The 5 Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000

If you are a fan of popular PC games such as League of Legends and Fallout 4, you are going to want to have a well-suited rig to get as much enjoyment from your games as possible. Most PC gamers will tell you that a desktop is the best way to go, but a desktop […]

9 Fun Indoor Kids Activities

Looking to escape the heat with some fun indoor kids activities? When you pair an unbelievably hot day with kids on the loose for summer vacation, you can have quite a dilemma on your hands! Here are some fun, unique, and educational activities to try with your youngsters that do not require you to leave the air conditioning!

Cooking

Kids love to help in the kitchen! While it may be too hot to cook anything in the oven, there are some no-heat options! Ask them for help in making sandwiches (cut them in fun shapes), making a fruit salad, or putting the peanut butter in their celery. Consider hosting an inside ice cream social for the kids and their friends! You could let them make their own desserts! Get some summer learning done while you’re at it – help kids practice measuring, fractions, and reading labels while they help with food preparation. Maybe you can even convince them to help clean up!

Take a Museum Trip

Shuttle the kids from one indoor location to another! During the summer, many museums have activities just for kids and families to enjoy. Pack a lunch so you don’t have to pay museum food court prices. Take a few hours to experience something new inside instead of melting outside. This is a great way to get out of the house, but stay out of the heat! Plus! Most museums are free!

Go to the Library

Again, go from one indoor spot to another! Many libraries have summer reading programs that reward kids for reading as many books as possible. This is a great chance to get some education and socialization over the summer. Enjoy free story hours and craft sessions whenever you can! You can normally find a kids calendar on your local libraries website, or posted on their bulletin board.

Indoor Trampoline Park

While this one could be pricey, hands down, this is one of the coolest ways to entertain a group of kids! Many locations offer open jump sessions, but also nights that are just for families. To save a buck or too, check coupon sites for promotions since these are often popular locations to visit during the summer. Burning energy and lots of social time – sounds like a great indoor activity to me!

Host an At-Home Spa

This activity might not appeal to every kid, but it might appeal to some of the youngsters in your life! Have your kids help you look around the house for the items you might need – nail polish, foot tub, lotion, etc. If you want to take this to the next step, get out the makeup too! Plan for a whole at-home makeover. Super easy and a great photo opportunity!

Board and Card Games

Games can be particularly fun any time of the year! Look for games that give everyone a chance to play! You might think about staying away from one player video games so that you can have some great interactions with the children while they play! We have compiled a list of the most fun board games for you and your family to try!

Create an Indoor Campsite

This can be the coolest way to camp, literally! Create enough space in your house to setup your tent and get out your pillows and sleeping bags. Pack your picnic lunch (or dinner) to eat by the tent. If you’re up to it, you could even roast some marshmallows on a gas stove in the kitchen if you have one!

Build a Yarn Maze

Get out at the yarn and get ready to have your kids entertained for hours. Take the yarn and wrap it around banisters, doorknobs, chair legs, door frames, basically anywhere you can wrap it safely. Watch the youngsters climb around this yarn maze and have a great time! Roll up the yarn as you go so that you can reuse it for other projects! Bonus activity: make it a scavenger hunt with something cool attached to the end of the yarn!

Indoor Slides

This one takes a little pre-planning and work, but it could be totally worth it to entertain the kids! Get large refrigerator-sized cardboard boxes and cut them to cover all the stairwells in the house. Slide from floor to floor for as long as possible! Be very careful of the little ones during this activity.

Volunteer

Take the kids to a place where your family can volunteer together! A few examples: many food pantries need help sorting and stocking, libraries need help re-shelving books, nursing homes need people to host activities, and so on. Look for opportunities that have educational and social value. Think of the great lessons for kids to learn while in service of others. You can find local volunteer activities on the website or app JustServe.

Even when the temperatures are scorching hot, there are a plethora of exciting and new activities to try with your youngsters. Stay cool and have a great summer!

Featured Image via Unsplash

5 Fun Team Building Icebreakers

When you bring a group of people together to work you might find that the range of personalities can take time to meld together. You can speed up the process by putting in place a number of team building exercises. The thought of icebreakers may make some people roll their eyes and sigh, but the truth is that they are an effective tool in making people feel at ease with each other. Getting to know a little about the people you are in a group with, even just their names, will make the rest of your group activities so much more fun and exciting.

With this in mind we have put together 5 of the best icebreakers for team building; giving you some great ideas to create a cohesive and effective team.

Dancing Names

Not only is the “Tell me about yourself” part of any team-building event more than just a little bit tedious, many people will struggle to remember all of the names that they hear. The Dancing Names ice-breaker is not only a fun way to get everyone warmed up, but also provides a visual reminder of all of the names. Everyone stands in a circle looking inwards at each other. Each person in the circle will say their name and follow it with a dance move. The rest of the group will then imitate this dance move and repeat the name 3 times. There are some groups that may be a little shy to start with, but once they get in the swing of things you will have people bringing out the worm and the running man, to name but a few dance moves.

Once everyone has gone around the circle and introduced themselves, turn on a song and have someone start the game. The one who starts will do their own dance move first, then do the dance move of another in the circle. Whoever’s dance move was performed, then does their own dance move and another person in the circle’s dance move. Then the dances go around and around until the song is over. Memorizing the dance move is a great way to memorize the names of those who performed.

Ask a Question

Ask a Question is a relatively simple icebreaker which puts the group in charge. This game allows the group to find out more about their team-mates and is a great way to get to know each other. Ask everyone in the group to write down a question that they would like to ask other people in the group. These can be a variety of questions such as “where is the most interesting place you have been?” “What is your biggest passion?” etc. All the questions are then popped into a hat before being pulled out and answered one by one.

Easy, but effective!

