All Houston Park and Recreation Department Community Centers, the North Wayside Sports and Recreation Center, and the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center are currently closed through May 31, 2020.

HPARD Community Centers Online

New! While our Community Centers are closed due to COVID-19, the Parks Department’s Community Centers have gone online to bring fun activities for you to do at home! So even though we cannot be with you in person, we’re here online to bring you resources, activity ideas, videos, and more for you to enjoy.

The Search Institute®, a nonprofit organization dedicated to dedicated to strengthen youth success, has identified the following building blocks of healthy development to help young people grow up to be healthy, caring, and responsible. If you would like to download a copy of the Search Institute® Developmental Assets® for youth visit the following links:
Ages 5-9 (English-Spanish)     • Ages 8-12 (English-Spanish)     • Ages 12-18 (English-Spanish)

Youth and Family Engagement Activities

Looking for some fun family activities to stay busy while your practicing safe social distancing and staying at home? Our Community Center Staff is taking to YouTube to provide you with weekly programming that you can do at home with your family. So stay active and stay safe and visit your online parks community center in the comfort of your own home.

WEEK OF MAY 25 – 29, 2020

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Give each participant a piece of paper. Have each participant write his/her name in the middle of the paper. Have participants go through magazines and cut out pictures that represent them (i.e. favorite color, food, sports, music what they want to be when they grow up and other things they like). When they have all their pictures cut out have them glue them to the paper around their name. Make sure that participants are gluing their pictures, so they almost overlap leaving not blank spots on their paper. Have participants explain their collage to the family.

WEEK OF MAY 18 – 22, 2020

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Audio Artists

Listen to the music. Listen especially to the feelings in the music. How does this music make you feel? What do you think it is about? As you listen to the music, begin to draw what you hear. Some of you will draw pictures, but some of you will probably just draw colors and shapes. Whatever you hear is what you should draw. Really listen! Listen to the changes in the music. Listen for characters and listen for events. Whatever you hear, that's what you draw.

Sound Map (Hands-on Nature)

Choose an area next to several habitats. Provide participants with a pen and a piece of paper with an X marked in the center. This X represents where the youth is sitting. Then have them mark the sounds they hear, judging the distance and direction. Use “fox ears” (cupping your hands behind your ears) to locate even more sounds. After five or ten minutes, compare how many sounds each youth heard and where they put them on the map.

Hula Hoop Jump Rope Relay (Fitness)

A hula hoop can be used just like a jump rope. Have your kids hold the hoop vertically in front of their body. From there they can flip it down toward their feet, jump over it, and bring it back behind and overhead. Divide participants into 2 equal groups and perform a relay competition.

Reverse Charades (Family Fun)

Reverse Charades is a hilarious twist on the classic game of charades. Instead of one person acting out a clue for a team to guess, in Reverse Charades, a team acts out clues for one person to guess.

Sports Center

Three players, and an everyday activity (brushing your teeth, washing your car, etc.). In this game, the everyday activity is performed as if it were done at the Olympics or at a world championship. One player is the athlete, and the two others are in a TV studio - one is the interviewer who interviews the athlete`s trainer, as the athlete performs the task.

Hand Hockey

Partners face each other in the “up” position of a push-up. They are spaced one to six feet apart. Each participant tries to maintain the “up” position and score a goal by using one hand to push a “puck” (beanbag or newspaper wad) between his partner’s hands. A goal is scored each time the puck slides be¬tween the other participant’s hands.

WEEK OF MAY 11 – 15, 2020

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Stained Glass with Sidewalk Chalk

Start by adding tape to the ground in a fun geometric design. You can let the kids make it by giving each child a long strip of painter’s tape & letting them make the next line. Next, give them as many colors of sidewalk chalk as you can find in the house! Then, let each child color a square until you have a beautiful stained-glass chalk design.

Nature Color Hunt (Hands-on Nature) (Video)
Gather your materials. An egg carton would work well as a color tray, scissors and a color construction paper for each section. Cut your paper into pieces small enough to line the bottom of the tray/carton. Start finding things to match. Start off by choosing a color with participants, if they have a hard time finding a match find one and go to it but don’t announce you have found it. After you have made all your matches, talk about what you have found, how it feels, what it does (rocks line a path for us to walk on, a flower provides pollen for bees etc.).

