Improv Games

We've all experienced the sometimes awkward process of getting to know new people, especially in group settings. More often than not, improv games are a great way to allow people to get to know one another in a fun fashionImprov games are essentially games that are designed to improve on an individual's improv acting skills in the theater. These games also make great icebreakers and are just plain fun for anybody to play.

Children love the interactive rules of improv games and are much more likely to have fun because of the unpredictable nature of these games. Since there are a great variety of games, kids are not the only ones who can participate. Corporate outings and company team building exercises are also implementing improv games to encourage unity and cohesion among employees. Take a look at these 13 fun, energetic, and creative improv games from improvencyclopedia.org that can be used in a variety of settings.

Game #1:

Imitation

This first game is simple and fun for any group, kids or adults. The game starts with everyone forming a circle. Someone will start by performing some kind of action, small or big, such as snapping or a dance move. The player can also opt to make a sound of some sort like a dog barking or whistling a short tune. The goofier the better. The next person in the circle will then do their best to imitate that sound or action and the next person will imitate that person and so on and so forth. The game is similar to telephone. You might think it should be simple to imitate a sound or action, but as more people attempt it, the more distorted and amusing it becomes.

Game #2:

Ten Strikes and You're Out!

This next game can be played by any age group and in small or large groups. Each individual holds up each of their fingers, representing the number of "strikes" they get before they are out. One at a time, each person will state something that is true about themselves but is hopefully not true about the other group members. For example, I could state that I own a dog. Whoever can say "I too own a dog" is safe. But whoever does not own a dog has to put a finger down. When someone runs out of fingers, they are out. The last person to have a finger up, wins. The goal is to say something that is true of you but NOT true about others, so the more unique you can make it, the better. This game encourages players to pay attention to and learn about the other group members so they can plan their turn strategically.

Game # 3: 

Rocks Ahead!

This game requires some props, really anything that can be placed on the ground as an obstacle such as a shoe, pillow, toys, chairs, etc. One person is picked as the Captain who is at the wheel of the "ship" but cannot see anything due to heavy fog (this member is blindfolded). The rest of the group are the mates who are on the lookout for any obstacles that might sink the ship like rocks, reefs, etc. which are represented by the various obstacles placed on the ground throughout the room. The group, using only their words, will do their best to navigate the blindfolded Captain through the obstacles without touching any of them. If so desired, you may allow the "ship" 1 or 2 brushes against an obstacle to make the game a little easier.

Game #4: 

Back to the Future

This game involves 2-4 players who will take a few minutes to improvise the plot for a short scene, but will not act it out. Then the audience will decide if they want to see what preceded that scene or what happens after. This game promotes teamwork among the actors and is just plain amusing for the audience.

Game #5: 

Turn and Trust

This next game is great for building trust and teamwork. Have the group form a circle with everyone standing really close together. The instruct the group to make a quarter-turn to the left. Then ask everyone to move in, standing even closer together. Next, ask the whole group to sit down simultaneously. If done properly, each group member will end up sitting on each other's knees. If you really want to challenge them, instruct them to walk while sitting by telling them which foot to start with.

Game #6: 

Octopus

This next game is simple and is great for children. The group starts in either a circle or a line with each player holding hands. The group then moves around with an inevitable tangle of people forming. For added fun, have the group then try and untangle themselves.

Game #7: 

Jabbering Jargon

This improv game is structured around an individual, with audience participation. The individual starts calling out any words he/she wants with the goal of saying as many words as possible that have no association with the previous word. For example, I could say, "baseball, sky, bed, dog, lamp, light bulb" but at light bulb I would stop since there is an association between lamp and light bulb. This game encourages creativity and focus from the individual and vigilance from the group since they will be the ones stopping the individual when an association is made.

Game #8: 

Fast-Forward/Rewind

In this game you will need to pick a "director" and the rest of the group will serve as actors. The actors will act out a scene and at any point the director can "rewind" or "fast-forward" the scene at which point the actors will adjust their scene accordingly. This is a great game for improving impromptu skills and also forces the actors to work in unison, especially in the "fast-forward" portions of the game.

Game #9: 

Active Audience

This game is played with 1-3 players as the "story tellers" and the rest of the group provides assistance when the story tellers look to the crowd for creative ideas. For example, a story teller may say, "I like Italian food but my favorite food of all time is..." At this point the audience could yell out "dirty socks" or "beach towel" and the storyteller would continue, "I like Italian food but my favorite food of all time is dirty socks. Dirty socks just really hit the spot when I'm famished." The story can go for as long as you like. This is a great improv game that encourages the story tellers to tap into their creative side. It also leads to some great jokes that can be referenced for a long time.

Game #10: 

The Voice

This next game is great for an improv class or just a fun game for anyone to engage in. It can take place on a stage or anywhere there is ample room. The group, minus one, will come up with a scene to act out. One individual will not be acting but will instead be the voice of an "invisible character" whom the rest of the actors will have to incorporate into their scene. The "voice" is a supposed invisible character whom the actors can see but the audience cannot.

Game #11: 

Rumor Has It...

This is a great war-up game for any group. All players sit in a circle. The first person points at an individual and whispers, "Did you hear...?" to the person next to them. That person affirms and adds to the silly rumor. For example, the game might start with a player pointing to the person across from them and whispering to their neighbor, "Did you hear Joe has reverse aging disorder and is actually over 200 years old?" The neighbor might then gasp dramatically and whisper to their neighbor, "Did you hear Joe has reverse aging disorder and is actually over 200 years old and is from Mars?" This would continue until the person sitting next to Joe would tell the audience the collective rumors she/he heard about Joe. This game encourages creativity and emphasizes memory recall and is also sure to lead to some fun inside jokes.

Game #12: 

In Sync

For this game you will need to come up with three things that can be easily mimicked with hand gestures. For example if you picked a king, the sign could be to use your hands to form a crown above your head. If you picked a chicken, the sign could be to bob your head and cluck. You can pick anything, just make sure all the players know the three things agreed upon and what their signs are. At your signal, each player will pick one of the three things and will make the appropriate sign. The game continues until everyone in the group picks the same thing to act out. It is fun to watch who leads the group in which thing to act out and who is stubborn in following!

