. Now, call out a word (this can be something you see in the room, something you see outside, from a specific word list, text from a chosen book, anything) and the person whose turn it is must stomp on all the squares containing the letters that spell the word. Make sure they stomp in the correct order. If they get the spelling right, they score one point. Change turns.
Do As I Say
Into each of the squares place either a picture of an item, or an actual item (a hat, a small cup, a ball etc.). You must fill the grid with pictures or items. Now, one person starts on one side of the grid and must follow a path to the other side of the grid. That path is given to them by another player, simply by telling them a list of the items or pictures they are to step on. For example: Ball, cup, hat, spoon, remote control. The person doing the stepping must try to remember the list and step in all the right places. The number of instructions should gradually be increased. In Round 1 everyone can try with 3 items, then in Round 2, 4 items and so on. Who can remember the most instructions?
Into each of the squares in your grid, place a picture of a different 2-dimensional shape with either six sides or less (triangle, square, rectangle, diamond, rhombus, pentagon, hexagon). You will need to draw more than one of each shape in order to fill all 30 squares. Once each grid square has a shape in it, each player must choose a different household item to be their counters. This item needs to be something you have a lot of, for example, one person might be ‘spoons’ and another person might be ‘socks’. The person whose turn it is, rolls a die (take one from a board game or make one if you don’t already have one) and places one of their counters into a grid square that has a shape with the same number of sides as the number they have rolled. For example, if they roll a 3, they will place a counter in a space with a triangle. If a 1 or a 2 is rolled, you miss a turn; alternatively, you can include heptagons (7 sides) and octagons (8 sides) in your grid and have 1 = 7 and 2 = 8. The winner is the first person to get 5 of their counter in a row.
Terrific Tables Take 1
All players start in the top left corner of the grid. A grown-up calls out times table equations and the first person to answer correctly gets to roll a die and move forward. If you answer incorrectly the other players are allowed time to answer. If no one answers correctly, no one moves. Move around the grid in a snake pattern, moving up and down rows. The winner is the first person to get to the bottom left square.
5. Terrific Tables Take 2
Give all players 10 – 15 pieces of paper. Each player uses a different coloured marker to write answers to times tables. They do not need to write the times table equations, just the answers and which answers they write is entirely up to them. Do not show anyone the answers you have written. A non-playing person then randomly calls out times table questions and if you have the answer to that question in your pile you get to place it in a square in the grid. If you place an incorrect answer, it is simply removed. The winner is the first person to get 5 of their answers in a row. Or play until the grid is full and the winner is the person with the most answers in the grid.
6. Snakes and Ladders
Simply place small pieces of paper with the numbers 1-30 in the grid, snaking around the rows, just like in Snakes and Ladders. Use a couple of scarves to set up snakes and some small books to set up 2 or 3 ladders. Then play as you would a normal game of Snakes and Ladders, using your own bodies as the counters.
7. Magic Squares
For this game you will only use 9 of the squares in your grid. These need to be 3 rows of 3. You will also need 9 pieces of paper, or you could use 9 paper plates. On each plate, or piece of paper, write the numbers 1-9. Now find a way to place those numbers into your 3 x 3 grid so that all lines (horizontal, vertical and diagonal) add together to equal 15. There is more than one way to do this.
For each of the games listed in this section you will need pieces of plain paper. If you want to save paper and make your path-pieces reusable, you could laminate them or cover them in contact and use a whiteboard marker to write on and then wipe off.
On each piece of paper, write a sight word. These could be from a specific school word list, or from a list of 100 most-used words or demon words. Use the pieces of paper to make a path around your house. Then ask your child/ren to start at the beginning and read the words as they step on them and follow the path. See how far you can step and read.
Count Your Step
This time, make your path with numbers. You could do numbers 1-20 for basic counting or you could make a path using 0-100 and then have your child step over some numbers in order to skip count. For example: start at 0 and skip count by twos, so they will step on 2,4,6, 8 etc. Or start at 3 and skip-count by 5s. You can choose whatever instruction best suits the ability of your child. You can also do this activity using the written form of each number ie: one rather than 1.
Make the path-pieces a random selection of numbers and ask your child to put them in order from smallest to largest, with the smallest number being (for example) at the bedroom door and the largest number being (for example) at the front door. Once the path is made, ask your child to walk the path, reading the numbers as they go.
Make the path-pieces letters of the alphabet and have your child lay the path before they step on it and read.
Write out a known song or nursery rhyme, or part of a song or nursery rhyme, putting each word on a different path-piece. Ask your child to lay the path, putting the words in the correct order and then read the rhyme or sing the song as they follow the path.
Just Do It
Write verbs on path-pieces (verbs are action words: jump, skip, laugh etc.). Roll a die to decide how many steps to take along the path. Wherever you land, act out the verb.
These are just a few examples of the fun you can have the learning you can do inside your own home using nothing more than a bit of tape, a die and some paper.
So the next time it’s cold and raining and the thought of getting out of your pyjamas is too daunting to entertain, clear the furniture and get the whole family involved in some Grid Games and Playful Paths.
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