Fun stuff to do on Christmas vacation

So, Christmas is over. You've unwrapped and played with all your new toys. Now what? What can you do that won't drive your parents crazy?

Here are some activities that don't require batteries or electricity. All you need is some imagination.

Start by making your own 'motion picture' (see below). Then try some of the group games on the next page. You can play them almost anywhere, and with any number of people. Adults and children can take part.

You may learn a few new skills that you can show off to your family. Or better yet, they can play with you, too.

Group Juggling

Form a group of five to seven. You will need enough comparatively soft, throwable objects (Nerf balls, softies, beanbags, tennis balls), so that there are more than one per person.

Have the group stand in a circle facing one another, so that the circle's diameter is no more than 12 to 15 feet.

One person keeps the throwable objects nearby and lobs one of them to a person across the circle. That person lobs the ball to a person opposite him or her, and this continues until a person-to-person sequence is set. Do not throw to the person next to you.

Once everybody knows whom to throw to and receive from, the initiator starts the ball again. But this time he or she includes another ball, and eventually another, until there are as many balls being kept aloft as there are people in the group. Try reversing the sequence - that is, throwing to the person you formerly received from.

Then add one more ball. Try keeping, for example, seven objects going with only six people throwing - now that's juggling!

PAPERCHUTE

You don't need any special skills to play this game, but you will need sheets of uncrumpled paper. (Preferably recycled paper, so that new sheets are not wasted.) Any color is fine.

Give a sheet of paper to each participant; players can work alone or with one or two others.

Here's the challenge: From a height of approximately 10 feet (or higher, if you can arrange a safe launch), each participant or team drops their piece of recycled paper so that it ends up as close to a designated target as possible. A target can be easily fabricated on the floor with two crossed pieces of colored tape to form a large "X." The drop can be accomplished from a stepladder, a balcony, etc.

Watch what happens when the paper is dropped. Does it glide to and fro? Is it hard to direct?

Now try crumpling up the sheet. Does it fall in a straighter line? If you aim well, how close to the center of the target can you get?

Try many different ways of twisting and changing the paper. What happens if you crumple a sheet so that it looks like a snake? Or if you rip off part of the sheet? (Just don't rip off more than a third.) Brainstorm and analyze the results of previous drops.

You can even try making simple origami shapes. (Any stable, folded shape will do.)

Remember, the final result is not nearly as important as what you learn along the way.

Ping-Pong Pyramids

In this game, a group of five players will be given 20 Ping-Pong balls that have been glued into five distinct segments. Two of these segments will consist of six balls each, two will consist of two balls each, and the final linear strip will be made of four balls. (See illustration above.) The object of the game is to arrange these segments into a four-sided symmetrical pyramid. Each person will be responsible for placing one piece.

As a group, try to figure out the necessary spatial relationship of the pieces to produce the desired pyramid. Discuss the various possibilities. Allow hands-on only after the group has decided what needs to be attempted.

SOLUTION:

1. Lay the four-ball linear piece on the floor.

2. Lean one of the six-ball pieces against this four-ball piece so that their lengths run parallel to each other.

3. Lean the second six-ball piece against the two established pieces, so that the two six-ball pieces are set perpendicular to one another.

4. Lean the two sets of two-ball pieces (thinking of them as one long four-ball piece) vertically against the three set pieces. Done.

Create a 'flip book'

You'll need scissors, a glue stick, two dozen 3-by-5-in. cards, and a rubber band. First, cut out all the illustrations at right. Glue each picture to the upper-right-hand corner of an index card. (Keep the pictures in order: The first one is top left; the last one is bottom right.) Put the rubber band around the cards as shown. Hold the cards in one hand and flip them with the thumb of your other hand. See the dinosaur eat the flower? (Now try flipping them in reverse!)

STEP ONE: Cut out the pictures. Keep them in order. STEP TWO: Glue each picture to an index card. STEP THREE: Put a rubber band around the cards - and flip!

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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