Game #13: 

Group Mime

This last game involves group coordination to mime a group activity. For example tug-o-war, rowing a boat, peddling a 10 person bike, etc. This game encourages suggestions from the audience and team work from the players. If there is no audience then simply ask any one of the players for a suggestion of what to mime.

There you have it, 13 fun improv games. Still need more fun game? Make sure you check out our extensive list of dice games as well.

Featured Image via Pixabay

Trampoline Games

Trampolines are oodles of fun for all ages. Not only can you jump to your heart's content, but there are numerous games that one can partake while on the trampoline. Games are fun to play with small groups of people, but also with large groups; and are great way to organize play and activities when entertaining a crowd or hosting a party.

There is a huge variety of games that can be played on a trampoline, such as the following:

Dead Man

This is an exciting game that is best played with three or more participants. To really spice things up, try it out at night! (Best played on a trampoline with a net enclosure in order to prevent anyone from falling off.)

For this game, one person is the “dead man” and sits in the middle of the trampoline with their eyes closed and counts to 10. During this time the other participants can jump, crawl, or use any other stealthy moves to steer clear of the dead man. Once the dead man has counted to 10 the other participants all shout, “Dead man rise!”

The dead man then crawls with his or her eyes closed to find and tag the other participants in order to make them the “dead man.” The dead man cannot open his or her eyes, nor can they stand while being the dead man. The other participants are allowed to move as much or as little as they wish, but they are not allowed to jump over the dead man at any point. The round ends when the dead man tags a player.

Crack the Egg

This game can easily be played with as little as two participants; but the more the merrier! It is also best played on a trampoline with a safety net enclosure so that the “egg” does not accidentally fly off the trampoline.

In crack the egg the “egg” sits in the middle of the trampoline with his or her knees pulled up to his or her chest, arms wrapped around the knees, and chin tucked down.  The other participants jump around the “egg” until he or she “cracks” – they let go of their legs. The players trying to crack the egg cannot jump within a foot of where the egg is seated, nor can the touch the egg in any way. Once the egg cracks, it is then a new players turns to be the egg.

Cherry Bomb

A soft, bouncing ball is needed, such as a basketball or volley ball, to play this trampoline game. Two or more people stand in the middle of the trampoline and one person throws the ball up in the air while yelling, “Cherry bomb!” Everyone jumps around to keep the ball hitting them, and to also keep the ball bouncing.

Each person is allotted five lives. Being touched by the ball is a loss of a life. If the ball falls off the trampoline (or on a net-enclosed trampoline, if it touches the net), all participants lose one life. You play until only one person has any lives left.

To make this game more challenging, you can have several balls bouncing on the trampoline at once!

Bouncing Balls

In this game, each person acts as the bouncing ball. One person begins by standing in the middle of the trampoline and falling down directly on their bottom and bouncing. They bounce on their bottom on the middle of the trampoline without the use of their hands as many consecutive times as they are able. When they stop bouncing, then it is the next persons turn. That person tries to surpass the first person in how many times they can bounce on their bottom. This continues until someone can no longer surpass the person before them, at which point that person is out. Each person who cannot surpass the previous person is out, until only one person remains. This game is great for any number of participants, but a minimum of two.

To make things a bit more exciting, you could play this with a sprinkler running underneath the trampoline on a hot, sunny day!

Wild Boar

In the game of Wild Boar, a game best played with a minimum or three people, one person is selected to be the wild boar. This person is blindfolded. Everyone, including the wild boar, is standing on the trampoline at all times. No one is allowed to sit or crawl. The wild boar then must try to catch one of the other players by walking or jumping. If he or she is successful, they then must identify whom they have caught without removing their blindfold. When the wild boar is correct in identifying the person whom they have caught, the person captured is now the wild boar. If they are incorrect, the wild boar must release the person and try to tag someone again, repeating until they are able to properly identify their ensnared person.

Due to the wild boar being blindfolded, this game is best played on a trampoline with a safety net.

Image via Pixabay

Trampoline Game of TRAMP

The trampoline game of Tramp is reminiscent of “Horse” meets “Copycat” on a trampoline. It can be played with a minimum of two people, but more is certainly enjoyable.

All the participants stay on the outskirts of the trampoline while one person performs a trick in the middle. The trick may be as easy or difficult as the person desires/ Each person must then take a turn repeating the trick. If they are incapable of repeating the trick, they then earn a “T.” Each subsequent inability to mimic a trick warrants them an “R” and then an “A” and then an “M” and then a “P.” As each person earns a “P” they are out. Whoever is left having not earned all the letters after everyone else has gotten out is the winner.

For a longer game, you can spell out all of the word “trampoline.”

Telephone

Akin to the old school game of “telephone” where a whispered sentence goes down a long chain in hopes of it being the same at the end, this is also a long sequence of events that is repeated until they can no longer be remembered in order to be the same.

In this game, all the participants sit on one edge of the trampoline. One person goes first and performs a “trick,” i.e., drop on their bottom, do a pike jump, spin, etc. The next person then performs the first trick, and then adds a trick of his or her own. This sequence continues with each person correctly imitating the tricks performed prior to them, and then adding their own. This continues until someone can no longer remember the sequence correctly. Once someone does not perform it in the proper order that person is subsequently out. This continues until everyone forgets the sequence properly. The last person to perform it correctly wins.

This game could be played with as few as two players.

Slithering Snake

For the game of Slithering Snake, a minimum of three people is needed. A jump rope is also needed as the “snake.”

One person, who is in control of the snake, stands on the side of the trampoline and moves the jump rope back and forth over the surface of the trampoline, being sure not to lift it off the surface. The players on the trampoline must jump around, avoiding the moving snake so it does not touch their shoes or ankles, and also can not run into one another. If the snake touches them, they are out. This continues until there is only one person left who has yet to be tagged by the snake.

Stealthy Ninja

And last but not least, another great trampoline game. Who does not dream of being a ninja? Or at least playing the part of one! For this game you need a minimum of three people. It is best played on a trampoline that has a safety net so that no one accidentally falls off.

All of the participants except for the ninja are blindfolded. The ninja then must cause each of the players to fall down; but the ninja is not allowed to kick, punch, or use any other sort of move that could actually harm the blindfolded participants.

