Team Building Games for Preteens and Teenagers

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We live in a society that stresses an “it’s all about me” mentality. Kids are exposed to that, too, so it’s no wonder they often struggle to work together. This is evident whenever a group of kids are gathered in a classroom, party or other youth event. I often used games and icebreakers to help the teenagers and tweens in my youth programs develop their social skills and communicate better. Here are four of my favorite team building games for groups.

Create a human knot. Use this fun activity in conjunction with a short lesson about how we need to work together as a community to accomplish a common goal.

Here are the rules:
Have a group of at least eight kids form a circle while facing each other. They all stick their hands in the middle and randomly grab another child’s hand with each of their own. The object of this team building activity is for the group to figure out how to untangle the knot they created without anyone releasing hands. The kids must climb under and step over each others arms to straighten out their knot. What results is a lesson in communication, teamwork, and a lot of laughter.

Go on a Digital Dash scavenger hunt. This game has been one of my favorite team building activities to use for preteens and teens since I started working as a youth leader over 15 years ago. Of course, back then we used classic Polaroid cameras, and it was called Polaroid Panic instead of Digital Dash. In addition to honing team building skills and using creativity, this one gets the kids out in the community interacting with others.

This is what you need to do:
Before the activity, prepare a list of places and items for the kids to find and photograph. For instance, one item on the list might be to take a picture of one team member pumping gas for a stranger. Assign point values to each item, depending on the level of difficulty. Recruit adults who are willing to drive the teams to their destinations, divide teams up evenly, and send them out with the list. Give them an hour to complete as many as possible. Award extra points to the first team that returns to the starting point. Judge the photos to determine if they meet the criteria, and add up the points. The team with the most points wins. Don’t forget to post the photos for the kids to enjoy afterward.

Play five second blueprint. This structure-building exercise is another one that works well to help teenagers practice communicating and working together.

Here’s how to play:
Beforehand, build a structure out of simple materials like building blocks or wooden craft sticks. Split the kids into teams of four to six players, and give each group identical building supplies (the same ones used to build your structure). When time starts, send one member from each team to the hidden structure and give them five seconds to memorize how it’s configured. They must then run back to their team and try to build it within 30 seconds. When time is up, each team sends another member to study the structure, and they repeat the process until one of the teams builds an exact replica of the original structure.

Complete a trust obstacle course. The kids in my youth groups had a blast with this game and preferred to do it outside. It will also work indoors. This activity offers tweens and teens a hands-on way to practice trust, communication and teamwork.

This is how to play:
Set up an obstacle course in advance. It doesn’t need to be anything elaborate and shouldn’t be unsafe. Use chairs and other items readily available to create a simple course for blindfolded kids to maneuver. Have each kid find a partner, and blindfold one of the teammates. The other teen must then give verbal directions to help his blindfolded partner complete the obstacle course. Use a stopwatch to time each team and record them. The team with the fastest time wins.

What Does Your Discipline Teach Your Kids?

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What does your discipline teach your child?

It’s one of those days again. Your creative preschooler decides the bathroom looks much nicer decorated with toilet paper — the last roll of toilet paper found in the house — and then insists the guilty culprit is her imaginary friend, not her. Your tween age child looks you dead in the eyes and proceeds to inform you of all the things you should be doing (never mind that his chores remain undone yet again). Factor in the cookie crumb trail leading mysteriously to the cookie jar, the sibling bickering, and the uneaten meal (you know, the one you made specifically for the picky eater who never wants to eat what’s served) that still lies waiting for your toddler to eat, and you just know it’s going to be a long day. One glance at the clock tells you it’s only 8:00 a.m., and you wonder why you ever got out of bed. Your reminder comes quickly as your toddler’s now-jellied scrambled eggs fly across the room, smack you in the face and drop onto the front of your freshly pressed blouse.

Oh yeah, that’s why. You’re a parent.

So, how do deal with attitudes, behaviors, and stressful days like this? Well, I wish I had all the answers to that, especially when it comes to effectively disciplining children. I’m still a work-in-progress parent myself. What I have learned is that the punishment needs to fit the crime and discipline needs to be tailored toward the individual child.

