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



Fun Fact for February: The bottle cap was patented on February 2, 1892.




  • Lots of bottle caps and/or jug lids

To Play:

  • Decide ahead of time if there are rules for stacking. For example, “all the caps must have the flat side down”.
  • Start stacking.
  • Whoever has  the highest tower of caps without falling wins!


  • Collaborate as a team
  • Use caps of a variety of sizes
  • Stack caps in a color sequence

Create Your Own Jigsaw Puzzle

January 29th is National Puzzle Day.

Go back to basics and create your own jigsaw puzzle.

Untitled 2



  • Cereal box or other paperboard packaging material
  • Calendar pages, greeting cards, photos, or drawings
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Paint, markers, or crayons (Optional)


To make:

  • IF using calendar pages, greeting cards, photos, or drawing, glue onto paperboard material. Allow to dry.
    •  Note: IF using the design on the packing material you do NOT need to glue onto   another piece of paperboard.
  • Cut around the images and lettering to create the puzzle pieces.


Bring in the New Year with a…Buzzy Harmonica

• 2 wooden craft sticks, ¾ inch wide
• 1 wide rubber band (approximately ¼ inch wide and 3 inches long (not stretched))
• 2 smaller rubber bands (approximately 1/16 inch wide)
• 2 strips of paper, ¾ inch x 4 inches
• 2 pieces tape

To make:
Put the two craft sticks together like a sandwich. Wrap the strips of paper completely around each end of the “stick sandwich.” Secure the ends of the paper with a piece of tape making sure the tape does not adhere to the sticks.
• Slide out one of the sticks, keeping the paper in place on the other one. Carefully set the stick with the paper on the table.
• On the empty stick, stretch the wide rubber band lengthwise from end to end. Carefully place the stick with the rubber band and set it on top of the stick with the paper. Do not put the rubber band stick inside the paper.
• Wrap a small rubber band around both sticks at each end.


To play:
Blow air through the small space between the sticks. Experiment with the amount of airflow to change pitches. Also try pinching the ends while blowing.


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


Indoor Mini Golf

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

Don’t let the cold and damp weather of November put a damper on your golf game. Bring the game inside using what you can find around the house.



  • Long paper tube (e.g., wrapping paper tube)
  • Sponge (Note: Use a clean sponge for this activity. When finished playing, reuse the sponge for washing dishes.)
  • Balls of various sizes OR crumpled newspaper/scrap paper

For the Course:

  • Foam egg cartons (Wash egg cartons in warm soapy water or clean with anti-bacterial wipes)
  • Plastic cups or canisters of various sizes and shapes
  • Plastic container lids
  • Paper tubes (e.g., wrapping paper tubes, paperboard tubes from trouser hangers)
  • Cardboard or paperboard boxes
  • Books

Hole Flags:

  • Individual serving-sized yogurt, fruit, or pudding cups
  • Round bamboo skewers


  • Paper
  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • Duct tape
  • Stapler


To make:

This activity works best in a room with lots of floor space.

  • Using duct tape, attach the sponge to the long paper tube to serve as the golf club.
  • On paper, design and plan the shape of the golf course. Think about fun challenges along the course and indicate where they will go. Examples of challenges include:
    • Putting the ball through an egg carton tunnel
    • Maneuvering the ball around obstacles, such as cups set upside down in a random pattern or groupings of paper tubes
    • Hitting the ball through a zigzag section made from paper tubes
    • Tapping the ball up and down a ramp made from pieces of cardboard and a stack of books.
  • Use the various boxes, foam egg cartons, and/or paper tubes to create a barrier or bumper for the golf course.
  • For the holes, lay the plastic containers, paper, and/or canisters on their sides.
  • Identify each hold with a flag.
    • Make a flag by taping a triangular piece of paper onto the flat/smooth end of a bamboo skewer.
    • Insert the pointed end through exterior center point of the yogurt cup’s bottom.


Rock-n-Roll Math*

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

* This game was named by participants of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Kane and Kendall Counties in Illinois.
Rock-n-Roll Math


One panel of a cereal/cracker box

12 pebbles

Pair of dice



To make:

Divide and mark the plain side of the panel into 12 squares. Number the squares one through twelve.


To play:

The object of the game is to get a pebble in each of the twelve boxes.

  • Before you begin the game, think about the following situations and establish a rule.
    • Can’t place a pebble: There will be times when a pebble cannot be placed. Does that mean the game is over? Or is this similar to baseball where each player gets three strikes? If there are two or more players, should this result in that person losing the game?
    • Doubles: What happens when a double is rolled? Does that person get an extra roll? Or does it mean the player loses a turn?
  • To begin play, roll the dice. Decide where pebbles should be placed. There are three choices:
    • Combine the numbers on each die and put a pebble on the sum
    • Subtract the lower die from the higher die and put a pebble on that number
    • Cover two numbers – one for each die.


This game can be played:

  • Solo
  • Competing against another person
  • As a group where each person takes a turn rolling the dice. If a play cannot be made that person is out.



Las Chivas

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, our Playing from Scratch game this month is Las Chivas, a variation of the game matatenas or as commonly known in the United States, jacks.

las chivas


  1. 10-20 pebbles or dried beans
  2. Note: The number of pebbles is determined by the size of the player’s hand.
  3. A wide, shallow bowl or box lid
  4. If played outside a wide, shallow hole can be dug in the ground


To Play:

  • Place the bowl on the ground.
  • Designate a ‘tossing line’ about 6-to-8 feet from the bowl.
  • While holding all the pebbles in one hand, Player 1 stands at the ‘tossing line’ and gently tosses all the pebbles simultaneously toward and hopefully into the bowl.  S/he then walks up and removes ONLY the pebbles that are in the bowl. These are then placed on the back of her/his dominate hand. Once these are balanced on the back of the hand the pebbles are flipped into the air and caught in the palm of the same hand. Count the number of pebbles caught. It is now the next player’s turn.
  • The person who with the highest pebble count is the winner.


Pre-Hispanic Marbles, or Jacks? (n.d.) Retrieved August 30, 2015 from

Quezada, F.  (August 30, 2015) Email interview.

Sierra, J. & Kaminski, R. (1995) Children’s Traditional Games: Games from 137 Countries and Cultures. Oryx Press: Phoenix AZ