The blindfolded individuals must then do their best to both avoid being tripped or falling down, while also trying their best to trip the ninja. If the ninja knocks down all the blindfolded players without falling down himself, he wins. If the ninja is knocked down by one of the blindfolded participants, or falls down on his own, then the blindfolded members win that round. At that time a new person is selected to be the ninja.

With some many trampoline games, it is difficult to ever be bored! Most trampoline games can be spiced up by adding an element of darkness or water. And although most can be played with only two to three people, the more people the more fun and suspense!

Make sure you check out some of our best rectangular trampolines.

Featured image via Pixabay

Gift Exchange Games for Large Groups

Are you hosting a gift exchange and want to spice it up a little? One easy way to do that is to incorporate a fun game into the mix. It will take away some of that overwhelmed feeling and get everyone in the mood for a party. Whether you’re in charge of your child’s birthday party, a family holiday get-together, or an office party – we have you covered. We provide a list of gift exchange games for large groups so you can make things a little different this year. Make everyone stand in awe of your hosting abilities by making them have an entirely good time. Try one of these great games and report back!

White Elephant Game

My favorite gift giving game is the white elephant game. This can work amazingly with a group or even a smaller party. It’s easy to use at an office, home, or almost anywhere else. Party of what makes it so fun is its versatility.

How the white elephant game works is rather simple. Everyone coming to the party brings a wrapped gift along. Those gifts are all placed in one area together. When it’s time for the actual opening, the first person chooses the gift they would most like. However, the next person can either choose a gift from the table or steal the gift from the individual before. This continues down the line until everyone ends up with a present. Those who were stolen from go back to pick up a new gift, which can’t be taken.

What makes the white elephant game unique is the aspect of taking a gift, as well as the idea behind the gifts. While you can bring anything you like, provided it is wrapped, most people bring silly, unique gifts that you may see nowhere else. It amps up the fun factor and can make a usually stuffy situation incredibly entertaining!

Cheer Exchange

This is a fun one, and will work with any size group. It may take a bit longer with a crowd, but that just adds to the fun. Everyone goes to the destination of the party, bringing a wrapped gift at a certain price limit. Once everyone is there and settled, the game begins.

How this works is through the host giving directions to the guests. You might say something like “If you’ve already done all of your holiday shopping” or anything else. Those who fit that criterion stand up! The ones who are standing will swap gifts with each other. Then you go on to the next set of rules, trading between those standing each time. After someone has swapped, they no longer need to stand as they have a present of their own. The game continues until each person has had a chance to exchange their gift with someone else at the party.

Hot Potato

Hot Potato is known as a silly children’s game, but it can be a lot of fun for adults as well! In this scenario, everyone brings a gift, as usual. Everyone will be put into a circle (or many circles, if required) and a gift is handed out to the group.

This plays as you might expect. The person with the gift passes it on when the host starts a timer. The people pass the gift around until the timer stops. The person who is holding the gift gets to keep it. They leave the circle and are finished participating. Meanwhile, the game goes on with the next gift. This goes on until everyone has a gift in hand. It’s a fun game that will cause a lot of laughs, in my experience. I would suggest it, especially for a family get-together.

Musical Chairs

We’ve all played a game of musical chairs. However, the gift giving exchange based on it is a bit different. Everyone shows up to the party with a gift, as usual. However, when reaching the party, they then place their gift on a chair somewhere in the room.

Gameplay begins with the host starting a song, something for the holiday or occasion, and everyone circles the presents as it goes on. When the song stops, which is at the host’s discretion, the present in the seat in front of the partygoers is theirs to keep. The guests can open their gift and then use the seat for the rest of the festivities!

Secret Santa

A traditional, but fun, game rounds out the fifth spot on our list of gift exchange games for large groups. This is a name drawing game but with a bit more meat to it. How this works is that everyone participating has their name put into a hat. This occurs in the days or weeks leading up to the celebration. Once names are all collected, the host allows each person to pull a name from the hat.

It’s the responsibility of the individual who gets a name to get that person a gift. Sometimes this may be small gifts over a period of time, this is especially useful in an office situation. Other times you may just get one larger gift for the person you chose out of the hat. On the day of the actual party, each person brings a gift labeled for the person to receive it. Each participant takes their present and then after, they try to guess who bought it for them. This part can be the most fun of the whole game!

Gift Auction

No money is required for this fun game, at least no real money! Everyone brings a gift to the party and trades it in for some Monopoly money. The amount doesn’t matter as long as everyone has the same available. Once everyone is ready, the real fun can start.

The host can act as auctioneer for the gifts. A gift is presented, and people can bid their “money” on it, if it is something they think they’d like. Whoever bids the most gets the gift in the end. You would keep going until everyone had a gift, of course. This is a fun and interactive way to get a big group excited and interested in what’s going on. Everyone loves a pretend auction.

Left or Right

This one is fun and allows some creativity on the part of the host. Before the party begins, the host needs to make up a story that contains many instances of the words ‘left’ and ‘right.' You can also find some online if you prefer, but creation can be half the fun. Once that’s done, the party gathers as normal with everyone bringing a wrapped present.

Everyone will sit with the present they brought in, and the host will explain the rules. As the host reads the story, the packages change hands to the left or right each time the host says these words. The story continues until the end. At this point, each guest has a gift in their hands. They get to keep it, and everyone can open their new and exciting parcel.

Dice Exchange

This one is an interesting one and can easily accommodate a large group of people. Everyone attending goes out and gets a gift that anyone would enjoy. They bring that present, wrapped, to the office or home where the party is going to be held. In this case, they keep these presents and are seated.

Everyone sits in a circle (or groups if there are many people) and dice are handed out. Not every person gets one; every few are handed a die, and they are then allowed to roll the die. A song of some sort, Holiday or otherwise appropriate, starts and so does the game. If the person with the die gets a 3, they get to trade the gift they brought with someone else. Whether they get a gift or not, they pass the die on to the next person and play goes around the circle. This continues until the song ends and everyone keeps the present that has landed in front of them.

Love dice games? Make sure you check out our extensive list.

The Numbers Game

Everyone shows up, and as they do, you take their gifts and mark a number on them. You will then hand them a paper with the same number on it. Ask them to write down an unusual fact about themselves. That paper goes into a hat, and the presents are all collected for later.

