This activity is featured in our July Activity Calendar. If you do not yet have your free copy of the calendar, get it here.
Water and Ice Play
- Babies: If your soiree includes wee ones, create a space for babies to play together! And, if it’s hot, water and ice play can keep babies engaged, happy and cool. If babies are on their bellies, set out cookie sheets filled with baby-safe objects that have great colors, textures, and scents. Freeze some small towels or pieces of cloth so they can feel them and teethe on them.
- Toddlers: For wee ones who can sit up or move around, fill low bins with water and ice and place them within reach. Add in slices of cucumber or citrus to add color, smell and even taste! Freeze water in cups or muffin tins to make larger chunks that last a bit longer in the heat, or use donut pans to freeze rings of ice for toddlers to pick up. Throw in some scoops for kids to scoop and dump water, too!
- Preschoolers: Water play never gets old, so don’t be surprised if older kids want in, too! If you can, offer a few kitchen tools like muffin tins, bowls and measuring spoons to spark imaginative cooking play.
- School-aged Kids: Add a sponge and a bucket of water to duck-duck-goose, and you increase the fun and cool everyone down. The person who is "it" fully soaks the sponge, then walks around. Instead of "duck," they let the sponge pass over heads and say "drip." When it's time for "goose!" they squeeze out the sponge and yell, "Drop!" Then, it's off to run and try to get back into the open seat without being tagged.
- Babies and toddlers: Put out a basket of colorful ribbons for babies and toddlers to pick up and explore. Pure joy. (Pro tip: avoid ribbons with wires or sharp edges.)
- Preschoolers and School-Aged Kids: Squiggle Play! Got ribbon? Got string? Cut big pieces of it and sprinkle it all over the yard. Who knows what they will become? Add in sticks, too, and the possibilities grow. You may see kites, snakes, dragons, tails, fishing lines, magic wands...or just some fun movement play with ribbon and string. Only the kids know for sure what their imaginations will invent!
Have a Ball (or LOTS of balls!)
- Peek-a-Boo for Babies: Offer containers with varying sized holes and invite babies to try to put balls of different sizes inside and out again. Have a cardboard box? Cut out round holes to make ball-shaped places to put balls in and take balls out!
- Ramp Play for Toddlers: Set up a ramp by propping an object with a flat surface (e.g. cookie sheet, cutting board or piece of cardboard) against a sturdy object in your play space (i.e couch cushion, tree stump). You can also make blocks or books available for stacking. Place balls at the top and let go, showing delight as the ball rolls down. Invite toddlers to try, too!
- Parachute Pop: Get an old blanket or bed sheet out, fill it with the balls, then get everyone to grab hold of the sheet and send the balls flying! Repeat. It is wildly joyful!
- Target Practice: Set out a large basket, bin or box and welcome kids to toss the balls into it. Wee ones will find this alone exciting. Older kids can challenge themselves to see how far they can stand and still get it in or add moves like spinning to their throw.
- Messy Backyard: Split up in teams and put half of the players and half of the balls on one side of the yard. Then put the other halves on the other side. As soon as someone yells, “go!”, friends can toss the balls back and forth, trying to get all of the “mess” (i.e. the balls) onto the opposite team’s side.
Bubbles spark joy and invite experimentation and play for humans of all ages. Try some of these ways to speak joyful bubble play with a group of mixed-aged kids:
Babies and Toddlers
- Bubble Bin: Fill a bowl or bin with an inch or two of water and a few drops of liquid dish soap. Give the contents a quick mix with your hands and you'll have a delightful bin of bubbles to engage kids of all ages. Offer a kitchen whisk to let toddlers whip up even more bubbles. Add spoons, cups or small containers and you'll inspire some bubble cooking play, too.
- Car Wash: What toddler doesn't love the car wash? Offer some toy trucks, cars, and/or small action figures and invite wee ones to give toys a bubbly bath.
- DIY Bubble Wands: Give kids a few pipe cleaners, and work together with them to find 2 pencil-sized/shaped sticks. Then, help them turn those sticks into bubble wands.
- Giant Bubbles: Perhaps the only thing better than bubbles is GIANT bubbles! Read this DIY for a giant bubble juice recipe and to learn how to make giant bubble sticks.
- Get Silly! (ages 0-100)
- Hide and Seek (ages 0-100)
- Never Ending Tag (ages 4+)