Flying a kite isn't only fun, it's very beneficial!

5 Interesting Ways Your Child Benefits from Flying a Kite

Have you flown a kite with your child yet this spring? My kids got kites for Easter from my mom, and we’ve spent a couple of lazy afternoons trying to keep them in the air.

Flying a kite isn’t only fun, it’s also beneficial. In addition to the obvious gross motor skills, your child is working on several key areas. But before we dive into those benefits, let’s talk about what you’ll need for a successful kite flying adventure.

Before Setting Out to Fly a Kite

Of course you’ll need a kite! The cheap ones from Walmart work just fine. But, if you have younger kids, be sure to get the diamond shaped kites.

Those are way more aerodynamic than the round ones, so your child will have an easier time flying.

You’ll also need a safe place. We head up to our upper field, because there aren’t any power lines or kite eating trees :D.

Make sure it’s a windy day. We wait until our flag is flying fairly horizontally before heading out.

Water is also essential, especially if it’s a warm day. Bring a couple of bottles along so you all stay hydrated.

Once you’re at your ideal location, help your kids get their kites up. My littles enjoy just running while holding onto the string, while my middles and big actually do quite well at getting the kites in the air. While they’re flying, your kids will be learning the following skills:

1. Understanding of Aerodynamics

Different shaped kites react differently to the wind. If you have a couple of different shapes, let your kids experiment with them and describe the experience with each.

Regardless of kite shape, your child will be feeling the wind interact with the kite and the string. As they move, the kite moves. The more they fly, the better handle they’ll get on how to play the kite in the wind to keep it up.

If your child likes to run to launch the kite, she’ll also be learning about wind direction and speed–both important to aerodynamics.

2. Problem Solving

Kite flying doesn’t always go as planned! Sometimes the kites take a nosedive, the string tangles, or a little sibling comes over and pulls on the string.

When these problems occur, children must stop and assess the situation. Sometimes they need to ask for help. Other times, they can solve the problem themselves.

Problem solving is one of those soft skills that’s so important in life!

3. Concentration

With all the digital stimuli in the world today, kite flying offers a chance for children to concentrate on something real. There are no screens. Its just you, the kites, and the big blue sky.

Concentrating on keeping it flying will help your child extend his attention span. You can slowly increase the amount of time you’re out.

4. Self-Confidence

When my three-year-old got his in the air for the first time, he was thrilled! He quickly learned that he could do it, and didn’t want any help after that.

As your children fly a kite, they’re gaining confidence in their own abilities. It’s an amazing feeling to be in control of something way up in the air. And you feel like soaring right along with it!

5. Attention to Detail

When the kites get high in the air, tracking them takes more attention. As the wind switches direction, your child will have to make adjustments to keep it up.

While winding in the string, your child will have to watch to make sure no weeds snag the kite and make a hole in it.

All of these tasks require attention to detail and observation skills.

Let’s Go Fly Some Kites

Pick a day this spring, and go fly kites with your kids. You’ll all benefit from the exercise and fresh air, and you’ll also benefit in the five ways described above.

Next on our to-do list?

Making our own kites. I’m looking forward to it!

Do you and your family enjoy flying kites? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.

 

Communication skills are essential! Here are five unusual car games that focus on communication.

4 Unusual and Easy Car Games that Focus on Communication Skills

Communication skills are essential in life. You’ve got to be able to talk clearly, confidently, and concisely. While teaching these skills to your kids might seem boring, it doesn’t have to be. Here are five car games that’ll help.

They’re a bit unusual, but definitely fun!

1. Asking & Answering Questions

This game is super simple, but it focuses on an important communication skill: being able to ask and answer questions. Feel free to change up the questions based on your children’s age and ability.

How to Play:

First, one person asks a question. It can be about anything. Then, everyone else takes a turn answering.

Another player poses a question, starting the next round of the game.

Some of the Questions We’ve Used:

  1. Who is your favorite character in (name a TV show)?
  2. If you could be an animal, what kind would you be?
  3. What time do you think we’ll arrive at Grandma’s house?
  4. Did you see that cow? What would be a good name for it?
  5. If you could have a super power, which one would you pick?
  6. What’s your favorite book?
  7. If you could go into a TV show for one day, which show would you go into?
  8. Why do you think giraffes have long necks?
  9. What would you do if it started raining gumdrops?
  10. What supplies do you think you’ll need for school next year?

2. Radio Ads

This game is a creativity building, confidence boosting activity. It works best for upper elementary aged and older kids.

Radio ads are all based on auditory components. They don’t have the benefit of special visual effects to get someone to buy a product. All players will be creating a radio ad for a product they invent.

How to Play:

Give everyone 5-10 minutes to think of an invention they think the world needs.

When the think time is up, each person takes a turn offering an oral presentation about their invention. You’ll want to share:

  • What you’d call your invention
  • What your invention does
  • Why someone would want your invention

The goal is to make other people want your invention. Speak with confidence! Think of it like an elevator pitch for your invention.

3. What Movie Has …?

Being able to think quickly plays a huge role in communication skills. This game practices that skill in a kid friendly way. My kids and I enjoyed it for almost an hour on our last road trip!

