Every weekday at 12pm we will post a Daily Diversion to help parents and kids find entertaining and enriching activities to do during this time off from school. Each day of the week will feature a different theme: Discover, Exercise, Solve, Experiment and Compete.
- Monday - DISCOVER Virtual museum/zoo tours
- Tuesday - EXERCISE Exercise/dance/yoga
- Wednesday - CREATE Writing/puzzles/creative challenges
- Thursday - EXPERIMENT Home science experiments
- Friday - COMPETE Minute to win it games
If you have any suggestions for future Daily Diversions please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mon. March 23 - Visit the Air & Space Museum
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation is out of this world… the Google Arts & Culture app gives families awesome access to some of the world’s most beloved museums. Today we’re highlighting the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum. There are currently 49 online exhibits available to view, including “Toys Inspired by the Space Shuttle” and “The Perplexing Problem of Designing Gloves for Space.” Each exhibit, which features high quality images or videos along with short descriptions, takes only a few minutes to scroll through. The Google Arts & Culture feature can be accessed by an iOS/Android app or it can be viewed on your computer by visiting: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/smithsonian-national-air-and-space-museum?hl=en
Mon. March 30 - Union County Falcon Cam
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation takes you up, up and away… Did you know that there is a peregrine falcon nest atop the Union County Courthouse in Elizabeth? According to Audubon, peregrine falcons nearly disappeared decades ago but have been reintroduced throughout North America and their populations are recovering. One of the world’s fastest birds, peregrine falcons are believed to be capable of speeds of about 200mph when hunting their prey. The female falcon who lives in the nest at the courthouse just recently started laying eggs so her and her partner are now taking turns incubating the eggs. Audubon says the eggs are typically incubated for about 32-35 days so in about a month you just might see those eggs hatching! The livestream is available free of charge on the County website, at www.ucnj.org/falcon. Don’t forget to check out the comments as other eagle-eyed viewers will help you understand what you’re seeing and let you know if you missed anything since the last time you checked the livestream. For more information about peregrine falcons, visit the Audubon website to read more: https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/peregrine-falcon.
Mon. April 6 - Virtually Visit the Insect Museum
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation is all about insects… since we’re all walking around outside more than ever and it’s starting to warm up, you and your children have probably seen a lot of insects lately. Did you know there’s a museum that is devoted solely to insects?! Thanks to Google’s Arts & Culture app, you can virtually visit the museum, which is located in China, from the comfort of your home. The museum has over 700,000 specimens of different insects from all around the world. Current online exhibits include: “The Discovery of the World’s Longest Insect” and “Stag Beetles: Gladiators of the Insect World.” What better way to learn about these fascinating creatures up-close-and-personal without worrying about them scurrying around your floor. The Google Arts & Culture feature can be accessed by an iOS/Android app or it can be viewed on your computer by visiting: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/insect-museum-of-west-china
Mon. April 13 - Visit the Bronx Zoo
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will let your child’s imagination run “wild”… while you may not be able to visit the Bronx Zoo in person right now, their website is full of great content for animal lovers. The “Virtual Zoo” portion of their website includes live camera feeds, educational lessons and their top Instagram posts! To learn even more about the animals living at the Bronx Zoo, check out the reality tv show called The Zoo, which follows the zookeepers and the animals they care for. Season 4 just started in early April so you have time to binge the first three seasons on Netflix and catch up to the episodes currently airing on Animal Planet. Kids and parents alike will definitely fall in love with the zoo! Click here to view the “Virtual” Bronx Zoo: https://bronxzoo.com/virtual-zoo.
Mon. April 20 - Walk on Mars
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will be out of this world… thanks to a partnership between Google and NASA, we are able to explore the terrain of Mars from the comfort and safety of our living room. The well-named Curiosity Rover has been driving around the surface of Mars since 2012. The initial mission was meant to last for just two years but the Curiosity is still roving nearly eight years later! The robot has covered about 15 square miles so far, about the size of Union and Springfield combined, all the while beaming pictures and information back to NASA. The VR tour of Mars is created by stitching together these images and modeling them into a 3D world. When you visit the website, click “Enter 360” and watch the informative introduction. Once your virtual rover lands on Mars you can move it around similar to how you would use street view on Google Maps. As you move around you’ll come across points of interest and explanations about why they are important. Click here to start exploring: https://accessmars.withgoogle.com/.
Mon. April 27 - Explore Yellowstone National Park
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will take you to America’s first national park… Just because National Parks Week just came to an end doesn’t mean it’s time to stop exploring! Google Earth has a feature that allows you to virtually visit our national parks while you’re in your pajamas. Here are two tips to help you successfully navigate the software: 1) use the arrows in the bottom right corner to skip through the different highlighted attractions at the park you are viewing and 2) look for the percentage towards the bottom left which will show you when the page is fully loaded and ready for you to zoom. When you’re outfitted for your adventure, click here to get started: https://earth.google.com/web/@0,0,0a,22251752.77375655d,35y,0h,0t,0r/data=CjASLhIgMjY1ZWFhYmEyZWQ0MTFlOTg3OGQ0NWEzN2RiYmYzMTEiCmdjc19pdGluXzA. To learn even more about the sites at Yellowstone, check out the National Park Service website: https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/photosmultimedia/virtualtours.htm.
Mon. May 4 - Monterey Bay Aquarium
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will take you under the sea… In recent daily diversions we have visited museums and zoos but we have yet to virtually visit an aquarium to see the ocean’s creatures! The Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, home to over 35,000 creatures, is one of the largest in America. They have a great selection of live cams available featuring sharks, sea otters, penguins, birds, and more! Each live cam has a specific schedule depending on the animals so be sure to check each one to see which is live when you logon (remember: they are Pacific time). Our favorite? The moon jellyfish live cam, paired with its faint background music, is an ethereal and meditative experience. To find your favorite live cam at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, click here: https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams.
Mon. May 11 - Virtual TryCAN Programs
Today’s Daily Diversion from Union Recreation will introduce you to the programs of TryCAN… TryCAN is a collaboration between local towns to coordinate inclusive recreation and social development programs for children with special needs. To help meet the needs of our community’s students, TryCAN is still offering their programming remotely. Current classes include yoga, dance and sports. There’s even a program called Teen Zoom which is for teenagers who are looking to connect and interact with their peers. The Teen Zoom program meets on Mondays and Fridays at 3:00pm and features a number of party games that the children can play together over Zoom. TryCAN programming is led by the Summit Department of Community Programs, so to register for one of their online programs please email David Guida at DGuidaJr@cityofsummit.org.
Mon. May 18 - Visit Diggerland USA
Today’s Daily Diversion from Union Recreation takes us to one of New Jersey’s most unique amusement parks… Diggerland USA, which is located in South Jersey, is the only construction-themed amusement park in the United States. Unfortunately, we cannot currently visit to enjoy the 40+ attractions that the park offers but the Diggerland USA Facebook page is bringing the big digger excitement to your home three times a week. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 1:30pm they go live with a Daily Dig video that highlights a different piece of heavy-duty equipment featured in the park. Recent videos included an aerial lift, a wheel loader, and their homemade Dig-A-Round excavator carousel. Josh, Diggerland USA’s general manager, hosts each video and is great at answering viewer questions so don’t hesitate to comment with your child’s burning questions! Tune in for today’s Daily Dig here: https://www.facebook.com/DiggerlandUSA/.
