When the days are starting to feel monotonous, consider an old-time favorite to put the sparkle back into childhood. This activity –Bozo Buckets– is very easy to set up and will hold your child’s imagination from beginning to end. It also offers enough variety that you can change the format each time you play. Best of all, your child will love demonstrating her knowledge and skills at every turn.
The Bozo Show was popular decades ago. It should come as no surprise that its popularity was due in large part to great activities. It gathered time honored state and county fair events and turned them into a game show for kids. The household version of the game consists of a handful of activities your child plays in order to earn points for prizes. The prizes can be existing things from around the house—stuffed animals, a bag of Legos, a set of crayons, etc. Your child won’t mind. She’ll appreciate seeing her familiar things in a new light.
Here’s what the beginning of the activity might look like. Your living room will work just fine for a location. You’re Bozo:
Bozo: (Looking across an imaginary audience) Boys and girls, welcome to another episode of Bozo Buckets—the show where talent and smarts are all you need to win big prizes. Who’s going to be our next lucky contestant? How about you young lady. (Pointing to your child) Would you like to play Bozo Buckets?
Bozo: Great news! Come on over and let’s get started.
(Child gets up from seat and stands next to you)
Bozo: What’s your name young lady?
Bozo: And how old are you, Rebecca?
Bozo: Wow! That’s a big number. Can you show me four fingers?
(Child shows four fingers)
Bozo: No kidding! You’re pretty fast with numbers. I can see you’re going to win a lot of prizes on Bozo Buckets. Are you ready to get started?
(Note—you can extend this opening portion of the game with questions about all sorts of things: home town, hobbies, pets, favorite foods, places to go, things to do, etc.)
Now introduce your child to a series of games to play for points. Present prizes immediately after each activity. Keep the winnings on a nearby table so your child can watch them accumulate:
Chunky Buckets. To set up this game all you need to do (in advance) is make a line on the floor with a piece of string. Now place different size bowls and buckets going away from the line. For a bean ball, fill the bottom of a sock with hard kidney beans. Tie the top with ribbon and cut off the surplus. The nearest bowls are worth 3 points. The middle bowls are worth 5 points. The furthest bowls are worth 7 points. Allow your child to toss the bean ball five times to score points for prizes. You can come back later for the “bonus round.”
Big Basket Challenge. This game simply requires a laundry basket and a bouncy ball. Give your child sixty seconds to bounce the ball five times into the basket.
One Big Chance. Here your child has one chance to roll the bouncy ball across the floor to knock down a stack of blocks.
The next several activities might be more scholastic in nature:
The Clock is Ticking Puzzle Challenge. Give your child an opportunity to finish a favorite puzzle in two minutes or less. A variation of this game is to allow your child to complete three puzzles in five minutes or less. Each complete puzzle wins a prize.
Colors, Colors, Everywhere Colors. To play this game, place different colors in a hat. Hold the hat up high and allow your child to pick one out. Keep the colors simple. To make them, simply cut colors out of old magazines or use markers on paper and cut them out. After your child picks a color out of the hat, give her 60 seconds to find the color in ten locations around the house.
Big Shape Little Shape. To make this game, just draw a little shape in the top corner of a piece of paper. Now, in the middle of the paper make two sides of the shape. Your child’s objective is to complete the shape. Make a worksheet for each of the basic shapes: triangle, rectangle, circle, square. Give your child an appropriate amount of time to complete all four shapes. For bonus points, have your child duplicate the shapes on another piece of paper.
Half the fun is inventing games and reworking the format to match your child’s developing skills. After all, in the larger picture, that’s what participating in your child’s development is all about. Keep in mind, too, that the safe and comfortable setting offers a perfect opportunity to expose your child to the dynamics of competitive play. Granted, these events may not look very competitive at first blush, but you may be surprised to see how anxiously your child works to turn in her very best performance. Enjoy this activity in the tradition of old fashioned games that offer wholesome family time and plenty of learning opportunities.
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