Water Gun Activities for Summer Fun

We recently acquired a set of water guns because the girls love a water fight. On a hot day a water fight is great fun but it isn’t always warm enough. When a water fight isn’t the best option, here are some other water gun activities you could try.

1. Ping-Pong Blast

fun with a water gun

Line up golf tees with ping-pong balls placed on top.

Ready, Steady, Blast…….

How many can you knock down?

water gun

2. Fireworks Display

“Come outside, we’ve got something to show you”,  the girls called out one evening, shortly after July 4th. They treated us to a watery firework display, creating shapes with their water guns and giving each one a different name.

water gun play

3. Skittles/Bowling

Using a set of garden skittles (or in our case bottles, tin cans and cups) line them up and see how many you can knock down by squirting water at them.

garden bwling

4. Ball push

Lay out different types of balls.

Which ones do you think you can move with the water gun?

ball push

It moves just a little bit.

5. Duck Race

Race ducks in the paddling pool, using the water gun to move them from one side to the other.

duck race

6. Ring the Bell

Hang a bell , saucepan lid or other metallic object from a bush and investigate the sound it makes if you squirt it.  You could try a variety of objects and listen to the different sounds.

cowbell

7. Trampoline Splash

My youngest decided to spray the trampoline and invited me to bounce. As we bounced the water splashed into the air like jumping in a puddle. Great for bouncing on  a hot day.

spraying the trampoline

8. Water the plants

If you are looking for little helpers, why not let them water the plants with their water gun?

watering

9. I’ve challenged the older girls to design a water gun obstacle course and race against each other or a timer.

Posted in early education & play, holidays, outdoor play, play, pre schoolers, Uncategorized, water play | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Free Resources for Play and Ideas for How to Use Them.

We have recently joined a wonderful group called Buy Nothing. The idea is that people in the local community share, via a Facebook group, the things they no longer need and offer them to others for free.  It is a great way for an outsider like me to feel part of the community. Our group also has a central meeting point, where you can drop off and collect reserved items or look through the other items, to find little gems.  Browsing the things people have offered has inspired lots of new play opportunities.  Here are a few to share. You may be inspired to use some of the things you have stashed away or maybe even set up a Buy Nothing group of your own.

 

The Flower Shop

We were given a huge amount of fabric flowers from a member. I  had often considered  setting  up a play flower shop at nursery but the flowers were so expensive and we needed a large quantity.  I was very excited to finally have the chance to try it out. The girls have been making flower arrangements, taking telephone and internet orders and delivering the flowers in a little car.  After posting  photographs of the shop on the group page, we have been gifted even more flowers; such is the beauty of a community like this.

The girls have loved this so much and it looks really beautiful in the garden.  They asked if there was such a thing as a real flower shop; so that’s next on the agenda.

Baby Bath – Water Beads and a Nail Salon

There was a poor, lonely baby bath, crying out for attention on one of our recent visits.  A few water beads and hollow eggs later and we had an activity for my toddler class.

water beads

The girls had more great ideas when I brought it home. The water beads in the bath made a perfect foot spa for a nail salon.

foot spa

Squeezy Bottles for Puffy Paint

Someone was giving away squeezy bottles, they were perfect for  puffy paint.

puffy paint

My eldest was very impressed

Wow! What is this?

she remarked, when she spotted the dry pictures.

Mirror Play

I saw an image of a beautiful mirrored table recently, so when someone offered mirrors, I thought we could recreate something similar.

 

I am so lucky to be able to provide my children with these opportunities due to the generosity of others. Inspired? Why not create a Buy Nothing group in your locality?

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in active learning, art and crafts, early education & play, home schooling, imagination, learning environmets, outdoor play, play, pre schoolers, sensory play, shadow and light, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Teach Preschool Science

I don’t make assumptions about what my children will learn from an activity.  I don’t presume that they will learn anything, I’m happy if they are absorbed and having fun.

Sometimes a simple activity can unexpectedly become a rich learning experience full of questions and discoveries. These for me are precious moments. I have recently become aware that the simplest craft activities lead us unexpectedly into an exploration of scientific concepts. For example,we recently acquired a movie reel canister, perfect for paint rolling .  I gave the girls a small box of marbles and small balls (a ping-pong eyeball and a golf ball) and a few pots of paint. The discussion that ensued was interesting.

paint rolling

 Child 1 : 5-years-old    Child 2 : 3-years-old.

eyeball

Child 1: The eyeballs go much slower.  I think because the eyeball is bigger it goes much slower but the marble is smaller so it goes faster.

Child 2: It’s too sticky

Why do you think it is sticky?

Child 2: Maybe there’s too much paint.

golf ball

Child 1: This one is not as sticky as the other one but it is much bigger.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t put as much paint on.

What makes the 2 balls different?

Child 1: One is bumpy and one is smooth…………..but that would make it slower.

