Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Outdoor Autumn Games for Parents and Kids

Acorn Toss

This is a bit like Bocce with acorns. Of course, if you can’t find acorns, you can use small pebbles. This is a game of control; not wild tossing movements.

Materials: Acorns, pinecones, sticks, marking pens

You can play this game between you and one child; two children can play opposite one another. If you have a group of kids with you, then divide players into pairs or two teams with two players each. As you are walking you can collect game markers. For fairness, opposing teams should use similar game pieces (acorns or pebbles) and color a dot on their team’s pieces with a marker.

You will need to find a playing area that is clear of shrubs, trees, and small plants for a distance at least as long as three times the tallest child’s height. Use sticks to mark a starting point, where players will stand. One player (or the adult) tosses a pinecone or another object onto the ground. The other players then try to toss their marker as close to that pinecone as they can. Each team gets four tries with four acorns. The player or team that gets closest wins.

Target Practice

Help kids develop hand-eye coordination while focusing their urge to randomly pick up and toss small objects.

Materials: Acorns, pebbles, pine cones, and sticks gathered on the walk.

Some kids just want to pick up and throw things. Sometimes they don’t grasp the implications of their actions and it can become tiresome to continuously say, “Sticks and rocks stay on the ground,” (because you’re opening yourself to all those acorn and pinecone loopholes).

Like Acorn Toss, this game directs kids’ energy. Make it clear, “If I don’t have to tell anyone to keep the things on the ground on the ground, then for 90 seconds you can play a game that involves tossing acorns.” I’ve found this technique works with kids I’ve just met on a field trip and they will monitor one another so to reach the promised activity near the end of the walk.

Look for a clear area where kids can throw things without endangering things or other people. Gather some acorns and pinecones in a large pile so players don’t go wandering around during the activity or feel frustrated that they are losing out on game time by collecting game pieces.

For one game, place a stick to indicate where kids should stand. Then kids take turns trying to toss their acorn further than other players. Another option is to try to land their acorn as close as possible to another player’s game piece.

For another version, construct different sized and shaped boxes with the sticks and set them at different distances from the starting point. Toss the acorns in these targets

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