Gross Motor Activities
This outdoor math for kids can be done with beanbags, baseballs, water balloons… or Nerf guns like we used. My mantra is to use what they love to make them love learning and that is what we did. Nerf guns are big news at our house right now because I just relented and let my kids have them. Using the darts are an outside only activity although they are loved less for their shooting ability and more for a pretend play prop. Either way they are the bright shiny new and novel item at our house so I used them to make learning fun after school. My goal with all the activities in the Learning After School series is to make the activities for school age kids that are educational without making them feel like homework. Here is what we did with this math for kids activity and yes they LOVED it!
Gather your materials. You will need some plastic cups, a permanent marker, something to use to write down the tally, a nerf blaster , and eye protection. If you don’t want to use a Nerf gun you could use a bean bag or ball.
This activity was made for my 6 year old not my 3 year old but so when she shot them down I had her simply identify the numbers on the cups. I am planning on doing this again with her using a bean bag instead of a Nerf gun and the goal of hitting specific cups down. I will post it when I do.
Set the cups back up and go again. Add the tally up. I did the addition for my daughter but got her to write some. My son did his own writing. It’s not a ton of practice but it’s a little something in the midst of a fun activity so I will take it!
Like I said this was designed for my almost 7 year old not my 3 year old. She did well with it and had fun but I would never use this activity with a group of 3 year olds – nerf guns while safe to play with still hurt if you get one in the eye or at close range which is why they had safety glasses on. You know best what your kids are ready for but I just wanted to be clear that this is meant for our big kids !
It’s been beautiful here and I wanted to get outside for a little learning. This gross motor sight word game is fun and was a cinch to adapt to very different ability levels. My son worked on sight words and my daughter on letter recognition. When we played this the first time my kids were not very into it. It was almost dinner, we’d been busy all week , and it was just bad timing. A few days later we played again and it was a huge hit! Smiles, words being yelled out , letters flying into the pretend recycle bin… so I thought my reminder to myself would be a good reminder for you too. Timing is everything and don’t give up if an activity flops. Give it one more try before giving it the ax.
- Gather your materials. You will need some ping pong balls, a container, sharpies ,and some painter’s tape if you want to turn your container into a recycle bin like we did.
- Start by writing out sight words and/or letters for your child on the ping pong balls. A quick google search will provide leveled sight word lists for your child.
- Add the recycle sign on your container.
- We went outside and I pretended to be a litter bug throwing recycling ( the ping pong balls) all over our yard. I really spread them out. The rule was that they had to call out the word/letter before running it back to the bin to clean up the yard.
- Off they went! They played well but the next time we played it was all giggles and rushing – you can tell in this picture that my son was tired . He hoarded as many balls as he could then ran up to the bin read them all to me and ran back to get another handful. The next time he’d find one, run it over and run to the next. My daughter was overwhelmed with how spread out I made it. The 2nd time we played I kept them in a much smaller space which made a huge difference for her.
Books About Recycling For Kids
The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling by Alison Inches is awesome! The book takes the reader through the complete process from crude oil, to bottle and then to synthetic fleece. I am not too proud to admit I learned s a few new things and had a few good laughs along the way with the books little bits of humor too. I think most 5 year olds would enjoy this book, and it’s easy to break it down for those unable to sit for this much text.
Little Pirate: Why Do We Recycle? by Innovative Kids is a really fun book about recycling with a pirate theme. Yes a pirate theme. Readers learn about recycling, composting and garbage along with two young pirates who need to clean up their ship. The pirates ask questions about different waste and the wise parrot fills them into the facts like the best bag to use while shopping is a cloth one, and what happens to the metal, glass and paper after we put them in the recycle bin.
Gabby and Grandma Go Green by Monica Wellington is another wonderful book from one of our favorite authors. In the book Gabby and her Grandma spend a day together dedicated to going green. First making a great reusable bag and then using it all around town. I love that they go to the library and that is portrayed as a way to go green as well as a place to learn more about environmental efforts. Also showing ways to make a difference at the grocery store is perfect for young kids who are often tagging a long with parents on these errands. I can’t end the review without also mentioning the baby sibling who is sleeping in a sling at the end of the book , I love seeing baby wearing in books! This is a great environment themed book that works all year round not just for Earth Day.This post contains affiliate links.
