Embrace your inner monster.

Halloween is creeping up and it seems that everyone has a favorite monster of the season. Maybe you’re a sucker for vampires or your go-to is a ghost. Do skeletons make you weak in the knees, or maybe you’re more of the tall, dark and hairy Werewolf type? Whether you dig zombies or are spellbound by witches, find a way to honor your favorite monster this Halloween haunting season with these fun monster mania tributes.

1. BREW UP A BASH

A woman dressed as the mad hatter enjoys some tea and crumpets.

Nothing says “I heart witches” more than hosting a Witches Tea Party. Conjure up a spooky table with a cauldron centerpiece full of the perfect party potion punch and floating eyeballs. Decorate your table with fake cobwebs and spiders and serve witches’ fingers made from chocolate dipped pretzels. Witch-ever treats you choose…Halloween fun is brewing!

2. GHOULISH FUN

If you go ga-ga for ghosts, plan a fun and easy Ghost Hunt. It’s a spooky scavenger hunt game with lollipop ghosts. First, grab a batch of lollipops and  wrap them with white tissue paper or a Kleenex. Tie string or yard around the base of the lollipop to form the ghost’s head making an extra loop with the string to hang it.  Then, use a black permanent marker to draw eyes and a mouth on each one. Next, hang the ghosts around the yard or room adjusting the level of difficulty for the ages participating. For younger kids hang the ghosts at eye level, for older kids, make them higher and harder to find. To amp up the ghastliness, use flashlights to hunt them in the dark.

3. WALK WITH THE DEAD

If you go batty for Dracula, then Vampire Karaoke just might be your thing. Create a music playlist with fun party songs along with some Halloween favorites. Give everyone their own set of plastic vampire fangs and let them choose a song. It might be a pain in the neck, but everyone has to perform with their song with the fangs in their mouths. Bonus points if you can work vampire puns into your chosen song. You can even add some home made blood to your fangs. Get ready to laugh until the sun comes up!

4. JOIN THE DARK SIDE

Howl-oween is the perfect time for werewolf lovers to honor their favorite full moon monster with a glow-in-the-dark game that’s a combination of hide and seek, tag and scavenger hunts. Wizards & Werewolves is an epic team-based game that pits two mythical forces against each other in an exciting backyard battle of speed, skill and wits. Bare your teeth and howl as you join the werewolves, stalking prey, guarding the crystals and hunting down wizards. Available here, the game comes with 12 light games pieces and offers three levels of play ranging from easy-to-play for beginners to highly strategic for advanced game play.

5. ACT LIKE A MONSTER

If your favorite monster is the Frankenstein Monster and you want to leave your friends in stitches, play a few rounds of Monster Mash Charades. Here are the nuts and bolts of it: First make a list of Halloween type activities like trick or treating, carving a jack-o-lantern, or hollowing at the moon. Then, write them down on small sheets of paper, fold them and put them in a plastic pumpkin. Divide your group into teams and let team members choose a paper and act it out without talking, only grunting like a monster. Whichever team can guess the most right is the winner. Frankly, it’s the best version of charades out there!

6. GET WRAPPED UP

If your mummy is your favorite monster, then here’s a good way to show it. The Toilet Paper Wrap Relay Race always get the pulses racing as you try and mummify your friends. The best part is that you probably have the supplies for this game already on hand. Start by dividing your group into pairs and giving one player on each team a roll of toilet paper. Have the player with the roll stand across the playing field from his or her partner. At “go” the players with the toilet paper race down to the other end and start to wrap up their partners from head to toe like a mummy. Then the “mummies” must run back across the field to the finish line. It will be a race to see which team finishes first, and then everyone can relax and unwind.

7. DANCE YOUR BRAINS OUT

If you are looking for Zombodie to love, then hosting a Zombie Dance Party could be for you. Have your guests dress up like zombies with ripped clothes and fake blood. Then, dig up some tunes to die for, like Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Monster Mash. Begin the music and let everyone start dancing. When the music stops, they must return to being zombies. Much like musical chairs, the last one to stop dancing is out of the game. After several rounds, the last one standing is the winner. The rest of the dancers can R(est) I(n) P(ieces).

Awoooooooooo! Here are the top 7 full moon activities for kids.

Can you feel the excitement? The moon has been growing fuller night by night and now it’s shining its brightest. Every 27 days, the moon completes a lunar cycle and shines at its fullest, lighting up the sky, controlling the tides and stirring up all kinds of energy and excitement. Each full moon is another opportunity for heightened energy and activity that – with a little imagination – can lead to a lot of family fun. Let your toes start twitching, feel the goosebumps arise on your skin, and let loose the howl that is surfacing from deep within you! Here are the best full moon activities for kids to embrace your inner werewolves, harness the energy of the full moon and celebrate it.

1. GATHER FOR GHOST TALES

You can’t have a list of full moon activities for kids without throwing some ghosts in there. Gather some logs, gather some friends and gather around the fire pit for a chilling, thrilling night of ghost stories. There’s nothing like a full moon in the sky to create the perfect atmosphere for some hair-raising tales from the other side. You may want to consider the age of your audience before going all out creepy. Take a look at this selection of kid friendly ghost tales.