Mon. May 25th - Happy Memorial Day
Today’s Daily Diversion from Union Recreation includes 14 meaningful Memorial Day activities… This guide, courtesy of Mighty Moms, does a great job of putting Memorial Day in perspective and helping you find activities that can teach your kids the significance of the day. There are links to coloring pages, patriotic craft ideas and even book suggestions. Each activity is purposeful and relates back to the importance of the holiday. To read more about the selected activities, click here: https://www.mightymoms.club/family-fun/memorial-day-activities/.
Mon. June 1 - Virtually Visit Disneyland
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will take your family to the happiest place on Earth… If you had to reschedule an upcoming vacation to one of Disney’s parks this summer, MouseSteps on Youtube is a great way to virtually visit the park with your children. Each video highlights a specific ride, show or attraction at the Disney parks around the world. The ride videos often include footage of the waiting line area as well as views from the front/middle/back of the ride -- perfect for scouting out which rides are a must when you visit. In addition to videos about all of the amusements, there is also a MouseSteps Weekly video series that provides updates from the parks around the world which is especially helpful right now. To check out MouseSteps on Youtube click here: https://www.youtube.com/user/JeffLangeDVD/featured
Mon. June 8 - Cape May Zoo School
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation takes you down to the Cape May Zoo… In the months of April and May, the Cape May Zoo released a series of videos they called Zoo School. Each video features a specific type of animal and includes educational explanations about the history of the animals, their natural habitat, what food they eat, etc. Some are good for a laugh too, none more so than the Day 20 - Camels video! There are 37 videos in all and each video is about 8-15 minutes long so there’s plenty to keep your kids busy all afternoon! To start watching Zoo School, visit the Cape May Zoo’s website here: http://www.capemaycountynj.gov/1400/Virtual-Zoo-School.
Mon. June 15 - Explore History’s Mysteries
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will transport you back in time… Camp Kinda -- a brand new virtual summer program created by EdNavigator -- started last week and the first set of activities explored history’s mysteries. Topics in this module include ancient secret coded languages, exploring the Egyptian pyramids and learning all about Stonehenge. Weekly adventures are posted each Sunday and include five sets of self-guided daily activities geared towards kids in Grades K-8. The lesson plans feature online videos, fun challenges and interesting assignments. Each daily module includes notes for parents about what materials your child will need and offers questions to ask them to see what they learned about. There’s also helpful tips about how to modify a lesson if your younger child needs assistance. To get started with Camp Kinda, click here: https://campkinda.org/weekly-adventures/historys-mysteries
Mon. June 22 - Virtually Visit Grounds for Sculpture
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will transport you to one of New Jersey’s hidden gems… Grounds for Sculpture is a combination museum, sculpture garden and arboretum located just outside Trenton in Hamilton. GFS is still closed to the public but they have a fun, interactive map that your children can explore. Each sculptural piece is numbered and clicking the number brings up a picture, information about the artist and a description about the piece. Each description also shares related works so you can see others by the same artist or compare pieces of a similar theme. GFS is a great spot for families to spend a long, beautiful early summer day. So, start planning your trip now -- after all, there are 42 acres to explore -- that way you’re ready as soon as they re-open. To start wandering the Grounds for Sculpture, click here: https://www.gfsmap.org/.
Mon. June 29 - Shark Lagoon Live Cam
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation brings us to the bottom of shark lagoon… Located inside the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Shark Lagoon features some of nature’s most misunderstood creatures. You’ll see different species of sharks and rays, as well as guest appearances by fishes and turtles. The live cam is available 24/7 so you can see what the sharks are doing at any time! If you time your virtual visit just right you might see one of the two brother sea turtles, Leo and Theo, who like to take a dip in the water above the sharks. If you happen to log on and the camera is down for maintenance you can scroll through the chat for some clips and screenshots from the recent days. After you swim with the fishes, check out all of the other live cams available on Explore.org: https://explore.org/livecams/under-the-water/shark-lagoon-cam.
Tue. March 17 - At Home Dance Party
We’ve all seen the viral Tik-Tok dance videos and now is your chance to make your own! Standing Room Only Dance Studios on Jeanette Ave is encouraging the community to participate in a home dance party contest. Pick your favorite song, get the whole family together and get dancing! Submissions can be emailed to SRO at email@example.com or posted to Instagram tagging #srodanceparty #srostudios @srostudios.
Tue. March 24 - Banana Banana Meatball
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation is definitely going to get stuck in your head… if you thought Baby Shark was catchy, wait until you hear Banana Banana Meatball! Created for the family fun site called GoNoodle, this song is all about encouraging kids to make their own song and dance based on repeating movement and word patterns. It’s not easy to describe in words but once you and your kids watch the video you’ll be chanting “make a pattern” all day long. Share your family’s “pattern” song and dance with us on Instagram at @twpunionnjrec and @twpunionnj so we can see your creation! To view the music video, click here: https://family.gonoodle.com/activities/banana-banana-meatball.
Tue. March 31 - Coach Mike’s Leg Exercise Circuit
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation, shared by Mike Firestone, will help you feel the burn… Mike is a physical education teacher and track coach at Linden High School. He also shares his expertise in strength and conditioning with local recreation departments to help student athletes get in shape. Mike recently ran a successful training program for the Union Recreation travel basketball teams to prepare them for their season. To help all of us stay active and occupied during our time at home, Mike recorded the attached video sharing his favorite leg exercise circuit. The exercises do not require any special equipment so all you need is your body and ten minutes! Here’s the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x636W3F6fo&feature=youtu.be
Tue. April 7 - Coach Mike’s Push-up Circuit
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation sees the return of a familiar face… Coach Mike Firestone, who you’ll remember from last Tuesday’s leg exercise video, returns today to help us work on our upper body. For those who missed his last video, Mike is a phys-ed teacher and track coach at Linden High School who works with local recreation departments to bring strength and conditioning to kids of all ages. This video covers more than just the typical push-ups you are thinking of. Mike includes five different push-up exercises, and when completed in a circuit they incorporate all three planes of motion and are a fulfilling workout. The exercises do not require any special equipment so all you need is your body and ten minutes! Here’s the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MS-NY2nm5d4&feature=youtu.be
Tue. April 14 - We’re Still Standing
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will challenge you to bust out your air guitar… the last dance video we featured from GoNoodle was so well received we knew we had to bring you more. Today’s dance video features a rendition of the toe-tapping hit “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John. The dance in the video is simple enough that your family can easily duplicate it in the living room - bonus points for the best air guitar at the 2:00 mark. The song’s lyrics may not have been written for our current moment but the message of joyous resilience certainly feels apt. So, put on your best dancing shoes and get moving! Share a picture or video of your family with us on Instagram at @twpunionnjrec and @twpunionnj. Click here to view the dance video: https://family.gonoodle.com/activities/im-still-standing.
Tue. April 21 - Take a Virtual Yoga Class
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will help you relax and renew… whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced yogi, we have two friends who are here to help you! These two virtual yoga classes were filmed by two of our favorite local yoga instructors: Bernadette Burke and Jowell Domingo. Bernadette is a music teacher at Hannah Caldwell School and teaches yoga for the recreation’s open gym program. Jowell is the owner of the “Crow and the Coconut” yoga studio at 1016 Stuyvesant Ave. In addition to being available for on-demand streaming on Vimeo, these classes will be broadcast on TV34 at 10:30am and 4:00pm each day this week.