Back to Back Drawing

If you have a team that perhaps already know each other but need to work on their communication, then this icebreaker is a great idea. The group will need to split off into pairs, with each pair sitting or standing back to back. One of the pair will have a clipboard, piece of paper and a pencil, whilst the other will have a template of a shape. The objective is this: the person with the template has to get their partner to draw an exact supplicate of the shape, using only verbal pointers. It may seem easy but this can be a tricky one to get right.

This is a fantastic icebreaker which  encourages communication and interdependence. Use this at your next team building event and it is sure to be a hit!

The Big Calm Down

Towards the end of the session you might want to calm the group down and create a relaxed environment. A great way to do this is with an icebreaker that asks the group to focus on calming thoughts. Have them get comfortable and close their eyes. Tell them to take 5 minutes to reflect on the words that they hear. These words are of course up to you and can be tailored towards your business; however, some great ideas include “beach”, “sail away” or perhaps “green meadows”.

After the five minutes is up, gather the group in a circle and ask them to talk about what images came to their minds.

Baby Photos Icebreaker

Are you bringing together a new team for the first team in the workplace? If you are, then any baby photo based icebreakers are a great way to bring them together. Ask every member of the team (yourself included) to bring in a baby photo of themselves. These are all then pinned to a noticeboard and everyone is asked to guess who each baby is. You can do this as a week long game or perhaps split people into teams and give them half an hour to work out the answers; it is entirely up to you.

This icebreaker is a lot of fun for a few reasons. Everyone loves babies! Who doesn’t want to see a bunch of adorable baby pictures? This is a great way to get your team laughing and smiling without fear of being self conscious.

Featured Image via Unsplash

Icebreakers for High School Students

Teenagers can be awkward; this is especially true when it comes to meeting new people and making friends. If you are a camp leader, after school worker or a teacher; you may want to put in place some icebreakers. This will help your students get used to each other and perhaps even encourage them to get to know one another and forge friendships.

With this in mind we have put together some of the best icebreakers for high school students.

Crossword Names

Image via Flickr

This icebreaker is ideal for a group that has  just met. This game encourages participants to walk around, talk to one another, and learn the names of their peers. Give each person in the group a pen and piece of paper. Ask them to write down their first name, in capitals, in the middle of the paper. They will then need to move around the room asking other members of the group to add in their name where the letters in their name match a letter on the paper; just like a crossword puzzle! This game is timed and the aim is to see who can add the most names before the time runs out.

This can be especially fun when you get players with unique letters in their name! Plus! If you think you might have made a friend, you will have their name down on a sheet of paper for easy reference!

Freeze Frame

Image via Flickr

One of the biggest things about icebreakers is that they are designed to relax people and make them feel less self-conscious. Games that get them up on their feet and moving about are best for this. Freeze Frame is a game that involves the group moving quietly around the room, waiting for your instruction. As they are walking you will need to call out the name of your chosen “activity”. This could be different sports, different animals, or perhaps emotions. The group then need to freeze in a position that acts out that activity. In no time at all you will have every member of the group smiling, laughing and ready to have some more fun!

Who is the Best?

Image via Flickr

This particular game involves the group working together to score the most points. The challenge of this game is discovering more about the others on your team and even uncovering some hidden talents that they might not realize they have. Split the group into even teams and move these teams into different sections of the room (or outside space if you have one available).

The object of the game is to be crowned the best at whatever activity or question which is put to you. An example of this is, “Who is the tallest?” The groups will then have 30 seconds to decide who is the tallest in their group and put them forward into the center of the space; whichever team puts forward the best will win a point. The questions can vary; “Who has the loudest scream?” “Who has the most brothers?” even things like “Who can hold a plank the longest?”

This game encourages participants to get to know one another and recognize their unqiue strengths and abilities. Then they get to use their talents for a common goal, to win! If the questions you prepare are diverse enough, everyone in the group will have something to contribute and be proud about.

So there you have it! Here are some ideas to get your high school students to let their guard down and get to know one another. All with the power of icebreakers!

Image via Unsplash

5 Large Group Icebreakers

As anyone who is tasked to manage a large group knows, keeping that many people entertained can be a real challenge. This is made even more difficult when the group is not familiar with each other. Whether you are planning a party with a bunch of friends, or leading group exercises for a corporate retreat, icebreakers are key to a sucessful evening! Below are 5 of our favorite large group icebreakers to warm up your group.

The Shoe Game

This is a simple icebreaker to get a large group mingling and talking to one another.  Ask the participants to take off their right shoe and toss it into a big pile in the middle of the room.  Participants are then asked to pick up a shoe from the pile and find the owner!  Once they find the owner, they must stand next to them.  The end result is the group collaborating to form a large circle.

In a group setting, most people will gravitate to those they already know. When organizing an event with lots of people, getting to know someone new can be awkward or uncomfortable. The Shoe Game motivates people to get out of their comfort zone and meet someone new! Give a couple of prompting questions for those in the group to ask their shoe partner if conversations seem strained.

Celebrity Heads

This is a fun icebreaker that is very simple to organize.  To begin, write the names of different celebrities on post-it notes.  Place a post-it note on the forehead of each participant without them seeing the name of the celebrity. The participants will them be told to mingle and ask “yes or no” questions of other participants.  They are only allowed to ask a single question of each person they talk to.  The first few participants to correctly guess their celebrity win a prize!

Not only is this game simple, and very easy to set up and explain, but the time you spend on this game is highly adaptable to your needs. If you don’t have a lot of time, you can set a quick timer to signal when to switch to a new person. If you want your group to spend more time with one another, you could skip the timer and add other clever rules.

Organize Without Speaking

This is a simple game that tests the collaborative skills of participants.  Ask them to arrange themselves in a line ordered by their birth year or another time based prompt.  The only catch — they can’t speak, they have to use hand signals!  Participants will have to organize themselves and pay attention to the signs from other people in the group. This is also a fantastic way to observe the group a get a feel for the individual dynamics. Take not of who takes charge. Pay attention to the ones who seem especially skilled or scattered. If you are worried about a long uncomfortable silence, you can always play some jaunty background music!

