This post was sponsored by the Genius of Play. As always, the opinions are my own.
Tell a boy that Cub Scouts will prepare him to “make ethical and moral choices”, and you'll probably get a blank stare. In his mind, Cub Scouting is a fun activity where he gets to play.
As adults, we sometimes forget that play has an important part in our child's development. Many of the skills we want them to learn are easily taught through play.
Exactly how does playing help our kids? The folks at the Genius of Play explain it and give us some cool activity ideas.
Benefits of Play
The Genius of Play, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting play in our kids' lives, has identified six important benefits of play.
- Physical – When children are involved in active play, they are practicing coordination, balance and motor skills. Physical play helps them develop habits leading to an active lifestyle as adults.
- Emotional – Children aren't born knowing how to express and control their emotions such as fear and aggression. By playing make-believe games, kids can learn to self-regulate their emotions.
- Social – Social skills such as sharing and empathy are practiced during cooperative play.
- Cognitive – Play helps children strengthen their reasoning and thinking skills.
- Creative – Play develops a child's creativity whether they are building a new Mindcraft world or designing an obstacle course for their friends.
- Communication – Play gives kids a chance to practice their communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal.
Whether in Cub Scout den or pack meetings, at school or at home, playing gives our boys a chance to grow in these six areas. So, as you're planning your next Cub Scout meeting, turn the discussions into games! The boys will gain more than just the Scouting knowledge.
Useful Resource for Fun Activities
Developed by the Toy Industry Association, the Genius of Play gives us “information and inspiration” so that we can encourage our children to play every day. Part of that inspiration is an extensive list of games and activities, many of which are great for Cub Scouts.
Below are some of the activities from the Genius of Play that can be used for gathering activities, den games and Cub Scout adventures. Spend some time exploring the site, and you'll find other ideas that your Cub Scouts will love.
Gathering games are important for keeping our boys busy while the leaders are setting up for the den meeting. Here are a few from the Genius of Play website.
Kick the Can – Play this classic outside as soon as three Cub Scouts arrive. They will need supervision, so ask parents to monitor while you finish setting up your den meeting.
Balloon Ball – A balloon or a beach ball and something to be the “net” (a stick, a piece of tape on the floor, etc.) are all you need to play a fun variation on volleyball.
Bullseye – Bullseye is an outdoor, warm weather game where Cub Scouts are tossing wet sponges toward a target drawn with chalk. Have each boy keep up with his own score.
Akela Says – Your den chief will make a great Akela for this twist on Simon Says.
Leaders need to have backup games and activities for times when your planned activity doesn't take as long as you thought. They're great for times when your activity doesn't go over well or when the boys simply need to do something different.
Tape Tornado – Tape and cotton balls or pom poms are all you need for the Tape Tornado game. Do you have these in your den supply bin?
Indoor Baseball – Because your baseball is a balloon and your bat is a wrapping paper tube, you can play Indoor Baseball even if your meeting location isn't very big.
Hot Potato – If you have a small beanbag in your den supply bin and some music on your phone, you're set for the classic Hot Potato game.
Back It Up – Got Cub Scouts? Then you have all the equipment you need for Back It Up. A pair of boys will stand with their backs close together. They will try to sit down and stand up without using their hands.
Hop to It – For this twist on Duck Duck Goose, the rabbit hops around the outside of the circle.
Catch the Dragon's Tail – If you don't have many boys in your den, Catch the Dragon's Tail makes a fun pack meeting activity.
Spider and Flies – The flies need to avoid the spider's web, but as more of them are caught, it becomes harder to remain free.
Cub Scout Adventures
Some of the activities suggested by the Genius of Play complement requirements in Cub Scout adventures.
Animal Walks – Our Cub Scouts learn about animals in some of our adventures, such as Tigers in the Wild, Call of the Wild, Paws on the Path, and Critter Care. Animal Walks would be fun to play during these den meetings.
Water Balloon Toss – When your Wolves work on Running with the Pack, have them play catch with a water balloon after they've used a regular ball.
Other Genius of Play Resources
In addition to cool game and activity ideas, the Genius of Play website has other helpful resources. Parents can download these suggestions for at home play activities. Teachers can find several downloadable ideas too.
You can read the advice that experts share about the importance of play and get toy and play suggestions for each age group. Just for fun, show your kids the Toy Timeline to learn about toys through history. Who knew that kites and yo-yos have been around since ancient times?
The folks at the Genius of Play post ideas and suggestions on their social media channels too. Follow them to stay up to date on all of their advice and recommendations.
This is just a sample of what's available from the Genius of Play, so check out their website and share the activities that you are going to use by leaving a comment below.
Yours in Scouting,
P.S. If you found this resource helpful, please share it with your friends (and use the hashtag #GeniusOfPlay)!