2. EXPLORE THE NIGHT SKY

Did you know that the moon is the easiest celestial body in the night sky to observe with the naked eye?  Because the surface of the moon is covered with massive craters and inactive volcanoes, it’s easy to distinguish the complexities of its surface. If you have a telescope or binoculars, it’s even more interesting to explore and chart the cool features of the moon. For more fun lunar facts and answers to questions like “How was the moon formed?” and “How big is the moon?” visit Nat Geo Kids.

3. WALK WITH THE DEAD

A full moon is the creepiest time to pull out your fangs, fake blood and green face paint and take a Zombie Walk through your neighborhood. Invite some friends and neighbors to dress up like their favorite monster or scary movie character and then take your party crew on a zombie parade under the moon. You can turn any traditional costume like a baseball player, nurse, or cowboy into a gory zombie by adding some torn clothes and blood, or you can choose some of your crew to dress like “the living” and then let the zombies chase them down your street. Plus, you probably already have the ingredients you need to make fake blood.

4. FIGURE OUT WHO DONE IT

If you’re looking for a party activity that your guests will die for, host a Full Moon Murder Mystery. You can create your own murder mystery theme with this beginner’s guide to planning a murder mystery. Or you can shop online for downloadable kid friendly mystery party games with all kinds of fun themes and virtual non-murder mysteries here. Whether you plan your own or download a game, customize the theme, storyline, and decor to include mentions and references to the full moon.

5. MEDITATE UNDER THE MOON

Harness the full energy from the moon by meditating with your family under its lunar light. It’s a fun and easy way to teach your kids the power of meditation. First, find a place where the moonlight is completely visible either outside or by a window. Next, sit comfortably and close your eyes. Then, let your body feel the luminous beams of the full moon. Take several deep slow breaths and concentrate on the moonlight and its cleansing effect on your mind and body.

6. TAKE A NIGHT HIKE

There are so many fascinating things to hear and see on a moonlit family hike. Find a path or trail that you are familiar with, bring flashlights or headlamps and wear reflective clothing. Listen for signs of nature that you can’t experience during the day like the hoots of an owl or the chirping of crickets. Look for bats and lighting bugs and other nocturnal creatures. And, let the full moon help guide your way to a fun family full moon memory.

7. GO WITH THE GLOW

As the full moon creeps near, organize some friends for a fun night of glow-in-the-dark games under its lunar light. For a pulse-pounding outdoor glow game that’s a combination of hide and seek, tag and scavenger hunts, check out Wizards and Werewolves.

It’s is an exciting backyard team competition of speed, skill and wits that pits two mythical forces against each other. Play as a wizard and embark on a perilous journey to capture glowing magical crystals. Or bare your teeth and howl as you join the werewolves, stalking prey, guarding the crystals and hunting down wizards.The game offers three levels of play ranging from beginner to highly strategic advanced game play and is the perfect game to play under a full moon.

Next time the moon is bright in the sky, try some of these full moon activities with your kids!

Another Sequel Nobody Really Wanted

The spring of 2020 was long and stressful. Many parents were juggling jobs and trying to homeschool multiple children, as well as keep them socially connected and active during the pandemic. To some parents, the quarantine situation may have felt almost like a horror movie, and the fall of 2020 could be the sequel. As the summer days wind down, it’s looking like more and more schools will be keeping their doors closed and offering virtually learning to their students. Parents, brace yourself for another semester as teacher, entertainer, discipliner and social coordinator. Here are some homeschooling tips that might help.

1. Entertainment for All

Two kids laugh in their backyard.

When you’re trying to keep multiple kids from getting bored, it’s easier to think of group games and activities that will entertain various ages all at one time. Start by making a “boredom buster” list of fun games and active ideas to post on your fridge. Then, when someone says “I’m bored,” consult the list. Be sure to let your kids contribute to the boredom busters – no idea is too silly. Activities like backward bike races, dance parties, blind-folded balloon volleyball, pillow fights, limbo contests, backyard bowling and freeze tag are all fun, easy to learn and adaptable for all ages.

Glow Battle is a great boredom buster and a wonderful way to get excess energy out of your kids. You can play Glow Battle anywhere that there is open space to run – in the yard, in a basement or in the garage. It’s easy to set up and simple for all ages to play. Identify your teams with different colored glowing bracelets. Then, use the harmless, glowing foam batons to attack your opponent, and send them running back to their base to “recharge” before they get hit again. Whether you are trying to get your group active or offer a creative alternative for your homeschooling version of gym class, Glow Battle is an ideal way to keep your kids entertained between subjects.

2. Time Off for Good Behavior

A kid crouches on the ground and smiles at the camera while taking a break from homeschooling.

Virtual learning is not just stressful for the parents. It’s also hard on kids, and their brains are going to need some breaks. Since the majority of virtually learning involves digital devices, students need time off of screens for a mental break, as well as to give their eyes a chance to relax from screen strain. Offer your kids an easy rewards system for school work completed. For example, for every hour of school work they do, give them fifteen minute breaks of free play time or board game play.

3. Encourage Exercise: Homeschooling PE

In addition to burning off excess energy and maintaining good health, physical activity helps kids learn better. Studies show that regular exercise allows kids to sharpen their focus, be less impulsive and have fewer disciplinary problems. Meaning that kids that get moving during the day, actually stay focused longer when it’s time to sit down for schoolwork. Experts recommend that children get sixty minutes or more of physical activity every day, either all at once or broken down into smaller time segments.

