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SUMMER SOLUTION - Keep kids occupied creating these educational games

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 22nd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Kids who learn to make and play their own games will always have something to do on rainy days or on afternoons when it's too hot to play outside. Kids naturally excel at creating games for themselves and given a few items they can provide their own entertainment. It's also a better alternative than paying top dollar for expensive games with questionable content. 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Checkers is a simple game that's easy to make and play. There are also a great many variations on checkers which can keep kids occupied for hours. Checkers helps develop kid's minds by developing critical thinking and planning skills. 

A checkerboard can be made of anything that can be laid flat. Many dollar stores sell the game, but if you want to turn the game into a crafts project, you can make your own set from materials around the house. 

A simple checkerboard can be made from a cardboard panel, upon which the squares may be drawn. The board must have 8 squares on each side, each square should be at least 1 inches on a side. A little larger is okay. When you finish the board, it will have 4 colored squares and four blank squares on all eight lines. Cloth or any other flat surface can be repurposed into a checkerboard with paint, pencils, or markers. 

To create the playing pieces, you may use anything that's easy to handle. In a pinch, colored bits of paper work, but painted pebbles, bottle caps, or coins will do better. Kids can paint the tops of the bottle caps to make two colors for their board. Red and black are traditional, but any two colors are fine. 

The Bookworm Game

Summer reading lists are important, and should be part of any kid's activities even if their school hasn't assigned one. 

First, select an appropriate book or books for your kids. For younger kids, you may divide the game into chapters, and for older kids you may divide the game into books, or any division thereof. This activity can also be used with the Bible.

Create a small, blank board on anything. Next, using construction paper, cut out the shape of a long worm. It must be large enough to write on. For older kids, you can just create a trail. Next cut the worm or trail into segments. Glue the segments to the paper and write on each segment the assigned reading. Every 3-5 segments, have a covered segment. Under that cover write a prize that will be meaningful to that child. The prize may be an ice cream, a new toy, or any other treat. At the end of the trail (or bookworm) have a grand prize that will appropriately reward your child for completing their summer reading list. 

Mancala

Mancala is a game that comes from Africa and has been enjoyed for at least 1,300 years, although archaeologists and historians suggest the game could date to the beginnings of civilization itself. Two players match wits in this game of skill as each tries to fill their house with the greatest number of seeds. 

The board can be drawn by hand on cardboard or it can be created from an empty egg carton which has pits that are perfect for holding the seeds. You will need two rows of six cups or "pits." On each player's right sits his "house." Seeds the player wins will go into their house and become their score. 

The playing pieces, or seeds can be virtually anything including, seeds, marbles, or small pebbles. You will need exactly 48 of these, colors do not matter.

The board can be colored or decorated to taste.

Rules for the game can be easily found online. The game ends when all the seeds are cleared from the board. The winner is the one who earned the most seeds. 

Generally speaking, both players sit opposite of one another and they select a cup of seeds to draw from. Choosing their cup, they take all of its seeds then moving around the board to their right, they deposit one seed into each cup, including their house. If the last seed goes into their house, they may go again. If they deposit seeds around the board and come back to their side, they may capture the seeds in the cup opposite them. To do this, the last seed must land in an empty cup on their side of the board. They may then take that seed and the seeds in the cup opposite and put them into their house. They then may take another turn. 

Players skip their opponents house. 

A turn passes when a player does not end their move with adding a seed to their house. 
Despite the game's simplicity, it is actually a complex game of strategy that involves counting, planning, and improvisation. Each game lasts about 10 minutes on average, but kids will want to play repeatedly. 

There are other games out there kids can improvise with a few common items. Tic-tac-toe, hopscotch, word and letter games can all be part of the fun with just a little imagination and industry.

There are an abundance of fun and creative ideas for kids. The secret is to encourage kids to be creative and to develop their own skills for combating summer boredom. In so doing, they build skills that will continue to serve them later in life, learn creativity and resourcefulness, and above all, stay occupied with something constructive over those long, hot summer months. 

 

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