3 fun and educational contests for kids

February 16, 2016

The seemingly never-ending winter has struck again and you're on the brink of cabin fever. Temperatures have dropped below freezing, snow is piling up outside and your little ones are running around in excitement at the prospect of a snow day. It feels as though you've already read all of the books on the shelf at least 50 times since the first snowfall and have played enough board games to last a lifetime. Your ideas for imaginary games, dress up and educational activities are running out.

But don't despair - there are a still few tricks for passing any snow day! Engaging your children in a few good-natured contests is a great way to keep them occupied for hours at a time. Next time you're cooped up indoors with a house full of kids, try out these friendly competitions.

Between spelling bees and treasure hunts, these contests will fend off any sign of cabin fever.Between spelling bees and treasure hunts, these contests will fend off any sign of cabin fever.

Spelling bee
Spelling bees are not only interactive and exciting, but educational as well. For added authenticity, arrange chairs in a line as they would appear in a professional or middle school spelling bee. Create a makeshift podium using a night stand and find a toy microphone from the dress up closet. 

In a round-robin format, each child will take a turn attempting to correctly spell a word given to him or her. If you have a mix of ages in your group, cater to the younger side so that it stays enjoyable and no one becomes discouraged. The parent will act as the reader, calling each participant up to the microphone one by one. After the word is read aloud, the child must say the word, spell it out and then repeat the word again. Educational resource Kidspot recommends reinforcing the spelling of each word by bringing a white board or large piece of cardboard into the equation as well. After the verbal spelling, have each child spell the word out by hand on the white board so that everyone else is learning too. 

Mini winter Olympics
Rally the troops and invite some of the neighborhood kids over to take part in a modified, indoor-version of the winter Olympics. Your young athletes will be thrilled to represent their given country in this innovative game. The parent and teacher resource Activity Village suggests dividing children into teams, assigning them a country and even hosting an opening ceremony. Give each group of kids time to make flags, choose a mascot and put together team uniforms. Then parade them around the house for the opening ceremonies where you can announce each team and athlete. This is also a great opportunity to teach about the tradition, history and culture of the Olympic Games.

After the opening ceremonies, consider the indoor house-friendly Olympic events below and while the kids are competing, create gold, silver and bronze medals out of paper and string to present to top three finishers.

  1. Shoe box hurdles
  2. Paper plane folding and throwing
  3. Simple gymnastic routines
  4. Modified high jump with couch
  5. Hopscotch sprints
  6. Makeshift balance beam
  7. Laundry basket ball toss.
Rally the kids to represent their favorite country in the mini Olympics.Rally the kids to represent their favorite country in the mini Olympics.

Interactive scavenger hunt
A truly great scavenger hunt encompasses much more than just hunting for treasures. Elaborate clues, maps and challenges along the way create a much more involved game for the kids. It's also important to remember that each step does not have to necessarily be about finding something. For example, item number three on the list could ask your littles ones to write down as many words that they can think of that start with the letter Q. At the end of the scavenger hunt, whichever team has the most words starting with Q will receive extra points. Other fun modifications include requiring team members to perform 10 jumping jacks before advancing to the next clue, taking photographic evidence of a task or walking backwards from one point on the map to the next.

Once you've explained the game, divide the kids into two teams. Giving them anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, announce that in order to qualify, all team members must be seated back on the couch by a set time. After setting the ground rules, suggests Today's Parents, such as no shoving, no cheating or even no running through the house, announce the 3-2-1 countdown and send them off on the hunt!

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