Once the time comes for gifting, the host will pull a piece of paper from the hat and read out the fact, but not the number. People can then guess who the fact is about. The first person to get it right gets that present and are out of the game for the rest of the time. The game continues until everyone has a shiny new gift. This one is a lot of fun, and you can get people participating pretty quickly. There’s something about fighting for a gift that gets people all riled up.

Whose Gift

If you have a group that likes to get rowdy and have a lot of fun, this one is for you. All of the gifts are wrapped and put in a central location. You decide on an order for participants in whatever way you want. You can draw names or come up with something a bit more creative.

Once the person comes to the table, they get their gift. They open it as well. Then the fun starts. The person who received the gift has to guess who brought the gift. If they get it right, their turn ends, and you move on to the next person. However, if they get it wrong, and this will happen a lot – they have to sing a song or do something equally embarrassing. This gets everyone to lighten up some and have fun. It also really makes a party exactly that. You’re already in the mood to enjoy yourself after watching everyone and perhaps making a fool of yourself, too!

Trivia

This one is especially useful for the holidays but can work at any time of year. It’s a great way to get lots of people involved and will work no matter how large the crowd. It starts as expected, with each individual showing up and bringing a nicely wrapped gift. Then they are seated with the gifts in a central area so the game can begin.

This one is fun! The host will have drawn up some trivia questions beforehand, and each will be associated with a gift. The host will show the wrapped gift and then ask the question. The players raise their hands if they know the answer. The host calls on them and whoever gets it right first gets the present associated. If it’s a holiday party, you can use holiday trivia. If it’s a birthday party, you could incorporate subjects important to the birthday person. You can go so many ways with this exchange.

Once the first person has received their gift, it moves on to the next until each person has a gift. It can get people going and excited as everyone wants to show off their smarts and get a gift to boot. This is a favorite for many, and it’s not hard to see why that is.

Gift Exchange Games

These are the best of the best when it comes to gift exchange games for large groups. You are sure to find that one works for your particular situation. Many of these are well-know, but others are less so. If you want to incorporate more creativity or want to go with something convention, both are easily possible. No matter what style you like, one of these games is bound to please you and the group coming to your party.

So get out there and be the best host there can be. With this set of ideas, you’re already well on your way to making someone’s night. Enjoy yourself and have fun. That’s the most important aspect of a gift exchange or party anyway.

Make sure you check out our best yankee swap gift ideas as well.

Featured Image via Pixabay

Who Knows Mommy Best Baby Shower Questions

Parties being held for every occasion are getting better. The reason is simple; the hosts are attempting to entertain their guests by creating a game mode for the party, and no matter what celebration is taking place there is a slew of fun facts and questions at the host's disposal to ask the guest about the person or occasion being celebrated. From questions about the occasion for the party, Christmas for example and what is your favorite Christmas carol, Christmas present, Christmas movie; to individual questions about celebrations centered on one person, a birthday, anniversary, or a baby shower.

Image via Pixabay

Baby showers often bring a different and complex collection of an individual's friends, family, and business acquaintances. In this case, the baby shower games questions serve as a perfect ice-breaker for the guests. The guests have a chance to exchange information about the person being celebrated, and this serves to open an avenue for interesting and often funny individual stories.

The following is a list of popular questions that can be asked to the guests at a baby shower:

  • "What is Mommy's favorite color?"  For this question, choices can be provided in boxes to be checked off by the guest.
  • "What color are Mommy's eyes?" Again choices enclosed in boxes are a good idea for those who do not know the Mommy as well as others.
  • "What is Mommy's favorite drink?" 
  • "What is Mommy's favorite food?"  The boxes to be checked off should be creative.
  • "What was Mommy's maiden name?" This one will only work if mommy is married and chose to take her partner's name.  
  • "What is Mommy's shoe size?" Narrow it down but include a giant sized foot for laughs.
  • "Does Mommy want a boy or a girl?" ​Nobody should honestly care what sex the baby is as long as it's healthy.​​​
  • "Who is Mommy's favorite singer?" Rebecca Black anyone? 
  • "What is Mommy's favorite song?"  
  • "How many children does Mommy want?" Boxes should start with Zero, last Box more than a dozen.
  • "What is Mommy's favorite book?" 
  • "What is Mommy's favorite TV program?"
  • "Where does Mommy want to go when she can take her next vacation?"
  • "What will be Mommy's next car?"
  • "What is Mommy's favorite chocolate?"

Embarrassing Questions

The idea of more risque questions is to put guests in a mood to enjoy the time spent celebrating the birth of a brand new world citizen from a good and loved person who is hosting the party. Whoever hands out the "who knows mommy best baby shower game questions" should be aware of the guests who might be offended by the risque questions and explain that filling these answers out are optional. The risque questions could be printed on another piece of paper to be selectively handed out to those guests who wouldn't be offended by the more ribald questions.

The important thing is to make this "who knows mommy best baby shower game questions" a fun part of a joyous occasion and a great way to bring disparate people together and to put them all in a party mood. The celebration of birth is a tribute to the couple and especially to the woman who labors through this long, tiring, and difficult process. This is a time for the celebration of the greatest occasion and most important occurrence in life.

There you have it, a list of who knows mommy best baby shower questions. Make sure you check out some of our other baby shower ideas.

How to Build Rain Gutter Bookshelves

When it comes to a kids room or a baby's nursery, books are abundant. Storing them in a traditional book case is one option but you are missing out on the beautifully designed covers. Searching the bookcase for the right book can be time consuming. With rain gutter bookshelves you are able to display the cover art and let your little one pick the book that sparks his or her imagination. Here you will learn how to build your own rain gutter bookshelf.

STEP 1:

DETERMINE THE GUTTER LENGTH

Image via Pixabay

Decide how long you want the gutter bookshelf to be. Do you have limited space? Or are you trying to fill a large section of a wall. With rain gutters standard length being 10' you will have plenty of options. The ones shown in the example were cut to 36". At 36" we were able to get 3' sections from one 10' rain gutter.

STEP 2: 

BUY THE SUPPLIES

Image via Pixabay

You will be able to purchase all the supplies at your local hardware store. Our store of choice was Menards. You will also be able to find many of the products on Amazon.