Tue. April 28 - Coach Mike’s Plyo Circuit
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will get your blood pumping… Coach Mike Firestone, who you’ll remember from his previous exercise videos, returns today with a new workout. For those who missed his other videos, Mike is a phys-ed teacher and track coach at Linden High School who works with local recreation departments to bring strength and conditioning to kids of all ages. Today’s video from Coach Mike brings us six new exercises that form a plyometric circuit. “Plyo” exercises, as he explains, help us run faster, jump higher and become more explosive athletes. The exercises do not require any equipment and can easily be adjusted for various ages and skill levels. When you’re ready to get started click here for the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFX2UhT168Q&feature=youtu.be.
Tues. May 5 - Bootcamp with Bret on YMCA360
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will help you lose that “quarantine fifteen”... the national YMCA organization has made their YMCA360 on-demand exercise videos completely free for a limited time, no membership required. We suggest you and your family check out the series called Bootcamp with Bret. There are four videos in the series and each provides a high-intensity interval workout that does not require any exercise equipment so you can do it from home. The video is geared towards adults but with some reduction to the duration or quantity of each exercise the entire family can participate.
Tue. May 12 - Spell Your Name Workout
Today’s Daily Diversion from Union Recreation, shared by Hannah Caldwell phys-ed teacher Kerri Duplissis, will have you exercising your ABCs… Kerri’s newest workout, called the Spell Your Name Workout, is a fun way to get the entire family interested in exercising. Each letter of the alphabet corresponds to a different exercise. The goal is to spell out your full name by completing ten reps of each exercise. If that would be too much for your little ones, you can modify the workout: do less reps per letter or maybe just start with their first name instead of their full name. Once you’ve mastered the Spell Your Name Workout you can get creative by spelling funny words or by purposefully creating challenging names using the hardest letters.
Tue. May 19 - Let’s Bake a Cake!
Today’s Daily Diversion from Union Recreation is the exact opposite of exercising, which is our usual Tuesday theme… Today is National Devil’s Food Cake Day, who knew?! In honor of what should surely be a national holiday, let’s skip the workout and bake a cake! If you’ve never tried a slice, devil’s food is a rich chocolate cake that’s sinfully good. From-scratch baking is great but when it comes to cakes, it’s hard to beat the box mix. This recipe from Food.com starts with a box of your preferred chocolate cake mix. To up the flavor and moistness of the finished cake, you’ll add a box of chocolate pudding mix and a cup of sour cream. You already have the other ingredients on hand: water, eggs, oil. Most devil’s food cakes call for a few dashes of strong espresso to deepen the chocolate flavor. This recipe doesn’t include that addition but feel free to add some to the batter and just reduce the amount of water proportionately. If you’re not up for greasing pans and frosting multiple cake layers, make cupcakes instead (just check them for doneness much sooner). Here’s the recipe: https://www.food.com/recipe/darn-good-chocolate-cake-cake-mix-cake-87205
Tue. May 26 - Playworks Recess
Today’s Daily Diversion from Union Recreation brings back recess… Now that the weather is nice again, your kids may be missing their afternoon recess at school. Playworks, a non-profit that works with school districts to provide safe and enriching recess activities, is sharing online “recess” three times a day each weekday (12pm, 2pm and 4pm). Each video is 10-15 minutes long and features one of Playworks staff members who introduces, explains and leads the game. The videos begin with an educational or motivational message to set the tone before the game. The activities don’t require anything more than your child’s imagination and some basic household items. Don’t worry if you missed today’s live videos because the entire collection of videos, dating back to March 20, are available on the Playworks Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MakeRecessCount/.
Tue. June 2 - Dice Fitness Workout
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation, shared by Hannah Caldwell phys-ed teacher Kerri Duplissis, features another fun family workout… Before you start this exercise routine you’ll need to steal some dice from one of your board games (don’t forget to put them back!). If you don’t have any dice on hand you can use an online dice roller by searching for “virtual dice.” Have each family member take turns rolling the die, with everybody doing the corresponding exercise for at least ten reps. Plan to do ten rounds your first try and then increase the number of rounds or reps after that. For an added challenge you could add a second die that would be a multiplier. For example, if you get a 3 on the first roll you’ll jog in place and then the second roll determines for how long (1 is ten seconds, 2 is twenty seconds, etc). We’d love to see your family’s dice fitness workout so tag us on Instagram @twpunionnjrec and @twpunionnj.
Tue. June 9 - Coach Mike’s Adapted Exercise Videos
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation comes from a familiar face, Coach Mike Firestone… You have seen a number of exercise videos from Coach Mike but these most recent recordings are more accessible to people of all ability levels. In addition to being the track and field coach at Linden High School, Coach Mike also teaches adapted physical education. These videos were originally recorded for his students but are a great tool for anybody who wants to get their blood pumping. With fun names like “The Wild Card” and “Global Warrior” the kids will be interested to check them out. To view all of Coach Mike’s YouTube videos, click here:
Tue. June 16 - Fitness Bingo
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation was shared with us by our friends in Garwood… Who doesn’t love bingo?! This version of the game will get your whole family moving and trying some new healthy exercises. There are so many ways you can play this bingo game together as a family. You can work together to complete a row in one day. Or maybe you work individually to see who can fill a row first each week. You could also set a date in the future and see who can complete the most daily bingos in that time span. If you want a real challenge, see who can fill their entire board first!
Tue. June 23 - Playworks Playbook
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation is full of great play-at-home game ideas… We’ve shared virtual recess videos from Playworks before, but today we’re sharing their entire playbook! Playworks has created this detailed booklet for kids and parents to get inspired to try new games that they can enjoy at home. Each game breaks down what you will need and how you can modify the game for playing at home. Many of the games can even be adapted for socially-distanced play so now that it’s nice and sunny outside maybe you can invite the neighbors to play a game with you too! To check out the Playworks Play-At-Home Playbook, click here: https://www.playworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Play-At-Home-Playbook-3.27.20.pdf
Tue. June 30 - Good Energy Summer
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will help your family feel some good energy this summer… Our friends at GoNoodle, well-known for their silly exercise videos, have created a program they are calling “Good Energy Summer.” This weekly series includes a bunch of fun activities that your family can try together. You’ll see some science and food challenges mixed in with their typical catchy song and dance numbers. You can sign up to their email newsletter to get each week’s content delivered to your inbox, or you can just visit their website. If you’re ready to laugh and have fun, check them out at: https://www.gonoodle.com/good-energy-at-home-kids-games-and-videos/.