It gets stuck and the other one goes really fast.  Maybe the material it is made from is sticky but now that we don’t have as much paint on, it goes fast.  Perhaps the paint sticks to the material and stops it slipping and sliding.

Maybe because the golf ball is hard it doesn’t stick to the paper, maybe the paint doesn’t like it and slips off.

When we went to wash the balls we checked to see which would float.

Child 1: The golf ball and the marble sink and the eyeball floats.  This one floats because it is all filled up with air.

Child 2: This one sinks because it is bigger…………………….. but what about the marble, that sinks?

Child 1: It is because it is heavier.

The connection between the mass of the ball and how fast it travelled did not register but there are many other projects we can explore to help them work it out.

These incidental science experiments happen a lot. There was the time I left an empty milk carton outside and they turned it into a tap by inserting a straw. The girls decided they needed to find a way to turn it on and off. Further experimentation helped them work out how to get the tap to drain all of the water.  My role as teacher was not to give them the answers but to ask questions like ‘How could you make it better?’ What could you use to…? or what would happen if…?

tap science

Having open-ended materials readily available makes it easy for them to instigate projects .  This week, I put pieces of foam in the water table soaked in bubble mixture and showed them how to squeeze the foam to make bubbles.  I knew my eldest would love this.  She had another idea, taking a piece of plastic tubing she blew into it creating lots of foam. The children’s ideas are always the best! She asked me for test tubes and filled them with  bubble mixture and opened her own beauty parlour with potions that made your hair soft or skin younger.

foam bubbles

 

In the TED talk, Science is Play , Beau Lotto views Science as a way of being. He explains,

“We normally walk through life responding. If we ever want to do something different, we have to step into uncertainty…. Science lets us step into uncertainty through the process of play.”

Our youngest children are full of uncertainty so they are naturally questioning things all of the time. Isn’t that the foundation of science? Our skill as teachers is not to feed them the answers but to give them the tools to make their own discoveries. Do we need to plan specific science lessons? Isn’t science and discovery the very essence of childhood?Children don’t call it science, they call it play and in play they work things out for themselves.

I love this quote from the American Scientist article entitled ‘Science as Play

When I grew up, every kid put in some serious sandbox time, and it often involved building (what seemed like) complex sand structures around which fantasies were composed and competitions took place with neighborhood kids. The organic chemistry labs (at Yale during the junior year) were fun in the same way. We constructed molecules and competed with each other in the class on speed and yield. We mixed things up, and chemical transformations took place. We separated, we isolated, we analyzed. The odors were pleasant, and the physical process of working with our hands, as with sand, was satisfying. The biweekly organic labs became the high points of my week. By the end of the year, I knew that I wanted to be an organic chemist, as I realized one could play in the sandbox for a living. (Joseph B Lambert)

Playing in the sandbox for a living? ‘Isn’t that what I do?

 

 

 

Posted in art and crafts, childhood, children, early education & play, home schooling, outdoor play, play, pre schoolers, science, sensory play, teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How to Be a Playful Family

As a finalist in America’s Most Playful Family contest our task was to create a 90 second video showing tips that will help families become more playful. With so much to say about what we do and why play is important to us, this was a real challenge but here is the finished product.

For further detail about the activities and ideas featured in the video, follow the links below:-
Play Don’t Throw Away

Mud Kitchens -Why Playing in the Mud is Good for You

Music Garden – How to Build a Music Garden

Heuristic Play – Now Playing

Loose parts – When they Would Rather Play with Sticks and Stones

Playing With Household Objects

Water painting – Painting with Water

Playing Without Toys – Do Children Need Toys?

Outdoor Events – How to Stage a Garden Olympics    How to Stage a Winter Olympics

Playing in nature

Snow Day

Spring

Frost and Ice

Connecting with Nature

 Woodland activities

In the Rain

In the Dark

When Life is Busy

Literacy Games in the Car

Passing Down Traditions
Playground Games

 Party Games

 

 

Posted in active learning, childhood, children, early education & play, play | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

America’s Most Playful Family?

boxes

 

We have recently received some very exciting news.  Our family have been selected from over 700 applicants as one of 50 semi-finalists in America’s Most Playful Family Contest. To enter we were asked to answer a number of questions about our play, including why it is important and how we make time for play.

