Go Go Skateboard!

Celebrate National Go Skateboarding Day – June 21


Go Go Skateboard!

Source: ©2015. Joyce Hemphill, Laura Scheinholtz, and Heather Von Bank and adapted from The Power of Playful Learning.


  • Cereal box
  • One plastic drinking straw
  • One round bamboo skewer (12 inches x 3 mm)
  • 4 soft plastic caps from milk jugs
  • Photo or Character from a greeting card (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Large eraser or hand towel (folded)
  • Tape or glue
  • Crayons, markers, stickers, etc. (optional)



  • Create the skateboard deck using the plain side of the cereal box by drawing an elongated oval. (Approximately 5-6 inches long and 2-2½ inches wide.) Cut out the deck and decorate it.
    • Note: It is your skateboard so you can make any shape you want.
  • Cut a drinking straw into two 2-inch pieces. On the underside of the deck tape these pieces; one up towards the front and the other towards the back. (These will hold the skewer axles.) Set aside.

Axles & Wheels:

  • Prepare all four wheels by poking holes in each of the four plastic caps. To do this, place the eraser or multi-folded hand towel on a flat surface. Place the plastic cap with open side down on the eraser/towel. Identify the exact center of the cap. Place the point of the skewer at the center and firmly press down until the skewer pierces through the cap and goes into the eraser/cloth. Run the skewer completely through each cap.

Adding the axles & wheels to the deck

  • Press one cap on the blunt end of the skewer. Slide the skewer through one of the straw bits. Slide a second cap onto the skewer and slide it into position. (This should be on the other side of the skateboard deck.) SNAP the skewer close to the second wheel. Repeat process for the other axle and wheels.
    • Be sure to adjust the wheels to make sure they do not rub against the deck.

Adding the skater

  • To add the skateer, cut around the character making sure to leave a ¼”- ½” tab at the bottom. Make a 90o fold in the tab and secure onto the skateboard using glue or tape.

To Play:

Create a ramp using boards, books, or boxes. See how far you can get your skateboard to go. Challenge friends and family!




Ball-n-Cup Game

Source: ©2015. Joyce Hemphill, Laura Scheinholtz, and Heather Von Bank and adapted from The Power of Playful Learning

• Single serving plastic yogurt cup, clean
• Length of string or yarn
• Hole punch
• Aluminum foil (6-inches x 6-inches)

To make:
• Punch a hole in the side of the plastic yogurt cup
• Thread string/yarn through the hole in the cup and with one end of the string/yarn secure with a knot.
• Place the other end in the middle of the square of foil. Crumple foil to form a ball. The ball can be rolled on a flat surface to make it smoother.
o If using a wooden bead, thread the other end of the string/yarn through the bead; secure with a knot.

To play:
Hold the cup in one hand, letting the ball on the string dangle below. Using only the hand holding the cup, flip the ball up and into the cup. Find the best strategy for getting the ball into the cup every time.

Springtime Number Hunt

HAPPY SPRING!  Celebrate spring with a family walk. Enjoy the colors and sounds as they unfold with the increasingly warmer weather. As you walk challenge one another to a Number Hunt. As the saying goes, “The family that plays together, stays together.”


Number Hunt can be played anywhere and it doesn’t require any additional supplies. To play, carefully look at your surroundings and find one of something. The first person to shout it out earns one point. For example, “I see one dog!” Next, look for two of something, such as “I see two brown birds at the feeder!” Now search for a quantity of three  … and so on. At the end of the walk the person who has earned the most points gets to choose the next game or activity.

A sister game to Number Hunt is Numeral Hunt. The object of this game is to find the numerals starting with zero or one, your choice.

National Tell a Fairy Tale Day Activity

February 26 is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Albert Einstein

• Fronts of used greeting cards.

To Play:
Note: Please review the elements of a fairy tale before beginning play.

Version 1:
Place a stack of card fronts face down on the table. Each player selects three cards and creates a short fairy tale that incorporates elements from those cards. Players go around the table sharing their fairy tale.

