8 Ideas For Homemade Water & Nerf Gun Targets

If your kids enjoy playing with water or Nerf-type guns, it can be a lot of fun to
make your own targets with recycled items.
Tip: A spray bottle or a pom-pom shooter can be used as well.

Here are a few homemade target suggestions:

Water Balloons – Blow up a bunch of water balloons, tie a length of yarn to each one end and then to a tree branch or someplace it can hang down.

Spinning Disks – This uses recycled lids from bottles and containers. Pop a hole in the top of each lid and hang them with yarn. Alternately, a hole can be made in the middle of a lid, and a length of yarn can be strung through it to see how many shots it takes to get from one side of an object to another.

Recycled Cups & Cans – Stack them up in a pyramid shape and knock them down or string some cups between two objects and see how many shots it takes to get them from one side to the other.

Cardboard Tube – Cardboard tubes can be stacked or lined up and knocked down.

Beach Balls or Large Balloons – How many shots does it take for a beach ball, or a punch balloon, to get to the finish line?

Water Bottles & Ping Pong Balls – Shoot a ping pong ball off the top of a water bottle, then knock down the bottle!

Plastic Eggs – Hang plastic eggs to shoot at.

Make an obstacle course with any of these items or ones you come up with on your own.

Spark their creativity! Offer your kids some supplies and a challenge them to make their own unique targets to shoot at.

Please share your target ideas in the comments below!

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Mini Marble Run

This a great activity for older kids…and younger children if they are supervised.

You will need: Bendable straws, *metal BBs, hot glue, cereal/cracker box, a bottle cap, pencil, and plain paper

What to do: Design your run on a piece of paper. Next, use hot glue to add straws to the cardboard box according to your design, then put the BBs into the straw to go through the run and observe how well they go down. Make any changes needed. Add a bottle cap to the end of your run to collect the BBs as they come down.

*Use BBs that fit in the straw easily and run smoothly through it.

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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.

Related Posts:

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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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Magic Tricks Resource Page

Magic Tricks…

Magic tricks are a great way to learn science and mathematics. Some tricks require good deductive reasoning and observations skills. Most require good timing skills. All of them take practice so that they can look as natural and effortless as possible while being performed.

The following resources contain information about magic, tricks you can learn to do with ordinary household items, and famous magicians and illusionists.

What is Magic?
Wikipedia: Magic

Make Your Own Magic Props

You Can Do Magic: Magic Tricks for Kids
Written and video instructions for making a magic trick. Check out ‘Magic Lessons’ for more tricks.
Instructables: Magic Channel
Offers a variety of tricks you can make and do.
How To Do Magic Tricks
Kidzone: Magic Tricks
Tips for becoming a successful magician and a variety of tricks that use cards, coins and other household materials.
This site offer a library of easy to do magic tricks that use common household materials.
Magic tricks for beginners, hobbyists and pros.
Learn magic tricks that use coins and cards.
How to Do Tricks: How to Do Card Tricks
Site offers card and coin tricks.
This site offers 219 card tricks and tutorials…and counting.
Site offers tricks done with playing cards.
Illusions you can make yourself.
Come Together Kids: Optical Illusion Handprint
Turn your hand-print into an optical illusion.
Famous Magicians, Illusionists &a
mp; Escape Artists
Wikipedia: Harry Houdini
Site offers short video.
Wikipedia: Dai Vernon
A video of Dai Vernon’s life can be found in the video section below.
Wikipedia: David Copperfield
Site offers a short video.
About: Doug Henning
Wikipedia: Siegfried & Roy
Wikipedia: Mark Wilson
The video section below has more Penn & Teller videos.
Wikipedia: The Amazing Randi
Wikipedia: List of Magicians


Penn & Teller Videos

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Snowflake Science

Borax Snowflake by Fran W
Snow Crystals: – This site has a lot of information about snowflakes and snow crystals including how they are formed, photos, physics and other interesting information. Read an interview about “Snowflake Science” with Kenneth Libbrecht, the creator of site, ‘Snow Crystals’, on RadioLab.
Home Science Tools: Snowflake Activities – This site has three science based activities to do: 1 – Collect snowflakes 2 – Make Borax snowflakes and 3 – Preserve snowflakes.
Livescience: Snowflake Science: How it Snows for Days in the Artic – Researchers are making new discoveries about ice crystals; read about what they are learning.
Make Fake Snow: To make fake snow, you will need: a clean disposable diaper, a bowl and water.
Cut a diaper open in the middle and shake the contents into a bowl, add water a little at a time until you get the desired consistency for your snow. The diaper material will expand as it absorbs the water. If you want a slushy snow, add more water. If you want drier snow, add a little salt. Put the “snow” in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes to help it feel more like real snow. Food coloring can also be added. When the fun is over, throw the contents into the garbage, never down the drain.

