At this time of year, many of you will be working in holiday clubs where children at the top of the early years age range will be playing alongside older peers. So this month we continue with another summer activity that works really well with a mixed age range – a water gala. This is a special event featuring a number of water games.
Children can of course play water games separately, but grouping them together to create a “gala” is not only exciting, it has a huge practical advantage – children can be asked on the designated day to wear appropriate clothes and non-slip shoes, and to bring in a towel and a complete change of dry clothes. (This also applies to the grown-ups!).
You might like to include the following games in your gala:
Bulls-eye: Show the group how to chalk a large bull-eye target on the playground floor or a wall. Allocate a different number of points to each ring of the target. Chalk a line 2-3 metres away for players to stand behind. Provide a bucket of water filled with soft tennis balls or sponges for children to throw at the target.
Balloon volleyball: Divide the group into two teams and play volleyball as usual, with one exception – replace the ball with a water-filled balloon. They are unpredictable which adds to the fun! They may or may not burst when a player hits them or they land on the floor. Have spare balloons ready and introduce them quickly into the game each time there’s a splash! Younger children may prefer to catch and throw the balloon if they find it hard to do the traditional volleyball move.
Under and over: In this version of the well-known party game, the traditional balloon is replaced with a paper cup filled with water. Divide the children into teams of five or six, with each team member standing one behind the other. Give the child at the front of each team (the captain) a cup of water. On the “Go” signal, they pass the cup over their head to the child behind them. This is repeated down the line, with children alternating between passing the cup over their heads and between their legs. When the cup reaches the last child, they should run to the front and begin again. The game is won when the first captain is back at the front of the line – their whole team should quickly sit down to signal that they’ve finished the game. You’ll need large jugs of water ready throughout to top up each team’s cups when there’s a spill.
You’ll find a new factsheet with further ideas for water activities in the free resources section of Planet Vocational. If you aren’t already logged on, just register for access and select the Childcare box under ‘View free resources’.
If you’re looking for more activity ideas for a mixed age group, check out my book A Practical Guide to Activities for Older Children, which focuses on themed activities for the 4-12 age range. You may also be interested in A Practical Guide to Playwork.
Don’t forget that sunscreen will need reapplying after water fun!