Version 2:
Create a fairy tale cooperatively where by the first play turns over a card. Elements on the card must be used in the creation of the fairy tale. Players take turns going around the circle adding to the storyline. Play continues until the tale reaches a happy ending. Once this tale is complete, the next player turns over the second card and the tale telling begins all over again.

Version 3:
Create a fairy tale cooperatively whereby the first player turns over a card and starts the tale based an image from that card. The second player then flips over the next card and must continue the tale, but must incorporate an element from this new card. Play continues until cards run out or the tale reaches a happy ending.

Elements of a fairy tale:

·        A short story that highlights a problem that gets resolved … thus a happy ending.

·        Typically includes fantastical creatures and/or characters – both good and evil – such as elves, fairies, giants, gnomes, goblins, mermaids, trolls, unicorns, or witches … but does not have to include fairies.

·        Typically includes elements of magic or enchantments. Note: magic may be positive or negative.

·        The tale is set in the past.

·        Often objects, people, or events appear in threes or sevens.

·        Usually teaches a lesson or highlights culturally important values.





Make Your Own Kazoo for National Kazoo Day

National Kazoo Day 2017 is Saturday, January 28.  This month’s “Playing from Scratch” is celebrating 165 years of kazoo playing in America with a guide to making a DIY kazoo!


Source: ©2015. Joyce Hemphill, Laura Scheinholtz, and Heather Von Bank and adapted from The Power of Playful Learning.


  • 1 paper tube, 4 to 6 inches in length
  • Wax paper, 4-inch x 4-inch square
  • Rubber band
  • Hole punch


To make:

  • With the hole punch, begin by making a hole in one end of the toilet paper tube, approximately 2 inches from the end.
  • Place the 4-inch square of wax paper on top of one opening at the end of the paper tube. Making sure the wax paper is pulled taught, wrap the excess down along the length of the tube with one had. Secure the wax paper in place with the rubber band, doubling band if it is too loose. The tube should now be closed off on one end.
  • Make sure the wax paper is completely sealed with the rubber band.

 To play:

Place the open end of the kazoo to the mouth and hum into it.

El Gato Tag

El Gato


In honor of National Feral Cat Day (October 16th) and National Cat Day (October 29th) – El Gato!

El Gato is a tag game. And like most tag games, has a number of variations. Below are three versions of El Gato Tag.

Version 1:

One player is chosen or volunteers to be el raton (the mouse) and another is chosen or volunteers to be el gato (the cat). The remaining players form a circle around el raton and join hands to prevent el gato from sneaking in. If el gato gets into the circle, players lift their arms to allow el raton to escape and then quickly lower their arms to keep el gato inside the circle. At this point, el gato must now try to get back outside the circle. The in-and-out-of-circle chase continues until el raton is caught. Once el raton is caught a new el gato and el raton are chosen.

Version 2:

Players form a large circle. One player volunteers or is chosen to be el gato. El gato walks around the inside of the circle, stops in front of someone and asks: “Do you have bread and cheese?” When asked, the person says, “No” and points to someone else. As el gato turns and moves toward to that person around the outside of the circle, ALL of the players quickly exchange places. If the person who was pointed at is caught s/he becomes el gato. Or if el gato gets to that person’s place in the circle before it gets occupied, the one who is without a spot becomes el gato and the game begins again.

Version 3:

Players form a large circle. One player volunteers or is chosen to be el gato.  El gato walks around the inside of the circle, stops in front of someone and asks “Who has bread and cheese?” This person responds with, “My friend ____” giving the name of someone in the circle. Then BOTH the person being asked and el gato run to that friend. The last one to the friend is now el gato and the game begins again.



Quezada, F. (August, 2015) Interview.

Ramos, R. (n.d.) El Gato y El Raton. Retrieved on August 30, 2015 from http://www.elboricua.com/El_Gato_y_el_Raton.html

West. J.O. (1989) Mexican-American Folklore: Legends, Songs, Festivals, Proverbs, Crafts, Tales of Saints, Of Revolutionaries, and More. August House, Inc.: Little Rock AR

The Peanut Plunge

The Peanut Plunge


Source: ©2015. Joyce Hemphill, Laura Scheinholtz, and Heather Von Bank and adapted from The Power of Playful Learning.