Group Juggling (Family Fun)

The group stand in an inward facing circle and are asked to throw juggling balls amongst the group in a specific order. As the activity develops more juggling balls are introduced and the pressure to work well as a group increases.

Buddy Reading Relay (Literacy)

Consider a buddy reading relay – it is a great way to help youth improve their reading skills. Each participant reads a sentence from a paragraph. Make sure the number of players on a team represents the number sentences. Once a team is finished ask the group to discuss what the paragraph was about.

Blind Draw

In this activity, the team must instruct their “artist” to draw an item. They must describe their chosen item without revealing what it is, and they are not able to see what the “artist” is drawing.

Community Clean Up 10-Minute Walk

Everyone goes outside together for a 10-minute walk and picks up garbage. Make it a contest to see who can pick up the most trash.

WEEK OF MAY 4 – 8, 2020

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Give each participant a piece of paper. Have each participant write his/her name in the middle of the paper. Have participants go through magazines and cut out pictures that represent them (i.e. favorite color, food, sports, music what they want to be when they grow up and other things they like). When they have all their pictures cut out have them glue them to the paper around their name. Make sure that participants are gluing their pictures, so they almost overlap leaving not blank spots on their paper. Have participants explain their collage to the family.

In this creative and high energy warm-up, participants will learn (in a playful way) that sometimes in life you must become a leader and at other times a follower. Prior to leading this activity, pre-record a variety of music (different types & styles of music, upbeat tempo, slow tempo, etc.) that you know your group will relate to and you're ready to "Rock" this leadership dance. Begin by dividing your group into smaller teams of 6 to 10 participants, instructing each group to form a circle and then to number off. Call out a number and explain that this person becomes the group's leader and when the first track of music starts, they will lead their group in dance (in any appropriate way they like) to the beat of the music being played. After about 30 seconds, stop the music, call out a different number and play the next track of music. This new leader now picks up the beat of the music and takes lead of the group. This process continues until all participants in the circle have had a chance to lead the others. Shared leadership is a skill that needs to be learned and taught to all . . . so why not teach it in a FUN way!

All you’ll need is: A length of string/ribbon (long enough to hang around your child’s neck), 2 toilet rolls, stapler, tape, paint (and paintbrushes) or stickers to decorate your binoculars. Line up the toilet rolls parallel to one another and staple them together (on the inside) at one end. The toilet rolls should now be fastened together to resemble binoculars. Tape each end of the length of string to the inside of the combined toilet rolls (your child can use this to han the binoculars from their neck). Now it’s time to explore!

Grab your cardboard binoculars and family for 10 minutes of exploration. The most important thing is to get outside and observe what you see and hear. The more you pay attention to the birds, the more you’ll notice.

In this fun version of Tag, you tag each other’s shadow with your feet instead of tagging their body. Thus, it must be played on a sunny day.

Place random objects in front of participants for 15 seconds, then remove the objects and see how many they can remember. Start out with five and keep increasing the number as they master the task.

WEEK OF APRIL 27 – MAY 1, 2020


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Visit a park as a family. Have each person walk toward the first thing that catches his or her eye (drawing you to it like a magnet). Let each family member explain what he or she likes about the first thing that caught their eye.

Pass out slips of paper and pens. Have everyone briefly write down a true story or experience that happened to them on the paper along with their name. The more bizarre, the better. Fold the slips of paper and put them into the container, shuffling them and mixing them up. A mediator picks out four slips of paper and calls out the names of the people. These people go and sit apart from the group. The mediator reads off the stories and then the group tries to figure out whose story is whose. The group does this by asking different people to tell different stories. The four selected participants try to convince the group that the story they tell really is theirs. After everyone has told a few different stories, the group votes. This repeats until everyone has gone up. The main goal of the game is to have fun telling stories and learn a few interesting or humorous facts about each other.

Place a leaf under a sheet of paper and color with a crayon until the pattern of the leaf is clear. Display these nature-oriented works of art throughout your home for all to enjoy.

Have youth find a partner and spread out. Have one participant be the leader and the other the follower. The follower should always be six feet away from the leader. On the signal the leader can walk anywhere within the boundaries. The follower is to follow the leader as best they can to try and stay six feet away. Also, the follower should mirror the leader’s actions. Periodically stop the activity to check if the follower is still six feet away from the leader. When given the signal the leader becomes the follower and vice versa.

