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5 Fun Activities to Play in your Backyard

  • Playful learning can help develop and strengthen the “6 C’s of Learning”:

    • Collaboration
    • Communication
    • Content
    • Critical Thinking
    • Creative Innovation
    • Confidence

After a year of virtual learning, many school-aged children are experiencing “zoom fatigue” and are likely lacking outlets to develop and strengthen their social skills. At the same time, many parents and caregivers are juggling work and running out of creative ways to play and keep kids engaged. As a Play Captain for Fab Youth Philly, we offer some suggestions for games and activities you can try at home or at your local community park that are not only fun but encourage active learning!

Fab Youth Philly is an organization that: Supports other youth serving organizations through various consulting services, connects organizations with each other and with young people, and innovates afterschool and youth programs to facilitate playful learning activities with the children that live in their neighborhood.

What is “Playful Learning”? Playful Learning is a framework built around the concept that there are five things that make learning playful:

  1. Make it fun! When people are having fun, they may be more relaxed and motivated to learn.
  2. Make it active! Kids have to do something, not just sit there passively.
  3. Make it engaging! The activity should spark excitement and curiosity.
  4. Make it meaningful! Children learn best when learning has purpose.
  5. Make it socially interactive! Working together drives learning.

Bring summer fun to your backyard! Using a playful learning approach doesn’t have to be something new you have to develop, and it isn’t limited to the classroom. Playful learning can be integrated into the games you already play just by being a little more intentional.

Here are 5 fun games and activities you can try at home:

Up/Down/Stop/Go

Exercise communication skills by following directions! Have players stand six feet apart from each other and the leader. Demonstrate the appropriate actions for “up”, “down”, “stop”, or “go.”

  • On “Up”, players should squat down.
  • On “Down”, players should jump, or stretch up as high as they can.
  • On “Stop”, players should run in place.
  • On “Go”, players should freeze.

The leader calls out one of the four actions. For players who do not do the correct movement, they can complete a task (such as jumping jacks, give the leader a high five, etc.) before returning to the game. Do a practice round first so that all players understand the commands and movements that go with them.

Zookeeper

Strengthen a variety of muscles with this physical activity! Mark off the play area, six feet apart from each other, with four different locations to be for the different animals. Choose animals with specific moves – i.e., a zebra gallops, a kangaroo jumps, an antelope skips, and a cheetah walks very fast – and let them roam free. As the animals gallop, jump, skip and/or quickly walk around, the zookeeper must round up the animals. If an animal is tagged and caught, they have to go back to their appropriate “home”, continuing to be in character and using the correct movement. To get back in the game another child is chosen to be a monkey, who causes mischief by freeing all the animals from their "home.” (If you have more people, you can add different animals and different movements).

Giant Memory with Cardboard

Build both creative and cognitive skills! Make giant memory cards by cutting out cardboard or pieces of paper at least 8’x10’’ big. Draw an image (e.g., ice cream cone, cat, car, etc.) or write the same word (sit, child, star) on two pieces of paper/cardboard; make at least 5 different matching sets of images or words. Have players stand in a circle six feet apart from each other. To play, turn the cards face down and arrange in a square. Each person gets a turn to try to find a pair by turning over two cards looking for the match. If they get it wrong (a mismatch) then they just turn the cards back over and the other player selects two, trying to use their memory to find a pair that matches. Keep taking turns until all the cards are matched.

Fifty Yard Scream

Help to relieve stress and anxiety. Everyone lines up on one side of a large playing area, safely standing 6 feet apart. When the leader calls go, everyone runs screaming and stops only when they’ve run out of breath. You can then have the group go back and try to beat their distance.

Dunk Tank

Perfect for a hot summer day! Choose one person to be the “dunker” and one person to get “dunked”. The “Dunkee” sits on short stool, milk crate or the ground, while the “dunker” stands near a bucket of water. Everyone else takes turns tossing bean bags or any type of soft ball into another empty bucket. If they make it in, then the “dunker” takes a cup full of water and pours it on the head of the person that’s getting “dunked.” Everyone should take turns (if they want to) to be the “dunker” and/or the person getting “dunked.”

For more information about Fab Youth Philly visit our website Fabyouthphilly.com and follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

  • Playful learning can help develop and strengthen the “6 C’s of Learning”:

    • Collaboration
    • Communication
    • Content
    • Critical Thinking
    • Creative Innovation
    • Confidence

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