Here's what you will need:
  • Rain Gutters - for our 3' sections we only needed (1) 10' rain gutter
  • Rain Gutter End Caps - Determine how many ends you will need. You will need two for each section of rain gutter. For our 3 sections we bought 6 end caps, 3 left and 3 right.
  • Tin Snips - You will want to find some good tin snips to help you cut the rain gutters. Always use safety glasses and gloves to help protect yourself against the sharp metal.
  • Anchors and Bolts - In order to securely mount the rain gutter bookshelves to the wall, you will want to make sure they are secured with anchors and bolts. We used 2 for each 36" section.
Optional:
  • Paint - If you plan on painting your rain gutter bookshelf as we did, you will need some paint. For our 3' sections we bought small 7.12 fl oz containers of Pittsburgh eggshell paint.
  • Coating - When the paint drys on the rain gutters it will be hard and can be easy to peal. We used a clear acrylic gloss coating to help protect the paint.
  • Painters tape - If you are plan on painting it more than one color as we did, painters tape always helps.
  • Foam Paint Brush - We used foam paint brushes to paint our rain gutter bookshelves.

STEP 3: 

CUT THE RAIN GUTTERS TO SIZE

Image via Flickr

Now that you have determined the size that you want them and you have all of your materials, it's time to cut them to size. Use your tin snips (use gloves and safety glasses) to cut the rain gutters to size. Make sure you cut them straight. Use a pencil to mark the cutting line. If it is not a straight cut it could be challenging to put the end caps on the gutters.

STEP 4: 

CLEAN OFF THE SHELF

Image via Pixabay

The rain gutters can have a lot of debris on them from the hardware store or from your cutting process. Take a cloth or some paper towel and wipe them down. Make sure they are clean for painting. If you used any water in the cleaning process give the gutters adequate time to dry.

STEP 5: 

TAPE OFF THE PATTERN

(IF YOU ARE NOT PAINTING SKIP TO STEP 13)

gutter-bookshelf

If you are painting your gutter bookshelf, painters tape will help speed up the process. We tried initially to do it without but it proved to be too time consuming. We used two strips of tape per bookshelf.

STEP 6:

PAINT YOUR FIRST COLOR

rain-gutter-bookshelves

Apply your first coat of paint to the gutter shelf. Make sure you paint long ways with the shelf. Changing directions throughout the project will be noticeable and will not be as visually appealing. Once you have your first coat applied, give it a second coat starting where you began the first coat. Make sure you give any white space the paint that it needs. Once you have applied the second coat look over the gutter. If there is still some white visual make sure you touch it up. Once you have eliminated all of the white from the gutter you can move on to the next step. 

STEP 7:

REMOVE THE TAPE

Once you have applied the first color of paint, remove the painters tape. It's important that you don't give the paint a long time to dry. The dryer the first paint color the more likely that the tape will peel up the paint.

STEP 8:

ADD SECOND COAT

rain-gutter-bookshelf

Now you can begin applying the second coat of paint. This requires a steady hand as you don't want the paint to be overlapping each other. Depending on a pattern, you might need a different size foam paint brush. Once the first coat has been applied move on to your second coat. Make sure you hit all visible white areas. Once the second coat has been applied make sure you check for any noticeable white areas. Touch up any of the white remaining from the gutters.

STEP 9:

PAINT THE END CAPS

gutter-bookhelves

Start painting your gutter end caps. Just as with step 7 and 8 you will need to apply 2 to 3 coats of paint. The paint will also help dull any sharp edges.

STEP 10:

APPLY THE CLEAR COAT

Image via Pixabay

We let the rain gutters dry all day. After we knew it was completely dry we applied the acrylic clear coat. I made sure that I coated it completely. You want to make sure that you move the spray can at a fast enough pace to make sure that no droplets form. We let them dry for a couple hours before we considered them complete.

STEP 11: 

INSTALL THE END CAPS

Image via Pixabay

Now that all the paint and clear coats are dry, you can install your end caps. You might need to help the gutters form appropriately for them fit. Make sure you use your gloves to protect against any sharp edges. Push the end caps (one left and one right) firmly onto the rain gutters.

STEP 12:

MAKE THE HOLES

rain-gutter-bookshelves-2

Now you are going to have to make the holes for the screws. There was crease near the top back side of the rain gutter. I hammered a nail through to create the hole. One on each side. A drill would probably work better but I had to be resourceful.

STEP 13: 

INSTALL

Image via Pixabay

Now it's time to install them into the wall. It works best if you can find a stud to secure them to. Determine the placement of the rain gutter bookshelves and secure them to the wall. If no stud is available use the anchors and bolts. Make sure they spaced appropriately and make sure they are level. DO NOT use the iPhone level as I did. The iPhone level told me they were level and when I got all three bookshelves secure and stepped back, they were all crooked.

This is how we built and installed our rain gutter bookshelves. They have worked for us. Depending on the size and weight you will be using with your rain gutters, this configuration might not be best suited for you. For best outcome involve a contractor.

Icebreaker Bingo

 Icebreaker bingo is a game that can be used for any newly formed groups to become more familiar or comfortable with each other. It is almost virtually a free resource for groups to use in order to become closer. This game can be employed in many different settings and institutions, such as schools, sports teams, and other various instances where icebreakers can be useful. The steps in playing the game are also very understandable and easy to do.

Here, I am going to discuss the steps that Icebreaker bingo takes in order to be one of the most successful icebreakers game for a group.

Step One

The first thing that the game needs is for the leader or leaders of the game, the people that want to implement this to a new group, to make a five by four grid on a piece of paper.

Step Two

You will then have to fill in the squares on the grid. These squares are to be filled in with certain facts or interesting information from different members of the group. It is very important that some of these facts be exclusive to just a few group members. It is also important that every group member has at least one square that applies to them.

Tip- Examples of some of the things you can put in a bingo square are stuff like, 'Has brown eyes,' or 'Knows a foreign language.' It can be a physical characteristic, a hobby or a skill, as long as it relates to at least one of your group members.

Step Three

The next step is easy, and is the part the requires the most materials. The game leaders will make copies of the finished grids, so that each group member receives a 'bingo card'.

