Skills: STEM, Problem Solving, Family Values
One of the most engaging activities we’ve enjoyed has been making penny boats. I got the idea a few years ago from PBS Parents. When I do this challenge with my kids at our local pool in the summer, it usually doesn’t take very long before all the other kids start asking to participate, too.
You can find the complete instructions at the link above, but the premise is simple: Your goal is to build a boat out of aluminum foil and see how many pennies it will hold before it sinks. (Note: You need a lot of pennies for this challenge if you have a lot of kids participating!) You can make the activity as simple or as complicated as you want; older kids can investigate boat designs ahead of time, everyone can make a sketch of their boat design, or you can simply rip off pieces of aluminum foil and tell the kids “Go!”
Children of nearly any age can play. What I love seeing most, however, is when the older kids wind up helping the younger ones. Not only are they being challenged to create designs with the greatest buoyancy, but they are developing the far greater skills (in my mind) of helping those with less knowledge, consideration of others, and kindness.
Skills: Math (Counting)
If you have a child who needs to develop their money counting skills, this is the game for you! Depending on the number of kids you have participating, you may need a lot of coins of different values. To play, you take the coins and scatter them in the shallow end of the pool. Then you assign each child a certain dollar amount.
For instance, you may give Maria $.82 or Gabriel $1.19. Then, the kids must dive and collect the correct amount. It helps to have a list of dollar amounts written in advance. You can even print up your own cards and laminate them to make them waterproof and a little more durable if you plan to play this game on a regular basis.
You can keep score two ways: Assign all the kids the same dollar amount and whoever gets it fastest wins a point. Or you can assign each child different amounts and set a timer, the child with the most correct amounts in 10 minutes wins. For both versions, I suggest a dry-erase board and marker for keeping track using tally marks, but plain old pencil and paper work just as well. It’s up to you if you want to let your young players keep what they’ve counted!
For this game your child will create a floating boat (or you can create them in advance) and learn how to propel the boat most efficiently. For the boat itself, any floating pool toy will work, but I recommend taking a pool noodle and cutting it into equal pieces. You can use wooden skewers or short pieces of thin dowels to serve as tiny little masts or flagpoles and use different colored flags with individual designs so that you can tell them apart. Then you line up all the children along one side of the pool and give each child a boat. They hold the boats at arm’s length in front of them and when you give the signal, they let go and begin creating waves to propel the boats across the pool. You give the kids the option of making those waves with their arms/hands or legs/feet. It’s their choice. The only rule is that they cannot leave their side of the pool. The first boat to make it across the pool wins!
Review of NoNetz by a Homeschooling Dad
What’s the worst part of swimming for men? There’s the hassle of getting ready, dealing with your wet clothes, and of course, pruning, to consider - but beyond all of these, the absolute worst part of swimming is the chafing. The nets inside traditional swim trunks can constantly rub and aggravate the skin, causing chafing that can last for a whole vacation.
NoNetz were developed as an alternative to the outdated “traditional” swim trunks that most men are all too familiar with. These trunks have a net in them as a “safety” measure, but more often than not they cause more harm than good. NoNetz’s design offers instead an anti-chafe, anti-bacterial, non-compression lining that helps keeps swimmers safe and comfortable.
As soon as I put the trunks on for the first time and got in the water, I felt more free. And that feeling of freedom is one of the most fun aspects of swimming. Not worrying about the constricting grip of netting, coupled with the relief that no matter what I wasn’t going to have any sort of rash after enjoying my swim kept me at ease both physically and mentally. One of the best parts too is that NoNetz trunks are SPF 50, and block harmful sun rays that many other swim trunks do not.
NoNetz offers three styles of trunks, each with three colors. Each of the pairs offers the same protection, and are all designed with comfort and safety first in mind. The trunks feature water resistant fabric, so they’re super quick drying, and they’re chlorine proof so the vibrant color will last for a long long time.
These trunks worked wonders for me, and I’m sure my children will love them too. They were originally designed for boys, so my teenagers are in for a treat when I pick up some more pairs for our next family outing to the lake. We’re all on track to be more confident swimmers thanks to NoNetz.
About the All-Star Blogger
Monica Olivera is a homeschooling mother of two and a freelance education writer. Her site, MommyMaestra.com, helps Hispanic parents get more involved in their children's education by providing resources, tips, and opportunities. She is also the co-founder of Latinas for Latino Lit and the content creator of the Latino Children’s Summer Reading Program, the first national, online program designed specifically for Latino families. Her education articles have appeared in numerous online sites such as NBCNews, latinamom.me, and PBSParents. To learn more, visit her About.me page.
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