Capture the Flag REDUX is a good way to provide small group social interaction and also remain outdoors. It’s the classic game of Capture the Flag revolutionized with glow-in-dark orbs, glowing bracelets and futuristic borders marked with LED lights. It’s the perfect way to provide active, social interaction for kids, teenagers and even adults. Plus, you can mix it up with 12 game variation cards for more ways to play Capture the Flag and other games…because, let’s face it, who knows if this homeschooling sequel will become a trilogy or not!

4. Provide Safe Social Connections

Teens play Wizards & Werewolves while homeschooling.

With the new rules of quarantine, it’s best to limit large social engagements. However, even if they’re homeschooling, children do need some sort of social interaction each day whether it’s with siblings or the one or two friends down the street that are in your chosen circle. Playing with them outside might be the best way to encourage social opportunities with less risk.

Wizards & Werewolves is the perfect way to engage kids’ imaginations while getting them up and moving. Play as a Wizard to search for glowing crystals or bare your teeth and hunt as a Werewolf in this outdoor game of hunting, hiding and howling!

Seven Ways to Make Your Next Family Trip Memorable

When camping with kids and teens, you can sometimes face the problem of them getting bored, which can turn what you hoped would be a fun family camping trip into a bad camping trip.

In order to keep boredom at bay, it’s nice to have a list of the most fun camping games for kids and teens on hand for your next camping trip. Seasoned campers know how to keep kids and teens entertained and busy. Having them set up the tent, stack firewood, and hook up the water lines is a good start in my book.

For parents who are new to camping, you may need some games at the ready to keep the kids engaged in the Great Outdoors. The last thing you want is your kids sulking about their lack of wifi. Here are seven ways to make your drive-to vacation memorable this year: 

1. Camp Olympics

Sure, the real olympics are cancelled this year, but that doesn’t mean YOU can’t compete. A good way to get everyone involved in some physical play is Camp Olympics. No need to add weird sports like curling or pole vaulting. Stick with foot races, long jumps, swimming contests, and even some wrestling. These Summer or Winter Olympics can be used yearly to track record setters for years to come. Not a bad addition to the family history books that are hidden in your garage somewhere.

2. Glow Battle

Battle like a ninja samurai using harmless glowing swords! Family, friends and neighbors play organized sword fighting games using (harmless!) glowing foam weapons. With 10 variations, it encourages kids and families to play together. Available here.

3. Washer Toss

Washer Toss is a good way to rest up after the Camp Olympics. It’s a fun game that can get competitive even though it is played at a more relaxed pace. You don’t want your kids running all over the place right before bedtime. Washer Toss is a good way to calm everyone down and get ready for the sleeping bags or hammocks.

4. Fishing Tournament

How about a Fishing Tournament? The winner could win a cash prize or get to skip any part of the packing up chores when the camping trip is over. The winner is the fisherman with the most pounds or the largest number of fish overall.

5. Capture the Flag REDUX

Capture the Flag REDUX is always a go-to game for all ages no matter where you are. It’s definitely one of the best outdoor camping games. You can even play after those memorable sunsets with Capture the Flag REDUX, our glow in the dark version of Capture the Flag. The kit’s 25 reusable light-up game pieces allow for up to 10 traditional Capture the Flag players. It also includes 12 alternate ways to play, allowing for 4-20 players.

6. Scavenger Hunts

Whether you need a game for the day or a week-long challenge, Scavenger Hunts never get old. How many items could you find over the course of a week at a campground? I’d say 50-100 if you want to make things interesting.

Some honorable mentions for the best outdoor camping games include:

  • Mini-Ping Pong
  • Dodgeball
  • Tennis, as many campgrounds have courts.
  • Tent Race (Make setting up the tents a competition among the kids and keep the recorded times for each trip.).
  • Rain Hike Challenge (you thought I would throw in some board games for rainy days? Haha! Teach the kiddos a little toughness. They won’t melt).

Keep this list of games handy as you head out for your next camping trip. Getting active and competitive with your kids and will make them forget about the lack of wifi out in the woods. It doesn’t hurt us adults to forget the internet world for a while either!

Want more games? Here is our best outdoor games list that includes 50 of what we think are the best outdoor games.

This Memorial Day weekend will be more meaningful than ever.

We’ve all been missing social interaction with our extended family and friends. We’ve been missing the freedom to do what we want, when we want. And, we’ve been missing celebrations like birthday parties and graduations. As folks slowly begin to transition back to small group gatherings, make the most of your time together over the long weekend. Cherish the time you have to bond with your family over the holiday, and find fun ways to celebrate the little things. If you’re staying home this Memorial Day weekend, here are eight great ways to make it special.

1. CELEBRATE THE TRUE MEANING OF THE HOLIDAY

Start Memorial Day weekend off right by teaching your family the true meaning of the holiday: to honor those you have fought for the freedom of our country. If you know any veterans, help your kids make cards to thank them. Brush up on your US history and plan a trivia night for a fun way to learn it. Decorate your house and yard with flags and make a patriotic craft or dessert with your kids. Plan your own Memorial Day parade by decorating bikes or wagons with red, white and blue and riding through your neighborhood.