Step Four

Now comes the part where the actual game begins. The group will get together with their bingo cards, and each individual will talk to other group members in order to find whichever grid fact they need to cross out. If they find a person that relates to a certain square, they have that person sign off on the square.

Step Five

Give the group around ten minutes to complete the activity and cross out as many squares as possible. Then have them all come together to share some of the interesting facts that they found out about each other.

If you follow the instructions above, the game should go smoothly and act as an excellent game to break the ice within newly forming groups.

Make sure you check out the rest of the site for more great icebreaker ideas.

Featured Image via Pixabay

15 Christian Icebreakers

Pastors, Christian youth groups, and women's and men's fellowship leaders at one time or another need quick ideas or activities to provide a little relaxation, inspiration and stimulation for their members or group participants. Icebreakers are one way to get the juices flowing no matter the makeup of the group or the topics to be studied or covered. There are a number of Christian-oriented icebreakers that can be used with almost any aged group and 15 suggested ones are listed here.

1. What Makes Me Blessed?

In order to put group participants at ease and to help them get acquainted with others in the group, particularly with those who may only know one another casually, good Christian icebreakers initially involve getting to know others and creating a level of comfort for whatever the group is going to be discussing or the time allotted.

One of several ways way to do that is to ask everyone in the group what makes them blessed? Ask them to write out the first letters of their name on a colorful piece of paper or on a white erase board. If need be, let each person pair off with another in the group so they can strategize for words with their names that equate with being blessed, such as the name Joan = joyful, Fred = fortunate, Aaron = anointed.

The same idea can be used with how the letters of a given name describe the person personally. Tom = Talkative, Objective and Motivated. Provide dictionaries and thesauruses for extra word help.

One more twist on this icebreaker is asking group members whether their first or middle names have major significance in any way such as whether their first or middle name was taken from another family name or family tradition of assigning and carrying on names.

2. The God Question

Asking God questions is another good approach to easing awkwardness in a group setting as everyone wants answers to questions that remain unanswered, particularly in the most blatant of circumstances and situations. This activity could be done individually, with a partner or as a group with everyone providing an answer and an appointed person writing out the questions on a white erase or chalkboard with discussions that follow.

3. The Lottery

Winning the lottery and what a person would do with the winnings seems to be a universal kind of icebreaker. The question could be administered individually or done on a group basis with everyone providing answers as to what a person would, should or could do with a major win. A second part of the question could include whether a winner should tithe (10%) of the winnings to a Christian organization?

4. Bible Character and Scripture Matching

Christian icebreakers usually involve activities affiliated with the Bible and scriptures, and one idea that is always enjoyable to use with members of younger groups is identifying bible characters through specific scriptures and actual character cutouts.

Biblical characters, such as Moses holding the Ten Commandments, can be placed on a magnetic board and a scripture attributed to them matched with the character. Ask group members to identify the character and put the right figure with the quoted scripture. Mix and match a number of characters and scriptures to make the activity varied and fun. For example, take the scripture from Exodus 9:1 “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me." In this case, the character being instructed is Moses.

Another take off on scripture matching is to provide more prominent scripture passages with a significant word or words left out one within the scripture. Ask group members to fill in and provide the missing word. This activity can be accomplished more quickly in pairs using a white erase board and access to scriptures with a matching word list for access with the appropriate fill in words.

5. Miraculous Happenings

If you could be part of any miraculous or other happening recorded in Christian history, what would it be and why? For example, how would you feel if you were in Bethlehem at the time of the birth of Jesus, or in the midst of the parting of the Red Sea or amongst those who were miraculously healed at the Grotto in Lourdes, France in the 19th Century and beyond?

6. God Thoughts

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of God? This could be another activity where everyone participates on both an individual and group basis with either writing out the answer on a separate sheet of paper or on a white erase or chalkboard with answers being given in a spontaneous fashion. A twist with this activity would be what was your first thought of God as a child?

7. Greatest Christians (past and present)

Who do you were some of the greatest Christians alive today or from the past. With this question, the answers can span from the time of the New Testament to the 21st Century. Examples could include great pastors, prophets, theologians, saints, etc. For example, Billy Graham, Mother Teresa and Norman Vincent Peale. Try to come up with at least ten (10) individuals from the past and present that have had major influences in Christianity.

8. Me, Myself and I

In looking at yourself in general, what are three things you really like about yourself? Another twist on this same topic could include what would you change about yourself that would help you become a better Christian?

9. Testimony

What event, occurrence, or circumstance in your life led you to become a Christian? Was there a major turning point that led to acceptance? This could be either an individual or group activity that would help to put others at ease and to compare answers that might be similar in nature.

10. What's My Line

The old television program from the 50's and late 60's provides interesting input for Christian icebreakers. Everyone in the group is asked to jot down three different things about themselves and their line of work or vocation that is unknown to the others in the group. At least two of the items are true and one is not. Each group member presents their facts to the group and then everyone takes a vote as to which item about the person is not true. This activity can have surprising turnarounds as well as help others to get to know one another. It can be done with an erase board approach or with individual note cards or colored paper.

11. Christian Books & Movies

What Christian book or movie that you read or viewed recently, or in the past, would you recommend to others in the group that best represents Christian life today and true biblical history? Let the whole group brainstorm and come up with the top five books and movies that have had a major impact on Christians and others.

12. Biblical Person Encounter

If you were able to visit heaven, what biblical person would you talk to besides Jesus? For example, the Apostle Paul would be someone from the New Testament era that would provide hours of dialogue and inspiration.

13. Christian Influence

What Christian person that you have met and known has had the most influence in your life and why? That person could be a pastor, close friend, stranger, or mentor. Think about whether that individual caused a turning point in your Christian walk.

14. Christian Church Dilemmas

Today's Christian church faces many problems. If you were able to have influence over just one of those problems, what would that problem be and how would you try to change it? Many would probably want to talk about the persecution that Christians face around the world today, the banishment of prayer or the tearing down of Christian monuments.

