Shoot & Splash – Outside Activity For Kids

summer outside activity I was that mom who had NO plans to allow my children to ever play with toy guns. I’d been a teacher and it was easy to say ” No guns at school.” It’s harder to say it at home, not because I don’t have resolve, but it was clear that when I said ” No guns are bad.” he was hearing ” No, and you should be ashamed for asking.”  Pretend play isn’t real. I Lay down ground rules and stick to them. For my family, that means only shooting outside.

One of the things I like to do with my kids and their Nerf blasters is target practice, it is a great outside activity. Not so they are more accurate when we have battles in the backyard but because it’s a wonderful exercise in concentration.

I provided my son with the materials and he set up the activity. Here is what he did, and how you can do it too.

Gather your materials. You will need some lightweight plastic containers, some pylons ( little traffic cones), some water, and a loaded Nerf type blaster.nerf gun target practice

Pour the water into the plastic containers.nerf target practice summer activity

Balance them on the cones. This took concentration too! target practice in the backyard

Step back and take aim! I loved how carefully he was aiming and the adjustments he made when he missed.nerf gun water activity for kids

Shoot the water off and watch it splash!water activities for kids

After all the targets are hit, refill and take aim.

Learning Outside with The Garden Classroom by Cathy James { interview & book sneak peek }

The Garden Classroom by Cathy  James

This post contains affiliate links.

There are a lot of educational activity books out there and being a part of the kids education and activity community I am lucky to know many of the authors. I am so proud of Cathy James whom you may already know from her blog Nurture Store. We have been friends and colleagues for years and when she asked me if I would share her book with my readers I didn’t hesitate to say of course! Cathy is a homeschooling mom and one of the areas of her blog I have long admired are all her outdoor ideas for learning, it was no surprise to me when I found out that was the subject of her new book The Garden Classroom: Hands-On Activities in Math, Science, Literacy, and Art .

Cathy agreed to sit down and share some of her wisdom about teaching and inspiring learning about the outdoors with us today. We also have a sneak peek at the book down below. It’s gorgeous!

 

A lot of parents talk about having a hard time getting their kids outside to play. Do you have any tips for parents who are struggling to get their children to go outside and explore?

With any activity, I’d always start with the child themselves, and look at what they’re interested, and then involve them in finding a way to bring that interest outdoors. Favourite toys can come outside with you, and you can set up interesting play areas, such as dinosaur worlds, fairy garden, and dens, to have lots of fun outside. The pride and joy you get from picking and eating your own homegrown food is so satisfying, so having a go at growing some of your own food can be a great enticement to head outside.

 In The Garden Classroom, you cover all different subject matters but which area of learning is your favorite to tackle in your garden?

I love doing math outside. It’s not a subject either of my girls naturally gravitates towards, and both of them have found standard ‘classroom’ style math a challenge. But when we head outdoors, it’s so different, and it’s a joy to seem them smiling while they learn. The garden offers great opportunities to do practical math skills, like constructing bean frames, or dividing seeds between the number pots you have. And we also enjoy heading outdoors for structured lessons, using leaves and pebbles to work on math facts for example, and just generally being out of the traditional classroom and in the fresh air makes my learners happy.

I live in Western Washington, USA which is known for gray drizzle much like England is. Do you have any tips for dealing with the wet, cold, and dreary days in the garden? What about snow?

It’s so beneficial to keep going outdoors in less than perfect weather. As you say, we have a lot of grey days here, and if we let that stop us playing outside, we’d spend way too much time stuck indoors. Suitable clothing makes such a difference. We make sure everyone – perhaps especially me! – is wrapped up warm, and we often bring along a warm drink and a nice treat like a cookie to refuel and keep spirits up! And you can really embrace the weather – jump in puddles when you get them, try painting outdoors when it’s raining to see the effects it creates, use spray bottles filled with paint to create snow art. The story stones activity in the book is perfect to do around a warming campfire.

For beginner gardeners eager to just grow something which type of seed packet do you suggest they grab? Any foolproof options to avoid disappointed kids?

Something reliable, that germinates easily and grows quickly is a great place to start: radish, cut-and-come-again lettuce, nasturtiums. There are some really fun egg heads and tin can hair salon activities in the book which are perfect first projects, using grass or garden cress seeds. Sunflowers are my favourite though, as they amaze children with their height and grow almost before your eyes, so the children have something new to notice each day.

How can readers living in apartments or other dwellings without a garden use or learn from your book?

