The Fantastic Four: 4 Activities That Will Always Entertain Your Kids

Kids should be active and engaged, but stellar activities are hard to come by. We've got you covered.

The following was produced in partnership with RX Kids Protein Snack Bars, the perfectly simple snack for the perfectly simple activity.

is important. Time spent playing is correlated with emotional stability, better grades, more sleep, improved social skills, advanced motor function, boosted focus, diminished stress, decreased anger, increased creativity, and happiness. So the real question for busy parents is, what are the just-add-water solutions to make more play happen?

The solution is to simplify your view of play. You don’t need great toys or in-depth game plans. Gather a few materials, offer a little structure, and let their imaginations loose. The activities below do just that. All of them require just four pieces of equipment, minimal setup time, and flexible rules (if the kids want to think outside the box, so be it.) To make life easier still, we suggest pairing these activities that jog the brain with snacks that nourish the body — snacks like RX Kids Protein Snack Bars, the perfectly simple snack for the perfectly simple activity. It’s a match made for busy parents.

Activity #1: Chasing Clouds

They’ve played pin-a-tail-on-the-donkey — how about snag-a-tail-from-the-cloud? To play this game, you’ll need at least four people, a large sheet, and an energetic kid.

4 Essentials You’ll Need:

  • A large sheet
  • Yarn
  • Tape
  • Scissors

How to Play It:

Step 1: Spread a large sheet out on the ground. (This game is best played outdoors.)

Step 2: Cut pieces of yarn into strings, space them evenly across the sheet surface, then tape one end to the fabric, leaving the other end to dangle free.

Step 3: Gather all players around the sheet and turn the sheet so that the strings face the ground. Holding the sheet’s edges lightly in their hands, players raise their arms overhead, allowing the sheet to billow like a cloud in the air.

Step 4: Starting with the youngest person first, a player lets go of the sheet and runs underneath to the opposite side. As the player runs, the goal is to reach up and grab as many “tails” as you can — without letting the sheet touch you as it falls toward the ground.

Step 5: If the sheet touches the player, the player is eliminated. Each player has a chance to go once, then the cycle is repeated until no strings are left. The player who has gathered the most “tails” is the winner.

Activity #2: Pot Shots

Sure, you could get a basketball hoop for your yard, but, trust us, it’s not the same. To be able to make a game out of things that you find around the house — a pot, a pair of socks, and a bit of paper — makes the game all the more magical. Here’s how it goes:

4 Essentials You’ll Need:

  • Cooking pot
  • A pair of socks (note: a ball will do as well, but where’s the fun in that?)
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors

How to Play It:

Step 1: On a flat surface, place the cooking pot on the ground, then lay down 10 pieces of construction paper in a line, with each piece spaced about one feet from the previous one.

Step 2: Using scissors, cut one piece of construction paper into long, thin strips. Give each player five “free shot” strips of paper.

Step 3: The game begins with a player standing on the first piece of construction paper, facing the pot, socks in hand. The player gets three chances to toss the socks into the pot. If the player succeeds, he or she can take a step backward to the next piece of construction paper. If a player takes three shots and misses the pot, they must turn in one free shot paper strip and try again.

Step 4: Each player’s turn ends when they either reach the final (10th) shooting slot, or they run out their five free shots. The player who is able to move to the farthest-back piece of construction paper wins.

Activity #3: Tiny Orchestra

It only takes water, glass bottles or water glasses, food coloring, and a spoon, to build a colorful orchestra that will entertain for hours.

4 Essentials You’ll Need:

  • 8 clear glass bottles (or tall water glasses)
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Metal spoon

How to Make It:

Step 1: Wash and rinse the bottles, removing labels so the glass is clear.

Step 2: Line the bottles up on a countertop or table. Starting at the far left, add about an inch of water to the first bottle, then a little more to the next, and the next, and so on, until the final bottle is nearly full.

Step 3: Color the water using food coloring. You can make each bottle unique, all the same, or do an every-other pattern with, say, blue and yellow.

Step 4: Lightly hold the spoon in your hand and tap the least-filled bottle near the neck. Then tap the most-filled bottle at the neck. Hear the difference? The more water in the bottle, the deeper the note.

Step 5: Together with you child, come up with a song using your bottle bells. You can tap out one you know (Mary Had a Little Lamb is an easy option) or invent your own. You play it once, then your child has to play it back to you. Switch roles and repeat.

Activity #4: Farm Fashion

Pigs don’t wear pants. This is common knowledge and the starting point for this cheeky craft activity. In an animal kingdom version of paper dolls, kids create a cutout of barnyard animals, then design a wardrobe — based of course on their sartorial choices — to accompany them.

4 Essentials You’ll Need:

  • Cardboard
  • White printer paper
  • Crayons
  • Scissors

How to Make It:

Step 1: On a piece of medium-thick cardboard, draw the outline of a favorite barnyard animal with a black crayon. If neither you nor your child excels at animal illustration, you can go to a website like this one and print out an image, then cut it out and trace it on the cardboard.

Step 2: Use scissors to cut out the shape.

Step 3: Trace your animal’s outline (all but the head) on five different sheets of white paper. Around the perimeter of each outline, add four evenly spaced “tabs”: ½-inch long, ¼-inch wide rectangles that protrude from the silhouette. Carefully cut out each shape, including the tabs.

Step 4: Grab some crayons and get creative. Maybe your pig wants to wear a tux today — or maybe Mr. Rabbit need a chef’s apron while he makes carrot cake in the kitchen. Decorate each of the five cutouts with a different outfit, signifying a different occasion for your barnyard buddy.

Step 5: Use your animals to create a storyline. Each outfit can be applied by laying it over the original cardboard piece, then bending the tabs around the back. Your goal is to invent a story that requires using each outfit at least once.