We just came through the holidays which meant lots of hours out-of-routine. While most adults have gazillions of things they have to do to fill up those hours (gift buying and wrapping, food purchasing, prepping and cooking, special baking projects, holiday events, etc.) children go through their available entertainment pretty quickly and often complain of being bored.
Here in Virginia, we recently had a pretty significant snow fall which left kids with even more days and hours of free time than they often know what to do with. Most children/families availed themselves of snow activities like sledding, snow ball fighting, fort building, etc. for a while, but then those things got old, too.
As parents we are always looking for activities we can do with our children at home that will be fun, will build healthy relationships, and as a bonus will help children with their development.
So, the next time you find yourself with time to spend with your children, here are some tried and true ideas that could accomplish all of those goals.
How about out-of-the-house activities:
- to the park,
- to the children’s museum,
- to a playmate’s house
- to children’s gyms
- to the library
Arts and crafts
We have fond memories of getting messy with paints and play dough and felt and foam and glue and scissors and paper. We spent lots of bucks on “how to” books and supplies from the craft stores. We probably should have bought stock in Oriental Trading and Michael’s for the many kits and projects we purchased from them.
Why not give your kids the task of a building project? Ask them to spend time throughout the day building an amazing creation with building toys like legos or blocks or one of the many different kinds of manipulative toys available to kids these days. Help them to start it, work on it for a bit, then take a break. Have them come back to it throughout the day adding something new. Tell them to keep being creative and when they are done that you want it to be super special so you can send pics to Grammi or Grampa or Auntie or Uncle or Daddy or Mommy. This is a way to keep them engaged in sometime that is fun, creative, learning-based, and relational.
Puzzles are great toys for kids, too. Many parents have found out what their children are really thinking about life as they sit together and work on puzzles.
Our children had loads of fun with Sand and Water play. We gave each of our children a bucket of water and a larger painter’s paintbrush. They “painted” the sidewalk and driveway for hours.
You can create your own sand, bean, or rice “pit” in a large bin and give children the opportunity to have that sensory input. If you put small objects for them to find in the pit, they will also develop fine motor skills.
Many children have lots of toys at their disposal but they lack the creative ideas to know different ways they can play with those toys. You can help them by guiding them to think bigger.
For gross motor input, you can create an obstacle course. We did this all the time with our active children. One of our kids needed some pretty intensive physical and occupational therapy exercises. So, we just set up all those activities to be done by all four children.
These are some of the activities we had them do:
- Crawl on the belly – Army style toward a particular target
- Then, Creep up on the hands and knees to another target.
- Crawl through an enclosure of some sort (a large empty box with both sides open, a tent, etc.)
- March and touch knees at the same time to a particular target
- Skip (for the kids who could ☺) to a particular target
- Hang from a bar (we had one put up in a doorway)
- Do jumping jacks
On a nice day, you could also add in outdoor things like:
- Swing on the swing
- Slide down the slide
- Hang on the monkey bars
- Run around a homemade track in the backyard
- Hop on one foot
- Use whatever you see around you to create a wonderful obstacle course.
Cooking projects can be fun. We know they are a LOT of work but if you assign clean up tasks as well as adding ingredients, stirring, and shaping, you would teach home economics on many levels.
Make homemade recordings of things you want them to know:
- Name, address, phone number, names of key people
- Presidents and world leaders
- Different kinds of birds, reptiles, mammals, etc.
- Anything of high interest to them
Then, turn on the recordings when your child is playing quietly.
You may want to create “stations” in your home:
- Children’s Kitchen supplies
- Children’s baby care supplies
- Library space filled with their books
- Arts and crafts
Perhaps you would like to create different themes to focus on weekly:
- Letter of the week
- Color of the week
- Word of the week
- Blessing project of the week - Take someone a baked good or plant or toy.
These are the things that we loved most about raising our children.
We loved finding fun ways to:
- engage with them,
- have them engage with each other,
- give opportunities for fine motor skill development
- help them hone in gross motor skills
- feed them information with recordings
- teach them the entertainment that can come through books
Have fun and enjoy those extra minutes with your children. Before you know it, they will be adults having their own children!
If you would like support as you hone in developmental skills with your child, get in touch with us at MarchForthFamily@gmail.com.
Tom and Julie Meekins