Rainy days at our house always start with happy play but by early afternoon my kids have used up their patience with each other and mine isn’t far behind. This puzzle hunt took 2 minutes to set up and they played 3 times. More importantly the bad attitudes we were all developing were stopped in their tracks. It’s the perfect easy rainy day activity for kids. It’s also a great way to use puzzles. We used wooden puzzles but if you have older kids it would be fun to try a jigsaw puzzle instead. Another thing I love about puzzle hunts is you know if you forgot to find a piece because the puzzle won’t be complete.
- Gather your materials. You will need some puzzles . <— pretty easy right?
- Pop all the pieces our and start hiding them. I send my kids up to the playroom while I hid them. Hide some in tricky places and some in plain sight if you have younger kids.
- Time to search. They started out trying to beat each other and I reminded them that they are working as a team to beat me. If they find all the pieces then they win , if not I win. That did the trick and they were a team from then on.
- They took breaks every now and then to count how many we had already found and how many were still missing.
- Complete! If anything makes a parent burst with happiness it’s an unprompted hug between siblings that isn’t part of an apology.
Other ways to play include having your kids hide the pieces and you find them , take it outside ( you may want to pop the pieces in a Ziploc or 5 ) , and include words on each to create a secret message .
On long summer days especially if you are stuck inside for whatever reason simple play like this goes so far in improving moods, recharging a bad day and getting kids to work together. For more rainy day ideas ( and sunny day ones too ) check out our Pinterest boards !
Today is Flag Day and instead of sitting inside and crafting stars and stripes we are running and searching all over our yard for them. This Flag Day activity for kids is as simple as it gets but fits perfectly with the special day. After playing we talked about the flag, it’s evolution and what flags are for. I plan on repeating this many times leading up to 4th of July as well.
- Gather your materials. You will need a container and some flags. We got everything at the dollar spot at Target and as far as I know it’s all still there! We have 8 flags and a tin bucket.
- Hide the flags around your yard. I just pushed mine right into the ground.
- Gather your search party. I explained it was not a race that they are working together against the clock. This turns my super competitive 6 year old into a supportive team player and gives my daughter a chance to participate at a more equal level.
- Go! I used my phone to time although really they didn’t care about the time they just liked the hunt.
- I spaced the flags out a lot. I wanted them to run as much as possible .
- As they returned the flags to the bucket I had them count and my son figure out how many more we needed to find. See what I did there? Throwing in a little bit of math.
- All in all it took three minutes and 43 seconds to find all 8 flags. Clearly I need to hide them better …. or give fewer hints.
If an inside activity is really what you are after check out these Patriotic Crafts.
My son’s all time favorite activity we’ve ever done was our Angry Birds Water Balloon Game. Warm weather and a half day of school made yesterday the perfect day to get drenched in the front yard and do a little Learning After School. We did this with math but it would be as simple to make letters , shapes or sight words as targets. Here is what we did .
- Gather your materials. You will need some water balloons, a sharpie, some number targets , page protectors, bean bags, and hula hoops. You will also want a laundry type basket to carry the filled balloons.
- Start by making the targets. I chose the numbers 7, 9 ,10 ,and 15. All the equations will equal one of these numbers. I used picmonkey.com to make simple images. Printed them out one per page and slid them into page protectors.
- Fill your balloons . Carefully write equations that equal the numbers on the targets such as 3+4 or 15-5 . For younger children you could simply write numbers on the balloons and have them match them with the targets.
- Set up your targets. I added bean bags inside the page protectors to weight them down.
- Get ready.
- Go! Read the equations, find the answer on one of the targets and throw!
- They loved this. My son would read his sister’s equations and tell her where to throw it. I was seriously amazed at how accurate he was. I should have remembered that later when we filled up more to throw at each other. It was kids against Mom and the kids won.
- After the game – play more! We ended up using all the extra balloons and running through the sprinkler before retreating to the house.
Learning After School is our series of simple learning activities for families to do together after school. They are meant to be bite size and engaging . They aren’t meant to replace homework just add a little more learning without making your child feel like they doing any extra work.