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Five Fun Skills You Can Learn With Your Family

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Solve a puzzle, get some rhythm, and just learn something new today. Nothing is useless if you’re having fun. Image: Lisa Tate

No doubt many parents and families have ventured to YouTube for everything from entertainment to Master Classes, and one of the things I have taken advantage of is the ability to get some tips on how to complete a project or learn a new skill.

One of the great joys in life is learning something new, whether or not it is something we “need” to learn. As we are still unable to get out there are take new classes or workshops, here are five skill challenges to learn through YouTube we can use to impress and entertain others the next time we are able.

Solve a Rubik’s Cube in a Matter of Minutes

I never thought I would say this, but I saw Justin Bieber do something pretty impressive. He solved a Rubik’s Cube in around two minutes! I have recently seen a number of actors and musicians with the “speedcubing” skill, which stands to reason if much of their job is spent waiting backstage or on a set to be called to perform. Many of us are now in that same situation, and my teenager learned this skill with the help of a tutorial from Wired and some other sources. There’s a trick to this and a repetitive pattern to follow. Once you master it, it is just a matter of honing your speed.

Learn the Original “Cups Song” Moves

Remember that cool “Cups” video Anna Kendrick did from her Pitch Perfect version of the Carter Family’s 1931 son “When I’m Gone”? The song was first performed with the “cup game” by the British band Lulu and the Lampshades, and Kendrick’s later version became a huge hit.

The basic “Cups Song” move is also often performed to the song “John Kanaka” and is an Irish pub favorite. Once you figure out the movements, you can keep it going as long as the music and rhythm move you. Here’s the basic movement, which you repeat over again until you get it right.

This is fantastic for motor skills and rhythm, plus you can do it as a family once you figure it out. I know from experience doing can get addictive, and if I am feeling restless or anxious it has a therapeutic effect for me.

Beat an Escape Room

The YouTube star and former NASA engineer Mark Rober has plenty of “how-to” videos taking advantage of science, engineering, and other skills. This includes puzzle-solving.

One that I still want to put to use is how to beat an escape room using 10 tricks and tips. No, this isn’t cheating. Just like figuring out the Rubik’s Cube, you can figure out how to put your math, logic, and puzzle-solving skills to the test by figuring out how to most efficiently get around the common lock types and clues found in most rooms. It will still be a challenge, but not an overwhelming one.

We might not be able to tackle a real escape room yet, but there are a few home games and printable kits you can purchase while you wait. Big Escape Rooms also has a free mystery you can print out. Give it a try. It is a “great escape” from the mundane.

Perfect Some Neo Swing Dance Moves

YouTube is filled with some very talented and energetic modern and electro swing dancers, and Sven Otten (at JustSomeMotion) makes it look effortless.

It isn’t. It takes practice… lots of practice. Luckily, Otten has a series of dance step tutorials that show us it isn’t impossible. Most of these last about five minutes and teach one step at a time. They are numbered and get progressively a little more complicated. I recommend doing them in order.

These are in German, so make sure to add subtitles with closed captioning if you need it. His straightforward movements also make each step easy to understand. Do one of these each day, and put them together at the end. It is an ideal way to keep moving and exercising without actually feeling like you are. Plus, you’ve learned some awesome dance moves to show everyone.

Do Math With an Abacus

Calculators, computers, and Common Core concepts are only a few of the ways kids are solving basic mathematical concepts, but nothing is as beautiful as the age-old technology of the abacus. These are still used as a teaching tool for kids in some countries, and they never run out of batteries or power. The basic Cranmer abacus is also a good math tool for the visually impaired.

There are many tutorials for this, but I like the one by RetroCalculators, as it gives a little history on the tool used for more than 800 years by China and even further back from the ancient Romans and Mesopotamians.

I am terrible at remembering how to use one, but every time I see a tutorial, it all seems so simple again. Now that we all have more time on our hands, I plan to make it stick.

If you don’t have an abacus, you can buy plenty of designs online or make your own with beads and popsicle sticks.

No matter where we are or how closed off we feel, we can always find an opportunity to learn something. No skill is useless or unnecessary if it is one that makes us happy.

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3 thoughts on “Five Fun Skills You Can Learn With Your Family

  1. Thank you! It is very useful to me! Now we spend a lot of time at home and these fun activities will allow us to spend some home evenings with benefit!

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