2. CELEBRATE THE START OF SUMMER

Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the beginning of summer, and you can kick it off right with a Welcome Summer Party! The days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer, so break out the summer fun like water balloons, sprinklers and popsicles. It’s the perfect time to take advantage of sunny days and milder nights.

Get everyone outside, put on some sunscreen and play all day in the summer sun and all night under the stars.Some of the most interesting art activities can involve nature and observing the world around them. Plus, being outside means that you can be a little more messy which is a great opportunity for a tie dye kit or mosaic stone kit. You can also include supplies to paint so many fun outdoor projects like birdhouses, garden pots and pet rocks.

3. CELEBRATE AN EXTRA DAY

Memorial Day Weekend gives you an opportunity for a whole extra day with no work and no school work. Take advantage of the long weekend by sharing your favorite activities with your family. If you love music, plan a backyard dance party or download a new album to listen to together. Love food? Make a new recipe with your kids or try a new take-out restaurant. If you love art, buy a craft kit or some paints to start on a new group project. Or, if you love to garden, plan and plant a family garden. Make the long weekend count and take advantage of every minute by enjoying the day together and really bonding over shared activities.

4. CELEBRATE BACKYARD FUN

If you have concerns about heading to the public park or beach over Memorial Day weekend, just don’t go. There are so many ways to have a great holiday celebration without ever leaving your own backyard. Pull out the grill and some paper plates and enjoy the simplicity of cooking outside. Set up some backyard games like corn hole, Bocce ball, volleyball or badminton. Fill a cooler with drinks and kick back in your lawn chairs.

Better yet, get the whole family active with Capture the Flag REDUX. It’s the classic Capture the Flag revolutionized with futuristic glow-in-the-dark lights. Just like the traditional game, players split into teams and then work together to break teammates out of jail, sneak into enemy territory, protect base and steal the flag. But unlike the classic, the flag is now a glowing orb and players wear color-coded LED bracelets to differentiate team members and glowing jail markers.

5. CELEBRATE A STAY-CATION

Sure vacation is fun, but if you aren’t able to leave town, create your own stay-cation at home. A stay-cation lets you enjoy the long weekend without the cost or hassle of a traditional vacation, and it can be equally relaxing and fun. Step one is to put away your work emails and house chores. Step two is to plan fun stay-cation actives: take in some movies, go on long bike rides, soak up the sun, eat some junky food and read some junky magazines. And, if you need to make if simpler, just remember: eat, play, nap, repeat.

6. CELEBRATE THE END OF SCHOOL

We’re SURE you’ll miss being a stand-in teacher, but as the school work begins to wind down for the year, celebrate your children’s efforts as well as your own. Let Memorial Day weekend be a chance for them to put down their pencils, unwind from a stressful semester of digital learning and just play. Free play can be a great way for kids to learn creativity and build their imaginations. And, family gamily night is the ideal way to teach them strategy and teamwork. Let loose with some extra fun family activities like a slumber party on the family room floor or in a tent outside. Arrange an ice cream sundae party with all of the toppings. Stay up late, eat snacks and play together as a family.

Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t make this Easter a great one.

If your Easter bunny has been too busy social distancing to shop for baskets for your family… don’t panic. There is still time to compose a really fun basket of spring goodies that you can either order online or shop online and pick up at retailers. While candy and chocolate are always a good start, consider adding a few Easter toys or games that fit your child’s individual personality. With the days and nights starting to get warmer, it’s the perfect time to choose ones that will get your kids outside and active no matter what their specific interests are. So hop to it!

FOR THE EXPLORER BUNNY…

Spring is the ideal time to get outdoors and let kids explore their environment. If your child is curious about nature, look for fun explorer kits with magnifying glasses, bug catchers and binoculars to stick in their basket. If your kids are older, consider a microscope, compass or other camping gear. Be sure to include an age-appropriate book on nature so that they can look up and identify the bugs, birds and plants around them. If they are more of a night owl, consider a headlamp, night vision goggles or a telescope with a chart of the constellations.

FOR THE ARTISTIC BUNNY…

Capture the magic of the spring season with an assortment of art supplies for your budding Picasso. Include sidewalk chalk, watercolors, markers and a sketch book.

Some of the most interesting art activities can involve nature and observing the world around them. Plus, being outside means that you can be a little more messy which is a great opportunity for a tie dye kit or mosaic stone kit. You can also include supplies to paint so many fun outdoor projects like birdhouses, garden pots and pet rocks.

FOR THE ACTIVE BUNNY…

GLOW BATTLE. There is a really fun selection of basket-worthy active games that you can still order online at starluxgames.com. Glow Battle is a great game to get the whole family outside and moving. Players use strategy, teamwork, and their own warrior instincts to team up and take down their opponent using harmless, glowing batons.  Teams are designated by different colored LED bracelets have a base to “recharge” after they get hit. It’s a fun and fast-paced glowing game that incorporates speed with strategy. One of the best Easter games to burn off all the energy they’ll have from their Easter candy! Available here.

A family plays Glow Battle in their living room.