This ice breaker is a great way to encourage quick thinking and team building. Use this at your next corporate retreat, or your next family reunion! Quickly overcome any icebreaker-awkwardness with this quick thinking game.

True or False Running

This is a great icebreaker for energetic groups of young people.

Have the group stand in the middle of the room.  Place a marker on the right side of the room and on the left side of the room. Nominate the right side as the “true” side and the left side as the “false”.

The facilitator then asks a series of true or false questions of the participants.  They could include questions like “Small dogs live longer than big dogs” or “The capital of Australia is Sydney”.  Participants then have to choose true or false for the answer.  If they get the answer right they are given a token or their score is recorded on a scoreboard.  After twenty icebreaker questions, the person with the most points wins a prize!

This one can also be made with more personal questions to help the group get a better idea of those around them. You could say phrases like, “I am married” “This is my first time at ____” or “I have been out of the country.” This might just prompt some side conversations and give the people in your group a starting off point for a fun meet and greet.

Simon Says

Sometimes the silly games that you played as a child can bring back some great memories!  The facilitator rapidly yells “Simon says” orders to participants to get them moving.  Remember that participants should only do what the facilitator says when he includes “Simon says” in the request!  Shout the commands rapidly to see if the participants are paying attention and thinking quickly.

If you wanted to really spice things up, you could offer a prize to the last person who remains uneliminated! This game might not be what you are looking for as a “get to know you game” but it certainly is an icebreaker!

Collecting Autographs

Here is an icebreaker for an especially large group of people. It’s fast paced, fun, and great at getting a group warmed up. best of all, its easy!

Participants are given a worksheet that includes 20 questions on it.  They must find other participants who answer yes to that question.  Participants will then sign their name next to the question.  Participants can only sign once per sheet, so people must walk around the room to find 20 different people to answer “yes” and sign their worksheet.

Questions can include things like:

  • I have been to France

  • I know how to play guitar

  • I have rode an elephant

  • I am wearing a brown shirt

Featured Image via Unsplash

6 Fun Cooperative Games for Kids

Through cooperative games kids learn to think and work with one another as they apply skills learned to accomplish the goals of their group or team. These games are always fun to develop and play and have the effect of bringing children together. While competitive games focus a lot on losing or winning, cooperative games are all about the success of the whole team.  They give all children involved a chance to be winners.

What’s in a Name?

(for kids in grades 1-3)

While kids at any age or grade can play the game, there’ll be variations. For kids in grade one through three this game is effective to help them bond together at the start of a new school year or term.  In this cooperative game the pupils are grouped in pairs or with partners where one has to talk about the surname or first name of their partner. It starts with one of the two in a pair telling the other what their name is and its meaning. After sharing names and meaning, the kids should be allowed to share a little more about their names. Kids should be encouraged to talk about their unique names, how they are spelled, whether they hold any special symbolism, why they were given the name, the meaning of the name in other cultures/languages and whom they were named after.

One individual should tell all this information in two minutes before allowing the other to do the same. They should be encouraged to pay as much attention as possible throughout the game. After the two have shared names, two pairs should be joined together to form a team of four kids; each partner in a pair has to introduce their partner to the other pair until everyone knows each other.  Kids should be encouraged to tell as much as possible about the name of their partner.

“MAX” – A CO-OPERATIVE GAME


Family Pastimes Max (Cooperative Board Game)

  • Players work together to get the creatures safely home before Max the cat gets them
  • Children learn to use logic, consultation and cooperative decision making in an exciting way
  • For 1 to 8 players ages 4 through 7 years

A cooperative game available for sale, it’s great for kids 4-7 years of age and accommodates 1-8 players. The kids have to learn to work as a team to ensure the creatures have arrived home safely before they are attacked by Max the ferocious cat. The game calls upon the mind of the kids to make cooperative decisions, consult and use logic in the most exciting ways. It’s made using child safe paints, water-based glues, soy-based inks, recycled papers and boards.

Capture the Flag

Among elementary kids Capture the Flag is one of the most popular games. In this game the idea is to have players from one side making way into the territory of the opposing team to take their flag and make way back to their own space without being tagged in the process. Pylons and a flag are required materials and best played outdoors. It can be played for 10 to 15 minutes every time or until a given team/group has accomplished a specific score. In the game the playground is divided into two with each team on either side. The kids need to create two teams, each team on their zone. Every team should have a flag, made from a light material such as fabric and easy to carry around by one kid. Each flag has to be placed at the back of the zone of every team where it’s visible to the opposing side. On a part of their zone each team should create a ‘jail’.  The game starts by having all kids lining up at the periphery of their area.

Once a whistle is blown they should go to the zone of their opposing side and try to take their flag while avoiding being tagged. Those tagged while in the opposing side’s zone are put in the jail and only get out if tagged by a teammate. If the flag is taken and ferried to the other zone next to the other team’s flag the team has either scored some points or won. However, the rule of the game is that while defending their flag a team cannot remain standing around to guard it. The defending team has to be a minimum of five meters from the flag at any time.

Race to the Treasure!


Peaceable Kingdom Race to the Treasure! Award Winning Beat the Ogre…

  • WE WIN TOGETHER: Build a path with your team and collect 3 keys on a race to beat ogre to the treasure! It’s a game…
  • FUN CHALLENGE: Kids love working together to beat the ogre. Players strategize, cooperate & build the path together….
  • BENEFITS:Cooperative games cultivate emotional development, shared decision making, positive self esteem, creative…

This award winner is a cooperative game for 2-4 children from five years old and above. It offers a chance for kids to lean the art of strategy, grid mathematical concepts and critical social development tenets and skills with zero reading needed.  The game involves players working as a team to reach the treasure before the ogre by developing a path from the beginning right to the end.   If the kids are successful the victory is celebrated as a team.  The game has a Play Advances Learning approval seal and won the Oppenheim Portfolio Toy Platinum award.