  • 2 paper towel tubes cut into thirds
  • Hook portion ONLY from a molded plastic hangers from retail stores
  • Individual serving size yogurt cup
  • Strip of paper
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Tape

To play this game you will need a trunk and a peanut.


The Peanut

  • Place cup upside down on the table. Tape one end of the strip of paper close to the cup’s bottom.
  • Tape the other end of the strip directly across from it creating a loop.

NOTE: The loop needs to be big enough for the hook on the end of the trunk to readily snag it

The Elephant Trunk

  • On both ends of each paper tube, punch holes about ½ inch from the openings.
  • Prepare the hook.
    • Check the hook from the plastic coat hanger for sharp edges. File down any sharp edges.
    • Take about 6 inches of string, lay it on the table, place the cut end of the hook in the middle of the string, and tie a knot.
    • Secure the string using duct tape.
  • Attach the hook to one of the sections of paper tubing.
    • Take one end of the string that the hook is on and lace it through one of the holes in one section of paper tube. Tie a knot.
    • Take the other end of string and lace it through the opposite hole of that section of paper tube, and tie a knot.
    • Snip any long strands.
    • NOTE: When held by up by the tube, the hook should hang down from the midpoint of the tube’s opening.
  • Attach segments.
    • Next, connect the tube with the hook to another section using a 2- to 3-inch piece of string. Thread one end of the string through a hole in one section, the other end of the string through a hole in the other section. Tie. Repeat on the other side of the tube.
    • Continue connecting tubes until there are three or four tubes tied together in a strand with a hook dangling at one end.
    • For the last two holes of the LAST tube, you will add enough length – about 1½ feet of string to reach behind your head and be able to tie a bow. Take one 1½ foot length of string, thread one end through one of the punched holes, and tie a knot. Take another 1½ foot length of string and do the same with the other hole.


  • EACH PERSON MUST HAVE HER/HIS OWN TRUNK. Do NOT share trunks. To don the trunk, position the opening of the last tube over the nose, pull the string up over the ears and behind the head where you will tie it with a bow.
  • Identify the start and a designated area storage area or finish line.
  • Place the peanut at the starting point.
  • Using ONLY the trunk pick up the peanut, carry it to the designated storage area, set it down, and remove the hook – NO hands! NOTE: This is a hands free game. Hands may not guide the trunk.
  • Return to the starting point. THEN go back to the storage area, pick up the peanut, and return home.


Flick It!

flick itSupplies:

  • Chalk (recipe below)
  • 3 Bottle caps or jar lids
  • Sidewalk or paved driveway


  • Using the chalk, draw a 3-foot by 3-foot square on the sidewalk or paved driveway.
  • Create a 3 x 3 grid by drawing lines going down and lines going across at the one-foot and two-foot marks.
  • Write a number 1 through 9, in each of the grid squares
    • One number per grid square
    • In any order
    • No repeats


The object of the game is to get the highest score possible.

  • Place the lid/cap on the ground outside of the grid.
  • Using your thumb and a finger flick the lid.
    • One attempt per lid/cap. There are no ‘do overs’ if the lid rolls or lands outside of the grid.
    • What if the lid lands on a line? No points.
      • Note: Feel free to change any of the rules. After all, it is your game.

Need more of a challenge?

  • Create a grid with more squares.
  • Create a grid with smaller dimensions.
  • Use two-digit numbers.
  • Use more lids/caps.
  • Add a rule that the lids/caps MUST land in a straight line (horizontal, vertical, and/or diagonal).

Want to play the game indoors?

  • Table Top Version
    • Draw the grid on paper and tape it down using painters’ tape
  • Floor Version
    • Use painters’ tape to create the grid on the floor.

Recipe for Sidewalk Chalk (Originally shared May, 2015)


  • Toilet paper  tube
  • Small square waxed paper
  • Rubber band
  • Disposable large plastic cup
  • Wooden craft stick
  • Plaster of Paris
  • Corn starch
  • Tempera paint
  • Water


  • Secure a double thick piece of waxed paper at the end of a toilet paper tube with the rubber band.
  • In the disposable large plastic cup mix ½ cup plaster of Paris and ¼ cup corn starch. Slowly add ¼ to ½ cup water while stirring with the craft stick. Add tempera paint until the desired color is achieved.
  • Spoon mixture into prepared toilet paper tube. Set the tube upright (waxed paper side down) in an open container while the mixture cures or hardens.  Once it is dry peel off the paper tube.  It is now ready to use!