FOR THE ATHLETIC BUNNY…

You’ll win big when you customize your athletic-lover’s basket by adding fun sports gadgets and balls. Go for a classic collection of footballs, baseball gloves and tennis rackets, or mix it up with some non traditional outdoor sports toys like a disc golf, spike ball or bocce ball set. Spring time is the best time to let your little athlete get their sports fix. It’s also a great time to stock up on training gear like cones and jump ropes and hula hoops – all exciting and fun ways to brighten up their basket. Plus, the whole family can team up for some friendly, competitive Easter games.

FOR THE BACKYARD BUNNY…

Capture is the Flag REDUX is the classic Capture the Flag game revolutionized with futuristic glow-in-the-dark lights, and can be the centerpiece of a basket for your whole family. Bring your backyard to life at night as you team up to break players out of jail, sneak into enemy territory, protect base and steal the glowing flag to win. Each game box includes two glowing orbs to use as the “flags,” color-coded LED bracelets to differentiate team members, glowing jail markers, and a rulebook. As an extra bonus, each kit includes 12 game variation cards that offer even more ways to play Capture the Flag, as well as other games. Available here.

No school? No problem.

“School is cancelled” may be one of the scariest phrases that a parent can ever hear. All of a sudden, you are faced with a day or (gasp) multiple days with your kids in your house, and you’re just minutes away from hearing them saying “I’m bored” every ten minutes. Before you know it, your pulse begins to race and you start to sweat as you wonder how on earth you will keep your kids active and entertained in the endless hours or maybe days ahead. Don’t panic – stay calm and check out these fresh and fun cabin fever relievers for when you’re stuck at home: 

A girl holding four balloons jumps in the air as if they are lifting her off the ground.

1. BALLOON OLYMPICS

The summer olympics may be postponed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stage your own! Balloons are inexpensive and can be full of more than just hot air. They can be full of fun and imagination, crazy games, whacky challenges and silly pranks. Stock up on balloons of different shapes and sizes at your house and pull them out when you need some quick and easy entertainment. Whoever takes home the gold gets a week off from doing dishes!

• When it comes to Balloon Volleyball, there are no official rules and making them up as you go is part of the fun. Determine some boundaries, pick sides and keep the balloon in the air as long as you can. 

• Balloon tennis is a variation where you grab whatever you want such as a ping pong paddle, a badminton racket, or a book and whack the balloon to your opponent’s side to get points.

• Pick teams and have Balloon Relay Races down the hall or across the room. Take turns running with a balloon to a chair and then sit on it until it pops, and run back to tag your teammate.

Three balloons are tied to a toddler who crawls on the ground.

2. PLAN AN OLD SCHOOL NIGHT

Turns out, a trip back in time might just be the thing you need to create some new memories together. Spend the day letting the parents pick their favorite childhood meals or snacks, stack your music playlist with classic tunes from back in the day, and play some old school games.

A Family plays Capture the Flag.

• Look for a new twist on an old classic like Capture the Flag Redux. It’s like the traditional Capture the Flag game revolutionized with futuristic glow-in-the-dark lights. Players wear color-coded LED bracelets to differentiate teams, and then work together to break teammates out of jail, sneak into enemy territory and steal the glowing orb.

• Make a playlist of your favorite old-school music, have everyone dress in their best 80s wardrobe (or whatever decade you choose!) and have a dance party! Or watch a movie from the same decade.

• Play an old-school team game of kickball or wiffle ball outside or inside with a small foam ball. Tell your kids stories about how you used to play outside until the sun went down. Let them roll their eyes a time or two.

A small boy dressed in business casual wear gasps as he holds a book.

3. FAMILY STYLE TED TALKS

Let each family member put together a fun presentation about a topic they’re passionate about, and then have a presentation party. It can be about why pizza is good for you, or how video games increase coordination or anything really. You can even let them dress up if they want. Leave time for a Q&A session! Check out the most popular TED talks of all time here.

• If you have laptops that your kids are able to use, let them practice their powerpoint skills by creating a simple presentation. It’s also a great way to practice their speaking skills in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.

• If you don’t want to use laptops, have them create a poster of their topic and give them a pointer or ruler to do their presentation.

A family plays Glow Battle in their living room.

4. GLOW FOR IT!

When the days get long, turn out the lights for shining afternoon or evening of excitement. Be sure to stock up on glowing goodies like flashlights and batteries, glow bracelets and a few fun glow games. Glowing products are an exciting way to add a spark to any long day at home.

• Flashlight tag is an undeniably fun way to have a blast and also instill some thrill into your home bound crew. Players go around hiding from the person shining their flashlight. When the beam catches them, the flashlight switches hands, and they are it.

Glow Battle is a light-up battle game can be played outside, but is also great fun indoors, too. Simply clear some space, dim the lights and hand out the glowing batons. Players use strategy, teamwork, and their own warrior instincts to team up and take down their opponent. And come on, don’t pretend you wouldn’t love to thwack each other a bit after being stuck together all day!

• Play Glow and Seek, just like hide and seek in the dark while wearing neon glow bracelets.

5. FAMILY CAMPOUT

• If you have an indoor fireplace or a backyard firepit, grill some hot dogs over the open flames.

• When you’re cozied up by the fire, have everyone take turns telling ghost stories or funny stories. If you don’t have a fire, pass a flashlight around and illuminate their face while they tell their tales.

• Play a spooky glow-in-the-dark game like Wizards and Werewolves. It is a pulse-pounding outdoor game that pits two mythical forces against each other in an exciting competition of speed, skill and wits.