Here’s an example:

A few years back, I was having repeated problems with my girls about picking up their toys before bedtime. Nine times out of ten, it turned into an argument over who was doing more and a tattling war of “Mommy, she’s not picking up. I’m doing everything. They’re not even my toys!” Honestly, half the time I got tired of listening to it and ended up doing the majority of the work…and I know they were not my toys.

One night I reached my max. A time limit of 20 minutes was set, and they were warned that anything not put away at the end of the limit was mine for the next few days. The first few minutes were spent with them debating whether mommy would really take the toys away, with the younger child saying I wouldn’t really do it and the older, more experienced daughter insisting that I would. When I returned from the basement with a large cardboard box, the message and intent was clear. You should have seen those kids move! When the time was up, there were still a few toys left behind. Of course, I HAD to follow through with discipline, despite their protests and tears.

I tell this story to emphasize my point. Yelling, using corporal punishment, sending them to their rooms, banning them from the television, etc. wouldn’t have taught the lesson I was trying to instill in my children. Discipline, at least effective positive discipline, should do more than simply make the child aware of the wrong-doing. It should also teach them a valuable lesson.

What was the valuable lesson I wanted my children to learn from this discipline? In life, we’re often given things for which we are responsible. If we don’t cherish them and take care of them properly, we may lose them. If something’s important to you, take good care of it. If you don’t, it may not be around long.

Now think of the last disciplinary act you took with your child. What were you trying to teach your kid? Did it work? Share it with the rest of us in the comments below.

Book Review: The Pea in Peanut Butter by Allyn Stotz

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Photo courtesy: Allyn Stotz

The Pea in Peanut Butter
Paperback: 36 pages (large print)
ISBN-13: 978-0984589050

The Pea in Peanut Butter Coloring Book Edition

Paperback: 54 pages (large print)
ISBN-13: 978-0615558981

Written by Allyn Stotz
Illustrated by Valerie Bouthyette
Target Age: 3 to 6 year old kids


The Pea in Peanut Butter,  the debut children’s picture book for author Allyn Stotz, features the adorable little Kailee. Kailee loves “the super duper, gummy yummy, sticky lickin’, and belly rubbin’ taste of peanut butter.” Of course, it’s no wonder she loves it. Peanut butter is tasty stuff! Unfortunately, Kailee loves it so much that many other foods, especially green ones like peas, get bypassed in favor of her beloved peanut butter. Until…

Kailee’s hungry tummy wakes her and she heads to the pantry for a snack. Instead of the fruit roll-up her mommy suggested, Kailee reaches for a jar of that dreamy creamy peanut butter. While she struggles to open the jar, the door slams, and Kailee is trapped in the pantry. A squeaky voice lets her know she’s not alone.  Who is talking? All Kailee sees is a pantry full of food. Young readers will find themselves pulled into a magical world where foods of all colors come to life and teach Kailee (and them) that it’s fun, tasty, and good for your health to eat a variety of foods.


Check out this fun video trailer for a sneak peek inside the book:

Note from Jo: I always test my toy and book reviews on my two kids to get an accurate reading on how well children respond to the product. I have a 10-year-old and 6-year-old, and The Pea in Peanut Butter was a hit with both of them! When I asked each of the girls separately to share a favorite part of the story, the answer was the same. The scene in the pantry when the food comes to life was magical, fun, and got their attention. Whether your kids are picky eaters or not, this book is one they will want to read time and time again! The well-written and imaginative story by Allyn Stotz and the vivid and attention-getting drawings by Valerie Bouthyette are a perfect pairing.


How can I get a copy of The Pea in Peanut Butter?


We’re glad you asked! There are a few different ways you can get this book for kids.

  1. Visit Allyn’s blog to purchase it. You can even get an autographed copy of The Pea in Peanut Butter if you contact her via her blog and ask for it!
  2. Click one of the Amazon widgets below and go directly to the purchase page.



Creative Kids Ideas received a copy of The Pea in Peanut Butter in exchange for this honest book review.

