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Pooh Sticks and Other No-Cost Summer Hits

girl-paintingHopefully you’re carving out some time with your children for unstructured fun. Here are a couple of no-cost, no-prep activities kids love.

Pooh Sticks. There’s a wonderful scene in one of Milne’s stories where Pooh and Piglet simply drop sticks off a bridge over a little creek and dash to the other side to see whose appears first. Once my children had tried this, I don’t think we passed over a little bridge with out playing Pooh Sticks for several years! Find a park with a stream and a few twigs and play away. No bridge? Set a start and finish point and see what happens!

Toothpick Races. We’ve had steady rain in Minnesota for two months. If no lightning threatens, grab a couple colored toothpicks. Toss them into the water flowing down your street. Whose toothpick gets to your designated finish line first?

Water Paints. Get a bucket (ice cream pail or old whipped topping container will do) and an old paint brush. Add water. Paint the sidewalk. On a hot day, the water evaporates quickly enough that you have an ever-changing canvas. And there’s no mess to clean up!

Ant Investigation. Ask your children, “What do you think ants might want to eat?” Grab a few tidbits of their top choices—a cookie crumb, a spot of jelly, a mosquito, a strawberry seed—and set them out in a spot a ways away from your house (or picnic spot or any place else you want to keep bug free) where you’ve seen little ants. Then go play catch for awhile. Check occasionally to see if the ants are marching. If none come, have your children speculate as to why. Asking questions and hypothesizing are after all at the heart of science. If the ants show up, same thing—get your children to guess why they’re making choices.

What other activities have you done that are no-cost, no-prep fun? Let us know!

  Jane Kise, Ed.D. – Educational Advisor and Consultant, 
Jane  writes an insightful post every Tuesday for Kidtelligent. Jane is an educational consultant, specializing in teambuilding, coaching, and school staff development. She is also the coauthor of more than 20 books. Jane’s website  is

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