15 Seconds

One of the most entertaining and fun way of letting kids know about one another, this cooperative game helps everyone to learn how to think fast on their feet. You only need a list with specific questions and a timer. Essentially, every kid should sit down, forming a circle. A question is picked and every person has to answer it within 15 seconds. Everyone has to be silent and if a kid answers early the person manning the timer should read out the remaining seconds.

The questions can be favorite food, favorite movies, favorite pet animal, what you do every Sunday or Saturday morning, and favorite color among others. In case you’re handling a huge group, break the kids into groups of six. You can also have a long list of questions and have one person answering their own unique question. Make the game fun by asking the kid who has just spoken to choose the next person and the question they’re to answer.

A hundred thousand men, coming one after another, cannot move a Ton weight; but the united strength of 50 would transport it with ease.

GEORGE WASHINGTON

US President

Human Knot Game

To play this game, divide players into teams, and have each team form a circle. Instruct players to hold hands with two different players, making sure that no one’s hands are joined with their closest neighbors’. Once this is done, start the game to signal that it’s time for the “knot” to begin unraveling. All hands must remain joined until the team is standing in a circle, or in two intertwined circles (Life a figure eight). Here is a link to some step by step instructions on how to set up the game.

Human Knot Game

Human Knot Game

8 Family Picnic Ideas

 

You want your family to go on a picnic together.  The weather is lovely, there is nothing on the TV and you have managed to drag the kids off the computer games.  How can you make sure your picnic is memorable?

Here are some ideas:

 

Have a picnic in your back garden.  

There is no need to travel.  Just throw down a blanket and decorate with balloons and throw around some cushions.  This is quick and a clever way to grab an hour or two with your kids.

Ban all devices and just sit and talk as a family for a short amount of time.

 

Have your picnic on a boat.  

Take a boat to the middle of a river or lake and eat as a family as you bob about on the current. There is nothing more calming than being in the middle of a body of water.  Also, Dad will become an expert in currents and how to get the most out of the boat – which can be funny to watch.

 

Encourage the Kids to Organize the Food!

Give them the freedom of the kitchen and the picnic basket.  Leave when they tell you they are happy with what they have made for you all to eat… potentially a disaster… always interesting.  I would suggest this might not be the option if you are trying to control the calories.  There is likely to be a strong emphasis on cake, chocolate and crisps… but you know you have taken this option because you want to have a day of eating this stuff too.

 

Colorful Jars of Food.

Cut up different fruit and vegetables as brightly colored as you can and fill up jars with a good variety.  These jars look awesome and are excellent to dip into as you are eating the picnic.  It really is an interesting way of getting kids to eat healthier and it keeps the food fresh and easily protected from the wildlife.

 

Make a Campfire.

Make yourself a camp fire… even though you are not camping you still want to roast marshmallows and bake potatoes at the base of the fire.  It also lovely to sit and watch as the light dims.  It will keep people out talking late into the night.  Make sure you dig a pit to build the fire it and ensure that it is completely doused with water before you leave.

 

The Snack that Smiles Back!

Give all your picnic foods faces… when you are making your sandwiches and cakes use salad and fruit to give all the food eyes, a nose and a mouth.  You could make it a competition to see who can make the funniest of faces and maybe give food names… it gets a bit brutal when you start chomping down.

 

Hide Mini Treasures

Hide mini treasure in amongst the food so that people find surprises as they eat.  I wouldn’t put these things in the food, otherwise the dentist will be busy, but in the packets.  People will have moments of excitement or feel special, even if it is just a little love note.

 

Sit and Talk

Just sit and talk and eat slowly.  This shouldn’t be unique… but in today’s world eating slowly and gently chatting is as rare as it comes.  Sit quietly and enjoy each other’s company.

 

Dinner and a movie, forget that, I'd rather have a picnic and a waterfall


Amanda Grace

Swimming Workouts for Beginners

 

Swimming is a fantastic way to get fit!  It is a physical activity that works every muscle group in the body, improving both strength and endurance.  Swimming is also a low impact activity.  If you have weak knees or ankles, you will find swimming much better than other workouts like running.   

 
Other benefits of swimming include:
  •  

    It’s a great stress reliever and a very relaxing way to exercise

  •  

    Swimming will greatly improve your cardiovascular fitness

  •  

    It burns a lot of calories!

  •  

    Your muscles will become toned and your posture will improve

  •  

    It can improve your balance and coordination

  •  

    Swimming is a fantastic way to exercise in summer when it can be too hot to work out in other ways

  •  

    Because swimming is low impact, it is ideal for people with injuries

To help you get started, this article will share some fantastic swimming workouts for beginners!

 

Some General Tips Before Starting

 

Before you “dive in” here are some general tips for beginners.

 
  •  

    Make sure you have a basic level of swimming before attempting a workout.

  •  

    Swim in a safe environment like a swimming pool.  Only swim in the ocean if you are an experienced and fit swimmer.

  •  

    Don’t overdo it early on.  Swimming takes a lot of effort, particularly if you are not used to it.

  •  

    Warm up before entering the water

  •  

    Remember to stay hydrated by drinking water

 

Short Freestyle Distance Intervals

 
 

This basic workout involves swimming freestyle for short distances with breaks. Start out by swimming 25 yards at a time, with a rest period of 30 seconds between each lap.  Beginners should swim at a slow to medium pace initially.

You may benefit from using breaths instead of counting seconds.  Perform a lap, then count to 20 breaths before starting the next lap.  This will also encourage you to really use your entire lung capacity while taking your interval break.