Wed. March 18 - Union Word Search
Everybody LOVES word searches and this Union school-themed puzzle will get you started. Making puzzles using an online generator is easy and fun -- have your child pick a theme and 10-12 words and the generator does all the work. This site allows you to complete your puzzle online but if you’re having trouble try this hack on your cell phone: zoom in on the puzzle so it takes up the full screen, take a screenshot of the puzzle then using your screenshot editing tool, use the highlighter pen to highlight the words as you find them. Puzzle link: https://thewordsearch.com/puzzle/962960/
Wed. March 25 - Chain Reaction Machine
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will create a chain reaction of fun… a so-called Rube Goldberg machine takes a very simple task (i.e. flipping the light switch) but purposefully turns it into a complicated chain reaction. The fun and the challenge is to create all of the steps that lead up to the final step. What can you come up with using your entire toy box? Key ingredients in your chain reaction machine might be dominoes, a golf ball, the toy train, dad’s tennis racket, building blocks and a teddy bear. Let your imagination run wild. This project is a great way for the entire family to work together because there are no wrong answers and everybody can contribute. Share your family’s chain reaction machine with us on Instagram at @twpunionnjrec and @twpunionnj! To give you some inspiration for the design of your machine, check out this video from the PBS Kids Design Squad: https://pbskids.org/designsquad/video/chain-reaction-machine/
Wed. Apr 1 - Online Jigsaw Puzzles
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation might be a little puzzling… have you and your kids already done every puzzle that you own twice? Have no fear, the Jigsaw Explorer website is here to help! Jigsaw Explorer is a free, ad-supported puzzle generator that is easy to use and customizable to your child’s skill level. The homepage has a number of featured images to puzzle over but there are plenty to explore by either using the search bar or the browse option (scroll down below the featured puzzles). When you start your puzzle you can change the difficulty by pressing the square icon to choose the number of pieces. As you slide pieces into the right place they make a satisfying click and then those two pieces stay together as you move them around the “table.” If you want to personalize your child’s puzzle experience, you can even create your own puzzle and share it with family and friends! Click here to get started: https://www.jigsawexplorer.com/.
Wed. April 8 - Create a Seder Plate
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will help your little ones learn more about the Passover seder… Passover begins at sundown today and, this year more than ever, you may be looking for an activity to keep your kids occupied while you prepare the seder and juggle your Zoom invitations. Having children create their own seder plate is a great way to get them invested in the evening and to teach them about the significance of the items that are being served, like the bitter herbs. Even if your family doesn’t celebrate Passover, reading about the seder dinner is a great way to learn about a tradition celebrated by others in your community. Your homemade seder plate can be as simple as a decorated paper plate with some labeled cupcake liners, or you can get creative and use other materials too. Think outside the box: felt, legos, clay, etc Use this HuffPost article as your inspiration, it includes fifteen homemade designs all using materials you might have at home: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/diy-seder-plates-passover_n_6955924
Wed. April 15 - Write Your Own “Stay at Home Story”
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will help your little ones find their voice… with all of the changes to our daily lives, every family is bound to have a funny or interesting “stay at home story” to tell. Help your child create an account on Imagine Forest (use the “regular user” option at registration) and let their imagination blossom as they write their story. At registration you can choose your child’s age group which will help customize the experience for their age. Imagine Forest has helpful writing prompts to help get your writer started and also has plenty of images to illustrate the story. The site has a goal feature that can help your child stay on task and work towards completing their story (i.e. set a goal to write for 30 minutes a day). Once the story is complete, you can publish it online on Imagine Forest’s website and share with family and friends! Don’t forget to share it with us too by commenting below with a link to your child’s published story. To read more about Imagine Forest’s software, click here: https://www.imagineforest.com/how-it-works.
Wed. April 22 - Nature Scavenger Hunt
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will help you celebrate Earth Day while appreciating the nature that surrounds our community… by now you’ve probably walked every square inch of your neighborhood but here’s an idea to make today’s walk more interesting: a nature scavenger hunt. The activity blog www.kcedventeures.com shares a list of items you can find in your backyard or while walking around on the sidewalk. Take your checklist and a pencil out with you on your next walk and see who can be the first to find a red flower, an acorn, a spiderweb, a squirrel, etc. There’s no need to disturb the plants or creatures while hunting, seeing the item and pointing it out to your scavenger hunt crew is enough to earn the checkmark. Unfortunately, we can’t do the scavenger hunt in our parks right now but bookmark the page and play again in a township or county park when they reopen. To print out the scavenger hunt list, click here: https://www.kcedventures.com/blog/nature-scavenger-hunt-free-printable-list.
Wed. April 29 - Draw Like Dav Pilkey
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will teach you to draw like beloved children’s cartoonist Dav Pilkey… You may not recognize the name but you surely have seen the books featuring Dav Pilkey’s most famous characters: Captain Underpants and Dog Man. Pilkey shows the secret of his distinctive illustration style in a series of videos on the Scholastic Books website: https://kids.scholastic.com/kids/books/dav-pilkey-at-home-videos/. (Scroll all the way to the bottom for the video on how to draw Dog Man.) The beauty of having these videos available on-demand is that you can pause, rewind and restart as needed until you perfect your creation!
Wed. May 6 - Handprint Bouquet for Mom
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation is a secret so don’t tell mom!... Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday and since we’re all out of our shopping routines you may be looking for an easy handmade gift that your children can give to mom or grandma. There are thousands of Mother’s Day craft ideas out there but we thought this one from KidsActivitiesBlog.com was one of the best because it’s colorful, personal and can easily adapt to whatever supplies you have. Using bright or pastel colored paper, trace and cut out multiple handprints of each member of the family. Tape or glue the handprints to green pipe cleaners to create “flowers” and place them in a pretty vase. For added flair you can curl the edges of the fingers on some of the handprints or you can use other colored pipe cleaners for additional pops of color in your flowers. If you don’t have colored paper at home, no problem! You can color your own design onto white printer paper for an even more personalized look. If you don’t have pipe cleaners in your craft supply kit you can create your stems using colored popsicle sticks, skewers or chopsticks. For some inspiration, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Fumf8SuNGM&feature=emb_logo.
Wed. May 13 - Montclair Art Museum Cyber Studio
Today’s Daily Diversion from Union Recreation will take you inside the Montclair Art Museum… Hosted by Shannon Anderson, MAM Art Educator, the Cyber Studio programs will inspire children to create something out of recycled materials found around the house. There are three programs available so far: Bugs, Birds and Suncatchers. Each includes an instructional video along with a written list of steps and supplies. The Suncatcher program is really unique but it does require either laminating sheets or clear contact paper which you may not have at home so see if you can order online before you try that one. To view all of the Cyber Studio projects, click here: https://www.montclairartmuseum.org/virtual-kids-and-students?fbclid=IwAR2GBUh6xrDeANDar3SmibCBZ7WrFPrWbIT6XFlNDuOwydJRpCXDlNuG31A.
Wed. May 20 - Virtual Art Making w/ Karen
Today’s Daily Diversion from Union Recreation will help your family make creative art projects with supplies you have around the house… Karen, the recreation department’s longtime art teacher, has been creating videos to help our families get creative at home. Each video includes step-by-step instructions featuring typical household items (i.e. paper plates, egg cartons, buttons). There are currently seven videos available with more to come soon. We encourage the entire family to embrace their imagination and get involved! To see the list of available videos, click here: https://www.uniontownship.com/952/Virtual-Art-Making-with-Karen.
