Kids holidays are coming up, eeeeek! I mean sweeeet! A mum is always prepared – huh, so they say - but this time I’ve found a few catchy games for all youngsters (which always means mums and dads included)! I’ve even learnt a few facts about bees I never knew. Sometimes children and nature can be our best teachers. So here’s the latest buzz! ;)
Game 1 - Code a message like a bee:
Did you know bees dance? Yep. Bees communicate where they’ve found sweet juicy nectar to their hive pals by moving and jiving in different rhythms and directions according to the distance and direction to go. The picture book, Bee Dance, by Rick Chrustowski stunningly illustrates the dance moves using simple diagrams and can inspire kids to create their own coded dance language!
Kids love treasure hunts, mysteries, nature and dancing so why not combine all these beauties with imagination and fun facts.
First here’s the facts:
There’s two types of bee dance, the round dance for distances not too far, within 7 – 30m and the waggle dance for longer journeys. In the round dance the bees follow circular motions and switch direction here and there. The greater the buzzing excitement, the greater the quality and abundance of pollen! The bee has also left its unique hive smell on the flower to help the bees locate the destination.
The waggle dance is similar but the bee cuts across the circle in various lengths and directions of waggling. For instance, moving towards the sun means the food is in the direction of the sun.
Now for play time:
Start to create your own moves and waggles. Show the rest of the group what each simple move means, such as one star-jump means one jump forward. Clues can also help your honey hunters.
Game 2 - Watch tadpoles grow:
Yes, another nature play and learning experience, the best! Watching nature’s miracles happen in front of your eyes is deeply important and has awed kids for generations. Springtime is best for finding frogs eggs but there’s no real rules in Australia for frog breeding it seems and they can still be found in March going to the ponds and creeks. A snag is frogs have sadly been decreasing across Australia for a couple of years. They are thankfully protected but we are still allowed to catch tadpoles and bring them back into nature once they’ve become fully froggy. Here’s how to keep tadpoles:
- Safely catch a few tadpoles using a kid’s fishing net or scoop up some frog’s eggs in a jar. Collect plenty of pond water as well.
- If the water needs changing make sure you use more water from the pond or rain water as chlorinated water kills tadpoles, otherwise it’s easy to keep them alive.
- Use an old fish tank to watch them metamorphosise over the next 6 weeks to 3 months typically.
- Keep the container in the shade away from direct heat or freezing cold.
- When tadpoles hatch, they are algae eaters so feed them sliced cucumber with the peel off or lightly boiled lettuce which they’ll love.
- When they begin to sprout legs and their gills disappear, they’ve become carnivores that eat insects. Pound up some special pond insect mixture, mm mm! Or add more pond water with insects in it.
- Ask your toddlers to draw each stage they see as the frog changes. You can also put some frog books next to the tank to link literacy to their visual experience and when they’re older add more advanced diagrams too. What a golden opportunity to experience nature in action!
Game 3 - Create your own stop-motion movie or family video:
Kids can amaze us at their ability using technology at such an early age these days. I’ve heard of kids creating whole animations which to me sounds just way too adult it’s crazy, but so long as that’s what piques their interest and creativity let them follow their own callings. Here’s another suggestion that allows them to still play with the favourite camera while involving a lot of imagination at the same time and also the best old-school lego.
- Let the kids write a short story or choose an activity they want to act out, like charades.
- Set up a camera and have the kids start their scene either by acting it out robotic style, one slight move at a time and freezing after each step for a photo or they can choose to create the scene in lego, moving one part each photo. No need to stick to the script either! This game can be manipulated in many ways such as the photographer being the story maker rather and bending the bodies how they like for the kids to interpret and spontaneously say what they’re doing, being in the position they find themselves in. This is wild fun for the imagination and for adults too!
- If children find the games too slow for their liking, speed it up! Cameras these days can take snaps each millisecond and create stop motions all by themselves. It’s all about capturing the fun and imagination!
- Import the photos into Windows Movie Maker or iMovie. Adjust the duration of each image into milliseconds.
- Arrange the photos to make sure they’re in order.
- Or you can take the pictures and create the video straight in an app. We recommend Stop motion studio or Lego movie maker as they are kid friendly.
- Another variation is to simply make a family video! Capture some of that quality time like we used to before digital cameras came about. Act out a scene, tell a joke or ask each other questions about yourselves like “if you had one wish right now what would it be”?
Game 4 - Salt dough recipe to make fossils:
As a kid I wanted to be an archaeologist, and I used to be able to spell it better than today! My nephew also teaches me the most detailed facts about dinosaurs it stuns me. Here’s a recipe boys and girls will like and it also teaches them how trace fossils are made while having fun.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup salt
- 1 cup cold water
- Mix flour and salt together in a bowl. Slowly mix water, a few tablespoons at a time, into the mixture until the dough is smooth and easy to handle.
- Knead dough for 10 minutes and let it rest for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 120 degrees C.
- Press dinosaur figures or plants into the pressed handfuls of dough to create their imprints.
- Bake in the oven until dry and hard, about 2 hours and afterwards allow to cool completely for a permanent finish!
- Painting the fossils is optional too.
So there’s a few picked faves that kids of all ages love to discover. Just a little inspiration can help their imaginations roam higher and higher - and then there’s more entertainment for us as well!