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.

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.

 

Ice and Water Activities For Kids

water activities for kidsIt’s hot here ( for us that means it’s in the low 80s) and  all I want to do when it gets warm is cool off with some fun ice and water activities. I don’t have to convince my kids that these are going to be fun, they are in their bathing suits as soon as I have suggested it! Here are some of our favorite ice and water activities for kids that we have fun with every summer. I should also say that most of these ideas do not use a huge amount of water for those wanting to be mindful of waste.

water activities for preschool

Angry Birds Inspired Water Balloon Game
DIY Water Table
Arctic Ice Sensory Bin
Color Mixing
daycare water senosry activities
Mud Soup
Water Balloon Math
Ocean in a Tub
Ice Sculptures from NurtureStore
playing wint water inside and out for kids
Sidewalk Chalk Read & Spray
Cooking in The Sink
Painting With Water
Bubble Bin
water learning activities

Ice Fishing & Color Mixing
Hose Down Letters
Backyard Car Wash

Bubble Bin Sensory Play

bubble bin sensory playWhen my daughter and I found these pink and purple whisks at the store today we knew they would be leaving with us but we weren’t sure yet what we were going to use them for. A few aisles later we were sure whatever we did do it would involve bubbles. Whisking bubbles is a classic Montessori activity although we have spun it a little with the bubbles at the start and whisking in color. We also added glitter and the whisks were princess whisks but that was just our interpretation of it. My daughter had a blast as you will see…

 

Gather your materials. You will need a bin that holds water, some dish soap ( I have done this with baby shampoo with my son who had extremely sensitive skin as a tot), some food color, whisks, glitter( optional) and some fun cups for the glitter and later for scooping and pouring. princess bubble bin supplies

Start by filling your bin with water and add in the soap. princess bubble bin bubble maker

Explore. bubble bin soap frothing

Add some food color and mix! princess pink bubble bin sensory soap playShe loved how the bubbles would froth. bubble bin over

Time for some glitter. princess bubble bin glitterFirst pour it in the cup then add it in and mix some more.princess bubble bin glitter water play

I must have taken 100 pictures sitting back and watching her play. bubble bin

After a long while she ditched the whisks and put as much of her body into the bin as she could fit. bubble play whisking bubblesThank goodness she was wearing her favorite new pink shoes, I think they were the only barrier stopping her from getting in the bin completely. bubble bin whisking bubbles

 

 

Cooking in the Sink – Sensory Pretend Play

water table ideas for preschool Even though I wish all summer could be spent outside rainy days or too hot days means more time inside and for antsy toddlers that can be hard. This activity occupied my 2 year old for a good 40 minutes and she had fun too. Below are a few tips on how to make play like this last longer without sparing the fun.

  1. Gather your materials. We grabbed an apron, a pot, some corks, spoons and a ladle . We also used dish soap half way through.
  2. Start by filling the sink and asking your child if they want to cook.
  3. Let them play.
  4. Without prompting she threw some corks in and then scooped them out and into the pot. Can you say hand eye coordination development ?
  5. She mixed and splashed . When she was tiring of it I asked if she wanted to look at all the different tools for cooking. She loved the whisk.
  6. Next I asked if she wanted bubbles…of course that was a yes too .water play for kids
  7. The whisk was extra fun in the bubbles. She even caught a cork.
  8. For us the sign that she was done was that these big waves turned into let’s make Mama wet even after reminders that the water stays in the sink. You will find your child’s own end signs where gentle redirection fails and every day will be different, some days this will last a long time others it just won’t. It’s not you or your child it’s just the way it is, if it fails try again another day. 

Throughout the pretend play I followed her lead. She told me it was cheese soup and I asked her questions about her cheese soup, about cooking etc… I know that pretending doesn’t come naturally to all parents but try to at least ask a few questions and indulge their imaginations. It’s OK to feel silly sometimes even if it doesn’t come naturally.