I strive very hard to make my children’s lives playful and to share the things we do with others, so to be chosen as a semi-finalist makes me very proud.

washing the car

As a semi-finalist we receive a video camera and have been asked to create a 90 second video sharing tips to encourage other families to be more playful and showing that play can happen anywhere.  I have a huge list of things that I would like to show and it will be a big challenge to my editing skills to fit everything into 90 seconds. Brevity isn’t always my strength, so it will be good for me to pin down the most important messages to share.

walking on ice

The videos will be posted on a You Tube channel, so families can get tips and ideas about play and will be judged by a panel.  You will be relieved to know that I won’t be asking for votes but it would be nice if you would view the video and tell us what you think (I’ll embed the link here once it goes live).

sand man

The winner gets to choose a community in their state that deserves a very special playground.  This will be a great way to learn about local worthy causes and  help disadvantaged kids. Of course there are prizes for us too but for me being chosen as a playful family is a great prize in itself.

goop

Posted in competition, early education & play, families, games, happiness, Life in the US, parenting, play, Random Thoughts & Life Stories, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

For my children…

rightfromthestart:

This post was originally written by a dear friend of mine who writes about her life since she was diagnosed with MS. We all want the best for our children but what do you do when you know that you may have passed on a genetic condition? Please visit her blog Memsand beingmum.wordpress.com to follow her story and to offer support to anyone you may know who lives with MS. She is a true inspiration to us all.

Originally posted on memsandbeingmum:

I was asked to write a guest post (re-blogged below) for the lovely www.stumblinginflats.com. Do take at look at her site. She connects with many other MS bloggers/survivors and is keen to network with others. Thanks to her for the guest blog opportunity. I decided to write about something that is a little unspoken for many of us mums whose lives have been touched by MS.

 

Anyone who has been diagnosed with MS knows this is big. The implications of your diagnosis for your children are huge, though in many respects are as yet unknown. Like so much about this condition, you are left with a cloud of uncertainty under which you must continue to raise your precious loves.  Like me I am sure many of you read the information and depending on what and where you read it, it will mean different things. At the very least your…

View original 394 more words

Posted in families, guest post, parenting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Outdoor Play: Springtime

whisking water

Springtime in Seattle is as unpredictable as springtime in the UK.  Today we have glorious sunshine, yesterday we played in the ice and frost and a week ago we were playing in the rain.

Whatever the weather the girls are drawn to the outside and unlike the summer when they sometimes complain that it is too hot, they tend to stay outside for a long time.

ducks

 

We have a pair of ducks that are regular visitors to our garden in the spring. What better way to get the girls outside than to send them out to find the ducks and feed them.

 

A Bug Hunt

We had a bug explore kit for Christmas, so while I was doing a little gardening, the girls decided to look for bugs.  The warm weather had brought lots of spiders and beetles to the surface. They were fast and quite difficult to catch.

I found a beetle.

I found a beetle.

I have a spider

I have a spider

As I was turning over the soil, the girls decided to dig with trowels for worms and observe them in their pots.

The worm is very wriggly.

The worm is very wriggly.

Gardening

I’ve tried for years to grow wildflowers without any success. We chose to mix the seeds with sand from the sandpit, scatter them and rake them in.  We don’t need to water them too much this time of the year because of the rain and they are slowly starting to grow. Each day we check on their progress and talk about how delicate they still are, so to be careful where we tred.

 Painting the Ground

The girls began by painting pebbles with bright colours and then decided to paint pictures on the driveway.

pebble painting

I suggested that they might like to paint the stepping-stones, they thought this was a great idea.

 

When we take paint outside they nearly always decide to paint hands or feet.  The paint left footprints on the driveway.

foot painting

I know, we could play an easy kind of hide and seek. One person hides and we have to follow their footprints.

They followed the footprints across the path. When they got to the grass, they were difficult to follow, so they made arrows from sticks. We found a little piece of treasure, in the shape of one lonely violet.

violets

Echoes

As we were sat on the driveway painting they noticed that their voices were echoing.

Mummy why do our voices sound all echoing?

I don’t know, do they still echo when we stand up?

Yes

We moved something to see if that made a difference.

We are still echoing.

How do you make echoes?

You need a sort of tunnel. It works when we talk in a tube. The driveway doesn’t look like  a tunnel.

I’ll have to dig out ‘Little Beaver and the Echo’ and explore this further.

Flowers and Plants

I love it when they explore the flowers and plants. Heather is great for playing rain showers and we are looking forward to the blossoms falling from the trees and making ‘fairy rain’. The girls were so excited that the trees are full of blossom and ran to tell the other children in the street.

Harry Potter

Pavement chalk is  a big favourite.  When the children play in the street together they draw towns on the ground and play that they are visiting the shops or hospital.  Recently, they were playing Harry Potter and drew a huge Hogwarts castle in the road. They collected sticks for wands and branches for broomsticks (I left them the cuttings from trimming the trees) and with a tennis ball they played Quidditch.  The potion station is also perfect for mixing spells.

Water Spritz

I suggested that we take water spritzers outside filled with paint.  The girls tried the painting but were much more keen to take them out with only water in.

First they wanted to clean.

They wanted to spray each other, it wasn’t really warm enough but my 3-year-old had a good idea.  She ran to fetch her umbrella.

I know we could use this as a shield.

umbrella shield

With rain expected for the weekend – I wonder what other ideas they will come up with.

Check out other outdoor play ideas at Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

and The Outdoor Play Party

Posted in childhood, early education & play, home schooling, imagination, outdoor play, play, pre schoolers, Uncategorized | 7 Comments