Raising Money Smart Kids – Setting Savings Goals

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Setting savings goals with your kids

Creative Kids Ideas readers are familiar with our philosophy that kids learn best by doing, not merely listening. This is true in all aspects of life, whether in the classroom or at home.  In her upcoming book, Piggy Banks to Paychecks: Helping Kids Understand the Value of a Dollar, author Angie Mohr, CA, CMA offers practical advice to adults and encourages that same hands-on approach to teaching kids about money. Today, Angie shares one of her tips with our Creative Kids Ideas readers:


Raising Money Smart Kids Tip #5- Setting Savings Goals


Every family has different savings philosophies. Each has its benefits and one is not necessarily better than another. Families need to start the process by looking at what is important to them in teaching their kids to save.

The first step in setting savings goals with your kids is deciding what they are going to be responsible for buying.  Will you pay for a new bike every year or are your kids responsible for that?  Will they participate in saving for college or will you fund that for them?  Kids need to know this kind of information in order to make reasonable savings goals.

Once kids are clear on what they need to save for, they can make more informed choices.  The easiest way to get kids to save without a fight is to set ground rules with them.  For example, the rule could be that every time your child comes into money, at least 10 percent goes to the college fund and 40 percent goes to other long term savings.  The rest can be spent or saved as the child chooses.  This accomplishes two goals: it sets them on the path to having disciplined savings deposits and it also allows them some freedom to decide if they want to spend or save a portion of their “income”.  When they are adults, they will be making these same choices on a daily basis and will be setting aside a fixed, recurring amount every month to fund their retirement plans or emergency fund.

Changing Savings Goals
Like adults, kids will likely change their wants and needs many times and will want to re-adjust their savings goals.  Walking them through the process of deciding whether new goals are more appropriate will help them to make these types of decisions in the future.  If you instead hold them to their original plans (“you wanted the iPod so you have to keep saving for it”), kids can lose interest in savings.  That doesn’t mean that they should change their goals every few days when something new and cool comes on the market.  Help them to put some real thought into why the new goals make more sense now than the current goals and help them figure out how much more or less they will have to save on a regular basis to adjust to the new goal.

For more great Raising Money Smart Kids Tips and excerpts from my new book, Piggy Banks to Paychecks: Helping Kids Understand the Value of a Dollar, come and join us on our March book blog tour here.

© Angie Mohr 2012


Drop by Angie Mohr’s blog to offer your support, grab your copy of her new book, or learn more about her other publications.

Guest Post: How to Be a Financial Mentor to Your Kids’ Friends

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Photo Courtesy of: Angie Mohr

I’m happy to introduce you to my friend and fellow writer Angie Mohr. Angie is a Chartered Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and financial consultant. She’s also the author of a new book, Piggy Banks to Paychecks: Helping Kids Understand the Value of a Dollar (by Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2012). Piggy Banks to Paychecks offers easy-to-understand and practical advice for parents, grandparents, and teachers on how to teach children of all ages about money. You can learn more about the book and get other great financial advice from Angie by visiting her Piggy Banks to Paychecks blog or by following the Piggy Banks to Paychecks Facebook page. And don’t forget to order your copy of her book!

Angie has agreed to stop by today and share a few words of wisdom with Creative Kids Ideas readers about how to be a financial mentor to your kids’ friends. Now, here’s Angie!


Creative Kids Ideas has graciously asked me to guest post today as part of my March Piggy Banks to Paychecks blog tour. Thanks, Jo!


As adults, we affect not only our own children but also our children’s friends. Just by being who you are and allowing your kids’ friends to be around you, you provide them with new experiences and potentially with different ways of seeing the world.

With that in mind, what better gift can you give their friends than financial education? Most families do not discuss money at home, much less teach their children how to handle it. If you are already teaching your own children how to handle money, doing it in front of their friends can help them as well. It doesn’t have to be any kind of formal training but talking about your kids’ savings plans, the household rules about earning money for allowance and saving it, and rules about spending, help other kids handle their own money better.

Most importantly, be there for your kids’ friends if they have questions about money. They may have little concept of how finances work or they may even have a warped and dysfunctional view of how it works by observing what goes on in their own home. Take the time to answer their questions but don’t lecture them. You’re there as a resource, not an instructor.

Whether you’re conscious of it or not, you are a mentor to and an influence on not only your own kids but their friends, too. Give them a solid foundation in money management and they’ll have those skills for a lifetime.

