Kids games that will develop your child's imagination

Rainy Day Fun

by Lyn Michaud

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Ever have one of those Saturdays when the weather is too nasty to play outdoors? Worse, the power goes out, and you're without television and video games. You hear, "I'm bored. Will you play with me?" These game ideas using items found around the house can be played with minimal preparation.

Obstacle Walk - a trust walk with obstacles - The object is to finish the walk from one side of the room to the other without peeking and by following instructions. Items needed include a blindfold and any combination of soft items, such as pillows, cushions, air mattresses, beach balls, blankets, towels or stuffed animals.

Clear a free spot in the middle of the floor for safety. Blindfold one person and stand him or her on one side of the room. Toss the soft items around. Give directions to the blindfolded player to cross the floor by avoiding items, stepping over the items or collecting the items to get to the other side.

Give directions themed to a child's dreams. Use your imagination. For example, you may say, "Hop on one foot twice, hands at your sides to enter your space shuttle," "Your space suit is heavy so lift your right leg slowly and step as far as you can" or "You are entering the asteroid belt, drop to the ground and roll over twice to get through."

Change the placement of the items for each player. To make the game harder, have the player walk through other rooms in the house, down hallways and through doors.

Mystery Food Sniffer - a challenge to correctly identify foods by smell - Items needed include a blindfold, paper and pencil for keeping score (optional), paper cups or plastic bowls or plates to place the food on, and a variety of foods. Try pudding, ketchup, pickles, salad dressing, milk, cereal, tuna fish, celery, and any food with distinct odors.

Blindfold one player at a time, place a spoonful of the mystery food chosen in a dish. Without seeing, touching or tasting, the player must figure out what it is. For the scoring option, each player gets three guesses and earns three points for a right answer on the first guess, two points for a right answer on the second guess and one point for a right answer on the third guess. The player with the most points wins. Use different foods for each player.

Spoon Transfer - hand-eye coordination challenge to move items from one bowl to another using a spoon or chopsticks - Items needed include two bowls, a spoon or a pair of chopsticks, ten identical items like bite-size cereal, miniature candy bars, popcorn, and a stopwatch (optional). Set up two bowls, one on each end of the table. One bowl is empty and one bowl holds the ten items.

Use the spoon or chopsticks to move all ten pieces to the empty bowl. If an item is dropped, leave it where it lands. Count only the items in the bowl for a score. The winner is the one that moves the most pieces without dropping or moves all the items in the quickest time.

Sock Toss - toss rolled up socks into a mixing bowl - Items needed include one pair of rolled up socks for each player, a mixing bowl, a ruler to mark distances, and paper and pencil to keep score.

Mark out distances from the mixing bowl at intervals of two feet, four feet, six feet, eight feet, and ten feet with masking tape, Popsicle sticks or yarn.

Each player in turn will stand behind the line and toss the socks into the mixing bowl. Keep record of how many socks each player gets in at each distance. Modify the rules for younger players. For added difficulty, add more socks, increase the distance, use a blindfold or stand back to the bowl.

Scavenger Hunt - find as many items on a list as possible in 30 minutes - Items needed include a timer, grocery bag or pillowcase to hold the treasure, and a list of items to find.

Divide into teams of one or more players per team. Set a timer for 30 minutes. Search for the items and place them in the grocery bag or pillowcase. Pictures can count for finding an item. Be creative. The team or individual finding the most items at the end of thirty minutes wins.

Pirate Treasure - list of items to find (Use this list or make up one of your own) - On your list, you may include a silver coin, a gold coin, boat, feather, sand, seashells, map, flashlight, spyglass (telescope, binoculars or camera), shovel or bucket, precious stones (jewelry, shiny rocks, etc.), crown, parrot, flag, hat, rope, bones (fossils, skeleton, skull and crossbones), compass, and a bottle.

These games stretch a child's imagination and are only the beginning. Children gain confidence with practice; support their attempts to make up games. Adapt abilities to new challenges. Every time a child looks at an old game in a new way or comes up with something to do to entertain herself, she or he is developing the ability to think outside the box, a skill needed by future leaders. Have fun.

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