Wed. May 27 - Create a Career “Blog”
Today’s Daily Diversion from Union Recreation will get your child thinking about their future career path… The International Literacy Association’s activity website called ReadWriteThink has a number of interesting writing prompts for middle and high schoolers. Today we are highlighting the project called “Create a Career Blog.” The project encourages students to identify and research careers they would be interested in, and then write about their findings. They can also write about whether their thoughts about their potential careers changed after doing more research. Rather than having your child post their finished entries to the internet, you can just have them create individual Word or Google Docs documents and save them in a “Career Blog” folder. It will be interesting for you both to re-read the entries in a year or two to see if their interests have changed. The Get Started guide for the project offers detailed step-by-step instructions and offers helpful suggestions and resources to guide your child: http://www.readwritethink.org/parent-afterschool-resources/activities-projects/create-career-blog-30152.html?main-tab=2#tabs
Wed. June 3 - Mindful Mandalas
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation showcases coloring pages the entire family will enjoy… Drawing and coloring are good activities to help improve your mindfulness and focus because they force you to disconnect from your devices and connect with a piece of paper. The website Monday Mandala shares weekly designs by email that are sure to keep colorers of all ages occupied for a few stress-free minutes. Past designs are available on the website -- click Coloring Pages at the top -- and are easily printed with just a few clicks without having to create an account or provide your email. To get started, click here: https://mondaymandala.com/.
Wed. June 10 - Homemade Music Instruments
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will fill the house with (homemade) music… The kids activity blog Red Tricycle has a great recent entry titled “19 Homemade Musical Instruments That Really Work.” The projects range from the familiar (Cereal Box Guitar) to the creative (Easter Egg Maracas). The strangest and most awesome project is called Chicken in a Cup. And yes, it does sound just like a clucking chicken and only requires a cup, string, paperclip and paper towel. To view the projects and their instructions, click here: https://redtri.com/homemade-instruments/slide/1.
Wed. June 17 - Take an Art Selfie!
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will turn your selfie into a work of art… The Google Arts & Culture app has some fun new features including “Art Selfie” and “Art Transfer.” After you download the app, click the colorful camera icon near the bottom. If you choose “Art Selfie” it will prompt you to take a selfie and then it will search its database of famous paintings to find your closest match! Try taking serious and funny selfies to see if your results change. You can also try taking a shot with the entire family to see what results Google finds. With “Art Transfer” you can take a selfie and then apply a “filter” to make the color and texture of the picture look like some classic works of art. The app makes it super easy to learn more about the artist and their painting as well so be sure to take a moment to read up on your art doppelganger.
Wed. June 24 - Karen Art Videos
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation brings Mrs. Karen right into your living room… Mrs. Karen, Union Recreation’s art teacher, has been filming virtual art making classes to share with children who are looking for an activity at home. These projects use materials you have around the house or can easily purchase online -- no trip to the craft store necessary! The videos are geared towards school-age children, with some specifically focusing on younger or older students. We encourage the entire family to get involved and embrace their creativity! We’re adding to the collection each month so be sure to check back again soon for more updates. To view the collection of virtual art making videos, click here: https://www.uniontownship.com/952/Virtual-Art-Making-with-Karen.
Wed. July 1 - Lights, Camera, Action
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation comes courtesy of Camp Kinda… The virtual summer camp program Camp Kinda has been releasing themed activity collections each week and one of our favorites was called “Movie-Making Magic.” Each day focuses on different aspects of filmmaking such as how to tell a story, how to storyboard, how to use a camera and how to select the perfect sound effects. The lessons use supplies your kids already have at home -- paper, pencils, crayons. Before the end of the week, they will learn how to use their smartphone or tablet to film and edit their movie. There’s even an app that teaches you how to do stop-motion animation! To get started, click here: https://campkinda.org/weekly-adventures/movie-making-magic.
Thur. March 19 - Homemade Bouncy Balls
You might have the ingredients at home right now to create your very own bouncy balls! This step-by-step tutorial shows you how to do it with common household ingredients like glue, borax powder, cornstarch, and food coloring. Today would have been the tip-off of March Madness so dye yours orange like a basketball! You could even use some things around the house to make a basketball hoop to shoot your bouncy ball at -- some cardboard for a backboard attached to a sturdy, round vessel like a mason jar or flower pot could do the trick! http://www.cometogetherkids.com/2011/06/make-your-own-bouncy-balls.html
Thur. March 26 - Blast Off!
This will help the afternoon “fly” by the Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a huge selection of projects that can be created at home without much more than paper and typical household supplies. One of our favorites is the Straw Rocket Project. All you really need for this project is paper, a pencil, a straw, and some tape. If you have a printer at home, you can print the rocket body template but if you don’t you can still try making your own free-hand because it is a very simple design. Have everybody in the family create their own straw rocket and then see whose can fly the furthest. After the first test flight, tinker with your rocket’s design to see if you can get it to fly further the next time. To view the step-by-step instructions, click here: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/learn/project/make-a-straw-rocket/.
Thur. Apr 2 - Egg Drop Oops!
This will be an egg-cellent way to keep the whole family engaged for a few hours with Easter right around the corner, you probably have some extra eggs in the fridge. If you can spare a few, you should organize a family “egg drop” challenge. Instructions and suggestions for the “egg drop” STEM challenge are all over the internet but the best one we found is on a site called Buggy and Buddy: https://buggyandbuddy.com/stem-kids-egg-drop-project/. The site includes links to years’ worth of one family’s past egg drop design challenges to use as inspiration and also has a very helpful PDF sheet to help your child create their design. So what exactly is the “egg drop” challenge? Put simply, you need to use household items to protect an egg from cracking when dropped from a height. Encourage everybody in the family to participate and come up with their own design. When it comes time to test your egg-protecting contraption, we would suggest moving outside (to avoid a mess inside) and starting at a low height and building your way up. Kids should leave the heights to mom or dad, who could use a stepstool or ladder as they increase the drop height. The winner will be the designer whose egg survives a fall from the highest height.
Thur. April 9 - National CSI Camp
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation, courtesy of our friends at National CSI Camp, will help you star in your own household “whodunnit”… National CSI Camp has put together a robust collection of video labs and educational materials that you and your children can use to learn the basics of forensic science. Students will learn various skills like interviewing a suspect, conducting a contact trace, lifting fingerprints, creating a magnifying glass, casting a footprint and much more! Some of the labs may even help your boy/girl scout qualify for one of their badges (double check with your scout leader first). The content is geared towards children who are 10-17 years old and utilizes materials you can find around your home. Please follow National CSI Camp on Facebook for more great programs and be sure to keep an eye out for our future programs. Click here to view the labs and materials: https://nationalcsicamp.org/free-classes-during-the-covid-19-crisis/.
Thur. April 15 - Dyson Engineering Challenge
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will challenge you to think like an engineer… the well-known home appliance company Dyson has created a set of 44 science and engineering challenges for kids to tackle at home. The challenges are all bundled into one richly illustrated PDF document that you can print out or just save to your desktop for easy reference. The challenges include: “Cardboard Chair”, “Balloon Car Race” and “Potato Power.” The website also has a number of videos for some of the challenges so you can watch real life engineers tackle the problem and get some inspiration for your design. To view the collection, click here: https://www.jamesdysonfoundation.co.uk/resources/challenge-cards.html.
Thur. April 23 - Spaghetti and Marshmallow?!
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation requires two things from the pantry: some strands of spaghetti and a marshmallow… no, we’re not making a strange midafternoon snack, we’re trying an engineering challenge from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The gist of the challenge is this: you need to create a tower using tape and twenty strands of spaghetti that will support the weight of a marshmallow (think s’mores size, not hot chocolate size) for fifteen seconds. It may not sound hard but you’ll have to work together as a team to devise the best way to raise the marshmallow while providing a strong structural foundation. If you don’t have spaghetti, get creative and modify the challenge. You can build your tower with pick-up sticks, wooden skewers or chopsticks and then you can test heavier objects on top instead of a marshmallow. The JPL website includes plenty of details and background to help understand how a homemade challenge like this mimics what their scientists do on a daily basis: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/teach/activity/spaghetti-anyone/.