IMPORTANT NOT: Do NOT rinse cup in the sink!!  Dispose of the cup with the remaining mixture in it. This stuff will clog sink!

Abuelo’s Bolo Toy

abuelos bolo


3 feet garden string, package string, or yarn

Aluminum foil



Optional: Caps from squeezable applesauce packets



  • Fold string in half. With strings together tie a couple knots at the fold.
  • Cut one string so that it is 2½ inches shorter than the other string.
  • To create the balls at the end of the strings, use two 12-inch x 12-inch pieces of aluminum foil.
    • Tape the end of one string to the center of a foil square. Scrunch the foil to make a tight ball.
  • Repeat with other string.
  • Note: Add another layer of aluminum foil if you feel more weight is needed.


  • Tie a plastic cap, the kind found on squeezable applesauce (see photo), on the end of each string and then cover the cap with aluminum foil.
  • Note: A wooden bead would also work.


The object of the game is to swing the balls in continuous vertical circles going in opposite directions.

How to hold the toy:

  • Stand with your dominant arm extending out in front of you with the back of the hand facing outside, as if you were going to shake hands with someone.
  • Make a fist with your thumb on top of the fist and not crossing over your fingers.

How to play:

  • Hold the ball on the shorter string in your non-dominant hand.
  • Start moving your dominant hand in a rhythmical up and down motion to get the ball on the longer string going in a vertical circle. Note: You may need to a couple of circular motions by the wrist to get the ball going.
    • If you are holding the toy with the right hand, start the long string ball going in a counter clockwise path.
    • If you are holding the toy with the left hand, start the long string ball going in a clockwise path.
  • While keeping a gentle up and down motion going with your dominant hand and wrist, toss the ball on the short string in the opposite direction that the other ball is going.
    • If you are holding the toy with your right hand, the second ball will go in a clockwise direction.
    • If you are holding the toy with your left hand, the second ball will go in a counter-clockwise direction.

A steady up and down motion by the hand and wrist will keep the ball circling in opposite directions. Trial and error will let you know the best tempo for keeping the balls in motion.


Nine Men’s Morris

nine mens morris

According to Games of the World (1977) Nine Men’s Morris is one of the oldest board games in the world dating back to 1400 BC. Morris game boards have been found at the temple of Kurna in Egypt and at excavations of the first city of Troy.




– 10” x 10” (minimum) piece of paperboard packaging (e.g., cereal box, gift box) or poster board or mat board
– 18 bottle caps or milk caps: 9 of one color and 9 of a different color
– Pen/Marker
– Straight edge
NOTE: The game can also be played by using a stick to create the game board in the sand or dirt; pebbles/shells/pinecones can be used for game pieces.

To make:nine mens morris2
Draw the following game board design onto the paperboard.

Characteristics of Morris games:
– Morris games involve straight lines.
– There are two parts to game play: (1) taking turns placing the game pieces onto the board and then, once all the pieces are on the board, (2) sliding a piece to an adjacent vacant point on the line.
— The ‘jumping over’ of game pieces is not permitted.
— A player may only move one piece during his/her turn.

How to Play:
In both the placement and then movement of the game pieces, the object is get to three of your game pieces in a row (vertical or horizontal); this is called a ‘mill’. Every time a player forms a mill, s/he removes a game piece of the other player.  Note: Unless there are no other pieces to take, a game piece may NOT be removed from a mill. Once a piece is removed it may not be returned to the game.  A mill may be opened by moving a piece and closed by returning it to its former location, thus creating a new mill.

The game can be won in two ways:
– Reducing the number of the opponent’s game pieces to two
– Blocking the opponent from making further moves

Games of the World: How to make them, how to play them, how they came to be. (1977) Grunfeld, F. V. (editor). Ballatine Books: New York