Give youth a variety of pieces of string, cord, or yarn, and help them think about what their design will look like. Show them how to dip the string in the paint and allow them to make a design by applying the paint on paper with the string.

1, 2, 3 SHOOT
First, partners agree to add, subtract, multiply or divide. They then place both hands behind their back. On the count of…”1, 2, 3 Shoot,” both people hold out their fingers displaying 0 (two fists) to 10 digits. The first partner to add, subtract, multiply or divide the digits correctly “wins” the round.

WEEK OF APRIL 20 – 24, 2020
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Have youth create an “If I Set the Rules!” Poster. Display the poster in your home. Parents and ywouth will cut out several of their favorite shapes on colorful construction paper. What words or symbols help you remember your house rules? Could a picture of a clock set at a certain time remind you not to be late? What symbol would tell you no running in the house? Some famous symbols, such as Mr. Yuck, remind us “It may look pretty, it may smell good, but before I taste, I need to ask if I should.” Decorate your poster around the shapes. Hang your “If I Set the Rules!” Poster in a place where you’re sure to see it!

Parents and youth, your challenge is to take an old board game and recycle it. The board, the game pieces, and all the accessories into something new. You can remake it into something totally different and unexpected or perhaps even make it into a new game altogether. Whatever you’re inspired to do with the board game you choose! Parents and youth are encouraged to be creative and have lots of fun.

Before you start this project, have youth go on a scavenger hunt for the items to use in the collage. Then have youth spread out glue over construction paper and arrange all the nature items that they found right on top.

Each participant is given one balloon and will be allowed to find personal space and begin to use their feet to juggle the balloon. The participants can juggle with one foot, both feet, their knees, and head. They can keep track of how many times they hit the balloon before it hits the ground. The objective of this activity is for the participants to understand the basic legal hits of soccer and practice in a controlled setting. The major advantages of a balloon over a soccer ball for children is that it floats, isn’t as hard, and will not go far when hit, which is essential for control.

Instruct participants to decorate any container or box as a "Time Capsule." Each participant will fill out a short interest inventory including; a handwriting sample, a tracing of their hand, a self-portrait and any other objects that may be desired to be included. Participants will place their sheets into their time capsule and have a ceremony to put them away until a designated timeframe. At the end participants complete the same sheets and then open their time capsule to compare how they have changed during this timeframe.

Allow participants time to collect recyclable items, such as toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, gift wrap rolls, empty tissue boxes, and any small cardboard containers. Have participants create their own work of art out of recyclable items collected from around the house.

WEEK OF APRIL 13 – 17, 2020
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Building a family tree will give each member of the family a sense of identity as you learn where you came from. Start off by simply drawing a tree that allows you to easily add family members. Give each member of your family meaningful tasks to explore the history of your family with a fun and engaging craft project.

Start a charades race and name the categories such as fast food, electrical appliances or cartoon heroes. Teams compete against each other trying to be the first to guess all items on the list. To start, whisper the first word into the ears of one member from each team. Each person will return to their group and act out the word. Once a member of the group guesses the word correctly, someone new runs to the instructor for the next word. No one can come up twice until everyone has acted out an item from the list. The new member must tell the instructor the word they just guessed to receive the next word from the list. The game is over once a team completes the entire list.

Take a 10-minute walk hunting for and gathering rocks of different shapes, sizes, textures, and colors. When you get home, pull out the paints, markers, crayons or stickers and decorate them. Encourage everyone to be creative and express themselves through art. Display your masterpieces in an open area of the house creating a Rock Art Gallery for your family to enjoy.

Write or draw about things that you are grateful for. Share your gratitude with members of your immediate family!

Asking participants questions about what they would like to accomplish is a standard component of the goal-setting process. However, you can get creative and make the process more enjoyable with fun questions like:

  • What would you do if you won the lottery?
  • What is your biggest dream?
  • If you had a superpower, how would you use it?
  • If you found a genie and could ask for three wishes, what would you wish for?

Of course, some of these questions may prompt unrealistic answers from participants, but you can help tweak them to be more achievable.

One player starts a story with a sentence such as “Fortunately, the bus is coming.” The next player counters with a sentence such as, “Unfortunately, it turned into an airplane and flew away!” The next player starts again with “Fortunately…”

Other Resources for Virtual Family Fun