A family plays Wizards & Werewolves in their yard.

6. HELP YOUR NEIGHBORS

Even when they’re not in school, kids can still learn valuable lessons. And, there is no better lesson you can teach your kids than to think about others.

A girl rake's leaves in the yard.

• A day out of school can be the ideal time to help an elderly neighbor by shoveling snow, raking leaves, walking their dog, grocery shopping or bringing their trash can in for them.

• Deliver some happiness to friends or neighbors with a secret care package left at their door. Include some fun treats, kids’ artwork or a nice note. You just might realize that you worry a little less about your own problems when you put others first.

Military life comes with its own unique stressors. Here are some of our favorite ways to let off some steam as a family.

Military families face many challenges. While they are supporting their family members in uniform, they’re often also dealing with the strain from frequent moves on top of the normal challenges of having a family.  This makes it incredibly important for military families to become active in their communities, have healthy and fun games to relieve stress and find ways to keep family members connected with each other.
If you’re in the military, we’ve put together a list of ways to help you do just that!  

Five boys run happily on a trail through a field.

1. STAY ACTIVE

Studies show that almost any kind of physical activity can reduce stress. If your family is feeling the strain from a deployment or other military family challenges, find an active hobby that you all can do together. 

• Start a family garden and let each family member plan what they want to plant in their corner of the garden or yard. 

• Find an upcoming local race and train for it as a family.

• Visit the recreation center or gym and take classes together. 

• Search for physical fitness opportunities like joining a local swim team, training in martial arts or even creating an obstacle course in your backyard. 

A person crouches low to the ground as they plant seeds in a garden.
Kids run around a living room with glow batons from their Glow Battle kit.

• Choose a Glow Battle kit to play a number of active family battle games. Just find an open space, identify your teams with the different colored glowing bracelets, and break out the swords of light. Then, use the harmless, glowing batons to attack your opponent and send them running back to their base to “recharge” before they get hit again. Glow battles are a great way to keep your family active, teach your kids strategy and encourage social interaction.

2. SOAK UP YOUR SURROUNDINGS

Frequently relocating as a military family to new places can be scary for both kids and adults alike. Conquer your fear of the unknown by going out as a family and exploring together.

A family of three stands smiling on a path in a forest with their dog.

• Adapt to your new environment by trying new restaurants and exploring local shops and farmer’s markets.

• Visit a museum and soak up some history, science or culture. Be sure to ask about discounted tickets for military families!

• Learn a new language. Frequently moving may mean that you encounter diverse cultures and languages. Inquire at your local college or cultural centers and see if they have opportunities to learn a foreign language. You can also search for online courses or phone apps like Duolingo to easily learn a few new words a day. 

• Check out the local parks to give your family a chance to meet new friends, and also get outside and get moving.

• Take family cooking classes. Trying new foods and recipes is an ideal way to embrace your new community and the local flavors and traditions.

3. SPEND TIME TOGETHER

One of the realities of military family life is that you are often separated for long periods of time. When you do have time together as a family, make it count. Choose some fun rewarding activities that you can do together as a family.

• Create traditions with family friendly competitions of some kind. Consider a family corn hole tournament, scavenger hunt, talent show, or sports championship like backyard volleyball, wiffle ball or flag football. You can even make a funny trophy for the winners to keep and flaunt their victory.

• Compile a collection of your family’s favorite board games for a weekly game night. Classics such as Scrabble, Monopoly, Uno or Life are good games to get you started.

• Volunteer together as a family. It will help you connect to your community while you connect as a family. Inquire at local animal shelters, parks, soup kitchens, churches or community centers for volunteer opportunities.

A group of kids play Capture the Flag REDUX.

• Play a neighborhood favorite with Capture the Flag REDUX. It’s the classic Capture the Flag game revolutionized with futuristic glow-in-the-dark lights. What better way to spend time as a family or meet some new friends? Each game box includes two glowing orbs to use as the “flags,” color-coded LED bracelets to differentiate team members, glowing jail markers, and a rulebook. Available here.

Keep them Active, give their social skills a Boost and encourage Creativity.

Playing a variety of games can be an important part of a daily routine for every child, but especially for kids who are homeschooled. The power of playing games can have an amazing effect on kids. Not only does it provide kids with the obvious chance to have fun, but games can give children the opportunity to develop valuable skills such as strategic and creative thinking, as well as social and teamwork skills. Games that get kids up and moving have the added perk of providing ever-important physical fitness benefits, and it’s easier than you may think to have all these benefits with homeschool games.

Kids that are homeschooled have the unique flexibility to be able to play games as a part of their daily curriculum. Active games can serve as physical education development for these kids, as well as offering so many teachable moments and hands-on, experiential learning. A good arsenal of games includes those that offer a combination of these benefits.

A girl runs through a field

A is for Active

CHOOSE GAMES THAT ENCOURAGE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY. Homeschool curriculum should include games that keep kids active for a number of reasons. The obvious reason is that all kids need activity and exercise to keep their bodies healthy. In addition, studies show that exercise can boost thinking skills and that being outside can improve mood, creativity and even IQ. Make time each day to get your kids active and outside if the weather is permitting. Choose games that involve running, jumping, stretching and tagging. Our favorites are:  

RED LIGHT – GREEN LIGHT
One player is “it” and stands with their back to the others. When the player yells “green light” the others move towards them until they yell “red light” and spin around. Players must freeze before being seen by the “it” player or go back to the starting line. The first person to reach the “it” player wins! 

