The 4th of July is perfect to do family activities outside like a picnic or BBQ in the park. Make your 4th that much more memorable by playing games. Some of our favorites include relay races, obstacle courses, and the one sure to go over with a splash, a water balloon toss. You might not realize it, but obstacle courses and relay races improve several areas of learning including laterality, directionality, visual memory, and auditory memory. These family activities target the brain-body connection which is critical to learning.
Brain-body activities such as obstacle courses, relay races, or even playing musical chairs can be fun for kids of all ages and are completed in just a few minutes. Bean bag toss or cornhole is also a favorite. All these activities work on our sensory systems. The sensory systems are interconnected in numerous ways. Strengthening our skills through activities like these games intrinsically improves our academic skills.
Family Activities: Relay Races
Egg on a Spoon Race
- Form two teams. Give each player a spoon. Give each team a hard-boiled egg (or a plastic one). To play, teams carry their egg from the starting line to a turnaround point and back again, then pass it to a teammate to repeat the process. If the egg is dropped, the player must stop and retrieve it. Whichever team gets the egg back and forth the fastest wins.
- Variations: Skip the spoon and use an armload of plastic eggs; use raw eggs; skip the egg and use a bowl full of pennies that must be transferred on the spoon; add obstacles to the playing area; require players to march or skip instead of walking.
- Make teams of two and mark the start and finish lines. One person in each team must walk on his hands while his partner holds his ankles. Have teams go as fast as they can to the finish line, swap places and race back to the start.
- These races are best for kids over 4. Littler ones may be scared by popping noises, and fragments of popped balloons are a choking hazard. Split the group into teams and have them stand in a single-file line. Give the leader of each line a balloon. He must pass it through his legs to the player behind him. That player passes it overhead to the next player. Repeat this pattern until the balloon gets to the end of the line; the last player runs to the front of the line and (optional!) pops the balloon to win the game.
- Variations: Use water balloons or a beach ball; have kids race from start to finish lines holding a balloon between their knees or back-to-back with a partner, or, in pairs, balancing a balloon on a towel or piece of newspaper.
- Divide players into teams of two. Have them stand side-by-side and tie adjacent (inside) legs together using a bandanna or scarf. Mark off the start and finish lines. The three-legged pairs must work together to race to the finish. It’s harder than it looks!
- Variation: Have duos link arms instead. To make this tougher, give them something they must carry together, such as a football or a small bucket of water.
Water Relay Races
- Give each team a plastic cup and a bucket full of water. Put one empty bucket for each team at the finish line. Players take turns filling up their cup from their bucket, then dumping it into their empty bucket. The game is over when the once-full bucket is empty; the team with the most amount of water in their finish-line bucket wins.
- Variations: Use a large sponge instead of a cup; poke a few holes in the cup and have kids carry it over their heads
- Divide your group into two teams. Place two similar piles, boxes, or suitcases of dress-up items at the end of the playing area, one per team. The first player runs to the pile, puts on all the dress-ups on top of her clothing, then runs back to her team. She removes all the dress-up items and gives them to the next player, who must put them all on, run back and forth across playing area, and then remove the dress-ups so the next player can repeat the process. Variations: Have the first player put on just one item from the pile. The second player has to put on that item, plus a second one. The third player puts on three items, and so on.
Be sure to take pictures too!
Fireworks Family Activities
Get the most out of your trip to view the fireworks. Be extra observant. Count how may blue, green, red, white, and multi-colored fireworks there are. You can even make a chart for this. Decide which colors were your favorite ones. Was there a style that you liked better than another? This will help you with your observation skills. Be sure to take pictures throughout the day.
Stretch Activity: Scrapbook / July 4th in Review
Afterward, on July 5th, put your pictures together with a quick summary of your day using graphic organizers from the Summer Reading Program. Then, 3-hole punch your summary and keep it in a family notebook. At the end of the summer, you’ll have a great family memory book as well!
Summer Reading Program Family Activities
Family outings and activities are built into the Summer Reading Program. This is one of the ways we build memory skills, in addition to having a good time with your family. The activities build your overall experience bank from which to draw upon while you are reading. This is your factual knowledge base, another piece of the comprehension puzzle. Take pictures or draw pictures of your family activity. Place them along with a few sentences about the activity into your family memory book. Then, go through the family memory book and talk about the great times you had. This activity will improve writing skills, both auditory and visual memory skills, and 15 other areas of learning as well!
Who is Scholar Within?
Scholar Within was founded by learning expert Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET. Bonnie began designing and developing her own custom educational tools when she started her private learning center in the 1990s. Teachers kept asking what she was using with the kids who saw her because of the dramatic improvements that the kids made in school. From there, Bonnie decided to make her materials available to teachers and families worldwide.
Now, Bonnie Terry has turned her materials into a full-service online program that you can follow step-by-step at home, on your schedule. School alone is not enough anymore. Bonnie’s programs boost your kid’s overall learning skills by focusing on improving the auditory, visual, and tactile processing areas of your brain to make it work more efficiently.