How to Play:

One person is the host first. This person’s job is to ask the questions. Everyone else answers.

The host thinks of an object, and then asks, “What movie has a ____” filling in the blank with the name of the object.

Everyone else thinks quickly, and sees who can provide the name of a movie first.

Here’s some examples:

What movie has a spaceship? (Possible response: Star Trek)

What movie has a dog? (Possible response: Space Buddies)

As you can see, the answers can vary widely. Players might even come up with two or more movies for the same object.

If any player questions the answer, the person who gave the answer must describe the scene that had the object. This helps players practice defending their answer with factual information.

Keep going until you run out of ideas, or players lose interest.

4. The Tone Game

This is a fun car game for younger kids. The goal is to think about how your tone of voice impacts your message.

How to Play:

As the host, you’ll be in charge of giving directions. Ask your kids to say things in a certain way to share a message. It sounds complicated, but it’s not.

Here’s a look at a couple of directions you could give:

  • Pretend that you’re mad. Now say, “I don’t want to go.”
  • If you were scared, how would you sound if you said, “What was that?”
  • In a surprised voice, ask “When did you get here?”

After each response you can talk about the emotions displayed in the voice.

Then, you can switch it up a bit. This time, you’ll do the talking and it’s the kids’ turn to decide what emotion you’re feeling. So say something in a happy voice, and then ask the kids how they think you are feeling.

Next, use your serious voice and say something else. Continue the conversation about how your tone can show what you’re feeling.

Can you think of other car games that practice communication skills?

I’d love for you to share in the comments!

Want other fun car games to try?

ELA Car Games

Observation Building Car Games

Musical Car Games

Social Studies Car Games

Science Car Games

 

Have you ever turned your living room into a mock bowling alley for kids? It's easy, fun, and educational.

Benefits of Bowling in Your Living Room

Don’t worry, I’m not talking about actually turning your room into a bowling alley, or having your kids chuck heavy bowling balls towards your furniture. But, your kids can learn so much by setting up some cups and trying to knock them down with a ball.

How to Set Up a Pretend Bowling Lane

If you’re ready to give it a try, you’ll need to set up a bowling lane. Here’s what you need:

  • 10 plastic cups
  • 1 playground style ball (that has a bit of weight)

That’s it! Of course you can also get fancy and use masking tape to mark your lanes. But that’s definitely optional.

How to Bowl

Find a location in your living room that has some space. You may need to scoot some furniture aside. We just slide our coffee table over to one side of the room, leaving an empty path straight down the middle.

As one end of your space, set up your plastic cups bowling pin style:

Then, have your kids form a line at the other end. One at a time, they get the ball and bowl it down towards the cups. They get two chances to knock down as many cups as they can.

Now it’s time to reset the pins and let another person take a turn.

It keeps my kids busy for at least an hour! 😀

What Kids Learn in Your Homemade Bowling Alley

While they’re busy having a great time, your kids are learning and practicing many skills. Here’s a look at a few of them.

Math

Younger kids can practice counting to ten each time the pins are set. They’ll also practice seeing the pattern. Each row increases by 1.

So the first row has 1. The second 2. Then 3. And finally 4.

As the first ball knocks down pins, you get to practice subtraction too! How many pins are left? How many pins got knocked down?

Vocabulary

Pins. Bowling ball. Alley. Lane. Strike. Spare.

There are plenty of words associated with bowling. As your kids play, you can introduce new vocabulary words to them.

“Yay! You knocked down all the pins on your first ball. That’s a strike!”

(And if you have kids familiar with baseball, you can talk about how a baseball strike isn’t good but a bowling strike is good. Words can have more than one meaning!)

Taking Turns

It’s not always easy to take turn. Especially when there’s a ball involved. Kids get to practice this essential life skill when bowling in your living room.

Encouragement

Learning to offer encouraging words is important. Let your kids practice good sportsmanship and congratulate others on good turns, and share an encouraging word with someone who didn’t quite get it.

Physical Activity

Kids sit plenty today, especially when it’s muddy or cold outside. Having another active play game that’s perfect for indoor play will help get everyone up and moving. Here are some other active indoor ideas for you:

10 Variations of Hide and Seek

Active Indoor Games for Families

Sight Words Driving: An Active Reading Game

Have you ever bowled in your living room?

Did you kids love it as much as mine do? I’d love to hear about it!

Photo Credit: Daniel Alvarez Sanchez Diaz via Unsplash

Stacking rocks may be simple, but it's a powerful learning activity for kids. Here's how they benefit...

5 Ways Kids Benefit from Stacking Rocks

You don’t need fancy toys to engage your kids. They can play and learn with just about anything!

I walked to the waterfall with my husband and two of our kids recently. As my husband was taking pictures, my six-year-old was starting to grow restless. So I asked her to stack some rocks.

I figured she’d stack them once and then be done. But, she kept working on her creations. As she played, I realized there was some major learning going on!