© Angie Mohr 2012

Celebrating Seuss

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Fun ways to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss and promote reading

Fun ways to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss and promote reading

March 2 is the birthday of the late, great children’s author, Dr. Seuss. In honor of this favorite icon in literature, we’ve come up with a few fun ways to celebrate his birthday and promote reading and creativity in kids.

Schools, libraries and other organizations all across America are hosting Read Across America Day and many are celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday with week long events. The National Education Association offers excellent information on Read Across America events happening in local areas throughout the nation.

How you can celebrate Seuss with kids

1. Whether you are a teacher searching for new methods to reach your students and turn them on the joys of reading or a parent looking for fun ways to bond with your children, these activities to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss with children of all ages are sure to do the trick.

2. AtoZteacherstuff also offers a comprehensive list of Dr. Seuss themed activities, lesson plans, games and printable craft ideas that we love.

3. You simply can’t forget to visit Seussville. This fun site is loaded with online and printable games and activities for children of all ages. Children can do everything from attempting to catch a Thing, to playing a Fox in Socks matching game, all the way to creating their own stories with the Seussville Storymaker section using Dr. Seuss characters and scenery.

Keep the Seuss attitude

However you choose to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss with your children, remember what his writing was all about – creativity and fun. The stories of Dr. Seuss represent those traits to millions of fans, both young and old. Today is a great day for adults to recapture a small portion of that and share it with the children they love.

Have a fun and creative time together!

Kids Are Authors Contest Sponsored by Scholastic

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Do you know a child who is a gifted writer or artist? Are you looking for ways to encourage him or her to use those skills?

If so, you might want to check out the Kids Are Authors competition sponsored by Scholastic Book Fairs. It is a yearly contest for all students in Kindergarten to 8th grade (in American and U.S. international schools). Since the goal of the contest is to also teach kids how to work better in groups, the rules stipulate that students must work in teams of three or more kids with an adult project coordinator to write and illustrate their own book. The Kids Are Authors competition encourages kids to use their writing and artistic skills, as well as creativity, teamwork, social skills, and communication skills.


Important Dates:

All entries must be postmarked by March 15, 2012 in order to be eligible for the 2012 Kids Are Authors Competition. The winners will be announced by May 31, 2012.

Contest Prizes:

Grand Prizes — The two grand-prize winning books will be published by Scholastic and sold at Book Fairs all over the United States. There will be one fiction and one nonfiction book chosen. Each winning team will also receive $5,000 in merchandise from the Scholastic Book Fairs School Resource Catalog to be awarded to the public/private school or non-profit organization of their choice and 100 copies of their published book. Each student will also earn a gold medal and a framed award certificate.

Honeorable Mentions — In addition to the big prizes, there will also be 25 honorable mentions selected. Each winning team will earn $500 in merchandise from the Scholastic Book Fairs School Resource Catalog to be awarded to the public/private school or non-profit organization of their choice. Each participating kid in the winning groups will also receive an award certificate.

Guidelines and Rules:

Learn more about Kids Are Authors by visiting the Scholastic website. You can also find the full contest guidelines and offical rules and specifics on how to enter the contest there.

Good luck to all the kids who enter!

Authors and Businesses: Creative Kids Ideas Wants You!

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Calling all authors and businesses! We want your help. Creative Kids Ideas is interested in connecting with authors and companies interested in sponsoring contests and giveaways for our Creative Kids Ideas readers in 2012. CKI’s readers are awesome and really deserve some cool goodies! Plus, we promise to give you lots of great publicity. (We’re also willing to provide reviews of your books and products.)

Please keep in mind that Creative Kids Ideas features content about kids, children’s crafts, parenting, teaching, and other kid-related topics. Those are also the types of products we are interested in reviewing and giving away.

Anyone interested can reach us at, use the Contact form on our site, or reply in the comments section below.

Creative Kids Ideas Readers: We’d also appreciate your help in spreading the word! Thanks and a Happy 2012 to all of you.

Review: Soft Kitty Plush Toy from the Hit Show The Big Bang Theory

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Photo courtesy of: Big Bang Theory and Stylin Online

Photo courtesy of: The Big Bang Theory and Stylin Online

“Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur. Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr!”