MOTHER MAY I
The chosen “mother” faces away from the other players some distance from them and answers yes or no to their question of “Mother May I _____.” The blank should be some movement to get the player across the room. For instance, “Mother may I take four kangaroo hops?” or “Mother may I duck walk for three seconds?” The Mother answers no if players are reaching them too quickly, but they must also give an alternative movement by saying, “No you may not do that, but you may _____.” The first person to reach Mother wins! 

FREEZE TAG
Okay, we all know this one. One person is “it,” and if you’re tagged you have to freeze. Here are a few new versions to try:

  • TOILET TAG: When players are frozen they must get down on one knee and put their arm out to the side. To unfreeze them, another player sits on their knee and “flushes” the toilet.
  • SHADOW TAG: The “it” player has to stay in the shadow of something (a tree, building or fence all work). The other players have to run in and out of the shadow but can only be tagged when they’re in it.
  • CATEGORIES TAG: To unfreeze someone, a player has to tag them and call out something that belongs to whatever category you choose. Try movies, books, animals, countries — anything you’d like!

GLOW BATTLE
It’s an exciting game of fast-paced running and dueling. Teams are designated by different colored LED bracelets, and you can play with 2 to 20 players anywhere that you have open space. Players use strategy, teamwork, and their own warrior instincts to team up and take down their opponent using harmless, glowing batons.

B is for Boost

CHOOSE GAMES THAT BOOST SOCIAL SKILLS & TEACH TEAMWORK. Studies show that social interaction is important for children’s physical health as well as their mental well-being. Because homeschool kids often have less exposure to social situations during the school day, it’s important for them to learn social skills from other activities like homeschool games. This can include gathering with friends and family to play games that teach teamwork and require cooperation, leadership and decision-making skills. Here’s just a few of our favorites: 

FRISBEE H-O-R-S-E
It’s like the basketball game but with a frisbee! Players choose a target for their frisbee and try to hit it. If players don’t hit the target, they get a letter. Last person to spell HORSE wins! Plays as individuals or on teams.

CAPTURE THE FLAG REDUX
It’s the classic Capture the Flag game revolutionized with futuristic glow-in-the-dark lights and the perfect choice to play with friends as the sun goes down after a day of home-schooling. It will foster teamwork and interaction, as players break teammates out of jail, sneak into enemy territory, protect base and steal the glowing flag to win.

RELAY RACES
Try out these variations!

  • PENGUIN RELAY: Players hold an object between their ankles or knees as they waddle to the next team member. If it falls, you have to start over!
  • SLIP N’ SLIDE RELAY: Set up two slip n’ slides. Players can start at the bottom or top of the slide, but they must run up the hill and slide all the way down before tagging the next player in.
  • SAKHLI RELAY: Players stand in a line and put their left hand under the legs of the person in front of them and grab the hand of the other player with their right hand to form a chain. Run to the end and back without breaking the chain to win! This can also be played as a game of tag where the chain keeps growing with every tagged player.


C IS FOR CREATIVITY

CHOOSE GAMES THAT INSPIRE CREATIVE & STRATEGIC THINKING. Sometimes thinking outside of the box is the best know-how of all. Although critical and strategic thinking skills don’t fully develop until adolescence, the foundations for them can begin in childhood. Initiating homeschool games that require kids to think critically, discuss strategy and encourage creativity are a great way for homeschool parents to help strengthen these skills. Look for games that spark the imagination and foster creativity to keep young minds active and challenged. Giant outside yard games like Jenga and Connect Four encourage strategic thinking while home-made games like scavenger hunts or treasure maps develop creativity.


HOMEMADE SCAVENGER HUNT
Try dividing into two to have one team devise a treasure map for the other. Then, both teams start at the same time to see who finds all the treasure first. 

WIZARDS & WEREWOLVES
Bring fantasy to life in this outdoor game of hunting, hiding and howling! Play as a Wizard to search for glowing crystals or bare your teeth and hunt as a Werewolf. This unique game blends imagination with physical activity and is best played after the sun goes down. 

DIY BRAND NEW GAME
You can even let your homeschooler make up their very own active games. Provide them with a variety of sports equipment such as bean bags, jump ropes, hula hoops and different sized balls. Let them develop the rules and name the game. Change the equipment up each week to provide inspiration. You can even provide a variety of recycled goods such as plastic bottles or cardboard boxes. One week, they may create a bowling alley with 2 liter bottles and duct tape. The next week, they may want to create and master their own miniature golf course with foam pool noodles and empty metal cans. With your supervision, bring out the spray paint and let them paint a hopscotch or twister game on the grass.

With these basic ABCs for homeschool games, there is no limit to their active imaginations. Whatever you choose to play, keep them Active, give them a Boost and encourage Creativity. Make it a part of your daily or weekly routine and watch as the benefits take hold.

Everything You Need to Know About Nerf and Other Foam Weaponry

Did you know that enough Nerf darts have been sold over the last five years to circle our planet four times around? The count is somewhere over 4 billion darts since the inception of the product. Yes, seriously, someone did the math. If you are a parent, you may feel like you’ve picked up that same number of foam darts off of your living room floor or in your kids’ play area. What is the crazy attraction that kids have to these foam fighting toys? Here is the low-down on Nerf guns, darts, bullets and other harmless foam-based weaponry.