Depending on your initial level of fitness, swim between 10 to 15 minutes when first performing freestyle intervals.  Once you are comfortable swimming 25 yards, extend the length of your interval to 50 or 75 yards and extend the time you spend swimming.  Record your personal best distances and speeds!

 

Using a KickBoard

 
 

If you are not confident enough to swim 25-yard intervals, there are a number of workouts you can perform with a kickboard and flippers.  These workouts will help you practice kicking, putting your face underwater, and breathing correctly.

Perform your stretches to start, then swim 25 yards on your side.  Hold onto the kick-board with a straight arm and rest your head on that arm.  The other arm should be straight down your side.  Have a rest, then perform another 25 yards on your other side.

Then, perform 50 yards holding onto the kickboard with both hands and looking into the water.  Turn your head to breathe, using both sides.  This exercise will get you used to kicking and breathing alternately.

Need a kickboard?  Check out the Swimming Kickboard by TYR and this Kickboard Set from TYR.

 

Endurance Swimming

 
 

Once you have started to perform intervals well, you can begin to swim longer distances.  Endurance swimming will help improve your muscle tone and stamina.

Start by performing a few warm up stretches.  Jump into the pool and swim 250 yards at a slow pace.  Take your time and concentrate on your form.  Take a 20 seconds (or 20 breaths) break.  Then swim for another 150 yards and take another 20-second break.  Finally, swim for another 50 yards.

If these distances are too long or too short, alter them to a comfortable distance.  Eventually work your way up to 500 yards or longer.  Always keep a steady pace and think about your technique — it is not about speed, it’s about how long you can swim.

 

BREASTSTROKE and Freestyle Medley

 
 

By combining these two strokes, you can give yourself a more thorough, full-body workout.  Freestyle will really push your shoulders, while breaststroke will emphasize your chest muscles.

 
  1. 1

    Start with 50 yards of freestyle at a slow pace to prepare your body.

  2. 2

    Perform 4 x 25 yard intervals of freestyle, counting the number of stroke it takes you to perform each interval.  Aim to have the same amount of strokes per interval.  Afterwards, have a break of 30 seconds if you need it.

  3. 3

    Perform 4 x 50 yard intervals of breast stroke with 30 second breaks

  4. 4

    Perform 4 x 25 yard intervals of freestyle, counting the number of strokes

  5. 5

    Perform 50 yards of breast stroke at a slow pace

It is a hefty beginners workout that will address many muscle groups.

 

Work on Your Speed!

 

Once you have achieved a basic level of fitness in the pool, you might be interested in seeing how fast you can go!  You can perform this workout using any type of swimming stroke.

 
  1. 1

    Perform your stretches and swim 50 yards at a slow pace

  2. 2

    Swim 2 sets of 25 yards at a medium-fast pace to get your body ready

  3. 3

    Swim 6 x 25 yards at fast pace.  In between each 25 yards, take a full 60-120 seconds to recuperate.  Count your strokes per lap and check your times!

  4. 4

    Swim 4 x 25 yards to cool down

 

Working on Your Form

 

Maintaining correct form while swimming is crucial.  Proper form will ensure you are using the right parts of your body while swimming and maintaining maximum efficiency.  This workout is for freestyle and uses a pull buoy — a floatation device that swimmers place between their legs to give them additional buoyancy.  The pull buoy allows you to swim without kicking your legs and helps you to concentrate on your arms.

 
  1. 1

    Perform your stretches and swim 2 x 25 yards to warm up

  2. 2

    Using the pull buoy, swim 2 x 25 yards only using your right arm for momentum.  Keep your left arm straight in front of your body.  Concentrate on your shoulder rotation, pitch of your arm and the shape of your hand.

  3. 3

    Using the pull buoy, swim 2 x 25 yards using both arms.  Concentrate on the position of your body in the water.

  4. 4

    Using the pull buoy, swim 2 x 25 yards only using your right arm for momentum

  5. 5

    Using a kickboard, swim 2 x 25 yards kicking only

  6. 6

    Swim 2 x 25 yards as a cool down

Swimming is a fantastic way to stay fit.  Regularity is the key — if you have 4 to 5 workouts per week you will be amazed by the changes that happen to your body!

 

Top 5 New Board Games of 2021

Best Board Games of 2021!

This last year has been full of surprises! The biggest surprise was just how much time we would be spending at home and with our families. You have probably been thinking of some fun ways to keep your kids entertained. Besides some fun scavenger hunts, or other indoor or outdoor games, let me suggest a couple of new board games for you and your family to try! There are a ton of board games out there, and knowing which ones will be a hit can be a gamble. Luckily, my friends and I have tried a ton of games released in 2021 and made a list of our favorites!

#5: Juicy Fruits

Juicy Fruits Board Game Box

Number five on my list of top board games from 2021 is the game Juicy Fruits. This game has a lot of moving parts, so you might have to play it a couple of times to get all the rules down. In this game, each player has their own Tropical Island to capitalize on. Each Island has fruits they can harvest to then use as a resource to gain points. There are multiple strategies to winning, but first you have to clear space on your board by filling orders on boats. Each boat order gives you points, so even clearing your board is one way to win!

Opposite of clearing you board is filling your board. Each player has their own Island, but there is a shared “Market” where you can buy vacation attractions, food booths, or other fruit baskets. Any attractions you buy are placed on your board and cannot be moved from their spot. This can make fruit harvesting a challenge, due to the games unique fruit sliding mechanic. Another way to win is to buy the moving food booths. These can be a great way to make lots of points quickly, but be careful of competition! Another island with a food booth could get all the points first!

