Category Archives: Impromptu Activities

NounSens-ical Fun!

My family loves to play board games – our favourites are ones which make us laugh and talk and generally relax. We were recently introduced to a new game called NounSense by the wonderful people at OurKids and here is our review.

If you enjoy reading and filling in the blanks with the Mad Lib books, this game is for you. The object of the game is to be the first player who completes their story with nouns and collects the most points. To begin the game, each player picks a story card (but shouldn’t read it). Each story card has blanks on it – this is where the nouns go. You find the nouns on this board which has all the nouns you can use to complete the stories. (When I first saw the board I was skeptical that the sticky stuff was going to let us reuse the nouns but not to worry it is great.) Then you take turns moving your marker around the board, landing on spots which tell you how many nouns you can peel and stick into your story.

My boys were so excited to complete their stories that they didn’t want to wait for their turn. This caused some problems because while they tried to wait for their turn they would read their stories to themselves and giggle. Of course when one giggles the other wants to know why….
We had so much fun since we first played the game about a month ago, my ten year old son has asked to play it at least once week since.

A few details: We have played without keeping score as the points are not really necessary. Instead we see who can make the others laugh the loudest and longest with the funniest story. We recommend that when you play you don’t look at the Wild Words as you pick them otherwise these will be the nouns that everyone wants first (causing arguments and competitiveness to crush the fun).

As a mom, I really enjoyed listening to my son who is in Grade One read his story. Some of the words were a bit challenging for him which was great! My son who is in Grade 4 loved the freedom to make up the silliest sentences possible.

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The Cold Didn’t Stop Us

Was it cold this weekend? We didn’t feel it. We were too busy being Canadians and playing road hockey on Saturday. When the eldest was invited to skate on a neighbour’s pond, our youngest decided he wanted someone else to play hockey with him – and he didn’t mean mom or dad. He created “Tony”. Tony was born from a conversation with his dad about practicing his shots on net and aiming for the corners – not the middle where the goalie stands.

Made with imagination


Junior Hallsworth came running inside and jumped on the computer to find a good picture of a goalie in his net. He then printed it off and with his dad’s help they developed Tony – our family goalie, who is made out of plywood.

Tony worked hard on Saturday as both boys and a friend spent close to 2 hours taking shots on him. I expect that dear Tony will have lots of puck marks on him by the end of the season. Fortunately he can’t speak otherwise I think he would complain violently about the shots to his head.

No one complained about the temperatures and their pink cheeks and lack of conversation at bedtime were indications that they had a good time. Let’s hope that as the temperatures rise and fall over the course of this bizarre winter, Tony can help us get up and go some more.

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Beating Boredom a Minute at a Time

Within 30 minutes of friends coming over to our house on Saturday afternoon, the taunting had started amongst the group of 9 year olds and boredom was setting in. I wanted to test a few of this year’s Amazing Race tasks for our annual party and what better way than to try them out with the future participants. Setting up the laptop computer on the kitchen table, I opened the Minute To Win It website and began asking them which game they would like to try. Immediately, the group crowded around the computer and watched the short instructional videos and said – oh I bet we can do that one. We gathered the necessary materials and tried a number of the games including Brush with Danger, Candelier and 4 Kings.

None of the games were easy to accomplish. We didn’t bother with the time restriction of a minute. We simply tried to work out how to complete the task. I love these challenges for so many reasons – the children are actively problem solving collaboratively, they are generally up off the coach, there are so many challenges you can find one that each participant is good at and finally, the cost of the materials is close to zero for most of the games as you are using household items.

Maybe now we could have another evening of Minute To Win It Challenges – perhaps a friendly game amongst the family over the holidays?!

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Always Carry Supplies

You may pack a snack bag to take with you so your children aren’t complaining they are starving. We pack an art bag to keep the boredom bugs away!

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Just Your Basic Water Toys

Today is the hottest day of the summer so far – over 40 degrees celsius with the humidity! No freezing office air conditioning for me – I am on holiday with my boys and we are loving our staycation! Our toys of choice for this weather are a blow up Canadian Tire special pool that fits the whole family, a children’s sprinkler that this 6 years old, water balloons from the dollar store and a sponge with a bucket. Add water and a couple of friends and we have hours of entertainment!

The fun in the pool is probably pretty evident – playing catch, swim races, doing handstands, making whirlpools. The sprinkler isn’t your everyday back and forth variety. It is a volcano that squirts water up and out every 30 seconds. Boys being boys like to pick it up and hold it like they are shooting a cannon and use it as a big water gun to soak their friends. The shrieks of laughter can be heard a number of streets over.

There are a number of games that we play with water balloons – starting with counting how many don’t have holes in when they are blown up.(They are from the dollar store. What do you expect?) We put some in the pool and have a competition to see whose balloon survives when they throw it up as high as possible and let it come back down when it hits the water. Other games include – pairing up and throwing the water balloon between them. When a pass has been successfully completed and the water balloon is caught and intact each person in the pair steps back. Keep going until the team that is the furthest apart with their water balloon intact is the winner. Finally, who doesn’t love a good water fight with water balloons!

In a water fight anything can become a projectile – as long as it holds water. I am personal fan of Nerf balls – which they don’t seem to manufacture like they did in the 80s. (sigh the gold old days). So we use sponges instead. Outside of water fights, sponges are good for another game called Drip, Drip, Drop. It is a water version of Duck, Duck, Goose but is much cooler with the 7 and older crowd. The group forms a circle and one person is choosen to walk on the outside of the circle. This person has a wet sponge (likely the hotter the day, the wetter the sponge). They walk around the outside of the circle and say Drip, drip, drip. As they pass a person instead of patting them on the head they sprinkle a drop of water from the sponge – giving the person a kiss of water. When they say drop, they squeeze the sponge of water onto the target’s head and then run around the circle back to that person’s spot and the target tries to tag them.

So much fun and laughter on a hot, hot day.

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Schooled with Scrabble

My children often surprise me and in the last two weeks my eldest has done just that. My 9 year old son is a good student in school – he loves to be challenged. So every summer I try to think of a new way to keep him mentally stimulated. This summer he was way ahead of me. He found the free version of Scrabble I had downloaded onto my ipad and on a particularly steamy day as we cooled off in the air conditioned house, he curled up next to me and asked to play.
Since then we have played a number of times – enjoying each other’s company and challenging our brains and extending our vocabulary. So far we have abandoned the games before they end. Whether or not he has noticed, he has won each of them. But I am not going to tell him… yet.

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Using Our Imaginations

Raphael - formerly The Little Artist

On the first weekend of Spring Break, we created a project for ourselves – let’s pretend to be something or someone else – but not use a costume. What can we do?

We decided to trace the outline of ourselves on large sheets of paper and then draw and decorate ourselves using our imaginations. Our little artist jumped into this project. He posed on the paper as if he was a ninja – hands, feet expressing his idea immediately. Then he drew in his accessories, mixed paint, and coloured all afternoon. Look who he pretended to be!

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