Hula Hoop Stop & Go

Here’s a fun family game you can play with a hula hoop and music. There are two ways to play:

Version #1: Multiple Hoops – Give every player a hoop. Put on some music and ask everyone to use the hoop in some fun and safe way while the music is playing. As soon as it stops, players must hold their hoops and freeze in motion. The person still hooping or moving after the music stops is out for the rest of that round.

Version #2: One or Two Hoops – If you only have one or two hoops, players can toss them back and forth to each other while the music is playing. The person holding the hoop when the music stops has to do something fun with it: A little dance, twist it around a body part, jump with it, etc.. The game ends when the players are ready.

Feel free to make up your own rules!

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Card Flipping Challenge

Today’s challenge will include a deck of cards, and can be played alone, or with multiple players.

What to do: Stand up, hold a card in your hand at waist height, and flip it onto the floor. Do your best to match the flip with other card.

Tips and Suggestions 

There are a few different ways to flip the cards, find one that works well for you.

Start with 6 cards and match them 3 for 3, then add more.

Challenge yourself to match 12 or more cards.

Play with other players and have the winner collect the cards at the end of each round. The person with the most cards wins.

Make up your own fun version of a card flipping game.

Add a scoring element to the game to see who collects the most cards.

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Ramp ‘N’ Roll

This is a fun game inside or out. Here’s what you’ll need….

Outside Version: A flat plank of wood, a rock or two or a log, a playground ball and a target, such a box or a bucket.

Inside Version: A strong piece of cardboard, books, a ball that can be used indoors (an inflatable ball will work), and a target, such as a laundry basket.

No matter your supplies, make a ramp with the plank of wood or cardboard and use it to get the ball into the target.

Tips and Suggestions

Create a point system for players.

When the game gets too easy, make some changes to keep it interesting:

Change the length of the ramp.

Change the size of the target.

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Stacking Cup Challenge

Today’s challenge includes:
Stacking cups, paper, pencil and a timer

Challenge: Stack as many cups as you can in a pyramid, circle, and/or square. Next, time yourself to see how long it takes to do it. Beat your own time for each pattern chosen. Keep track of your results.
Once you feel you have achieved your best time, stack your cups, then put them back in one single stack as quickly as you can. Beat your own time.
If you can, play a challenge round with someone else.

Here are the rules…

Use any size unbreakable cups you have on hand: Recycled yogurt cups, small bathroom cups, large plastic cups, etc.. You will need 30+ cups per player.

Do the best you can, then try to do better. Keep track of your results on paper.

If you play along with another player, be encouraging, and practice good sportsmanship.

Add more cups if the challenge is too easy.

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Hoop Challenge

Today, I’m offering you a challenge that includes any size hoop or ring! 

The object of this challenge is for you to do something creative with one or more hoops or rings. 

Here are the rules for the challenge…

The hoop/ring can be any size.

The hoop/ring can be made from any material: Rope, plastic, tubing, wood, etc.

Play inside or out.

Play so no one gets hurt.

Nothing should get broken that shouldn’t.

Need a little inspiration?

Make up some kind of dance that includes a hoop or many hoops.

Come up with a one of a kind game that includes or feature hoops.

Design an obstacle course that includes a hoop, or several hoops.

Make up an activity for the pool that includes a hoop/ring.

Use a hoop as a goal or target.

Use a hoop as a game piece.

Make up some tricks.

If you would like to learn more about the history of hula hoops and get some ideas for things that can be done with them, check out this post on Funschooling & Recreational Learning.

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When Nature Calls

Nature is calling, can you hear it?

Listen as the birds sing their sweet songs, breath in the wonderful fragrance of the flowers as they bloom bright and beautiful, and watch how full of life the trees are! When we hear nature calling us, we grab our things and go so that we can be part of it all.

What do we do?

We spend the day taking a closer look at what is going on around us by exploring and discovering what nature has to offer! We may take a trip to the ocean, visit a park, preserve or playground, or run right out into our own yard to do this. We never know what is going to inspire us, so we take along our nature backpack, filled with the items we like to use to explore and record our day.

The ‘Natural Curriculum’ Connection

Every activity that we do has educational value built right in to it, naturally. A short list of what some of those educational qualities are is offered for record keeping purposes. Since learning is such a personal thing for each person, please keep in mind that you can never know what is being learned at any given time by an individual.