Observation Activity: If you live in an area that snows, collect some snowflakes on black paper to see what they look as they fall. Bring a magnifying glass or a pocket microscope with you so you can take a closer look. While you’re outside, use your senses to observe what’s going on while it’s snowing. What do you hear, see, smell, taste and feel? Try to make as many observations as possible and write them down, draw them out or make a video log of your experience. Go outside before and after it snows and observe what the weather is like and document that as well.
Related posts on FranW.com:

Snowflake Math – Learn about snowflake symmetry and fractals.
Snowflake Language, Social Studies, History and Geography Skills – Snowflake stories, word puzzles, interesting phenomenon, symbolic meaning of and other activities.
Snowflake Resources and Activities – All the links to the resources can be found here, plus snowflake snack ideas, printables, and videos.
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Make Your Own: Bubble Solution

People of all ages enjoy blowing bubbles and while commercial bubbles are a little more convenient, making your own can be a lot of fun!

To make your own bubble solution, you will need:
Dish soap (Joy, Ajax, Dawn, etc.)
Corn syrup, sugar, and/or glycerin
Cooking oil
8oz Plastic cup
Craft sticks
Measuring spoons
Optional: Food coloring, pencil and paper or a recording device, commercial bubbles, pipe cleaners/chenille stems
What to do:

Create your own bubble solution!
Solution #1: A basic formula
Start by pouring a little dish soap and water into a plastic cup then slowly stir the liquid with a straw. When the solution is mixed, test it out by dipping the straw into the liquid and blowing through it to see if the solution can form bubbles, and how strong the bubbles are. If the bubble pops too quickly, decide if you need to add more soap or water to your solution. If you get one or two bubbles, or a stream of bubbles, and they last for a little while, you know you are on the right track. 
Solution #2: Bubbles that are stronger or last longer
Adding a little corn syrup, sugar or glycerin to your bubble solution makes stronger or longer lasting bubbles. Find out if this is true by adding a little bit of one of the suggested items to your solution.
Solution #3: Bubbles with Unusual Ingredients
Some solutions are made with salt or cooking oil. Try to make a bubble solution that uses some salt (pdf) or cooking oil in the recipe.

Pre-measured bubble recipes can be found here
Extra activities
– If you would like to keep track of how your solution is made, use measuring spoons when adding ingredients and then write, draw, take pictures, or record the procedure on a video or audio device.
– Compare your homemade solution to commercial bubbles.
– Find out what bubbles are and how they work.
– Do some experimenting with bubbles such as blowing a bubble within a bubble or make bubble structures using multiple wands. 
– Get a stopwatch and find out how long your bubbles can stay formed before they pop.
– How high of a bubble mountain can you make? Pour bubbles into a shallow pan and blow air into it with a straw to find out.
– Make your own bubble wands out of: straw and string, pipe cleaners, wire, paper and other household items. 
– Blow bubbles and see how many you can catch on your wand and blow them again to see how many you get the second or third time.

Something to inspire you….

After a brief explanation about how bubbles work, the following YouTube video features an amazing bubble performance by bubble artist, Deni Yang.
Sites to investigate….
A printable pdf written by Bernie Zubrowski filled with bubble experiments.
Learn what’s so fascinating about bubbles! 
Explore some other bubble related sites.

Activity Village
This site offers a recipe and some other bubble activities.

BIG Bubbles
Site offers suggestions for making very large bubbles.

Bubble Geometry
Thinking Fountain offers suggestions for simple bubble geometry.

Bubble Poetry (This link will take you to the poem, ‘Blowing Bubbles’.)
Familyfriend Poems has poems based on bubbles written by its members. Put the word “Bubbles” in the search box on the top right hand corner of the page to pull up more bubble related poetry. Some poems may not be appropriate for all audiences.
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Homemade bubbles by Fran W.

Paper Airplanes

Today’s Topic: Paper Airplanes
Did you know……
The Guinness World record for the longest time a paper airplane was held aloft is 29.2 seconds! 
Today’s Activity:  Make paper airplanes
Learn about the history of paper planes, view 50 instructional videos for making paper planes.
Tips and suggestions….
If you want your paper airplanes to fly well, the most important things to remember is to keep the folds straight and even and the creases sharp!
Once you get the hang of making paper planes, try to modify the plane by making a few changes to the design. You can do this by:
– Making little cuts in the wings to create flaps or cut a piece of the middle and bring it to the top of the plane.
– Tape a paper clip to the tip of the plane to help it fly better.
– Tape a skewer or a toothpick to the inside of the middle fold.
– Tape the plane together in the middle or the end.
– Cut a notch in the bottom of the plane and shoot it with a rubber band. 
– Change the way the plane is folded in order to make a new paper plane design.
– Learn how to make a stunt paper airplane.
You can find another stunt plane here.
Suggestions for flying the paper airplane…..
– Learn how to throw a paper airplane by watching this video.
– Fly the paper airplane inside or outside.
– Stand on something high, throw it and measure how far it goes, then throw it from a spot on the ground close by and measure again; compare the two distances.
– Throw the plane toward the sky
– Throw the plane from the shoulder or from the hip and see which one flies further.
– Make a variety of planes and compare how well and how far each one flies.
– Keep a flight log.
Have fun!
Questions of the day:
Who currently holds the Guinness World record for the longest paper airplane in flight?
Who held the Guinness World record for the longest paper airplane flight before the current record holder? 
Learn More:
Learn more about Ken Blackburn, a 13 year Guinness World Record holder
Read about the gentleman that now holds the Guinness World Record for the longest paper plane flight
Site offers patterns and templates for variety of paper planes

