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Fun Facts Friday

Elementary and Middle School Mayhem:

Top 5 Secretly Educational

Summertime Activities

Welcome to our Elementary and Middle School Mayhem series. During the month of May, we will be featuring information to support children in Elementary and Middle School.

Stay tuned for helpful tips and tricks every Friday!

Top 5 Secretly Educational Summertime Activities

1) Blindfolded Slam-Dunk Obstacle Course


A child will shoot for a “slam dunk” after avoiding obstacles in his or her path. Oh right, and he or she is blindfolded! A parent or older child will provide simple directions to avoid obstacles in the way. If the child bumps into any of the obstacles, he or she will have to start all over! However, once the child successfully gets around the obstacles, he or she can take off the blindfold and make a slam dunk!

What you’ll need:

* Obstacles: (chairs, large toys, hula hoop, large blow up bouncy ball, etc.)

* Basketball

* Basketball net or other type of “basket”

* Blindfold

How to Play:

Set up: Place a basketball hoop at the far end of a medium-sized, flat, grassy area. Scatter obstacles around with enough space to walk between them.

1) Explain the directions in clear simple language. You could say, “Follow

the directions to avoid stepping on an obstacle in your path. No peeking!

Once you reach the end, you can shoot for a slam dunk. If you step on an

obstacle, you have to start from the beginning again, so listen very


2) Start the first child at the beginning of the obstacle course and hand him or

her the basketball and blindfold.

3) Repeat the directions of the game, if needed. Provide simple, direct

instructions to help the child avoid the obstacles in his or her path. Try to

limit the directions to 1-2 steps at a time. (ex: "Hop to the right," or "Take a

giant step to the left.")

4) When the child reaches the end, they can take off the blindfold and make a

slam dunk!

** Use caution during this game and make sure you direct your child far enough away from an object so they won’t fall and get hurt. Also consider the size of the obstacles; if they are too small or pointy, a child could trip over it and get hurt.

Why it works:

Following directions and listening skills can take a back seat during summer activities like swimming and playing at the playground. This structured game targets team building, trust, and auditory skills and is a ton of fun! If you child provides the directions, this game could help work on organization of language, providing directions, and strategizing.

2) I Spy with a Category Twist

How to play:

Take turns describing an item in your environment. To make this more language focused, choose items that belong in a specific category (e.g.: things that are green, vehicles, toys, etc.) or choose items that all belong with a certain letter.

Why it works:

Turn-taking, description, categories, listening skills… the list goes on and on! This is an amazing language game!

3) Sidewalk Chalk

What you’ll need:

* Chalk

* Flat surface such as pavement or concrete

How to use it:

An effective activity is practicing sight words. Your child's teacher may have provided a list of sight words. By writing them in chalk on the sidewalk or pavement, you can practice reading words together. You could also write the words in a hopskotch board and play hopskotch by saying the words as you hop on them.

A bit more creative and exciting activity is drawing characters and pictures. You can make up stories together about the pictures or just describe them. Either way, you’re working on language skills! Additionally, you can start a story off and have your child finish it or take turns adding to the story. You can use target words such as “first,” “next” and “last” to structure the story a bit more. See what adventures you can discover by unleashing your imagination!

Lastly, if you draw a picture together, you can work on “wh” questions. For instance, “What should I draw?” and “Where should I draw it?”

Why it works:

Drawing with sidewalk chalk always a great way to spend time outdoors. You and your child can practice writing letters and words, or even drawing pictures together. We can encourage language by asking children to describe what they are drawing. To make it more interactive and a joint activity, you can each make your own silly character and make up a story together about your drawings!

4) Cloud Stories

What you’ll need:

* A nice, warm, relaxed day

* Grass or a place to lie down

* Sunscreen

How you do it:

Fair warning, this may be really challenging for children who have a lot of energy. Lie down with your child and have them look up at the clouds. Make up stories about the shapes you see or just encourage your child to describe the shapes more specifically. For instance, if your child says, "That cloud looks like a dog," ask your child what the dog is doing.

Why it works:

As you describe the cloud formations that you see, your child is practicing listening skills, which are crucial for success in school. As you ask questions, your child is practicing how to respond to wh-questions ("who," "what," "when," "where,"). Additionally, if you make up stories about what you see, you can practice formulating ideas, syntax, sequencing a story, and the list continues. This is a great activity for children who have wild imaginations!

5) Hot Potato Language Edition

What you’ll need:

* Ball

* Timer (iPhones have a timer function if you click the “clock” icon)

How to play:

Toss the ball from person to person. For a language twist, before you toss the ball, name an item that belongs in a specific category, for instance, fruits, tools, containers, etc. Before the timer stops, make sure you get rid of the ball or you’re out! You’re also out if you repeat an item that’s already been said, or if you can’t think of another categorically related item.

Why it works:

Categories help children organize words and items into a structure, or schema, and form semantic relationships among words. When children have an organization structure for new words, it’s easier for them to recall, retrieve, and understand them.

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