Tag Archives: outdoor activities

Field Day

P1180080Yesterday, our co-op had a field day for the elementary students. It took a lot of planning and a lot of organizing, but it was a lot of fun. It was a great way to conclude the school year for the younger children.

Even if you’re not part of a co-op, you can organize a field day with other homeschooling friends. Here are some ideas to get you started.

First, find a good location for your field day events. You might go to a public park with a field, or inquire at a church in your area for permission to use their land. We’ve had them at both places, and everything has gone well.

Next, plan your field day events. The events the children participated in yesterday included:

  • Three-legged race
  • Wheel barrow race
  • Sack races
  • Tug-of-war
  • 50-meter dash
  • Softball throw
  • Bean bag toss
  • Egg-on-a-spoon race
  • Bowling (using plastic soda bottles)
  • Water balloon toss
  • Wet sponge over-and-under relay

You don’t have to do all of these activities, however. Along with the other moms in your group, see what other events you can come up with. You might want to try:

  • Frisbee throw
  • Jump roping
  • Relay races/passing a baton
  • Ping pong blow
  • Soccer ball dribble
  • Football throw
  • Hoola Hoop Marathon
  • Basketball free throw
  • Egg toss
  • Miniature golf

In preparation for the games, set up a “station” where each game will be played. Be sure all necessary equipment is at the station.

Next, divide the children into groups based on ages and/or height. You might also want to separate the groups by gender as well.

If you haven’t done so already, enlist the help of the other parents. Have a parent supervise each station and make sure all the students are playing according to the rules. Provide each parent with a clipboard, pencil, and paper, so they can write down the names of the children who come in first, second, and third place.

At the end of the games, you can reward the children in several ways. You might assign point values to first, second, and third, then give those with the highest points on each team a special prize. Prizes can include toys, candy, gum, restaurant coupons — whatever you think they would like. Or, you might give out ribbons to those who placed. Either way, it’s also good to have a small prize or ribbon for everyone who participated.

However you organize it, field day is a good day to teach about friendship, sportsmanship, and fun!

Craft: Outside My Window

window

We did this craft to go along with the picture book by Patricia Polacco entitled Mrs. Katz and Tush. In one of the illustrations, the artist included a view of the buildings outside of Mrs. Katz’s window. For our project, then, the children drew pictures of what they might see from a window of their own house.

You’ll need:

  • Rectangular piece of cardboard, cut out like a picture frame
  • Brown watercolors
  • Paint Brush
  • Container with Water
  • Paper towel
  • Heavy piece of paper, such as construction paper, cardstock, or watercolor paper
  • Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
  • Masking tape
  • Hot glue and a glue gun
  • Two small pieces of fabric, about 3″ wide and as long as the width of your cardboard. We used patterned pieces, as Polacco includes a lot of patterns in her illustrations in this book. I purchased multiple pieces from the fabric store so the children could choose which pattern they liked best. By purchasing only 1/4 of a yard of fabric that was on sale, I spent 25 cents – 30 cents for each piece.
  • Two small pieces of yarn, long enough to tie into a knot

1. To begin, have your child paint the cardboard with some brown watercolors — either darker or lighter or a variety of brown shades. This will be the frame for the window. They can wipe off any excess water that may be on the cardboard with the paper towel.

2. While the cardboard is drying, give your student the sheet of paper. Have them draw something they might see out a window. He might draw a cityscape with buildings and roads, other houses in the neighborhood, trees and flowers in the backyard, or even the moon and stars at night. Give him time to color in his drawing with makers or crayons.

3. Next, tape his drawing to the back of the cardboard so that his drawing can be seen through the opening.

4. To make it look even more like a window, add some curtains. With your hot glue gun, glue a piece of fabric to each side of the window. For our project, we glued the top of the curtain to the top of the back side of the cardboard, then flipped the curtain over to the front of the cardboard.

5. Finally, tie back the curtains with the yarn.

What’s outside your window?

Snow Days

snowLiving in the upstate of South Carolina, our snow days are rather limited; we usually have a couple of ice storms and maybe one good snow (actually, about 2-4 inches) a year. This past weekend, we had both, as Friday brought the snow and Friday evening brought in the sleet and ice. Our wintery mix hung around until Monday, when it finally began to melt.

With the public schools closed on Monday and still a little snow on the ground, we (of course) had to declare Monday a “Snow Day.” But it wasn’t without its educational value. They didn’t realize it, but as the children were enjoying the snow, they were learning, too.

John, my 13-year-old, was quick to snatch up the camera and head outdoors. He took pictures of everyone and everything, experimenting with the settings on the camera, the lighting, and the subject matter. He kept working at improving his photos with each shot.

Cassie, Lillie, and Luke played in the field a long time, creating “roads” and “houses” in the snow. They figured out a way to surf down a small hill on their sled. We looked for animal tracks in the woods and found deer and coyote prints. We made snow cream by following a recipe we found on the Internet, mixing fresh snow with vanilla, sugar, and milk. And we drank a lot of cocoa.

Even during an “off” day, even during a day of play, it’s good to know that learning was going on, creative minds were thinking, and relationships were growing. Now the snow is just about gone and life is again returning to normal. Or as normal as it can be for now. We’re expecting another winter storm this weekend. 🙂

Outside Time

3476198340_db42244b50This week we’ve been spending time with family in Florida. Besides an occasional storm that comes up in the late afternoon, the days have been hot and sunny. With twelve children ages 1 to 15 looking around for things to do, we’ve had to designate the morning hours, which are generally a little cooler, as “outside time.” 

And it’s been a bit of a struggle. Usually, everyone is cooperative for the first thirty minutes or so; after that, they begin to whine and complain and ask to go inside. We’ve brought out scooters, rip sticks, bikes, bubbles, chalk, a hose, and a little wading pool, and still they’re asking to come in. They want to sit inside and watch T.V. and play on the computer. Granted, it’s more comfortable with the air conditioning, but they can come in during the afternoon to take a break and do those things. 

Should we keep enforcing Outside Time? I think so. Besides the fact that it’s a lot of kids with a lot of energy to have running around in only a couple of rooms in the house, it’s important that they learn how to entertain themselves with other things. Even if the outdoor toys are limited, and all that’s available to play with is a few sticks, some dirt, and a rock, chidren need to know how to use their imaginations and make up their own games. 

Often we think of creativity only in terms of the fine arts, but creativity is important in play as well. In fact, that’s where our creative processes begin, and sadly for many children, that’s where it ends as well, as their free time is consumed by television and video games. I’m determined, though, not to allow that to happen to my children. They’ll be glad to know (or maybe they won’t) that once we get home again, I’m instituting a daily “outside time.” I want those creative juices to flow!