Tag Archives: Fun

Card Games for Kids of All Ages

I have wonderful memories of playing cards as a young child.  I was captivated as a 4-year-old when I first learned to play Fish. The way my older cousin shuffled the deck seemed like magic.  And then there was the overwhelming anticipation followed by horror if I unknowingly selected the Old Maid from the person next to me.  I couldn’t get rid of her fast enough.  Whether you have preschoolers or teens at home, here are 6 simple card games that everybody loves .

OLD MAID

Prep a standard deck of cards by removing one queen card and shuffling the deck. Deal out all the cards to all the players until there are none left. Players remove the pairs in their hands. The dealer fans out his cards in his hands and offers his hand to the player on his left. That player selects one and adds it to her own hand. Any matches are removed. The process continues around and around the circle until everything is paired up except the queen. Whoever is left with it at the end of the game is the Old Maid!

GO FISH

The goal here is to get four of a kind. Deal out seven cards to each player. If you have seven or more players, use five cards a piece. Put the remaining cards in a deck in the center. Player 1 picks any other player to ask if he has the card she’s looking for – e.g., “Do you have any threes?” Hand over the cards if you’ve got them or tell the person to “Go Fish” for a card in the pile. As soon as you find four of a kind, put them face up on the table. Whoever runs out of cards first is the winner.

WAR

This game of luck can be totally addictive for kids. Divide the deck evenly among the two players. Each player turns over the top card on her deck at the same time. Whoever has the higher card takes both cards and puts them at the bottom of her stack. If the cards are the same, then it’s war! Each player counts out three cards (face down) and the next card is shown. Whoever has the higher card wins all the cards.

UNO /CRAZY EIGHTS

This game, played with UNO cards or a standard pack of playing cards, has one goofy twist: eights rule! Deal seven cards out to each person in a two-player game, or five cards for games with three or four players. The remaining cards go in a draw pile, and one card is turned over to start the play pile. The player to the dealer’s left must match the card’s number or suit from the face-up pile. A player who does not have a match may play an eight and change the suit to anything they wish. A player who has neither a match nor an eight must draw until he gets a card that can be played. The first to discard all their cards wins.

CONCENTRATION

Turn a standard deck of cards into a game of concentration. Shuffle the deck, laying the cards out in rows, and hunting for “matches” of the red kings, black threes, and so forth. For little ones, use just the two red suits for a more manageable set.

FOREHEAD POKER

This is a fun, super simple two-player game for the small fries. Place the deck between you and your child. Each of you grabs a card without peaking at it and places it on your forehead so that your opponent can see it, but you can’t. Have your little one guess if their own card is higher or lower than yours. If they’re right, they take the pair. If they’re wrong, it’s yours. Take turns and work your way through the deck. The person with the most cards at the end is the winner.

Educational Apps that will Excite Everyone

Looking for some new ways to take in the great outdoors?  Here are 3 free phone apps that will make a walk in the park no less than exciting. Merlin Bird Call will help you to identify every bird you hear or see. PictureThis – Plant Identifier does an awesome job at identifying each flower, tree or plant along the trail. And SkyView Lite teaches stargazing to everyone. Simply point your phone at the sky to identify stars, constellations, satellites, and more. All 3 are available on the app store.  Before long, your family will think you have super powers.

Make Your Own Ice Cream

Making your own ice cream is a fun summer activity to do with the kids. Here is a simple recipe. You can change it up by adding a little chocolate syrup, a few chocolate chips, or using a flavoring other than vanilla.

mixinbagIn a quart size zipper baggie, combine…
1 cup of whole milk or half and half
2 tablespoons of sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

In a gallon size zipper baggie…
Fill ½ way with ice cubes
Add 1/3 cup of rock salt (if you don’t have rock salt you can use table salt or kosher salt)

Seal the small baggie carefully and place the inside of the large bag. Seal the large bag and shake the bags until you can see the mixture thickening (about 5 minutes.) It will be cold to hold, so you may want to carefully pass it back and forth between yourself and a partner.  Remove the small baggie and wipe the top off (to remove salt water,) unzip and enjoy!

Camp Au Pair – Art Experiences

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Art Experiences.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to art can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Art Experiences pinboard.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions. Some museums are requiring advanced tickets or have reduced hours due to the pandemic.

Online Art FunHere is a great website with lots of art activities including ones for older kids.

Webcams – You can do a google search for art websites with webcams. Here are a few to get you started:

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about drawing and all kinds of art.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on famous artists and art.

Check YouTube for books on art being read aloud:

Image: teachkidsart.com

Camp Au Pair – Bugs & Butterflies

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Bugs & Butterflies.

More than 100 crafts, recipes, and activities related to all kinds of bugs, insects, butterflies, and spiders can be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Bugs & Butterflies pinboard.

Outdoors – Kids today do not spend enough time outdoors. Take the kids in the backyard or another nature area (approved by your host parents) and do some activities related to this theme:

  • Allow them to search for bugs and butterflies.
  • Observe lightning bugs (also known as fireflies) in the evening. Here is a map showing what people call these little guys in different parts of the country.
  • After it rains, look for earthworms. Not bugs or butterflies, but very interesting creatures you can find in your own backyard.

NOTE: If you are outdoors with the children, be sure to check for ticks when you come back inside. Here is a blog post explaining the health risk ticks can pose and how to find and remove them safely.