Overall, this game is pretty fast moving and not too competitive! You spend all of your time and attention on your own island, so there isn’t much island to island competition. Because the turns can be pretty fast, unless you have planned ahead, your turn might come quicker than you expected and slow you down. Juicy Fruits is also only a four player game. Many families do not fit in that box and you might have just a few too many players in your family group. This one gets an 8/10 from me for its pure fun! I think the brightly colored and fun shaped fruit pieces really make the game, and as your family gets more advanced, there is an optional “Juicing Station” with lots of fun features.

Capstone Games Juicy Fruits
  • A part of Capstone's new Family Brand
  • Quick and simple gameplay with remarkable depth
  • Utilizes a clever and unique sliding mechanic

#4: Tiny Epic Pirates

Tiny Epic Pirates game pieces

Do you like Pirate games? I have an uncle who collects them and we have reviewed some pretty awesome Pirate board games in the past! Since this is a 2021 game, it is brand new and freshly printed!

Tiny Epic Pirates was easily my favorite, but I cant quite give it the number one spot. This game is part of a series of games. Ever heard of Tiny Epic Zombies, Dinosaurs, Galaxies? If not, I highly suggest you look into these gems as well. Tiny Epic Pirates is called Tiny & Epic for good reason. When my copy came in the mail I was shocked at the tiny box size! Even better than the box size were the tiny Pirate Ships! I have a soft spot for small things and this one called my name!

You play as a pirate! (Obvious I know.) You take your ship and pillage, fight, recruit crewmates, hideout in secret coves, and bury treasure! Each player, hereto referred to as “pirate”, starts with a captain card with a special ability and a helm card. The rules can be tricky to explain and trickier to understand, but it basically works like this: Plunder Booty from islands or from sinking merchant ships, then sell that Booty for doubloons. once you reach 12 or 13 doubloons, you have to sail to an island and bury your treasure! The game ends when the first person buries their third treasure chest.

If you love pirates, doubloons, and tiny ships, this game is definitely worth a try! When playing, I found a couple of weird rules I wasn’t crazy about, but the reason Tiny Epic Pirates doesn’t take first place is because of its difficulty. This is not a game for small kids. Even tweens might struggle. The rulebook is quite lengthy, and there are some features of this game that feel overly complicated. All that being said, this was my personal favorite and I give it a 9/10 fun rating! If you have some real board game nerds in your family and feel up to the challenge, pop Tiny Epic Pirates into your Amazon cart next time you’re looking for something interesting!

Gamelyn Tiny Epic Pirate Board Game - Notorious Pirate Ship Board Games, Strategic Board Games for Adults, With Rulebook, 210 Game Pieces, and 7 Ships
  • UNIQUE PIRATE GAME - Sailing a pirate ship is an adventure in and of itself, but it's just one possible...
  • REAL PLUNDERING EXPERIENCE - The popular board games offers plundering in a great way to acquire goods...
  • HIGH-END TRADING - Gamelyn's risk board game features a Black Market, which is the one place in pirate...

#3: MicroMacro Crime City

MicroMacro Crime City ranked best board game of 2021

MicrroMacro’s Crime City is one of the most surprising board games I have ever played! Crime City was created in Germany and won the most prestigious board game in the world, the Kinderspiel des Jahres award for 2021. In the board game community, that means this thing is kind of a big deal. Since winning the award, this game has been sold out all over the world. They printed more copies in September, but they were sold out in a week!

So, what makes it so great? Crime City is essentially clue and Where’s Waldo smashed together. The box comes with a 75cm x 110cm map of “Crime City.” Rightfully named, the map is covered in cartooned crimes to be solved. The characters on the map mostly resemble animals or blob shapes with bodies. The black and white cartoon nature means there are no explicit images, but there are some adult themes. Luckily, the creators of Crime City have a clear rating system on each case.

The game comes with 16 cases to be solved. Cases range from 6 to 15 cards, each asking for a new piece of the investigation. On the front card of each case, there is a title, a game length, a star difficulty rating and an icon with its rating. The instruction manual describes these ranks as either, “Accidents” or “Adult themed Crimes”. The handbook expressly recommends parents play through any adult ranked crimes to determine their playability for their children.

As a young adult, I think the couple of cases I have played through have been a ton of fun! Some are really challenging, but everyone has something to do! This game really is addicting, and MicroMacro knew what they were doing buy only having 15 cases to solve. Although there is a lot of variety in the cases, there isn’t much replayability. Which means you kind of have to stretch out the cases unless you rush out and buy the expansions.

My only other complaint is the map. It is so big, and its only glossy paper. Unless you have a large flat game-space, this thing is going on the floor. And, because everyone is leaning over the map to find the clues, wrinkles and creases are inevitable. Because it is black and white stains or spots might become a problem. Despite these shortcomings, I give it a 10/10 fun rating! There are so many surprises and the hunt for the crime is so thrilling! If you are okay with getting an expansion once a year, I highly recommend MicroMacro Crime City! And, if I haven’t convinced you, MicroMacro has a playable demo on their website here!

Pegasus Spiele 59060E - MicroMacro: Crime City
  • Together, the players solve 16 tricky criminal cases by determining motives, finding evidence and...
  • Deductive talent is important in order to unravel everything riddle
  • 75 x 110 cm large game board

#2: Bristol 1350

Bristol 1350 Board game pieces: picture includes the Patreon expansion

Bristol 1350 is the fourth and newest board game from Facade Games. Each game comes in a nifty Book box, and has delicate stylish pieces. Each game is historically themed, including Salem, Tortuga, and Deadwood. Bristol 1350 is themed after the Black Plague in England. It might seem a little dark, but it is actually a seriously fun party game! Unlike all the other games on this list, Bristol 1350 is a 9 player game. I’ve played this with 3 people, 4 people, and 7 people. Seven was easily the most fun!