Thur. April 30 - Reach for the Stars
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will help you reach for the stars… Your little ones are tired of being cooped up so let them explore the vast night sky with the help of your cell phone. Using a combination of your phone’s GPS, gyroscope and camera these stargazing apps will help you identify the celestial bodies you’re seeing in the distance. Even if you’re inside or it’s a cloudy night, the app will still show you what should be visible -- that way you can practice for that perfect clear night. A well-reviewed app that is free and available on both Android and iOS is called SkyView Lite, however there are many others (be careful: many apps include in-app purchases that your child may click on so check your app store purchase settings and make sure a password is required).
Thurs. May 7 - Story Time from Space
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation takes us to the International Space Station… This unique video series features astronauts on the International Space Station reading science-themed children’s books. The videos show the astronaut split-screen with the book so you can see the vibrant pictures and drawings as they read along. Some videos start off with an informative introduction that explains what part of the space station the reader is in and what experiments are going on. There’s just something so cool about watching an astronaut floating in zero gravity while reading these colorful stories. To view the full list of available books, click here: https://storytimefromspace.com/library/.
Thur. May 14 - Watch Bill Nye the Science Guy
Today’s Daily Diversion from Union Recreation is a throwback to the mid-90s… Do you remember Bill Nye the Science Guy? His show of the same name aired on public television starting in 1993 and had a successful run of 100 episodes! Bill’s brilliant yet eccentric personality, paired with tons of props and on-location segments, make for a show that is entertaining and educational for ALL ages. If you and your family have been trying out some of the experiments featured as Daily Diversions but need a refresher on the science behind them, watching Bill Nye is the perfect solution! Lucky for us, YouTube has a playlist that features 48 full episodes to binge right now: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_zuNdsXRcfMThB81edcSxSYQqG_41JMg.
Thur. May 21 - Mind Yeti
Today’s Daily Diversion from Union Recreation will help you experiment with mindfulness… The Mind Yeti mindfulness program was created by a non-profit organization called Committee for Children whose aim is to help children to thrive emotionally, socially, and academically. To achieve these goals Mind Yeti videos will guide children and their families to avoid the “hububbles” and focus on what is most important. Their YouTube playlist, which is available in both English and Spanish, offers nineteen segments that introduce the concepts of mindfulness and help children learn the strategies of focusing on their breath and their body. A few of the installments include colorful videos that play while the narrator discusses the topic, the rest are voice-overs to encourage the listeners to concentrate rather than watch the video. Get started with Mind Yeti here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLiaUKiwbiHMQDQLCXoPaMMYotldKlUQCw
Thur. May 28 - Build an Android App
Today’s Daily Diversion from Union Recreation will give you a good excuse for all of that screen time… The MIT App Inventor is a robust web tool that will guide middle and high school coders to create their very own Android smartphone apps. There are plenty of tutorials and sample apps to get your kids started, or they can jump right into the sandbox and tinker at their own pace. The browser-based creator environment should work on most devices but you’ll definitely want to use a mouse to make navigating easier. When you enter the App Inventor you’ll need to login through a Google account so the program can save your work and so you can access your project from other devices. Before you get started using the free App Inventor, read the About Us page to learn more and to see a few highlighted projects created by kids around the world. Then check out the Hour of Code page that includes easy links to text and video tutorials: http://appinventor.mit.edu/explore/hour-of-code.
Thur. June 4 - Afternoon Science Snacks
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will satisfy your hunger for science… The website Exploratorium has a series of activities they call “After-school Science Snacks” which are short and simple experiments you can do at home. The coolest experiment, which is sure to confound your kids, is called Groovy Sounds which shows you how to build a phonograph with a pin, paper and pencil. There are eight experiments included but they are easy to complete so you can complete most of them in an afternoon. To explore the experiments, click here: https://www.exploratorium.edu/snacks/collection/afterschool
Thur. June 11 - Strawberry Full Moon
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will shed some light on an annual lunar phenomenon… Last week on Friday June 5, viewers around the globe were able to witness a beautiful “strawberry” full moon. A strawberry moon occurs every year in June and is so named because sometimes it can take on a reddish or pink hue that reminds observers of strawberries. Unfortunately, the colorful strawberry moon was not visible here in our area -- instead it looked like a regular full moon -- however there are plenty of great snapshots floating around the internet. To learn more about the strawberry moon and the penumbral lunar eclipse, check out these great explanations from Space.com: https://www.space.com/search?searchTerm=strawberry+moon
Thur. June 18 - Chat with a Dinosaur!
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will let you chat with a Titanosaur… You heard that right! The Field Museum in Chicago has a great feature that allows kids to “chat” with Maximo, the titanosaur on display at the museum. Titanosaurs are the largest dinosaurs ever discovered and in real life, Maximo would have weighed more than ten elephants! When you visit Maximo’s website a chat window pops up so your kids can ask him questions. Start with simple questions like “how old are you” or “what do you like to eat” before letting your imagination run wild. We asked Maximo the age-old question here in New Jersey -- taylor ham or pork roll -- and he said he’s an herbivore and only eats plants! Did you get a funny reply from Maximo? To chat with Maximo, click here: https://www.fieldmuseum.org/exhibitions/maximo-titanosaur?chat=open
Thur. June 25 - Planetary Pasta Rovers
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will let your kids play with their food and learn at the same time… The Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s website is full of great family-friendly experiments and challenges that you can do at home. This project, called Planetary Pasta Rovers, certainly has plenty of science behind it but it’s really just plain fun too! Basically, you’ll use leftover pieces of pasta and glue to construct your vehicle -- lasagna noodles for the body of your rover, spaghetti for the axle, rigatoni for the wheels. If you don’t have any of the necessary shapes, think outside the pasta box (i.e. you could use Lifesavers as wheels). To read more about the Planetary Pasta Rovers building challenge, click here: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/teach/activity/planetary-pasta-rover/.
Thur. July 2 - Virtual STEM Programs
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation highlights upcoming virtual STEM programs…Has your curious little scientist run out of at-home experiments to try? Try signing them up for one of the Recreation Department’s virtual science programs by Explore Science, Built by Me or National CSI. These classes will be interactive featuring live video conferencing with the instructor. The Explore Science class will challenge students to think outside the box as they work on their STEM challenge. National CSI, designed and taught by law enforcement officials, introduces students to the basics of forensic science like how to lift fingerprints. Built by Me’s class will teach children how to read and write the code used to design websites. For more information about all of the available virtual programs, click here: https://secure.rec1.com/NJ/union-township-nj/catalog.
Fri. March 20 - Cup Stack Race
So-called “minute to win it” games are popular online and are often easy to create at home with things laying around the house. If you have leftover plastic cups from the holidays or your Super Bowl party, you can put them to use in a number of cup stacking games. Today’s game was inspired by a video by the Outscord Party Games account on Instagram. Each participant starts with a stack of the same number of plastic cups -- start with ten and add more once you gauge how difficult the game will be for your kids. The cups all need to be the same color except for one, and that different colored cup starts at the bottom of the stack. (If you only have all one color cups, use a marker to clearly mark one cup.) Standing, with the stack of cups in their hands with the cup openings facing up, and the different color cup on the bottom, players need to race to complete a full revolution of their cups. The bottom one goes into the opening of the top cup, and so on. If somebody drops their stack they need to start with the different color cup on the bottom again. Once the different color cup is on the bottom again, that person wins! Each individual game won’t last long so create a round robin tournament where each member of the family matches up twice, record the standings and then have the two best face-off for the championship. Save those cups! You won’t want to drink out of the game cups once you’re finished but keep them for future games. Here’s the link to the Outscord video so you can see how the game is played live: https://www.instagram.com/p/B7lcaTsHkQo/.