Here are a few of the things we like to do when we go out:

– Walk and enjoy the day.(P.E./observation/health)

– Listen to and identify the sounds around us. (Auditory/observational skills)

– Find new areas to explore. (Geography/earth science)

– Observe nature by watching insects, birds, dolphins, and other creatures and by looking at flowers, plants, and trees. (Sci – botany, entomology, biology zoology/observation/identification)

– *Collect and examine items like leaves, shells, nuts, seeds, flowers and plants, sticks, rocks, etc.. (Sci – zoology, botany, biology, geology/observation/ Math – comparing, sorting)

– Draw or take pictures of the things we find interesting. (Science/Visual art/Observation)

– Catch butterflies in a net and release them when we are finished viewing them, or just watch them in action. (Sci – zoology, entomology, biology/Observation)

– Check out a bug with a magnifying glass. (Sci – zoology, entomology, biology/Observation)

– Look for animal tracks. (Sci – biology/Observation)

– Learn about what we see by checking our guide books. (LS – reading/research)

– Write about, draw, or video record the things we experience. (LS – writing, documentation, visual media)

– Go fishing. (We take a copy of our state’s regulations with us too.) (Sci – marine biology, physics, earth science/ Math – measurements – length and distance/SS – citizenship [obeying regulations])

– Observe and study the clouds. ( Sci – meteorology –nephology/Observation)

– Observe and talk about the weather. (Sci – meteorology, LS – Communication skills)

Blow bubbles. (Sci – meteorology – air current, physics, chemistry/ Math – geometry)

– Wonder (Critical thinking skills)

*If you are in a preserve, observe only! Do not pick anything up, move or take anything with you other than pictures.

When you walk around outside, it is a good idea to wear closed-toe shoes, long sleeves and long pants. A hat is good to have too!

Be careful of snakes while you are walking. Learn what to do if you encounter a snake.

Make sure you take water with you when you go out, and drink often.

The Handbook of Nature Study has some helpful hits for doing outdoor studies. 

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Active Alphabet

Act out the alphabet with a fun game that can be played verbally, with letter cards, or by making picture cards with letters on them.
To make cards, you will need…
Index cards, glue and: something to draw/write with, stickers, old magazines, or graphics.
What to do:
  • Draw pictures, write letters or put stickers on index cards.
  • Cut pictures from old magazines or use graphics and glue them onto index cards. 
  • Use commercial alphabet cards: Some alphabet cards have pictures that can be acted out, otherwise you can mix up the cards and use the letters. 
Make up your own list of words that can be acted out or use some of these examples:
A = Airplane, Angel, Ape, Archer, Anger, Act
B = Ball, Bounce, Ballerina, Book, Bicycle, Bird, Bow, Blow bubbles
C = Cat, Clap, Climb, Cold, Canoe (paddle down river), Curtsy, Crab
D = Dog, Dig, Dip, Dance, Dolphin
= Elephant, Ear, Eat, Eyes (do something fun with your eyes)
F = Frog, Flower (pick a flower, smell it), Fish, Flexible, Funny face, Frown, Fall down
= Grin, Gather, Gum, Gym (pretend to workout), Golf
H = Hop, Happy, High-Five, Horse, Hula hoop, Hand, Hug
I = Ice cream, Itch, Ice skate
J = Jog, Jump, Juggle, Jumping Jack
K = Kick, King, Kangaroo, Karate, Kiss
L = Laugh, Look, Lollipop, Lick, Lion, Lizard
M = Move, March, Moo, Melting ice cream (‘melt’ slowly to the ground), Monkey
N =  Nose, Neigh, Nod, Nothing (stand still), Ninja Turtle
O = Open, Oink, Owl (hoot), Oar (row boat) 
P = Pop (pop mouth or pop up), Pout, Pick, Punch balloon, Pretend  
Q = Quiet, Queen, Quick
R = Run, Ride a Horse, Race car driver
S = Sit, Stand, Stomp, Squirrel, Superhero, Scared, Surfer, Slow motion, Snake 
T = Talk, Tap, Twist, Touch, Turn, Tickle, Tiptoe, Turtle
U = Umbrella, Up, Under, Unicycle
V = Vacuum, Victory sign, Victorious (arms up in air), Vulture, Vampire Bat
W = Wiggle, Walk, Washing machine/Wash board, Wink, Whistle, Wave, Walrus
X = Make an X shape with your body, X-Men, Xylophone
Y = Yo-Yo, Yodel, Yell, Yummy (rub tummy)
Z = Zebra, Zipper, Zig-Zag
Tips & Suggestions…
  • Keep the game open-ended and playful.
  • When possible, encourage players to make sound effects while performing an action.
  • Young people are very creative! Ask them to think of ways to act out each picture/word and encourage them to come up with their own actions for each letter. If a player can not think of a word, help them out.
  • Play this game verbally by saying a letter and giving players a chance to act out their own words or a player can say a word and players can act it out in their own way.
  • Players can form letters of the alphabet with their body.
  • Play an animal version of the game. Animals can be a lot of fun to act out and can add a little challenge to the game!
  • Encourage silliness.
  • Challenge players to combine letter words whenever possible or come up with an attribute that an object does, real or not, that begins with the same letter, for example: a kicking kangaroo, marching monkey, laughing lizard, etc.
  • Put letter/picture cards in a container, have players take turns pulling out cards and acting them out in their own way.
  • Play this game outdoors as a chalk or charades-type game.
  • When the fun ends, so does the game.
Natural Benefits: Builds large motor skills, allows for creativity/imagination, builds letter recognition and letter-word comprehension skills, it’s a physical activity, the game is open-ended, all ages can play!
Personal Note: A few years ago I compiled a list that used an action word for every letter of the alphabet with a group of parents. The result came to be known as, “The Active Alphabet“. Parents reported that their kids, especially the ones full of energy, enjoyed the game and gained letter recognition skills more easily as a result of playing it with their children. Over the years we have played this game and have added our own ideas to it to make it more interesting and fun, I encourage families to do the same.