Each player chooses a color peg. Then the each peg is placed inside one of three colored carts. Each round, 6 dice are rolled. The color on the dice represents how many spaces that colored cart can move. The symbol, either a rat or an apple, represents whether or not you have to “mingle.” This gets into the main theme of the game: get past the finish-line and don’t catch the plague! You also can’t have any infected people in your cart either. The whole game is a matter of avoiding the sick, and moving your cart.

Well, what happens when you get sick? That might just be the best part! In Bristol 1350, when you get sick, your win scenario changes. Now, you win when you infect everybody or if you cross the finish-line and make an noninfected person.

It’s a game of poker facing and sabotage. Its fight for yourself until you get sick, then its fight to destroy everyone else. I give this about a 5/10 for four or less players, but a 10/10 fun rating with six or more! I don’t have enough friends to play a 9 player game, but I bet anything it would be a ton of fun! It is very stylistic, and the rules are simple. The game is fast paced, and can be extended if you wanted longer play. But the coolest bonus: the awesome Book Box makes it great for storage.

Bristol 1350 Board Game of Strategy, Deceit, and Luck for 1-9 Players
  • Bristol 1350: The dreaded Black Death has descended upon Bristol and you need to escape! To win, be on...
  • Solo & party game modes: Bristol 1350 is a light strategy and social deduction game for 1-9 players ages...
  • Contents: 1 magnetic book box, 9 character cards, 27 remedy cards, 28 symptom cards, 3 miniature carts, 1...

#1: Happy Little Dinosaurs

Happy Little Dinosaurs board and piece set

Just by looking at the picture of Happy Little Dinosaurs, you can probably sense something familiar. This is one of many games made by Unstable Unicorns, most famously known for their games Unstable Unicorns, Here to Slay, and Llamas Unleashed. Their art style is known as the brand Tee Turtle. They make lots of quirky adorable tee shirts.

The cards have the same adorable and quirky descriptions, and the player boards are to die for cute. Although this is only a four player game, it is the shortest game on the list. My family could go three or four rounds of this and still have a great time! Similar to the play style of other board games like Exploding kittens, your goal is to avoid your own destruction, foil your opponents plans, and get the most points.

The winner is either, the first player to reach 50 points, or the last player left alive. When you near the end of the game, the tension ramps up, and you can smell blood in the water. That is when you pull out all the stops, play all your meanest cards, and force someone out of the game. Be sure to play nicely! Or your family might not want to play with you again.

This game is quick, lighthearted, cute, great for all ages, and affordable. You can pick this up at your local Target! No need to search board game stores or look online. You can grab this next time you stock up on toilet paper! This gets a 10/10 fun rating, and a 5 star review.

Happy Little Dinosaurs Base Game
  • Lately, it feels like we’re all just dinosaurs trying to avoid the falling meteors.
  • In this 2-4 player game, you’ll try to dodge all of life’s little disasters while tuning out your...
  • Happy Little Dinosaurs takes 30-60 minutes to play and is for 2-4 players. It is recommended for ages 8+.

The Verdict:

So, if you are wondering what your next Christmas family board game should be, I hope you will consider one of the five above! They are fresh, unique, and fun in their own ways. Every game on this list has brought smiles to my family and friends faces! These are the best from this year, and they get the official FunAttic stamp of approval!

5 Best Wood Youth Bats

Best Wood Youth Bats

There are many advantages to using wood bats, particularly for youths. Wood bats help players develop their skill and technique since a player must adapt to use both their arms and body to ensure a good swing. Thus, we’ve prepared a list of the best wood youth bats on the market for you.

It is commonly said that a wooden bat is prone to breaking during a hard hit, but a quality bat can send a ball straight for the fences without doing any damage to the bat itself.

Wood bats tend to have proper weighting and balancing to ensure a proper swing. In turn, youths who use a wood bat pick up greater barrel awareness, which allows youths to learn the best strike zone grasping techniques so that the player has a greater chance of hitting the ball with the sweet spot.

Of course, knowing what benefits a wooden bat provides is not enough. It is important that you also know which wood youth bats work best. The list below highlights our choices for seriously powerful and trustworthy bats.

1. Marucci JB19 Youth Maple Wood Baseball Bat

Marucci JB19 Maple Woods Youth Bat


This posh and well-crafted Marucci bat combines a thick handle with a traditional barrel, ensuring the player will be in complete control. It’s one of the brand’s most balanced and fastest swinging bats, available in various sizes from 26 to 31 inches. That’s great since it enables the player to pick up the perfect size for them.

The product is made from maple, with every bat bone rubbed to ensure the ultimate wood density. The only downside is that the bat isn’t recommended for beginners – it’s best suited for players with some experience in hitting wood. However, since the bat is made with the very same specifications as the adult version of the JB19, the transition, later on, should be more seamless.

The Marucci Maple wood bat offers a 30-day warranty, so you can be confident in the quality of the materials used in manufacturing. If you’re looking for an elegant bat that will help young players refine their skills and reach their full potential, this one is a great choice.

2. Rawlings Adirondack Youth Wood Bat

Rawlings Adirondack Wood Youth Bats

Similar to the Louisville Slugger Youth 225 Bat, the Rawlings Adirondack Youth Wood Bat is also made from ash and features a nice black finish. However, this bat also boasts a laser-engraved knob for a sweeter appearance that any youth is sure to enjoy. When it comes to youth wood bats, this one is capable of withstanding the true test of time thanks to its solid construction.

The bat features a 1-inch handle that is easy for smaller hands to grasp while a medium-sized barrel ensures a greater chance of hitting a home run. The bat is available in varying sizes ranging from 27 inches to 31 inches for youths of all ages. This bat is sure to improve the swing technique of your young hitter thanks to the balanced feel that it provides.

Despite the fact that the Rawlings Adirondack Youth Wood Bat is somewhat on the thin side, it offers incredible craftsmanship. Although the ashwood ensures that the bat is lightweight, it offers enough weight to help young children develop their batting skills. Overall, this bat is a great choice for any young player looking to improve their gameplay.

