Food Group Bingo

In honor of World Food Day – October 16, 2017

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “World Food Day (WFD) was established by FAO’s Member Countries at the Organization’s 20th General Conference in November 1979. It has since been observed every year in more than 150 countries, raising awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger.”

• Game card (like the one to the right)
• Grocery store ads and newspaper circulars
• Scissors
• Glue

To Play:
Search through grocery store circulars to find examples of Dairy, Fruit, Grains, Proteins, and Veggies. Cut out the example and paste it onto the card. The first person to fill the card wins.
• Note: NO repeats! So although you may come across several ads for apples, you may only use apples once.

Make it vegetarian! … and use the following food groups: Beans/Lentils, Fruit, Grains, Nuts/Seeds, and Veggies.

Playing From Scratch – ‘Ulu Maika

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

‘Ulu maika is a game that was played by early Hawaiians. The aim of the game is to roll a disc between two narrowly placed goals a distance away. A 500 foot ‘ulu maika playing field can be found on the island of Moloka’i.

For more information check out the following websites:

2 plastic bottles filled with water.
Empty tape roll, empty ribbon spool

Before play begins, each player is given a spool to decorate with markers. A player can make up a design or research historical cultural ones.

Agree on a predetermined distance from goals; measure.

To Play:
Place the two bottles apart; approximately 4-6 inches wider than the width of the disc being rolled. From a designated distance, roll the disc so that it goes through the opening between the bottles. The first person to get five through wins. Note: The rolling distance can increase as the skill level increases. Also the space between the bottles can vary depending on skill level; starting wider with a novice and narrowing as the aim improves.

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.

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.

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.


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