Fans of the CBS TV comedy, The Big Bang Theory, will recognize the “Soft Kitty” song that an ill Sheldon teaches to Penny and convinces her to sing to make him feel better. This cute and snuggly plush kitty sings the soothing song (in Penny’s voice) when the paw is pressed, and is guaranteed to bring a smile to your child’s face, whether she is sick or not!

Parents who may be concerned about giving their child a collectible item from The Big Bang Theory, which is a show that sometimes contains more “adult content”, can rest assured that there is nothing inappropriate for kids with the song or the plush toy. But you don’t just have to take my word for it. Here’s a short video to give you a better idea:

Photo courtesy of: The Big Bang Theory and Stylin Online

Here are the details you’ll need to know about the Soft Kitty Singing Plush Toy:


  • This plush is a trademark The Big Bang Theory product.
  • The kitty is 10-inches long.
  • The plush toy is gray and pink.
  • It requires three 1.5V button-cell batteries (included with the toy).
  • It plays “Soft Kitty” when the button on the paw is pressed.
  • The kitty is made of polyester fiber and is all new material.
  • The plush is not machine washable. Surface cleaning should be done with a damp cloth.
  • The toy is recommended for children (and adults) over the age of 3.
  • The Soft Kitty plush is now available on Stylin Online for $29.99.

**I received no payment for this review, but did receive a free Soft Kitty Plush toy in exchange for an honest review on Creative Kids Ideas.**

Fall and Autumn Ideas for Kids and Families

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Scarecrow treat bag

Autumn, along with the beautiful array of colors it naturally provides, inspires a variety of fun fall crafts, activities, games and party themes.  Crafts, games, and activities centered around fall staples like scarecrows, crows, pumpkins, apples, and autumn leaves top the list of favorites for kids. They top the list at Creative Kids Ideas, too! Below is a list of fall and autumn ideas for kids and families to get your imagination flowing:

1. Crafty fall projects: Check out this article by Linda Ann Nickerson. It’s packed with creative and functional fall crafts projects you can make with kids with fun ideas like corn husk dolls,harvest treasure box, leaf etchings, pine cone wreath, and autumn wrapping paper.

2. Practical fall activities with life applications  for kids: Fall is an ideal time to teach kids more about nature and the environment, and to incorporate natural elements associated with the season into your lessons. Andrea Coventry offers some great tips in Montesorri practical life activities for fall.

3. Make tasty harvest foods with kids: Who can forget about the yummy foods harvesttime foods, like apples and pumpkins? Certainly not kids (or Creative Kids Ideas!). Preparing and cooking food with children is an excellent way to give them hands-on lessons about nutrition, measurements and math, kitchen safety, and more. It’s also a great opportunity to have fun getting messy in the kitchen together! Below are a couple suggestions for healthy and tasty recipes kids can help make:

4. Fall leaves activities for small kids: Toddlers and young children learn best when they’re allowed to use their senses freely to discover. Autumn is the perfect time to take them outdoors and let them experience nature and learn about the seasons by using their senses. Read Fall Toddler Activities with Autumn Leaves to find a variety of creative ways to help them learn.

5. Paper bag scarecrow craft and party treat bag: If you and your family are planning a harvest celebration or Halloween party this year, this adorable paper bag scarecrow is one craft project you won’t want to miss. Not only is it fun to make, the scarecrow craft also serves a purpose by doubling as a treat bag for party guests at your harvest or Halloween celebration. Kids will enjoy making this project and, even more, they’ll love seeing their artwork displayed and shared with others at the party.

6. Pumpkin art projects for kids: Pumpkins are plentiful this time of year. Ever wonder what you can do with them all? Tania Cowling gives some excellent kids’ project ideas for using them in Pumpkin Art Projects for Kids of All Ages. She also includes great pumpkin themed activities and crafts that don’t involve real pumpkins, like making pumpkin mosaic, milk jug pumpkins, and coffee filter pumpkins.

7. Party games with a fall or harvest theme: Planning a harvest party or fall festival this season? Events like this are a great way to gather with your community, friends, and family to celebrate the autumn season. The kids’ party games you choose are an important element for a successful harvest party or fall festival. Once Upon a Time offers a great list of fun and easy to organize game ideas for a fall festival or harvest party.

How ever you choose to celebrate, take time to enjoy the autumn season and many natural lessons and inspirations it provides with your kids. Happy Autumn!