Fri. March 27 - Use Your Noddle
Use your noodle… over the last two weeks many of us have stocked up on pantry goods like dried pasta and today’s minute to win it game will put some of that pasta to use for something other than dinner. The family fun website called Red Tricycle calls this game Noodling Around. Each player starts with one strand of spaghetti in their mouth and pieces of penne (or other small tube pasta) scattered around the table. The goal is to thread as many pieces of pasta onto the spaghetti as possible in one minute. The catch? No hands! Re-use the pieces of pasta so you don’t waste too many but each player should have their own piece of spaghetti. To see more of Red Tricycle’s games, click here:https://redtri.com/the-best-minute-to-win-it-games-for-kids/slide/8
Fri. Apr 3 - Coin Flip Fitness
This family-friendly exercise routine is called Coin Flip Fitness. There are ten rounds and each round calls for a specific exercise depending on the flip of a coin. Before you get started, read through the exercises and practice a few of each so that everybody, especially the little ones, know what to do when the exercise is called out. Each exerciser will need a few feet of space around them to make sure that nobody bumps into each other. Everybody can take turns being the coin-flipper to take a chance to rest. Don’t hesitate to mix-up the exercises and create a custom routine that suits your family, such as adding/subtracting exercises or repetitions. Click here for the coin flip routine.
Fri. April 10 - “Intense” Tic Tac Toe
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation is unlike any game of Tic Tac Toe you’ve ever played… for this game of “intense” Tic Tac Toe you’ll want to gather the whole family and make up two teams. You’ll need plenty of space free of any obstacles or furniture so you may need to head outside when it’s time to play. Before you can play, you’ll need to find your Tic Tac Toe board and game pieces. In the attached video, the players used hula hoops and pinnies but use your imagination because you probably don’t have those in the house. Whatever you use for the game board - pieces of printer paper, flattened cardboard boxes, chalk on the driveway - make sure you have enough for nine spots, arranged in a 3x3 grid. For the game pieces, use something soft that you can throw down without it breaking or rolling away (i.e. an old t-shirt, dishtowel, etc). You’ll need five pieces per team and make sure they are color coordinated so you can easily tell which team threw down which piece. Have the teams line up about ten yards away from the game board, with each player on the team holding a game piece and any extra game pieces close by. When the game starts the first person on each team will sprint to the game board and throw down their game piece. Then they run back to the starting line and tag the second person to go and throw down their game piece. Players continue and the game ends when one team gets three-in-a-row. Otherwise, the team that gets more pieces on the board wins. Don’t forget your Tic Tac Toe strategy! The game will end quickly so make it a Best of 7 tournament. (If you only have two players, no problem! Players will still run back to the starting line and instead of tagging the next player, they will just pick up the next game piece and then sprint back to the game board.) To see a sample of what the game looks like, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRDp5HcZyVA
Fri. April 17 - Walk the Appalachian Trail
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will challenge you to get your steps in… we’ve all been doing a lot of walking this month and to keep you excited about your family’s daily walks it might be time for a steps challenge. Why not jump right into the biggest steps challenge in America: walking the Appalachian Trail. Of course we don’t mean walking the actual trail, but instead the length of it, which is about 2,200 miles or about 4.4 million steps. That’s a staggering number for sure, but every journey starts with a single step and by combining your family’s steps you can reach it! So, start small and work together as a family to encourage each other. The good news: it’ll take awhile to hit the goal so this could be a habit that stretches well beyond the shutdown. Use a piece of posterboard or cardboard to design a progress leaderboard where you can chart each person’s steps each day and tally them up for the week. To track each person’s steps you can use a smart watch, a pedometer app on your smartphone, or an old fashioned pedometer if you have one laying around. Be safe while you’re out walking and don’t forget to socially distance! Snap a pic while you’re on your “hike” and share it with us on Instagram at @twpunionnjrec and @twpunionnj.
Fri. April 24 - H.O.R.S.E.
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation called “bank shot”... the popular backyard game of H.O.R.S.E. is alive and well thanks to a tournament recently aired on ESPN featuring NBA and WNBA stars. H.O.R.S.E. is a great game for the family to play together because its focus on trick shots can level the playing field. Even the best basketball players among us would admit that the “lefty no-looky” hook shot they swished was pure luck. We may not be able to go to the park right now to shoot around but that doesn’t mean we’re out of luck if we don’t have a hoop in the driveway. Use your imagination to create your “hoop” and your “basketball.” In fact, your game of H.O.R.S.E. might be even more fun with improvised equipment. How about using the garbage can and a tennis ball? Or maybe a bucket and a bouncy ball? Share a picture of your craziest trick shot with us on Instagram at @twpunionnjrec and @twpunionnj!
Fri. May 1 - Getty Art Challenge
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will test your family’s creativity… The Getty Art Challenge has gone viral recently and we are sharing it with you because it would be a great way to keep your entire family occupied for a few hours over the weekend! Getty is a collection of museums and institutions devoted to art and they have a vast collection of memorable pieces. Your first step is to explore their collection and pick out a painting or sculpture that catches your eye. Next, you’ll need to scrounge around the house for items that can represent what is in the artwork -- you can be as literal or as figurative as you like. Set your scene, being sure to have some good light, and take a few pictures so you’re sure that one of them comes out great. If you’re ready for a real challenge, have everybody in the family choose and recreate their own painting. Be sure to share your handiwork with us on Instagram @twpunionnjrec and @twpunionnj! If you need some inspiration you can Google “Getty Art Challenge” or check out this blog post from Getty: https://blogs.getty.edu/iris/getty-artworks-recreated-with-household-items-by-creative-geniuses-the-world-over/. To view their collection and get started, click here: http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/.
Fri. May 8 - Cupcake Wrapper Race
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation just might blow you away… For today’s competitive challenge, we return to the Instagram of Outscord Party Games (@outscordgames) who LOVE creating entertaining party games from items you have laying around the house. The one that caught our eye today we’ll call: Cupcake Wrapper Race. You’ll need the following for each participant: four wide-mouth cups, four cupcake wrappers and a bendy straw. (Make sure the mouth of the cup is large enough for the wrapper to easily fit inside, use a 16oz plastic party cup if you’re drinking glasses are too small. The taller the cup, the more challenging it will be.) Line the cups up next to each other, about 6in from the edge of the table and about 6in between cups. Place a cupcake wrapper in front of each cup so that it is upside down and slightly hanging over the edge of the table. Using the bendy straw, each participant will blow into the cupcake wrapper to get it to flip and fly into the air and hopefully land in the cup. If it doesn’t the player needs to reset the wrapper and keep trying until it lands inside. Then they move onto the next cup and on down the line. The winner is the one who lands all four wrappers first. You can challenge your family members head-to-head in a double-elimination tournament or you can create a relay race where you work together to beat the clock. Games like this are a great reminder that you don’t need to have expensive games or toys to have fun as a family, sometimes a silly imagination can go a long way! To view the example video from Outscord, click here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B2T6rgknVm3/.
