Garanimals Blog

Archive for the ‘games’ tag

October 20th, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Halloween Games and Activities


Halloween fun isn’t only about dressing up and trick-or-treating. Playing halloween games is a nice way to have fun as a family, or celebrate with friends at a party.

  • Witches Hat Ring Toss – Purchase some witches hats from the dollar store and stuff with newspaper. Use rings of some sort (I used glow necklaces) to throw around the hats.
  • Tic Tac Toe – A great game for people of all ages this printable is an easy way to make it Halloween worthy.
  • Costume Paper Doll Dress-Up – An easy activity to keep kids occupied is by drawing a cut out of a person. I usually just trace a the largest gingerbread man cookie cutter I have. The kids love to transform the shape by drawing a costume on it. They can draw on clothes to make it a pirate, Frankenstein, Dracula, a princess, a fairy, etc. Be ready to provide lots of papers with the initial drawing because the ideas can be endless! You can even make these life-size by tracing your child.
  • Leaf Rubbings and Other Drawing Fun – Another craft idea is to take some leaves and stick them under a piece of paper. Use a crayon with all the paper off to make a leaf rubbing. Create a fun picture or use the design to be the background to a fun shape that you cut out. Or, did you ever notice that your foot upside down looks like a ghost? This is a great craft for really young ones. Paint the bottom of their feet and toes and place down on paper. Add some eyes once it dries and you have a spooky, but cute ghost!
  • Mummy Wrap –  Each  child gets a roll of toilet paper and they get to wrap up their friends.
  • Pumpkin Ping-Pong – Cut out some shapes to make them look like Jack-O-Lantern faces and line them up in a row away from you. Give the kids ping pong balls to throw at the buckets one by one. First person to get them in all the buckets wins!
  • Halloween Sensory Boxes – Take a box, cut a hole in it, and cover it with a cloth. Fill it with stuff and have the kids pass it around to touch. Some of the fun things you can add are popcorn kernels for “witches teeth, bologna for “tongues,” peeled grapes for “eyeballs,” and spaghetti for “brains.”
  • Costume Race or Dress-Up –  We’ve got tons of costumes and props lying around from past years. See how many different costume ideas can come out of that box. Have a timed race to see who can put the best costume together the quickest. Have little ones? Then do a Halloween fashion show complete with pictures.
  • Pumpkin Bowling –  Take some toilet paper and make it look like ghosts with cutouts from construction paper that you attach. Take an extra pumpkin and drill three holes in it, just like a bowling ball. Hours of entertainment!

Have a great time celebrating Halloween!

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July 29th, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Fun iPhone Apps for Kids


Looking for some fun apps to add to your iPhone or iPad?

For your younger kids, try Alien Assignment (free). It is a fun scavenger hunt app that uses your device’s camera. When the alien needs something, your child must find a household item that fits the description and take a picture of it. Fun and learning at the same time.

It’s never to early to learn about healthy eating. Go Nini  (free) is a helpful app that makes a game of making good food choices. Foods that are “Go”, “Slow” and “Whoa” help teach children about the types of food they should eat anytime, sometimes, and rarely.

For ages 8 and up, try StoryLines (free). Think of it as a digital version of the “telephone” game. The first person chooses a common phrase and passes the device to the next person, who draws a picture of that phrase and passes the the device to the next person, who must write a caption for that picture. And so on up to 9 players. When the last person is done, you review the storyline to see how different the last caption is from the first phrase. It’s both fun and educational.

9-11. Weird but True (free with 0.99 add-ons for additional fact packs) is a National Geographic app that provides lots of little known and downright strange factoids about any number of topics like lobsters and astronauts.

And of course for the little ones just starting out with basic learning, the Garanimals Learn, Play, Share app (free) teaches letters, numbers and shapes by association.

Add a little fun and learning to your summer.

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June 20th, 2014 at 9:25 am

Outside Water Fun


For my boys, one of the best parts of summer is WATER!! The only problem is the boys get bored with the same old fun in the pool. I wanted to share some other ideas for having fun with water!

I think this sprinkler might be a fun way to celebrate summer. A simple 2-liter bottle in the premix behind it. Or create a fun Water Blob to play on. That just requires some strong tape and plastic sheeting.