15. Weekly High-point

Looking back on your week (or the past few days), what was the most enlightening event or encounter that struck you as memorable and lasting? Perhaps a smile, handshake or a few encouraging words brought a feeling of well-being and confidence to your week. Maybe interfacing with a less fortunate person in a positive way or helping someone facing difficulty would be a reminder of what a Christian outlook can do for others outside of your inner circle

There are hundreds of ideas and variations of ideas and activities that can be used as icebreakers for most any Christian gathering. They usually take up a small amount of time at the beginning of a get-together but are meant to put those in attendance at ease and more comfortable with the subject matter that is going to be discussed or studied later on in the meeting. One way to help people to intermingle with one another and know more about each other is with the use of short and interactive activities, and some of those listed here can help get a group get off to a good start.

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7 Gold Panning Supplies You Can’t Pan Without

 “Truth (like gold) is to be obtained not by it’s growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.”


-Leo Tolstoy, Author of "The Death of Ivan Ilyich"

Nearly everyone would love to try their hand at panning for gold. It’s the stuff of any treasure hunter’s dreams to get their hands on some gold they found for themselves. If you want to go gold panning, you need to check around for some legal waterway locations to try panning for gold and you need gold panning supplies.

#1: A GOOD GOLD PANNING PAN

The most important tool you will need while panning for gold is a pan. The Green Plastic Gold Pan with Two Types of Rifflesfrom Amazon is one of the best pans you can use for your gold seeking. The 1/8 inch round base of the pan helps to better trap gold particles. The two riffles included with the pan are small and large. The small riffle removes smaller sand particles and the larger riffle removes big gravel particles.

#2: A HANDY SCREEN

SE GP2-14 Patented Stackable 13-1/4" Sifting Pan, 1/4" Mesh Screen
  • Top diameter: 13-1/4”
  • Mesh screen size: 1/4”
  • Wire thickness: 0.95 mm

A good screen can help you sift through the contents of your pan easily to see what the contents are without dumping out the entire pan. This allows you to also remove the dirt and gravel you don’t want in the pan. The Patented Stackable 13-1/4 inch sifting pan with a 1/4 inch Screen from Amazon is a handy and simple screen to use.

#3: A PROSPECTOR’S SCOOP

SE GP3-SS22BK Prospector's Black Scoop
  • Color: black
  • Overall length: 12-½”
  • Heavy-duty plastic material

A prospector’s scoop allows you to dig through the contents of your pan while you are gold panning. It should not have holes in it. It should be a solid spoon-like scoop.The Black Prospector’s Scoop from Amazon is one of the highest rated and helpful prospector’s scoop around. You can additionally use the scoop to do gardening work or for treasure hunting with a metal detector on land.

#4: SNUFFER BOTTLES

Stansport Snuffer Bottle, 4-Ounce
  • Gold panning snuffer bottle
  • Suction even the finest gold particles from pan or sluice
  • Fine spout targets individual flakes

With an excellent snuffer bottle, you can suck up even the tiniest fragments of gold particles into the bottle with the snuffer tip on a snuffer bottle. The Stansport Snuffer Bottle, four ounce sold from Amazon is a durable, useful little bottle. Most panning experts will tell you to bring a few snuffer bottles along with you while out panning.

#5: GLASS VIALS FOR COLLECTING GOLD PARTICLES

Glass Vials, 2 Dram, Pack of 12
  • Borosilicate glass vials
  • Screw-on black phenolic caps
  • Capacity 2 Dram (1/4 fl oz)

Glass vials are needed for any gold pieces or particles you come across while you are panning for gold. You don’t want anything to get lost, so the glass vials will keep them safe. Glass vials can be fragile, so you may want to select something else to store your particles. Glass vials just make a better looking final container for your gold particles. They also allow you to display your gold to show others easily. The Glass Vials pack of twelve from Amazon is a good fit for any novice gold prospector who needs to start gathering some glass vials for their future panning excursions. The bottles are stylish, simple glass vials with a nice black topper.

#6: A STRONG PAIR OF TWEEZERS

MABIS Stainless Steel Tweezers, Thumb Dressing Forceps, Serrated...
  • PERFECT THUMB DRESSING FORCEPS for removing surgical dressings, or other highly detailed work requiring a precision...
  • MADE OF DURABLE, LONG LASTING STAINLESS STEEL, designed with the highest quality demands in mind. Size: 5 and 1/2...
  • SERRATED FORCEPS ARE GREAT FOR medical applications, electrical repair, crafts and more

A strong pair of tweezers with a good grip are important for any panning outing. Tweezers allow you to pick through the gravel and sand on your pan for any pieces of gold. You can use your tweezers to also set gold particles into your glass vials.The snuffer bottle or the tweezers can be used to pick or snuff up the bits of gold in your pan. The MABIS Precision Thumb Dressing Forceps Tweezer from Amazon may be one tweezers option for you to check out for a panning trip.

#7: A GOOD BAG TO STORE YOUR GOLD PANNING SUPPLIES

STANSPORT Musette Cotton Canvas Messenger Bag for Outdoor and Everyday...
  • CARRY-ALL CANVAS DUFFEL: This versatile piece can be used while camping, to replace a traditional briefcase at the...
  • SECURE STORAGE: The main compartment features a flap with buckle closure, meaning your belongings will remain secure...
  • DURABLE CANVAS CONSTRUCTION: Don't let your daybag quit on you - with a heavyweight canvas duck construction and canvas...

You should find a bag that is large enough to carry your gold panning supplies and can be easily carried around. It should have strong straps and good storage areas within it to keep your equipment safe. The Stansport Musette Bag sold from Amazon is a perfect fit for anyone who wants space, style and slight cushioned interior for their panning equipment. The bag is a simple brown color, with one long strap to go over a shoulder or a torso and is easily sealed up. The bag somewhat resembles something Indiana Jones might carry around while out on an archaeology dig.

Featured Image via Pixabay

The Secret to Raising Smarter Kids

We all want better for our kids. With so many articles and antidotes out there it's hard to know which one to choose. What if I told you raising smart kids was easier than you could ever imagine? The other night I was reading a book titled How Will You Measure Your Life and I came across an interesting study by Todd Risely and Betty Hart.

Have you ever read something and thought you just uncovered something so important, yet you have a feeling nobody knows about it? That's how I felt. Here it is 1030 at night on Labor Day and I stumble across this research that is just blowing my mind. So I followed the rabbit trail and before you know it I'm sleepless. My mind is racing. Will I be able to implement this? It just seemed way too easy. I asked myself, if it's really this easy, why is it everybody doing this?