This post is part of the Building Writing Skills series on Fran’s World of Discovery. If you are interested in reading more from this series, please use the following links:
Building Writing Skills Naturally – Offers links to activity suggestions that have many built in benefits.

No More Tears! – Introduction page.
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Word Hop

Once a person is familiar with the alphabet, or with certain letters, put large letter tiles made from foam or cardboard on the floor and have them hop from letter to letter to form small words on their own. Someone can suggest a word, or picture/word cards can be made or used to go with this game. As the player steps on the letter, have them say it so they can learn how to spell the word. Someone can tell the player the order of the letters if needed, or they can try working it out their own first. 
The word can be acted out once it has been spelled correctly, when possible.
Play for as long as there is an interest in the game.
Other versions…
Version #2: The large letter tiles can form words by hand instead of being hopped on.
Version #3: The sound of the letter can be said as well as the name of the letter.
Version #4: Play this game outside by drawing letters with chalk.
Word Hop is fun for all ages!
Note: We play with large foam letters purchased from a toy store.

Benefits: Letter recognition, word formation, large motor skills are used, letter-sound recognition (when played that way) and fine motor skills are used (when hand version is played).

This post is part of the Building Writing Skills series on If you are interested in reading more from this series, please use the following links:
Building Writing Skills Naturally – Offers links to activity suggestions that have many built in benefits.

No More Tears! – Introduction page.
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An Eggcellent Game


Before you throw away that egg carton or your plastic eggs from an egg hunt, grab a timer so you can play the following fun game.

There are a few ways to play but you will only need the following items:

Recycled egg carton that carried 12 or 18 eggs
12-18 Plastic eggs that fit in the egg carton – both halves
A timer
Pencil and paper


Open the egg carton and take your plastic eggs apart. 


The object of this game is to put all the plastic eggs together and then back in the carton as quickly as possible.

How to play

  • Set the timer to zero.
  • When the player is ready, start the time.
  • Once the timer starts, the player will put the halves of the plastic eggs together in any order, as quickly as possible, and put them in the carton.
  • Once the carton is full, stop the timer and record the time.
Tip:  Having another player work the timer is a big help.
Once players get good at the game, it’s time to add some challenges to keep it interesting.
  • Players can match the colors instead of mixing them up before putting them in the carton.
  • Players can beat their best recorded time.
  • Put a time on the clock and get all the eggs in the carton before the time runs out. Try it by matching colors too.
  • Put all the halves together in the carton, then take them apart as quickly as possible while the timer is running. Record the time.
  • If you are using a carton with 12 openings, use one with 18 or more.
Have fun!

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Hula Hoop

Hula hoop structure by Fran W

Ancient Egyptian children rolled hoops with a stick and twirled them around their hips!

What can you do with a hula hoop?

With a little creativity and imagination, there are many things you can do with a hoop!

Here are a few you can try…

  • Twist it on your hips, arms, legs, chest, neck, wrists, and foot. Try this with more than one at a time too!
  • Twist a hoop or two to your favorite song. Try one fast and one slow!
  • Use it like you would a jump rope.
  • Add it to a dance routine that you create!
  • Play catch with it by rolling it to another person or play by yourself by rolling it so it comes back to you when you spin it just right.
  • Push a hoop along with a stick.
  • Use it to play a game of Bottle Toss or toss a hoop or two around a bottle filled with water, sand or dirt.
  • When you’re in the pool, take turns with a friend going through one or a few hoops underwater or let it float on top of the water and dive through it.
  • If you have multiple hoops, you can use them to go through or create an obstacle course with them.
  • If you have multiple hoops, put them together to form some kind of interesting structure such as the one depicted at the top of this post.