Benefits of Stacking Rocks

Stacking rocks is simple. All you need are some rocks and a surface to stack them on. So head outside and let your kids gather up rocks. Then challenge them to stack them. They’ll be:

1. Learn about balance

You can’t just throw rocks on top of each other and expect them to stick. Rather, you must set them carefully, achieving balance.

As your child stacks, she’ll likely have to readjust, while learning:

  • Smaller rocks work best on top of bigger rocks
  • The flat side of angled rocks fits best on flat surfaces
  • Building is easier on a flat surface
  • You can increase balance by a change in placement

2. Improve observation skills

To figure out where each rock fits best, children must look at the rocks. As they look at the shape and size of each rock, they’re using the power of observation.

3. Connect with nature

Being outside benefits children in more ways than I can explain. Stacking rocks is an outside activity, and requires picking up rocks. It’s a very grounding experience!

Here’s my six-year-old with one of her rock stacks near the waterfall.

Ellie's stacking rocks!

4. Boost creativity

Stacking rocks might not seem all that enjoyable. But, when you sprinkle in a little creativity, it’s a game changer!

Your child can:

  • Try to build a house
  • Create the tallest tower of rocks possible
  • Use different surfaces as the starting point
  • Build a rock monster
  • Use two rocks at the bottom, like pillars, and build on top of that
  • Build blindfolded, relying on the sense of touch

Creative thinking is a soft skill that children will need in the future, so it’s important to inspire it now.

5. Build geology skills

Rocks are everywhere! What kind do you have in your area? You can talk to your child about some basic geology in your locale.

To let your child learn more, have her:

  • Sort the rocks before stacking
  • Look for patterns in rocks
  • Describe the color of each rock
  • Look for common speckles or other identifying features
  • Drop a rock and see if it fractures
  • Use one rock to scratch another to test hardness

In short, rock stacking is an easy, inexpensive way to build STEM skills!

Have you ever stacked rocks?

Rock stacking rocks! Give it a try if you haven’t! I’d love to hear about your experience, or see pictures of your stacks in the comments.

Photo credit: Deniz Altindas via Unsplash

Linking Up to the Hip Homeschool Hop!

Hip Homeschool Moms

 

Looking for an activity for quiet learning time? Try making felt board folders.

Felt Board Folders for Quiet Learning Time

I’m a huge fan of quiet learning time! Since I’m a freelance writer, we call this time Family Writing Time. Everyone works on something quietly, and I get some of my freelancing tasks crossed off.

It’s important for kids to learn to sit and play and learn quietly. I truly believe this time helps promote learning, creativity, and confidence.

Recently, we added a new activity to our Quiet Learning Time. They’ve been a big hit with the younger kids (my 6 year old on down to the 2 year old!)

Felt Board Folders

I had the kids help create our felt board folders. They meet all my criteria for our family writing time. They’re:

  • Designed for independence
  • Quiet
  • Allow for creativity
  • Encourage story telling or other additional engagment
  • Inexpensive to create
  • Easy to store
  • Fun for the kids

Ready to make your own felt board folders? You’ll need:

Materials:

  • A variety of felt (I picked up a couple packs at Wal-Mart for less than $3 each.)
  • A pocket folder for each
  • Scissors
  • Adhesive to attach a main piece of felt to the folder (I bought a pack of felt with adhesive backs…glue would probably work too!)

Procedure:

First, decide what type of felt folder you’d like to create. We made:

  • A dress-up girl
  • A snowman
  • A vegetable head

We have a few others in mind, but haven’t created those yet.

Next, cut out the base shape for your folder. In our case, we cut out a snowman, a large potato shape, and a girl.

You want these to be sized to fit nicely onto the inside of your pocket folder, and large enough for the kids to play with. Once cut, adhere onto the inside of a pocket folder.

Here’s a picture of one of my kids cutting out the snowman for her folder.

Felt folders are a fun activity for quiet learning time!

Now, cut out accessories. The sky is the limit! We had noses, scarves, skirts, bows, arms, and much more. Let the kids use their imagination and create whatever they’d like.

For my younger kids, I sized the felt for them first. I’d cut a small square out after they told me what they wanted to make, and then let them draw it and cut. That way the object fit pretty well.

Store everything in the pocket when you’re done.

Now your felt board folders are ready to store. I just keep them in with our school stuff, and the kids can pull them out when they’re ready to play.

To Play with Felt Board Folders

Have you child select a folder to play with. Then, have them pull out all the small pieces and set them out.

As they place the small pieces on the main shape, the felt will stick to itself. It’s a lot of fun!

Felt board folders are such a fun learning activity! Once you make them, your kids can pull them out and use them over and over again.

To Encourage Additional Play:

To encourage additional play and learning with felt board folders, challenge your child to:

  • Draw a picture of their favorite combination of pieces
  • Create a story about where their character is going
  • Meet up with another folder and mix and match pieces
  • Count the pieces
  • Make additional pieces from left over felt
  • Draw a background on a piece of paper that goes with the character

Have you ever made felt board folders? Give it a try if you haven’t–they’re easy, inexpensive, and fun!

Pin Photo Credit: Andrew Branch via Unsplash