The Importance of Talking to Your Baby

woman reads to baby on fur rug

Image via Pixabay

The study discussed the correlation between smart kids and amount of talking the parents did to the baby. That's right, talking to your baby. The study discussed how more talkative (usually more educated) parents talked upwards of 2,150 words per hour to their babies, where as less talkative parents talked 600 words per hour.

The babies that heard more words in their first thirty months performed better in vocabulary and reading comprehension tests. Can you see why I was so fascinated with this study? Who doesn’t love talking to a baby? When a parent is engaging the baby in a conversation, the synapses of the babies brain are being exercised. The synapse’s are structures that allow signals to get passed from one neuron to another. The more synapses that get created the faster and easier your little baby will think in the future. Even though it might not seem like your little on is engaged and listening, trust that they are.

The average person talks approximately 150 words per minute. If you want to speak 2,150 words per hour to your baby, you will need to speak to them for roughly 14 minutes consistently.

Compound Effect

smiling man and woman hold smiling child between them

Image via Pixabay

In the book “How Will You Measure Your Life” the author talks about the compound affect. The parents that spoke 3.7 times more to their baby won't have a mere 3.7 times more connections. Each brain cell can be connected by as many as ten thousand synapses, making the compound effect “exponential.” Think of this like that of a busy city. If there is one main road for it’s citizens traffic doesn’t travel fast. Increase the number of roads and traffic flows more freely. If you want your baby to think quicker, make quicker associations, and have greater recall, build more roads (synapses).

How to Talk

woman holds child in garden

Image via Pixabay

Not just any talk will do. Telling your kids what to do has little affect. Telling your infant “time for a bath” or “finish your food” does not cut it. Instead you must engage them in fully adult, sophisticated language. Ask them questions such as “what do you want to eat today” or “what do you want to do today?” Talk to them as if you were talking to another adult. Ask them thought provoking questions even if you feel like they don’t understand you, their brain is working. Make sure that you are encouraging them as well. The children of professionals heard twice as many encouraging words and twice as many unique words. In short, encourage and use big words.

Future Factors

a woman hugs her son

Image via Pixabay

As I was thinking about this article, I couldn’t help but wonder about the future. Were cell phones ever around when this study was done? This made me think of the adult that is bouncing their kid on their knee while looking at their cell phone. How many words is technology stealing from our babies? Will kids in the future be less smart?

Featured Image via Pixabay

25 Retirement Plaque Wording Phrases

People who have stayed with a company long enough to earn a retirement are likely to be familiar with every type of social commentary and pun associated with this very important stage of life and career. It's highly likely that for years, a retiree has juggled the concept of retirement with what it implies.

It's especially true for retirees leaving a place of work where they have a venerable reputation, to have thought about what leaving means. A person who has given the better part of their working life to a company has undoubtedly earned the respect of authority figures and coworkers. In most cases, retirees are more concerned with how they will spend their earned free time, instead of becoming overly reminiscent about time spent on the job.

The Retirement Gift

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An important part of planning a retirement party is coming-up with suitable gifts that contain. These gifts must convey a sense of connection between the retiree and the remaining work crew, but must also carry a message of importance. Coworkers will have had ample time to get to know the personality and preferences of a person who is about to retire. This interaction is vitally helpful when choosing corporate gifts for a retirement party.

Retirement party and celebration gifts should combine the guest of honor's favorite things with a bit of humor, lighthearted affinity, and class. Artwork is a great choice for giving at a retirement party. Memorabilia pertaining to the history and achievement of the company is also appropriate. Along with traditional parting gifts, things like photographic displays are a brilliant way to highlight a person's career and contribution.

Retirement Plaques

Plaques with sentimental messages are also a perennial favorite gift for coworkers to bestow upon retirees. These items are simple, yet can provide a summation of the thoughts and feelings of coworker groups in simple, straightforward statements. Retirement plaque wording can be creative and fashioned from a wide range of materials that also speak to the retiree's importance.

If a retiree was mainly employed in a managerial position, wooden plaques with traditional golden engraved lettering are highly appropriate. Other plaques can be made using trophy-like motifs. Wooden, hanging plaques are exceptionally meaningful, and can be engraved with long, noteworthy messages. The gift of a hanging plaque is always a thoughtful gift, and something a retiree will treasure at home.

Other retirement plaques can reflect the nature of the business that a person is leaving. Sculpted concrete plaques for contracting and municipal retirees are wonderful. Brass and metal plaques for teachers and government workers have special meaning. Wooden plaques for people with careers in the arts and public service can be stunning and enjoyable when paired with a private celebration.

The Message

The most important part of a retirement plaque wording is the message permanently engraved on its face. The message must have special meaning to the recipient and the group giving the plaque. The range of messages is as broad as language itself. It should always combine appreciation for the retiree's service, elements of the nature of his or her job, and a great deal of personality. Every retiree has the idea that his or her service is unique, so a retirement plaque should have words reflecting the recipient's notion of self-worth and love for the job. The following are examples of appropriate plaque messages with retirement wording.

  • Take time off. It's on us!
  • [Number of years of service] that are greatly appreciated
  • In recognition for [number of years of service].
  • Loyal, Trustworthy, and Professional.
  • Always the employee with a vision for the future.
  • Thank you for generations of support and commitment.
  • Exemplary veteran achievement at [company name].
  • Here's to earned permanent vacation time.
  • We remember when...[first year of employment].
  • Your years of expertise helped grow this company.
  • Mr./Ms. [name] corporate emeritus.
  • Happy retirement! Never stop the commitment!
  • Our company can never replace your efforts. We can only learn from your example.
  • New horizons through solid examples!
  • Employee, contributor, teacher, mentor.
  • Through times of trial, and times of plenty. Thank you!
  • [number of years] at the same office...deserves at least two weeks on an island!
  • We remember [first employment year].
  • You are loved, appreciated, and have our respect.
  • Happy retirement. Visit any time, but remember to check-in with the receptionist.
  • In honor of company service and [list the most important achievement].
  • An exceptional life and commitment to service in [subject].
  • The venerable [name, plus corporate title].
  • Here's to seeing us [corporate name] through [number] of years.
  • For [number of years of excellence] as [job title].

Featured Image via Freepik