One of the projects we plan on tackling this summer are sponge bombs. With some sponges and zip ties you can make hours of water fun! Think of the possibilities – dodgeball, relay races to empty the water out of the sponges the fastest, or even a simple game of catch!

We love going to the local splash pad and running through the sprinklers, but why not bring the splash pad to you with some simple pvc pipe! Check out this way to make your own PVC sprinkler at home.

We host several gatherings with friends throughout the summer. Party games are so much fun for the kids and there are some great water games here. I especially can’t wait to have the kids play Catch the Water Bombs or Dip, Drip, Dunk! I think I may even pull these out during playdates when I start to hear, “I’m bored.”

Whether it be a store bought water toy, super soakers, a homemade water sponge or even just the hose itself – make sure to turn the water on when the temperature goes up to help the summer fun begin!

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May 30th, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Encouraging Learning During Summer Vacation


Just because school has ended doesn’t mean that kids should stop  learning. Summer is a great time to incorporate learning into your everyday plans, and work on skills for the next year.

Use Your Imagination
Summer is a great time for your kids to use their imagination. Play with Legos, dolls, or even stare at the clouds outside. If your children are at an age when they can write, have them keep a journal (it makes a nice keepsake for them to look back on as well).  Make  time to do some of these things with them.

Visit The Library
The library is a great place to explore regularly during the summer. While this is a great place to get reading materials, you can also investigate and learn about things you may encounter. If you are going on a walk in the woods, you may want to pick up a book about wild flowers or insects. There are children’s book clubs or story time events you can join as well.

Take Field Trips
One of my families favorite summer activities is exploring places during our lazy summer days. Take some time to check out nearby parks, wildlife centers, museums and more. There is so much you can learn plus it is a great way to learn about the area you live in.

Worksheets/Coloring Pages Are Fun and Educational
There are some great workbooks available to help your child. Something as simple as a journal or some coloring pages can help them too.

Study Nature And Science
Summer is a great time to learn about science and nature. How do bubbles work? Can the hot sun fry an egg? How do caterpillars turn into butterflies? The list is endless. Use this time to help your children what’s going on in the world around them. If you have a telescope, you can help your child identify constellations and such.

Sing Songs
My boys love music. Even if we are just outside hanging out, we love to listen and sing to music. Sometimes we even dance around. Look for outdoor concerts to enjoy. There is a summertime lunch concert each week in our town that we like to attend and bring a picnic lunch to. It’s nice to get outside and enjoy some culture!

Play Games
We love play card and board games together! Whether it be puzzles, strategy games, or just games of concentration, they are all fun tools for keeping brains sharp and focused.

How do you incorporate learning into your summer days?

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April 10th, 2014 at 12:07 pm

10 Easter Egg Hunt Tips




As a child, my favorite part of Easter was the egg hunt in our backyard. My siblings, cousins and I would search the entire property for colorful eggs left by the Easter bunny! Now, as an adult, I love watching the kids have that same experience. Some of you may have only a few children and the hunt coordination is fairly easy, but if you do a multi-family egg hunt it can get pretty complicated…especially when it comes to keeping the peace when the kids have free reign and goodies are involved! Here are ten egg hunt tips to make sure everything goes smoothly.

  1. Decide on a set number of eggs each child will get. I recommend plastic eggs so you can hide prizes inside, but some people like to hide real eggs.
  2. Choose a variety of prizes to fill the eggs with. Make sure things are age appropriate. Some good ideas are: Change or dollar bills, candy, erasers, whistles, stickers, hair clips, small toys, temporary tattoos, bracelets, etc. You can also have one or two special eggs for each child with a note inside that they can trade in for a big toy that wouldn’t fit. You can find some great, affordable prizes at your local Walmart!
  3. If you have a small scale egg hunt, give each child an egg color or size so there is no confusion as to which eggs they should look for. If you have a large scale egg hunt, decide on egg colors or size per age group, i.e. Ages 2-4 can only take red and yellow eggs, ages 5-9 can only take blue and green eggs, etc. That way, they will get the appropriate goodies for their age group and you know how to appropriately hide them so that they’re not too difficult for little ones, or too easy for older ones, to find.
  4. Set an appropriate time for the hunt. Keep in mind when it starts to get dark in your area and allow the kids ample time before sundown. Also keep in mind that the kids will want to play with and eat their prizes right away, so plan it around your meals.
  5. Decide on the area you will hide the eggs in and,  if necessary, use flags to create boundaries so the kids don’t go looking in the wrong places. It also provides an element of safety so you can make sure that they don’t wander off or go into areas where they might get hurt.
  6. Write down where you hide the eggs. I can tell you from experience that it’s easy to forget after hiding a bunch of them!
  7. Hand out baskets to make it easy for the kids to collect their eggs. A fun way to prepare for this is to let them decorate and personalize their egg hunt baskets a day or two before Easter!
  8. Designate egg hunt “moderators” who can help the kids find the eggs if they have trouble and get frustrated. For little ones, they can guide them in the right direction.
  9. Designate a few people to handle photography and take pictures of the kids hunting for the eggs. These moments are precious and will be special memories to look back on!
  10. Make a rule that no one can open their eggs until each child has found all of their eggs. Patience is a virtue!