Four small photos each show a different kid playing with a different nerf gun.

What Does Nerf Stand For?

Nerf is a brand of toys and guns that was created by Parker Brothers and is owned by the worldwide toy company, Hasbro. Sources say that NERF™ may be an acronym for “Non-Expanding Recreational Foam” or may have been created as a backronym after the toys came into existence. Although Nerf products started with sports balls (most notably the American football) the majority of the toys now are the foam-based guns. These guns, referred to as blasters, shoot ammunition including darts and balls made from Nerf foam. These foam-based weapons have taken today’s generation by storm. While it’s fun to toss around a Nerf football, shooting your friends with an arsenal of foam balls is a whole new level of excitement.

The foam-based universe has now expanded to include games with glowing swords, axes and the like. Whatever your kid (or you!) are looking for, it’s out there.

A close up of a hand holding a nerf gun against a blurred background.

What Are The Best Nerf Products? 

Apparently, there is a Nerf gun line for every type of personality. Currently, there are 18 lines of different Nerf blasters. They include: N-Strike Elite, Alien Menace, Dart Tag, Vortex, Zombie Strike, and many, MANY more.

There are also Nerf alternatives that use similarly harmless weapons but offer different modes of play.  Take Glow Battle for instance.  Rather than use guns, players battle each other using glowing foam swords.

Based on several review sites, here’s the low down on the best foam weapon products:

NAMEINCLUDESRECOMMENDED FOR

N-Strike Elite Strong-arm Blaster Nerf Gun
Revolver-style gun and six-dart rapid firing capability that can shoot up to 75 feet
Easy dart loading and automatic firing

Warriors Mark Axe Throwing
Target, two axes, wall hangerLess space to run
Glow Battle10 glowing swords, 10 light-up bracelets, all batteriesGroups, evening/night play, all ages, a more active game
Massive Monster Mayhem: Hero’s HammerA double-sided foam hammerImpersonating Thor
REALHUNLEE Training NunchucksFoam nunchucks with steel chainMartial arts training
Five yellow nerf darts lay against a white background.

Do Nerf Darts Come In Different Sizes?

Yes! If you’re purchasing a nerf shooter, you’ll need to know some basic info about the different sizes. Nerf nerds may know that there are a variety of specific nerf bullets and darts to load in your weapons. For the Nerf novice, we will start with the three main types of Nerf darts.

Traditional:Original style. Smallest and safest. Have most design variety.
Mega:Significantly larger. Whistle when they fly through air. Bright color makes them easier to see – which may be of little consolation to moms picking them up.
High Impact Rounds:Fastest and hardest hitting darts. Small foam balls that bounce around. Harder to find. Recommended for ages 14+

Psst… If you’re sick and tired of picking up Nerf darts, stepping on them in the middle of the night or extracting them from your vacuum, Glow Battle is your new best friend. With a few swords instead of a hundred darts, clean up could not be easier. And yes, we admit it: we have a vested reason for telling you about Glow Battle: we produce it!

A young boy wearing goggles holds a nerf gun with both hands.

Are Nerf Toys Dangerous?

Generally speaking, Nerf toys are fairly safe, though the Nerf guns should cause a bit more pause than other types of foam toys. You should always read the manufacturer’s recommendations and guidelines. Most Nerf toys are designed for children ages 8 and up, with a few models specifically made for older children, so be sure to purchase accordingly. Adult supervision is also recommended during play. Plus, there are few precautions to take that will help you avoid accidental injuries during a Nerf battle. These include:

  1. Never aim at anyone’s face, head or eyes. Even foam can do damage when it is fired at a close enough range.
  2. Never look into the barrel of a Nerf gun, even if you don’t think it is loaded. An accidental discharge could damage an eyeball.
  3. Ideally, protective googles should be worn during battle as a direct hit to the eye could cause injury.
  4. Do not try to modify the Nerf guns or darts to shoot faster or harder. Tampering with the toys could cause serious damage or injuries.

What Are The Best Nerf Alternatives?

So what is a parent to do if their kids want the thrill of battle, but you are hesitant about introducing guns into their world? Or maybe as a parent, you worry about the projectile-type injuries that could possibly come with foam blasters? Well, there are a variety of other harmless foam based weaponry that will satisfy your youngsters’ thirst for strategy and competition without encouraging them to point guns at each other. Our personal favorite, of course is:

GLOW BATTLE FROM STARLUX GAMES

Five kids stand ready for action as they hold glow batons.

Glow Battle is the epic foam-based battle game for 2 to 10 players. Players use harmless glowing foam batons to strategize and take down their opponents. First, identify your teams with the included different colored LED bracelets. Then, use strategy, teamwork, and your own warrior instincts to team up and attack your opponent, and send them running back to their base to “recharge” before they get hit again. It’s a great way to keep your kids active, teach them strategy and encourage social interaction. Physical activity becomes part of the fun as players run, jump and swing at each other to win. Each game box comes with 10 weapons, 10 glowing wristbands, 8 regeneration station markers and 10 game playing cards with different game variations.