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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.

 

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

 

Family walks don't need to be boring! Here are 21 different ways to make family walks more fun for everyone.

21 Simple Ways to Make Family Walks More Fun

Spring is in the air! Now that the snow and ice is off the road, the kids love taking family walks. We’ve walked down to the creek and back each day (about 2/5 of a mile round-trip).

The fresh air feels amazing! And it’s great to be outside after a long winter. The kids have tons of energy to burn off!

But, sometimes walks can get a bit boring. Especially if you’re doing the same walk each day since the rest of the road is still a bit icy. Or involves a hill too steep for everyone.

So here are some ways we’ve boosted the fun level of our family walks. They’re super simple, and as a bonus, many are educational as well! Talk about learning on the go! 😀

1. Sing

We love singing as we walk. The kids take turns picking songs. Silly songs are a big hit!

2. Change Up the Speed

Alternate walking and jogging. If you’re feeling especially energetic, throw in some sprints. See if everyone can jog to the next power pole, or sprint to the driveway.

Using visual clues instead of a stopwatch has been way more engaging for my kids!

3. Check for Signs of Spring

Every where we look, we can see subtle signs of spring coming. I ask the kids what they notice and here are some clues they’ve found:

  • Water running down the side of the road from snow melting
  • Birds chirping
  • The creek flooding
  • Snow levels shrinking
  • Buds on the trees
  • The grass greening
  • The warm feeling in the air
  • A flower coming up

4. Play Follow the Leader

This is a fun way to mix up your movement. Pick one person to be the leader first. They can skip, hop, twirl, or do another movement of their choice. Everyone else follows.

Change up the leader every so often. We use visual markers for this one too so there’s no arguing. (You can be the leader until we reach that flower bed, then it’s someone else’s turn.

5. Find the ABCs

Look up and down and all around and see if you can find things starting with each letter of the alphabet. You might notice:

  • An airplane flying overhead
  • A bubble from someone’s gum
  • A cloud
  • Deer running through the field

And lots more!

If you can’t find a letter, agree to skip it after a minute of looking. That way the game doesn’t slow down.

6. Rhyme Time

Let one person go first and say a word aloud. Everyone else says a word that rhymes. Then, let another person say the beginning word.

Bonus points for starting with a word of something you see!

7. I Spy!

I spy with my little eye, something green!

You’ve probably played this game before, and it’s so much fun to play while walking. Take turns and use your power of observation.

8. Question & Answer

One person asks a question, and everyone else answers. This is a great way to get to know each other a little better. Here are some fun questions:

  • Which RescueBot is your favorite? (Can be used with any favorite cartoon!)
  • If you could go anywhere for a week, where would you go?
  • What season is your favorite?
  • What’s your favorite breakfast food?
  • What are your favorite ice cream toppings?
  • If you could meet any book character, who would it be?
  • If you could go inside any book as a character, which book would you pick?

Just ask away–this game is perfect if you’re all walking at about the same speed.

9. Magnifying Glasses

If you aren’t in a hurry on your walk, bring along a couple of magnifying glasses. Kids learn so much looking at the world up close. Encourage them to check out plants, bugs, rocks, and anything else they see.

10. Copy Cat

Listen carefully, and pick a sound to copy. Then have everyone else guess what you sound like. This works with birds, vehicles, construction noise, and anything else that makes noise!

11. Turn Around

If you’re in a safe place where you don’t have to worry about traffic, turn around and walk backwards. It stretches a completely different set of muscles and is lots of fun!

Just remind your kids to look over their shoulders so they can make sure they aren’t going to run into anything.

12. Animal Walk

This is a fun one for younger kids. Call out an animal and have everyone walk like that animal. Here are some ideas:

  • Elephant
  • Kangaroo
  • Horse
  • Bird
  • Fish

13. Linked

Everyone grabs hands and then walk in a single-file line. The person in front is the leader and tries to make sure everyone avoids obstacles. Don’t break the chain!

14. Shape Spy

Shapes are everywhere. Challenge your kids to find as many as possible. You may notice a circle man-hole cover, a triangle-shaped tree, or a rectangular building.

15. Photo the Way

Bring along a digital camera or two (smartphones or tablets work great!). Have your kids take pictures along the way, taking turns if necessary.