You can still have a really rich connection to nature even without your own garden. I live in a city and our space is tiny, so I’ve made sure to include lots of projects in the book for those of us with little or no outdoor space. You’ll find the ideas like the egg heads and the indoor meadow work just as well in an apartment. There are lots of math, science and literacy ideas which make use of natural materials: they’ll give your children that hands-on learning and connection to the outdoors, even if you’ve had to borrow materials from the park – or even relocate your learning to the park itself. Everyone can grow something, and by doing so you’re offering your children such a rich opportunity to benefit from a connection to nature.

 

Ready for the sneak peek? 

 

Get your copy here —>The Garden Classroom: Hands-On Activities in Math, Science, Literacy, and Art

Water Table Activity – Make A Mess and Explore!

sensory play outside As parents and teachers we often create activities with something specific in mind, then when we add our little ones the activity takes a turn. That is the moment when we can encourage or lose our cool and stop everything and fight against our little charges and get the activity “back on track”. There will be days when the best choice IS to redirect the children and stick to the plan but many more where we can trust our children and follow their learning and exploration.

My plan was to have a desert and swamp water table activity her plan was to explore what happens when things get wet. We went with her plan, I’ll still share mine in case it’s useful for you. water table outside fun

Gather your materials. You will need some sand, rocks, and desert animal figurines for the desert side of the table. For the swamp side you will need water, pebbles, grass clippings, frogs and other swamp animal figurines.

sand in water table

Pour your sand into one side.

water table swampAnd your water in the other. Add all the extras.

 

I envisioned exploring the differences and for a few minutes she did. water table swamp small worldWe talked about the frog life cycle and made snake prints in the sand… and then went off-book and the real fun started. desert snake prints

The kinetic sand went into the water, and out, and in. sand with water in water table

Flowers were added. water table activity for kids

More water!

water table mess

She stirred the water and let it settle, found the animals and hid then under the water again… and kept exploring.

messy water play in water table

Parenting and teaching is a balance of choosing your battles, but it’s only a battle if we choose to look at it that way. If we choose to think about how they are exploring, how they are learning about their world through their senses and following their own curiosity we can battle bigger issues than sticking to the plan all the time.

 

Homemade Bubble Solution and Whisk Bubble Wands

homemade bubble solutionThis was a completely kid directed activity. While I was finishing up a conference call my daughter was digging through the kitchen drawers and found her whisks. These were bought for her to play with and as I hung up she showed me that she had opened them up to make flowers. Immediately I said to her ” do you know what I think we could use those for?”

“Bubbles!” was her response and I was giddy to see that we were on the same page. I dug through my pantry to see if we had any corn syrup to make the bubble solution I used to make in day camps 400 years ago. It was hiding behind the cookies that I had hidden behind the pasta.

Here is my NOT AT ALL precise recipe for homemade bubble solution.

homemade bubble solution using stuff you have in your kitchen

1 tablespoon of corn syrup
1/4 cup of dish soap
fill the rest of the measuring up ( 2 cups) with warm water and stir.

homemade bubble potion

I made the first batch myself but she helped with the second.

whisk bubbles

She LOVED this. The bubbles weren’t great to blow out of the whisks but if you dipped them in and then waved your arms and they made huge big bubbles.bubbles collage

She practiced and sometimes they were little , but sometimes they were huge. What I adored about this incredibly simple activity is that she was attacking it like an experiment ( with zero input from me to suggest she should) and tried to recreate the big bubbles by following what worked and avoiding the actions that resulted in the little bubbles. big bubbles

Outdoor Math Activities For Kids

math outside Make learning memorable with these hands on outdoor math activities. Math doesn’t have to be all flash cards and worksheets. It can include games, gross motor, and some novelty like water balloons and Nerf guns. These 9 math ideas have been tested by my kids who adore math but even children who are not so keen on math ( me as a kid!) will find something they can enjoy in this list too.

water balloon math activity for kids 3

Water Balloon Math Game

cheese ball math for kids

Cheeseball Math

number line math activity for children

Sidewalk Chalk Number Line

nerf gun math gross motor activity

Shoot & Count Nerf Gun Math Game

math outside for kids

Numbers In Nature

rp_hose-it-down-455x404.jpg

Hose Down Shapes

Find and Count Bug Hunt

Find & Count Bug Hunt

math games for kids shell game for 3 year olds

Shell Number Memory Game

marshmallow shoot

Marshmallow Shoot & Measure

 

 

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