Videos – You can find many great videos of butterflies and insects on YouTube. Check out these videos for kids about bees and ants. All about Insects covers lots of tiny creatures who crawl and fly. Here are a few videos to get you started.

Movies – A Bugs Life, The Bee Movie, Maya the Bee, and The Ant Bully all fit this theme.

Webcams – You can do a Google search for websites with webcams that allow you to observe bugs.

Books – Make a trip to the library and/or check your kids’ bookshelf for books on bugs and butterflies. You may find some classics like The Very Hungry Caterpillar or The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle. You can also find books being read aloud on YouTube videos like this one.

Image: minieco.co.uk

Camp Au Pair: Backyard Safari

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Backyard Safari.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Backyard Safari pinboard

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. While we don’t have any animal safari parks near us, we are fortunate to live near two of the top zoos in the United States.

Webcams – You can do a google search for websites with webcams that allow you to observe nature.

Videos – Look for fun videos about African animals on YouTube.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on animals you might find on a safari or in the zoo. You can also check YouTube for some books on this subject being read aloud.

Image: Jumble Tree

Make Plans for Summer Fun with the Kids!

When the kids are out of school on summer break there are soooo many possibilities. But, if you don’t make plans, you will often end up in the house with bored kids getting into trouble and arguing with their siblings.  Make plans!

Having lots of ideas ready can minimize those problems.

Looking for fun activity ideas to get the summer started off right with your host kids?

The Au Pair in America Summer Fun Pinboard is a great place to start. Together, create a Summer Bucket List. Talk with the kids about things they would like to see and do. Even toddlers and preschoolers can contribute to the conversation. Run these plans by your host parents and clear things like how much you may spend and when is best to do some of these activities.

Check back here next week for information on Camp Au Pair in America: a weekly blog series with themes for a summer break filled with fun and new adventures.

Photo: MissMessie (Flickr)

Create a Spring Break Game Plan

“Game plan” means a strategy for how you are going to accomplish something.  In the case of keeping kids from getting bored and/or into trouble, the best way to prevent it is to keep them busy with safe, fun activities.

When there are days home from school, letting kids sit around watching TV or playing video games is not the best use of their time.  Providing fun alternatives will make it much easier to pull them away from the screen.

You need to make a plan of what you will do with them each day and prepare for that. Planning is very important.  You don’t want to tell them you are going someplace fun, only to arrive there and see they are not open that day or you needed to bring something and you don’t have it.

If your plan includes a craft or cooking project, make sure you have:

    • All the ingredients/supplies
    • Recipe/directions

If your plan includes an outing to someplace fun, figure out:

    • How will you get there?
    • When you should leave?
    • How much it will cost?
    • What will you do for lunch?

Use some of these online resources to find activities and recipes:

Have a Wonderful Spring Break!

Image: Canva.com

 

Big Kids Need Interaction, Too

Just because a child is old enough to occupy themselves, doesn’t mean that they should be expected to do so the majority of the time.  Host families have a certain expectation of activity and involvement for their children. Get the kids engaged and active. You can be more fun than the TV or a video game.

Problem:
But, my kids don’t want to do anything but watch TV or play video games.

Solution:
Instead of saying,  “Would you like to (fill in the blank with any activity)?  The answer will often be, “No.”

Try this, “Now we are going to (fill in the blank with any activity.) or “Would you rather do  _____ or ______?”  Make sure both the choices are good options.
Your chances of co-operation are greatly increased. Even kids who are reluctant to try new things will usually get in the spirit of things and have fun if you pick a good activity.

Problem:
I don’t know what to do with school-age kids.

Solution:
Look for ideas online. Google “activities school-age kids” or “activities tweens”. You can also take part in an au pair webinar on this topic. Below is a list of some ideas to get you started.

  • Cooking
  • Making things (check craft stores like Michael’s for kits and models that are age-appropriate)
  • Going to fun places (pottery painting, jewelry making, farms, museums, mini-golf, go-karts)*
  • Sports (soccer, tennis, swimming, bicycling, roller skating, ice skating)*
  • Let them teach you to do something they enjoy. Kids this age love being the expert.
  • Get outdoors and visit local parks.* You can even make a project of reviewing all the local parks (what kind of equipment they have, is there shade, water fountain?)  They can write this up and keep, so they remember which ones they want to go to again and which ones to skip in the future.
  • Let them help you search and plan some activities.
  • Check on the APIA Pinterest page and here on our cluster blog for ideas.
  • If you have a GPS, try taking them geocaching. Here is a website with all the details.
  • Use technology to get them off the couch and sneak in some exercise. The phone app Pokémon Go includes activities that are unlocked by taking steps. There are Pokéstops and gyms at many places they might enjoy going for walks like parks, nature trails, walk/bike paths, and downtown areas.

*Always get permission from your host parents before taking the kids places and remember to follow social distancing and mask-wearing protocols.

 

Valentine’s Day Activities

Valentine’s Day (February 14) is a time of love, friendship, giving, and caring. Americans use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to tell friends and family how much they care.  Children usually exchange cards at school.

Are you looking for Valentine’s day activity and craft ideas?

Look no further…  Au Pair in America has a Pinterest pinboard devoted to Valentine’s Day:

APIA Valentine’s Day Pinboard

Photo: Clever Cupcakes (Flickr)