When you get back home, be sure to check out the photos. I love seeing the world through my kids’ eyes, and this is an easy way to make it happen.

16. Make a Boat

My kids love this one, and I hope yours do as well, if you have any water you can walk to. Give everyone a plastic bag before you leave, and urge your kids to pick up a few natural items along the way.

When you get to the water, have everyone use their natural objects to make a boat. No fair using anything man-made–we don’t want to pollute the water!

Once everyone is ready, put your boats in the water and watch them float.

17. Read the Tracks

If you’re off-road (or on a dirt road like us!), look closely for tracks. Then try to figure out what they are. Look for:

  • Tire tracks from vehicles, bikes, or strollers
  • Footprints
  • Animal tracks

18. Cloud Watchers

Keep your eyes to the sky and see what shapes you can find in the clouds. Try to piece what you find into a story. Perhaps there’s a giant dragon sneaking up on a fish. Or a bear walking towards a tree.

Use your imagination!

19. Story Time

Work together to tell a story using what’s around you for inspiration. Everyone can take turns adding details and plot twists to your story. Wrap it up at a logical point, and then start over again!

20. Nature Observer

Look around as you’re out and pay close attention to the nature around you. Talk about different types of flowers, the differences between conifers and deciduous trees, and anything else you notice.

When you get home, you can have your kids draw a picture of something they enjoyed from nature.

21. Street Safety

As you walk, wherever you go, talk to your kids about street safety. Be sure to practice what you preach–head to the crosswalks instead of jay walking, wait for the green lights, and always watch for cars.

Even if you’re in a rural area without much traffic, teach your kids to walk on the side of the road instead of down the middle. Safety is important anywhere!

What other ideas can you add to make family walks more fun?

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

Photo credit: Noah Hinton via Unsplash

Increase the fun on your family walks with these 21 different activities. They're all simple!

Is your child reading sight words? Here's a fun game to play that'll make learning time active play time.

Sight Words Driving: An Active Reading Game

Being able to sound out words is essential. That’s why your child needs to have a basic understanding of phonics. But, you can’t sound out every word. So your child must also learn to read sight words.

Practicing with flashcards gets boring quickly. So do those readers that focus on sight words.

That doesn’t mean you should never use those teaching strategies. But, you need to also get your kids active as they learn.

Here’s a game that I first played with a second grade student I was tutoring. I’ve since played it with my early readers, and everyone loves it.

Being able to be active helps the brain remember the words. It’s similar to how you remember songs with motions really easily.

So get your early readers gathered, and give this game a try.

Sight Word Driving

You’ll need:

  • 10 Index Cards
  • A Sharpie
  • A wheeled vehicle (toy car, fire truck, ride on scooter, whatever)
  • A paper & pen

On each index card, write one of the sight words your child is learning. Here’s a link to a basic sight word list if you need ideas. They’re broken down by grade level so pick something that’s age appropriate for your child.

Write the words in large letters, so it’s easy to read from a distance.

But, don’t use all capital letters. Write the words in lower case since that’s how they’ll usually be printed.

As you write each word, make a list on your paper so you remember what’s on each card.

Have Your Child Leave the Room

Once your cards are prepped, have your child leave the room. Now, it’s time for you to spread the cards out around the floor.

Leave plenty of space between each one as you put them in a random order.

Bring Out the Vehicle

Call your child back in and hand him the toy car. Then, pick up your list of words.

Ask your child to drive the vehicle around the room and search for one of the words. Once he finds it, have him bring it back to you.

Then, send him off driving to look for another word.

Continue until all 10 words are found. Then, have your child read each word once more.

Easy to Switch

Since you’re using index cards, it’s simple to switch out the words as your child works on new ones.

This game is simple, but it’s a great way to get repetition of sight words into your child’s day.

So bring out the cars and play!

Change it Up

Here are four easy ways to change this game up, allowing you to practice with the same words without it seeming as boring.

  • Hide the words up high and have your child use a helicopter
  • Ask your child to build a road with the index cards and drive along reading each one
  • Use a dump truck and have your child collect all the words and then dump then out and read them
  • Have your child drive quickly to one word. Then drive backwards to the next. Or slowly. Change up the rate and direction.

Working on Sight Words?

If your child is working on reading sight words, give this game a try.