Fun Games for a Rainy Day

Rainy days are often accompanied by the claim, "Mom I'm bored." No matter how many toys or electronic devices they have, sooner or later the kids are going to want something new to do. Parents can often be at a loss to find something that will hold their interest. Here are 4 ideas that are easy to do, need only items commonly found around the house and will keep the kids entertained for hours at a time. They are also a great way to boost your kids creative thinking as they create their own rules to change the games.

Musical Games

This is a variation of musical chairs and doesn't require as much room to play. Place one toy for each person in the center of a rug in an open room. Each person will circle the rug while the music plays. Once the music stops each person must grab a toy. Remove one toy for the second round. The person who doesn't get a toy is out. Continue until there is only one player left.

Another version is to play music while the kids dance around. When the music stops everyone must freeze in place exactly as they are standing. If you move, you are out.

A third version isn't exactly a game, but it can be used to motivate kids to help clean up the play room. Each child starts at opposite ends of the room and wait for the music. While the music plays they must pick up and put away as many thing as they can, working toward the other side of the room. When the music stops they must freeze in place. Once the music starts they begin cleaning again. The key is to not keep the music going to long so they have several stops while they are cleaning. The combination of the music and the 'competition' really gets them motivated to participate.

Crossing the Marsh

This game can be played with only a few people or many. You will need some newspaper for each participant. You will need a large open space such as a hallway or living room. Mark out a starting line and a finish line. Give each player two pieces of newspaper and tell them they must get from the starting line to the finish line without touching the ground. The newspaper represents the 'safe' ground. They will need to place one piece of paper on the ground, stand on it and place the next piece of paper on the ground. Once they have moved to the second piece of paper they will have to pick up the first piece and move it so they can stand on it. Once everyone has done this a couple of times it is time to make it a bit harder.

Now everyone needs to divide into pairs. Each group must do the same thing, but they only have two pieces of newspaper. They can follow the same process, but both will have to fit onto the single piece of newspaper. Make it even more challenging by cutting the newspaper in half to make it smaller and more difficult to stand on. Another variation requires that they leave a trail of newspapers behind them so they must tear a piece off that is large enough to stand on and continue to move to the finish line.

This can be even more fun if you have enough people to make teams of three or more. Then each team has one less piece of newspaper than there are people in the group. For example a team of 4 would only have three pieces of paper. Have races to see who is the fastest to get across the marsh.

Hide and Seek for Stuffed Animals

This is a modification of the standard, "FInd the Button" game many adults remember playing. Young children may have a hard time finding such a small object so this modified game uses a stuffed animal instead. You will need one or more small stuffed animals and a timer to play this game.

One person hides the stuffed animal(s) in a designated room. They can be hidden under, behind and even inside items. Make sure you know how many stuffed animals are being hidden and what they are so there is no arguing about what was found. Once the animals are hidden the timer is set for 5 minutes and the rest of the family looks for the stuffed animals. This is particularly fun when played in a room where many random stuffed animals are usually laying on the floor and you have to find the specific stuffed animals being used for this game. The trick is to remember which stuffed animals are the ones you are looking for. The person who finds the most gets to hide them the next round.

If you want to make it easier you can have the person who hides say warmer and colder to give hints or expand the areas where the animals can be hidden. This is particularly fun if you have older children who find it hard to hide themselves when playing a standard game of hide and seek.

Balloon Volley Ball

Kids love playing with balloons and this game is one they can play for hours. You will need one or more round balloons, a variety of colors is best, and a timer.

Choose a room that is open, such as a living room or play room. This game can also be played around a table, though the table should be cleared of everything first. Everyone sits in a large circle. The object is to keep a balloon in the air for a specific amount of time. Start with three minutes. To make the game harder add another balloon for each additional round until you have one balloon for each participant to keep in the air.

If this seems too easy then once everyone has a balloon make the circle smaller. Remember everyone should be sitting. Keep making the circle smaller until everyone's knees are touching. Keep track of how many times the balloon touches the ground before the timer rings.

Enjoy the fun and smiles of spending some time playing this simple game with your kids.

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Fun Games - Playtime is Essential For Child Development

Every kind of play is a learning opportunity for child development. Playing fun games is one tool parents can use for child development and the absence of play can be an obstacle to the development of healthy and creative children.

Child development refers to how a child becomes able to do more complex things as they get older. When we talk about normal development, we are talking about developing skills like:

o Fine and Gross motor skills
o Cognitive development - decision making
o Creative growth - imagination, curiosity
o Social development - communication, self-control, self-esteem, self-confidence
o Emotional growth - the ability to deal with, manage, express and control their emotional states, including anger, sadness, excitement, anxiety and joy

At the end of the 20th century, scientists have discovered that our brain never stops growing and this astounding discovery has dispelled the belief that we are born with only so many brain cells and cannot be reproduced anymore and if these cells are not stimulated, they will be lost forever. Now it is official that our brain DOES NOT STOP reproducing new cells or neurons and the secret is to stimulate the existing and new brain cells to prevent them from dying off.

How does playing with children stimulate their brain?

  1. Brain growth in terms of the number of brain cells, the number of permanent neurological connections critical for learning and how these connections are wired are positively stimulated when the parents provide an enriched environment where they allow the kids to explore, play, have fun and develop deep bonding with them.
  2. Parents are unconsciously providing a conducive and loving environment when they are playing fun games with their children, where they "receive" signals or messages that they are loved, important and fun to be around which in turn develops their self-esteem and self-confidence.

Why playing during the children early years are essential for brain development?

Connectivity among brain cells are important for brain development for the fact that the neural pathways developed during the early years carry signals and allows one to process information throughout their lives. Timing is very crucial as even though learning is a life-long process, there are windows of opportunity where the brain is at its peak at creating neural pathways that facilitate specific types of learning. We have noticed a child below 10 years old is very adept at learning language but after about age 10, this aptitude for language development starts to diminish. During these early years, the children brains are like sponges and when parents program fun games as part of their children daily activities, are stimulating their brain cells, causing neural connections which are vital for strong memory and thinking skills.

How parents can help in child development?

Parents can help by playing simple activities and games with their children:-

  1. Finger-play and singing games like "One Little, Two Little, Three Little Indians" encourage children to learn rhythm, counting and eye-hand coordination.
  2. Playing stimulating activities and games, such as, puzzles and word problems. Puzzles are fun games which help children with abstract thinking skills, visualizing space and how shapes fit together.
  3. Pretend play, children love to pretend they are heroes, parents, or other adults doing "grown-up" things, improving their language and creative skills.
  4. Building blocks teach many math concepts and skills such as counting, length, height and patterns.
  5. Play-dough and clay give children of all ages, opportunities to explore changes in form as they mold the substance.
  6. Play board games, start a game of hide and seek, playing outdoors, read their favorite story books, work on crafts or hobbies, listening and dancing to music are some fun games parents can play with their children.
The activities and games parents can play with their children are endless. If parents are running out of ideas or would like to learn more on how to play with their child for their development, parents can try the "Mind Power Series" which is a set of 3 e-books having more than 360 fun games emphasizing on thinking skills to help children think and learn the fun and creative way and the most unique feature of this Series is that parents are guided with short, practical tips on how to get the best out of these games for child development.

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