What do you like to do with a hula hoop? 

Share your suggestions with others by leaving a comment!

Research question…

What were early hoops made from?

When was the modern day hula hoop invented and who invented it?

Research Resources…

Inventors: Hula Hoop

Learn the history of the hula hoop including what early hoops where made of, when and who invented the hula hoop of today, and the origins of the name.

Learn How to Hula Hoop: Hula Hoop Basics 1:25 video

Watch hula hoop act performed at, Cirque du Soleil.

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Ghost in the Graveyard – Game


Ghost in the Graveyard is a tag-like game that can be played with many players or just a few. It is best played at twilight into night, but it can also be played during the day.

How to play:
The game starts with one ghost, once the players determine who that will be, he/she will stand in one place and give the other players 1 – 3 “days” to hide by counting up to midnight out loud (“1 o’clock, 2 o’clock…12 o’clock, noon-time, 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock…….12 o’clock, MIDNIGHT!”). When the “ghost” finishes counting the days, they should call out, “The ghost comes out at night!” or something similar to indicate that the “ghost” is ready to find the hidden players. When the “ghost” finds one of the hidden players, the player can run, but once they are tagged, they will become “stunned” and won’t be able run away again. The “ghost” will then gently place his/her hands on the player’s shoulders and say, “You are now a ghost in the graveyard!”. That player will then become a “Ghost in the Graveyard” as well, and together the two “ghosts” will go around looking for the other hidden players and turn each of them into ghosts. After all of the players are turned into, “ghosts”, the last player caught becomes the new, “Ghost in the Graveyard” and the game can begin again.

Important note: The hidden players can change their hiding place at any time and may run when they are found, but they must freeze once they are tagged.
There is no home base or safe zone in this game.

Feel free to change the rules as needed!

Happy Haunting!

Black Cats

Black Cat photo from Wikipedia

In some countries, black cats are considered bad luck, while in others they are a symbol of good luck!

To learn more about the history of black cats, and how and why they have a good or bad reputation, read: Wikipedia: Black Cat

During the Middle Ages, cats effected the start and outcome of the Black Plague. Cats: Heroes During the Black Plague explains how this happened.

Cats have an interesting history dating back to Ancient Egyptian times! Read, A Short History of the Domestication of the Cat to learn why cats were highly regarded some of the time, and treated unfairly at other times.

Cats in general are well known for their great sense of balance. See how well you can balance with these activities!

You’ll need:

Masking tape, an unsharpened pencil, a small flat object, bean bag, rolled up sock, a book
Optional: A stop watch, a friend, paper and pencil

Try this….
Warning: When you try these activities, have something to grab on to or a safe place to fall so that you don’t get hurt.

– Stand on one foot for as long as you can, switch sides after a couple of minutes, then close your eyes and try it again.
How long can you stand on one foot with your eyes open?
How long can you do it with your eyes closed?

– Put a line of masking tape on the floor and walk the line without falling off. Close your eyes and try again.

– Balance an unsharpened pencil: on your fingers, on one finger, in your hand, on your nose, and on your forehead. Try this activity with the pencil standing up, or laying flat, whenever possible.
How long can you do this?

– Put a book, a rolled up sock, or a bean bag, on top of your head and walk around with it. For an extra challenge, hop or stand on one foot while balancing something on top of your head.

– Put a bean bag or a rolled up sock on your foot. Raise your foot, keeping the item in place, try to flip the item up and catch it. Switch feet. Then kick the object around, keeping one foot off the ground at all times. Flip it to your hands and back down.
How many times can you juggle the object this way?

More black cat resources…

CSI: Superstition Bash: Black Cats – This article gives some of the reasons black cats were considered good and bad luck.

Today I Found Out: Why Black Cats Are Considered Bad Luck – Find out how black cat got a bad reputation.

PoeStories: Edgar Allan Poe’s: Black Cat – A short story written by Edgar Allan Poe, published in 1845.

I have a Housecats Research and Activity Guide and Resource page available for anyone interested.

Connect with Funschooling and Recreational Learning!
Note: Has this or another activity on Funschooling and Recreational Learning inspired you or someone else in a positive way, or have you featured this activity in a blog post? I invite you to comment and link back to where your post can be found, or tell me what you or your family enjoyed about the post! Thank you!