How To Fold and Tweak A Great Paper Plane –  YouTube video 7:03
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Inspiring People: Cardstacker


Photo by Kevin Lam from Vancouver, Canada
Guinness World Record holder, Bryan Berg is a self-taught cardstacker. He builds amazing structures out of plain old playing cards.
He doesn’t bend or fold the cards, nor does he use tape or glue to keep them together. 
You have got to see the AWESOME things he can build in order to believe it!



Visit Bryan’s official website to learn how he builds these amazing structures

It may be a good idea to have a deck or two of playing cards handy, because after watching the inspiring works of art done by this gentleman, viewers will want to recreate some of the stunning structures that they see! Some viewers may even be inspired enough to create their own amazing structures!

Tip: Have a recording device handy so that you can capture the budding cardstacker while they are creating a work of art! Take pictures and/or video footage at every stage, and even in between! Use the time-lapse option on your video camera for quicker viewing later on.

 Updated 2020
How This Guy Stacks Playing Cards Impossibly High | Obsessed | WIRED

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Spark of the Day: Pom – Pom Shooter

Here’s a great way to turn simple items into a fun activity!

Items Needed:
Toilet paper tube, 12″ balloon, packing or duct tape, scissor, pom-poms, a large container and recycled plastic water bottles or yogurt containers 
Optional items:  A measuring tape, paper, and pencil
What to do:
  • Cut off the top of a balloon, new or recycled
  • Put one end of the tube into the balloon – leave a few inches at the bottom for shooting.
  • Tape the balloon into place.  
  • Put a pom-pom into the open end of the tube and shoot it out by pulling back on the balloon.
The object of the activity is to try and get the pom-poms into a container or shoot them across the room and measure how far they go. My family has a great time with this activity!
Safety rules
Before we begin playing, we talk about the dangers of shooting people and pets and prohibit the shooting of sharp and/or hard objects; the shooter is meant to be a fun toy not a weapon.
Here are some of the things we like to do…
  • Shoot pom-poms across the room, into containers, and at various targets. My youngest child (age 2.5 at the time), quickly figured out how to use the shooter and played right along with us!
  • Using 5 pom-poms each, we shoot them into a large container one at a time, and keep track of each one that makes it in with tally marks (llll). After 3 tries for each player, we count our tally marks by 1’s, 5’s or some other agreed upon number.
  • Shoot light objects out of the device such as: ping-pong balls, aluminum foil balls, paper balls, etc.
  • Use a tape measure to see how far some of the items go and write down the results of each shot.
  • Stack recycled yogurt containers or water bottles and knocked them down with ping-pong balls.
  • Shoot more than one pom-pom at a time to see what happens.
  • Ask questions, predict what may happen, experiment, observe, compare results, find answers and track results.
Record Keeping & Benefits
  • If you need to keep track of what you do for educational purposes, you can take a picture of the device and write a caption under it or print out this page and make a list of the activities you did on the back of the page along with the educational value of each activity.
  • It may be fun to keep track of the distance of each shot on graph paper.
  • You can also date your score page and add it to a math and science folder.

Natural Benefits: This is a science-based experiment, physics in nature. If players ask, “what if” questions, try to predict what may happen, experiment, observe, compare results, find and track results, they are working on the scientific method.
When score keeping is added, it turns into a fun-based math activity.
This is also a fun way to repurpose!
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Fun With Balloons

Photo by Warren Denning

The first rubber balloons were made by Michael Faraday in 1824

Latex balloons, similar to the ones we have today, were first manufactured by J.G. Ingram of London in 1847

Activity: Balloon Badminton

You will need: A paper plate for each player, a wide craft stick for each player, packing tape, and a balloon
Optional: crayons

What to do:  Make your paddles.

– Decorate the front of the paper plate with crayons if desired.

– Tape a wide craft stick to the back of a paper plate in order to create a handle.

Alternate handle: Another way to keep the craft stick and the paper plate together is to put 3-4 staples through the front of the paper plate: one on the top, two in the middle and one near the end of the paper plate. Then use tape to keep the staples from popping the balloon and to keep the craft stick in place better.

How to play:

Blow up a balloon and hit it back and forth with the paddles or bounce the balloon on your paddle as a single player.

How many times can you hit the balloon back and forth before it falls to the ground?

Question of the day:

What were the first “balloons” made of?

Learn more:

Learn the history and science of balloons.

Wikipedia: Michael Faraday
Learn more about the man who invented the rubber balloon.

Artists Helping Children: Balloon Crafts and Ideas
Science projects and craft ideas.

PBS Kids: Zoom: Balloon Brain
Protect a balloon as you would your brain.

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