New activities

As the weather warms up, the jackets come off and the clothing layers get lighter (along with the sun lingering a little longer in the evening sky), playtime extends to the outdoors. While the traditional games and activities like football (soccer), kickball, chalkdrawing, basketball, and SPUD are still tons of fun, add some new activities into the mix.

Find Your Child's Inner Artist
Get some long butcher or Kraft paper and lay it out on a driveway or grassy area, securing it down along the edges with rocks. Pour some washable paints into individual disposable cups and get some paint sticks or brushes and have your child create Jackson Pollock-like art by drizzling the colors into the paper from different angles (high up, down low, swirly). Add another element to this activity by showing your child some of Jackson Pollock's paintings online [] to inspire them to get creative. You never know who will create the next abstract masterpiece!

The Jumping "Beanie"
Our version of the long jump: Take a pair of old, colorful socks and fill them with a scoop or two dried beans (securing the ankle part of the sock in a knot) then, use a long stick (or even a hockey/lacrosse stick) to mark a "starting point" on your lawn and another stick to mark a place about three feet away. Using the first stick as the start, have your child take a running start and then jump as high and far as they can when they reach the second stick. Use the "beanie socks" to mark where they land. For an added challenge and fun test, have your child try out different pairs of their sneakers as they do this to see which ones give them maximum jumping power.

Nose Like a Hound
Test your sense of smell, and find out how dogs and cats feel when sniffing their way around a park. Humans have an amazing ability to distinguish hundreds of different scents, but our sense of smell isn't nearly as well-developed as in many other mammals. This easy outdoor game for kids will let them perceive the world as many animals do — by scent.??

What You'll Need:

Spray bottle
Strong-smelling flavoring extract (vanilla, mint, lemon)

Step 1: Fill a spray bottle with water, and add one or two teaspoons of a strong-scented extract. (Peppermint, lemon, and vanilla work well.)

Step 2: Make a trial spray on a tree to see if the scent is strong enough to detect.

Step 3: Have the players close their eyes while one person runs ahead through a wooded area with the spray bottle. The person laying the trail should spray trees and other objects along the way. If playing in grassy fields, be careful not to leave an obvious track through the grass.

Step 4: When the trail maker is done, the rest of the players try to follow the trail.

Down, Down, Down
This game comes from our mates in Australia. All you need are some friends and a tennis ball. Start off with your tennis ball and throw the ball continuously back and forth until somebody drops it. When the ball has been dropped you say, "down on one knee!" Then, say the same person drops it a second time, then you say, "Down on two knees." If the same person drops the ball again, you say, "down on one elbow!" And again, you say, "down on two elbows" and then chin, and then you're out — but remember, you have to stay in the position you're in to catch the ball and throw the ball! This can be quite a challenge, especially when the giggles set in!

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