3. BB-W Wooden Baseball Bat

BB-W Wood Youth Bats

The BB-W Wooden Baseball Bat by Barnett is perfect from the youngest of youth players to the oldest thanks to its incredible size range. Bat sizes include 24 inches, 28 inches, 30 inches, and 32 inches in length. The bat itself is constructed of quality composite wood, which offers solid swinging capabilities as well as the ability to send a baseball flying for the fences.

The bat is relatively lightweight and smaller in size compared to many other youth bats. It is approximately 2 inches in diameter at the end of the barrel, which may make it seem small in stature, but it is big enough to knock quite a few balls out of the park. A relatively thin handle makes this bat easy for young hands to hold onto while they practice so they can bring their A-game to the playing field.

BB-W Wooden Baseball Bat features a natural finish, which gives it a traditional appearance that is perfect for avid baseball fans of any age. Although the bat is small enough that it is easy to handle, it is also sturdy enough that it allows players to improve their techniques. The thin handle makes it easy for players to determine where the strike zone is so they can find the bat’s sweet spot without issues.

4. Louisville Slugger WB125YB-BW Baseball Bat

Louisville Slugger Youth Wood Bats

The Louisville Slugger WB125YB-BW Baseball Bat is everything a youth player could want from a contemporary-looking bat. The bat, which is made from ashwood, looks incredible with a wine-colored finish on the handle and a black finish on the barrel. Part of what makes this bat so fantastic is that it is the perfect choice for young baseball players. The bat is available in two sizes, which include a 27-inch bat weighing in at 26 ounces, and a 29-inch bat weighing 28 ounces.

This bat is a tad heavier than some bats that are similar in size, however, it offers incredible balance, and the weight of the bat allows players to develop some of the best swinging techniques possible. By improving their swinging technique, youths can gain a competitive edge on the field that allows them a better chance of hitting a home run.

The Louisville Slugger WB125YB-BW Baseball Bat is made of ashwood. Ash is a far more flexible wood than other, more traditionally used woods such as maple. However, the flexibility of the wood provides a more forgiving sweet spot to ensure the bat does not split when your child cracks a ball. In addition, the sound the ball makes when it connects with the bat will have your child grinning from ear to ear.

5. Louisville Slugger 2015 Youth 125 Ash Wood Tee Ball Bat

Louisville Slugger Ash Youth Wood Bats

When it comes to youth wood bats, the Louisville Slugger 2015 Youth 125 Ash Wood Tee Ball Bat is where it’s at. The bat features a stunning natural finish for a more traditional baseball bat look that is sure to make any little slugger happy. The bat is constructed out of carefully selected ash lumber to ensure a solid, high-quality construction.

One benefit of this bat is that it is only 26 inches in length, which makes it the perfect bat for any young tee-ball player looking to improve their gameplay. It is a superb choice as a starter bat for even the youngest of players since it is relatively lightweight and easy to handle. Since the bat is made from ashwood, it provides enough flexibility to ensure that your young player is able to make good use of the bat’s sweet spot.

Hitting a ball and landing a home run should be no problem considering that the bat is 2 inches in diameter. A smaller-sized handle ensures that tiny hands can grasp the bat with ease. This well-made bat is a great choice if you are looking for either a good practice bat or a T-ball bat, especially considering its affordable price. Overall, there is almost no way you can go wrong when choosing this bat for young baseball players.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to do anything to the bat after I purchase it?

A lot of enthusiasts put their bats through what is called a “breaking” period, which essentially means putting it to the test by swinging it against a baseball several dozen times. If you just got your composite baseball bat out of the wrapper and it feels off, then make sure to break it. Aluminum bats don’t need this.

The general rule of thumb is to rotate the bat about a quarter whenever you hit the baseball to ensure that it strikes a different part each time. Another good piece of advice is to only use about half strength when swinging at the baseball to ensure you don’t put so much pressure into it that it cracks before reaching its full potential. After you break in the bat, then it will be significantly more sturdy.

An estimated total of between 100 to 200 hits needs to be achieved for the bat to be fully broken in.

What is the best wood for youth bats?

Regardless of whether or not you’re buying a youth bat or meant for an adult, there are 3 main types of wood that are used in the industry. The traditional choice is ashwood, since it was exclusively used throughout the world until sometime around 1998, when we started experimenting with other woods such as maple and birch. Maple has since become favored, however, due to its extreme durability.

  • Ash – The father of baseball bats and the wood from which most of them used to be made. Ashwood is very flexible but features little density, ruining them after heavy use. It’s known to be less performing than maple and far more prone to breaking.
  • Birch – A mix between ash and maple. A decent middle ground between flexibility and density, making birch a solid all-rounder.
  • Maple – The stiffest and hardest wood commonly used in baseballs. Chosen by professionals due to its extraordinary durability.

If you’d like to find the best wood youth bats for yourself, then picking your desired type would be a wise place to start.

Final Thoughts

With so many bats available on the market, it can seem like a daunting task to try and find the right one. Fortunately, the list above will help you get started with some great starter bats for young players. Each one features its own unique benefits that your children are sure to love. Better yet, each bat listed comes at an affordable price that parents are sure to love.

There should be no reason why you should have to break the bank just to ensure that your child receives a quality youth bat to play with. Although there might not be any warranties available on the bats mentioned above, their solid build should ensure plenty of playtime without the worry of cracking and breaking.

Of course, you should keep in mind that the chances of splitting a bat are always likely with wood, but the better the build of the bat and the more solid the construction, the less likely it is that your little slugger will splinter it to pieces.

All-in-all, the bats mentioned above will provide your child with plenty of playtime both on and off the field while also improving their swinging technique thanks to their balanced weight.