What do YOU have planned for the egg hunt this year? Share with us on our Facebook wall!

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April 4th, 2014 at 9:00 am

Fun Easter Themed Apps


Easter is such a fun time filled with the anticipation of hidden baskets and eggs. Help spread the excitement by adding some games for your child to play. Whether it be an Easter themed puzzle, virtual egg coloring, or even an Easter themed book, these apps will make preparing for Easter even more fun!

Easter Bunny Tracker - See if the Easter Bunny is close to hiding his/her eggs at your house!

Paint Easter Egg HD – A fun app for coloring virtual eggs…same fun without the mess!

Hidden Egg Hunt - A hidden picture game where you find hidden eggs. Race against the clock to beat each level.

Easter Bunny Call – Make your little ones think the Easter Bunny is calling them directly.

Color Me! Easter – A virtual coloring book with pictures of the Easter Bunny, eggs, and other spring things.

Bubble Blast Easter - A puzzle game you won’t be able to put down.

Puzzle Me Easter – Work on your jigsaw puzzle skills with this easter themed app.

Easter Bunny Scan O’Meter - Tells children whether they are being good or bad according to the Easter Bunny – the best part is that you set it secretly!

Easter Expressions - Make cards that can be emailed to wish Easter blessings to family and friends.

Easter Egg Design Generator - Another virtual egg dying app.

Easter Bunny Dress Up – Have your child take a picture with the Easter Bunny that they dressed up themselves!

Easter Bunny Games for Kids: Easter Egg Hunt Jigsaw Puzzles HD for Toddler and Preschool - An easy jigsaw puzzle app for the littlest ones.

Sneezies Easter Edition - A chain reaction game with sneezing fun!

Easter Egg Match – A fun slider game matching Easter Eggs.

Fly the Flappy Easter Bird - An arcade style game.

Bunyfur’s Easter Eggs – An Easter eBook.



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November 4th, 2013 at 5:00 am

Keeping Kids Occupied with File Folder Games

file-folder-gamesEver been waiting in the doctor’s office and wishing that you had a quiet toy or activity for your child to play with. A lot of us resort to our smartphone, but that isn’t always an option. File folder games can be played quietly and are a fun way to introduce educational activities. You can make these your own by coloring, laminating, and using magnets, velcro or anything you have to make the pieces stick. They are great to use on road trips, while waiting in the doctor’s offices, in church, and they easily fit on a shelf.

Grab a box of file folders to get started! You just need to find a fun printable and assemble. Make each game to your child’s personality. If they like trucks, make a game of counting trucks, another with names of trucks and the alphabet, and another with matching colors of trucks. These are great games to keep your child occupied without them even knowing they are learning.

In my picture, I made a matching file folder game. I used leftover valentine cards and glued them to the file folder. I laminated both the folder and the individual matching cards. The cards are stored in a pocket on the front of the file folder. It provides loads of fun, especially because it has some of the kids’ favorite characters.

There is a great tutorial on how to make them here and  some great printable games that I have found for you:

Preschool File Folder Games – included in this collection are colors, numbers, science, memory and alphabet games

20 Easy to Make File Folder Games

Caterpillar File Folder Game

Counting Template – add shapes of your toddlers favorite things cut in a bag attached to one side of the folder. Have them count the items by putting them in the boxes.

