Winter is upon us, and the ever growing need to keep children busy indoors is increasing; what do you do when you have young children around that need to be entertained without the use of TV or video games? Do some learning! Wait, that’s not what they want to hear but learning certainly can be done without them knowing it…Below are two indoor activities that will keep your kiddos entertained and still encourage development!
Snowball Target Practice
If you need to expel some energy, work those gross motor skills, and practice addition, why not have a little Snowball Target Practice. What you’ll need are:
- 2-4 pairs of white socks, bundled inside of each other to make a ball
- 2-4 hula-hoops
- 2-4 pieces of paper
- Tape of your choice
- Materials for tracking points *see below for suggestions of how to do this for different age groups.
- Taking 2-4 pieces paper and markers, write on each page a number for the value of each hoop for when a “snowball” lands inside the hoop.
- Keep in mind, if you are choosing to have your kid(s) add numbers together as they go or at the end, choose numbers they can work with.
- The numbers should increase with each hoop.
- Place the hoops an equal distance apart in a column; this could be hoops touching or up to two feet apart.
- Tape down point signs inside each hoop. The furthest hoop should have the highest number of points, the closest being the lowest.
- Choose where to have the players throw from by marking the throwing spot with some tape.
How to play:
- Playing this addition game is simple, each player gets to throw 2-4 “snowballs” to toss from the throwing line into the hoops. I like to encourage students to throw underhand!
- As they land inside the hoops, the game monitor or players can keep track of the points earned each round – you can decide!
- Play at least 2 rounds then, add up the grand total of points each player gained.
- The winner is the one with the most points! The prize? They can decide if they go first for the next game or choose someone else to play first!
Strategies for counting or adding up points:
Pre-K – K: Use “counting animals” for players to collect to help them track their points. Have the players count out animals each time they earn a point, each player then puts them in a designated spot for them to count their collection of animals at the end!
K+: Use tally marks to help track points, this strategy can be used to help create a visual for players with adding numbers together or count by 5’s to total up their points at the end. Players can draw their tally marks on paper, or my preferred method, on white boards.
2nd grade+: Players can keep track of their points by applying the column addition method. In a column, write down the points for each toss or round, at the end they can total up their points for the game.
Peppermint Modeling Dough
If you are feeling crafty and want some practice on those important fine motor skills, after you do a little math and science, I have the perfect wintertime activity for you that only takes 10 minutes to make!
I love spending time indoors with kids, especially doing activities that allow them to create and then apply their wonderful imaginations. One of the best ways to allow their creativity to shine is through making some seasonally fun Peppermint Modeling Dough!
Measuring and mixing ingredients to make this dough is the perfect practical application of common skills found in math and science. Gather your kids and enjoy making some fun clay that they will love making wonderful creations with and it lasts for at least 1 week!
You will need:
- 1 cup flour
- ½ cup salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2-4 drops of peppermint extract (or essential oil)
- 1 tablespoon cream of tarter
- 1 cup of water
- Parchment paper
- Optional: Food Coloring of your choice for a little extra detail! (I like JR Watkin No artificial Dye Food Coloring)
- After the ingredients are measured out, combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and blend together.
- Add ingredients to a saucepan, cook on low-medium heat. Don’t walk away, this must be stirred continuously until a ball starts to form and the mixture thickens.
- Once the mixture has thickened and a ball is formed, take it off the heat and transfer onto parchment paper.
- After the dough has cooled, knead the dough until it is smooth and is able to be formed into a ball.
- If it has lost any scent, you can add a few more drops of peppermint.
- Optional: once the dough is finished, add the dough to a plastic quart or gallon size bag; then start adding 1 drop of food coloring at a time, as it is kneaded into the dough. This is a great time to enlist some help again, with the dough inside the plastic baggie young helpers can knead in the coloring without getting messy!
- Store in an airtight container
*Disclaimer: This dough should not be consumed by children or pets.