Summer of FUNN – At-Home Empowerment Activities for Youths, Young Adults, and Families

The calendar pages have been turned to June and that means it is time for Summer Fun! Many of your calendars will be filled with trips to the beach, summer camp and sports leagues, and maybe even a vacation or two; however, making time for “play with purpose” will be key to the continued development of your child’s (or children’s) leadership and problem solving skills!

Experiential education can be defined simply as learning by doing. What better way to learn leadership and creative problem solving skills than through exciting adventure play?!?!? The Empower Leadership Team is excited to share three of our most popular “At-Home Empowerment Activities” to help families engage in fun and exciting play experiences during the Summer months! 

While each activity is designed to bring smiles and accomplishment to your Summer routine – the real value comes in the meaningful lessons that can be learned and applied to life at home, in school, or in sport! We hope you enjoy our Summer of FUNN Empowerment Activities!

Penny Possibilities

This activity requires little equipment (a flat space to play, a couple of paper towels, a penny, and a cup of water); however, the potential for valuable learning is large! 

Penny Possibilities is a perfect way to highlight the difference between “what we think we can do” vs. “what we actually can do”. 

  • Have each family member gather their equipment (penny, flat space to work, a couple of paper towels, and a cup of water)
  • Next, explain that you are going to see how many small droplets of water your penny can hold before overflowing – have each person make a guess as to how many small droplets of water they think their penny can hold.
  • Once everyone has written down their guess, begin the activity 
  • Have each person try to beat their guess in round 1
  • In round 2, have each person try to beat their result from round 1
  • And finally, in round 3, have each person try to beat their result from round 2
  • In most instances, the “pre-activity” guesses that each participant makes are significantly lower than the amount of water droplets their pennies can actually hold – setting up for great “teachable moments” about never underestimating yourself and about the importance of improvement (either small or large)!!!

The Flight of the Paper Airplane Challenges

Another activity that leads to valuable learning opportunities without major equipment requirements (sheets of paper and some random items as “targets”). There are actually a trio of challenges you can play – all involving the most simple childhood toy – a paper airplane!

Before getting into the games, I highly recommend a little “research and development” process in which all of the participants (1) go online and learn about different styles of paper airplanes, (2) pick two or three styles they like, (3) create those paper airplanes, and, finally, (4) add some creative design flair (color with markers, add stickers, etc.) to your airplanes.

  • Challenge #1 – Max Distance: Participants complete multiple throws of their paper airplanes and the person with the longest throw wins!
  • Challenge #2 – Time of Flight: Participants complete multiple throws of their paper airplanes and the person whose plane stays in the air the longest wins!
  • Challenge #3 – Accuracy: My favorite “Accuracy Challenge” is similar to Bocce and requires a small ball or hula hoop to serve as a target. Have one participant toss the target anywhere in your play space. Next, have each person throw 4 different paper airplanes towards the target. Once each participant has thrown all 4 of their airplanes, award 5 points to the airplane closest to the target, 4 points to the airplane that is second closest, 3 points for the third closest, etc. 

Once again, a very simple activity concept that has plenty of great learning opportunities, including (1) research and creative exploration and (2) trial, error, and learning from error.

The Aluminum Boat Weight Bearing Challenge

The Aluminum Boat Weight Bearing Challenge was quite popular with one of our clients during who leads a summer “life skill development” program for youths and young adults and it also happens to be my personal favorite! Each person will need a sheet of aluminum foil (12” x 12” or 18” x 18”), a whole bunch of coins, and a bucket of water.

Before starting the challenge, each person must create a boat out of their aluminum foil sheet. Once the boat is created, each person should see if it passes the “float test” (place it in the bucket of water to make sure that it floats). 

  • Once each boat has passed the “float test”, gather all of the loose change you have in your house/car, and get ready for some fun!
  • Challenge #1: Pennies only – how many pennies can each boat hold before capsizing??? The boat that holds the most pennies before sinking wins! I encourage you to do multiple rounds of challenge #1 – giving your children opportunities to create different styles of aluminum foil boats to see which one works best!
  • Challenge #2: All coins – how much money can each boat hold before capsizing? 

Challenge #1 (pennies only) focuses more on creative exploration and problem solving (trial, error, and learning from error). Challenge #2 (all coins) involves math and an element of risk reward. The chart, linked here, includes the value AND WEIGHT of each coin. Before running Challenge #2, have each participant do a simple math problem based on their results in Challenge #1. For example, if their aluminum boat held 75 pennies before sinking, that boat should hold approximately 187.5 grams before sinking. Once they figure out the “load bearing potential” of their boat, have each participant figure out how much money (in different coins) their boat can hold before sinking and begin Challenge #2. The person whose boat holds the most money wins!!!

Another simple activity with a connection to problem solving (trial, error, improvement), leadership (focus and attention to detail), and math (addition and/or multiplication).

Experiential Play with Big Results!

We hope you enjoy our At-Home Empowerment Activities! The development of leadership and problem solving skills is not limited to time in the classroom, in sport, or in performing arts – those skills can be developed through FUNN (functional understanding not necessary) family play! Please feel free to email Empower Leadership’s President, Dan Jaskot, if you have any questions about the activities and their implementation – we are always happy to help!

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