Fri. May 15 - Play Scattergories on Zoom
Today’s Daily Diversion from Union Recreation reimagines an all-time favorite family board game… If you and your family or friends are missing out on your monthly game night look no further than the Scattergories List Generator: https://swellgarfo.com/scattergories/. This easy-to-use tool will be key to your socially-distanced game night because it puts all of the key information on one page so you can share your screen with your competitors using your preferred video chat software (i.e. Zoom). The game host can customize the category list, change the timer, re-roll the letter (who wants to get X!) and they can even change the color scheme of the game board. If you’re playing with the entire family, we would recommend clicking “add a category” and then “make child-friendly” to remove any categories that might lead to some inappropriate answers. If you need to brush up on your Scattergories rules before you play you can find them on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scattergories.
Fri. May 22 - GoNoodle Games
Today’s Daily Diversion from Union Recreation highlights a new app that both you and your children will love… We receive great feedback whenever we share the fun content from GoNoodle which specializes in movement and mindfulness videos for kids. They recently launched a new app called GoNoodle Games which is available for both iOS and Android. The immersive “virtual reality” games will have your child interacting with what they see on the screen to score points or to make music. The app and games are created with kids of all ages and abilities in mind and parents will love them too because, as their website explains, the games are “designed to tire kids out.” With a long weekend ahead, you might just need some help burning some of that limitless energy! To download the app or to learn more about the games, please visit: https://www.gonoodle.com/blog/gonoodle-games-movement-app-for-kids/.
Fri. May 29 - Color, Line & Shape Bingo
Today’s Daily Diversion from Union Recreation combines two classic games: I Spy and Bingo… The Color, Line & Shape Bingo board from the Montclair Art Museum is a fun way to keep your family entertained on your next walk around the neighborhood. Each square on the board encourages you to get creative using prompts like “Find a cylinder” or “Find a vertical line” or “Find something red.” Each family member will interpret the squares differently so it will be interesting to see what everybody comes up with. Your “vertical line” may be a stop sign post but your child may pick out the lines on the road. If somebody fills up a row or column quickly, try some other challenges like filling the four corners, making an X on the board with two diagonals or completing the entire board. To download the bingo board, click here: https://www.montclairartmuseum.org/sites/default/files/2020-04/Bingo-Scavenger-Hunt-color-shape-line_web.pdf.
Fri. June 5 - National Donut Day at Home
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation is undeniably delicious… Today is National Donut Day and a number of nearby stores, like Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme, are likely to participate by giving out free donuts. Instead of venturing out with the family, enjoy National Donut Day at home! This recipe for Munchkin-like donut holes comes from Cooking Classy and calls for pantry staples like flour, oil, sugar, and baking powder. The recipe does use 1/2c buttermilk but you can easily substitute that with the same amount of regular milk mixed with 1.5tsp of vinegar. Since you’re making bite-sized donuts you can fry them in a skillet rather than needing to deep fry with gallons of oil. To make the activity fun for the whole family, challenge each person to create their own topping while you fry the donuts -- maybe a flavored sugar or colorful sprinkles. Dress a few donut holes in each topping and then have a taste test as a family to determine who had the tastiest topping! For the Cooking Classy recipe, click here: https://www.cookingclassy.com/15-minute-donuts-from-scratch/.
Fri. June 12 - Bedtime Bop
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will show you how to use tunes to help your little ones turn in… Everybody’s daily routines have been upended lately and that’s sure to get worse once “school” is out and summer officially begins. To help keep your family in a healthy bedtime routine, try a popular sleepaway camp tactic called Bedtime Bop. As a family, pick one of your favorite songs that you all know and love. Using a portable or smart speaker, play that song as the soundtrack for your bedtime routine of brushing teeth, washing faces and putting on pajamas. The goal is for everybody to be ready for bed before the song finishes. If your family needs more time try making a playlist of 2-3 songs. Using the same song/playlist each night will help the children pace themselves and know when they are running out of time. It’s not a race -- moving too quickly might be counterproductive for getting ready for bed! -- but you may need to use some positive reinforcement, like finishing on time means they can pick a bedtime story, in the beginning, to get them to finish on time. After a few nights the routine will be set and the starting of the song/playlist will be a strong signal that it’s bedtime!
Fri. June 19 - Sidewalk Chalk Sensory Path
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation is a perfect activity for kids (and adults) of all ages and abilities… Using some sidewalk chalk and some imagination your family can create a sensory path on the sidewalk near your home or in the park. According to Linden Grove School in Cincinnati, which has its own sensory paths in its school hallways, sensory paths can help give people of all ages a break from their work or devices and encourage them to practice their focus, balance and coordination. Each section of the path corresponds to a different movement -- touch your toes, spin around, walk in a figure 8, tippie-toe, bunny hop, etc. Use different colors of chalk and helpful guides like circles and arrows to help everybody understand what to do in each section. After you create your sensory path, encourage your neighbors to come and give it a try (maybe they can even extend your path with some new sections). We’d love to see your sensory path so please share it with us on Instagram at @twpunionnjrec and @twpunionnj. For some inspiration, click here: https://lindengroveschool.org/sidewalk-sensory-paths/
Fri. June 26 - On the Bounce
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will have the whole family bouncing… Ping pong balls, that is. This game, inspired by the awesome Instagram page called Outscord, can be played head-to-head or as a team relay challenge. You’ll need a ping pong paddle for each team and plenty of ping pong balls (some are surely to go missing!). Mark your start and finish lines -- start with like 10-20 feet but extend it as your skills improve. At the finish line each team will need a target cup, elevated on a table or chair so it’s not too low to the ground. Players will walk from the start to finish lines while they bounce a ping pong ball on their paddle. If the ball hits the ground they have to go back and start over (keep the bowl of the ping pong balls near the starting line between the teams). When they get to the finish line the player needs to get their ball into the cup. If the ball drops to the floor, they have to start over. Once the ball is in the cup, their next teammate can go. You can play until a team gets a certain number of balls to the target or you can play for a set time and see who has the most at the end. When you’re first starting out, keep it simple and let the players roll the ball from their paddle into the cup; once you’ve become a pro you can make it harder and bounce the ball into the cup from your paddle. To view Outscord’s video, click here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_1C5t6HCqg/.
Fri. July 3 - The Flour Game
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will see somebody end with a face full of flour… Have you ever played The Flour Game? It’s one of the simplest family-friendly party games we’ve come across. Take a bowl -- a big soup bowl or maybe a prep bowl -- and pack it full of flour. Place a big dinner plate or serving platter on top and invert them so you can lift the bowl and leave behind a big flour dome (a big plate is preferred to help contain some of the mess later). Place a hard candy like a Lifesaver or Jolly Rancher on top in the middle. Players take turns using a butter knife to cut small sections off the sides of the flour dome. The player whose cut makes the candy fall loses and has to retrieve the candy, hands-free, using only their mouth. Have the camera ready because they are sure to be covered in flour! (If you’re playing with young children who may choke on the candy, just remove the candy once it falls and then they still have to dunk their head into the flour as the “penalty.”) Who doesn’t love some messy fun? After you play through once, your entire family is bound to want to play again and again.