Worms in my Apple Game – encourages lacing and counting

Home or School Game – identifying where certain items belong

Shape Town

Printable Preschool File Folder Games

Fun Games

File Folder Games to Purchase

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.


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August 20th, 2013 at 5:00 am

Tips to Keep Your Kids Bilingual When They Go Back to School

My children are not lucky enough to attend a dual language immersion school. That means they are surrounded by English pretty much all day long once they go back to school. Nothing wrong with that, except that it makes it a lot harder when you’re trying to raise bilingual kids.

If you’re raising your children with more than one language, there are several things you can do to make sure they don’t forget their second language once they go back to school.

Here are some of the things we do in my household:

  • First and foremost, talk to your children in Spanish. In my house, my kids know that as soon as they get home from school, they have to switch to Spanish because that is the language we speak at home.
  • Make sure you’re reading to them in Spanish as much as possible. My daughter has to read for 20 minutes, so I let her do that in English. Then, we spend another 10 minutes with me reading something to her in Spanish.
  • If you let your kids watch movies, use the Spanish track so that they watch them in their second language. They may not like it at first, but they’ll quickly get used to it.
  • Same thing if you let your kids use your tablet. My kids are allowed to use mine only if they play apps in Spanish. They can play some in English too, but first they have agree to play the ones that helps them practice their Spanish.

Roxana A. Soto is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby, the go-to site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. She’s the co-author of her first book, based on her blog. Roxana is also a staff writer for MamásLatinas.

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June 25th, 2013 at 5:01 am

Traditional Outdoor Games in Spanish

With the start of summer and the end of the school year, I find myself searching for fun activities to keep my children entertained. I don’t mind them watching a little bit of television, but I don’t want them to think that’s the only thing to do during their long summer break. That’s why I recently racked my brain trying to remember the childhood outdoors games I used to play when I was growing up back in Latin America.

I have taught my kids all about them and now whenever they get together with other bilingual kids like them they play at least one of them. Check them out:

Juguemos en el bosque — Kids hold hands and walk around in a circle singing the following: “Juguemos en el bosque mientras que el lobo no está” (let’s play in the woods while the wolf is gone) and then they ask: “¿lobo estás?” (wolf are you around?). Then whomever is playing the wolf answers that he’s not ready because he’s getting dressed, but he goes through each garment of clothing until he’s finally ready and goes running after one of the kids.

1-2-3 Pescao or 1-2-3 pollito inglés — A child stands on the finish line while all the others stand several feet behind me. He has to turn around and counts to three saying, 1, 2, 3 pescao. He turns around and everyone has to freeze, whomever moves goes back to the beginning. The first one to get to the child on the finish line without getting caught wins.

Jumping rope — I have many awesome childhood memories of rope jumping and the songs we used to sing while doing it. My favorite one goes something like this:

“Manzanita del Perú,

¿cuántos años tienes tú?

Todavía no lo sé

Pero pronto lo sabré

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6….”

Roxana A. Soto es cofundadora de SpanglishBaby, el sitio en línea para padres que están criando niños bilingües y biculturales. Actualmente está escribiendo su primer libro, basado en su blog, que será publicado en septiembre. Roxana también es redactora de MamásLatinas.

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May 31st, 2013 at 11:15 am

Family Game Night

A great family activity is to hold a Family Game Night. You can involve all ages. Make it fun with some favorite family snacks, desserts and drinks. We love to make shakes or rootbeer floats to have during game time. Now that it is summer, it is fun to play a game out on the patio with some s’mores, too!

The hardest part of Family Game Night is choosing what game(s) to play. Especially when you have younger kids, Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land can only go so long. A great way to involve younger kids in a more adult game is by making teams. Have each grown up or older sibling  join with a kid to play a trivia or strategy game.

It is also fun to rotate video games into game night. A game of Just Dance Kids brings tons of laughs for my boys when I am trying to complete some of the dance moves on the screen.

The most important thing is to make sure that younger kids are involved and having fun during game night. Even if they may not be able to entirely playing the game, they love to shake the dice and move the pawn. They can master their counting skills, sometimes help to tell colors and learn the lessons of sportsmanship and winning and losing. Grab a game this weekend and have your own Family Game Night!

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

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