Saturday, July 28, 2007

Summer Boredom Busters for Kids

Ask the Expert:Summer Survival Guide Part IV
14 Summer Boredom SolutionsTeaching your kids to learn how enjoy simple, old-fashioned fun. You won't get trapped on the "I need a new toy every week" spending treadmill and your kids will be able to entertain themselves any place, any time (which means less whining, less fighting with siblings, and fewer discipline problems for you). Here are some activity ideas:
1. Design your own board game. If you've got a kid who's a board game freak, toss him the ultimate challenge (along with a set of dice): ask him to design his own board game and to teach the rest of the family to play. He can borrow elements from existing board games or create his own game from scratch using materials you have around the house.

2. Organize a treasure hunt. Encourage your kids to plan an indoor or outdoor treasure hunt for their friends, complete with a treasure map.Host a neighborhood fun day. Play it straight by sticking to tried-and-true picnic games like the wheelbarrow race, the egg toss, x's and o's beanbag toss, and the three-legged race or go a little crazy by coming up with your own wacky events-like playing a game of road hockey using pool noodles and a beach ball. Let the games begin!

3.Start your own parent-child book club. Pick a book that both parents and kids would enjoy and send out book-shaped invitations to your book club guests. If you want to get really fancy, bake a book-shaped cake, too. It's a great way to keep the kids on track with reading during the summer months (and to get through some of the books on their summer reading lists, if they were assigned a long list of "must reads" at the end of the school year).

4.Schedule a neighborhood movie night. Rent a few kid-friendly flicks and make a smorgasbord of healthy snacks, keeping allergy and choking hazards in mind. Then get ready to enjoy some great movies together.

5.Make a fort-indoors or outdoors. It's a childhood rite-of-passage that every kid should experience.

6.Plan a progressive dinner with other families on your block. Have veggies and dip at one house, pizza at another house, and a fresh fruit buffet at a third house. (It's kind of like playing follow the leader, except you're playing follow the food!)

7.Decorate clay flowerpots. To keep the paint from rubbing off, finish the flowerpot by spraying on a layer of spray-on acrylic. Or leave it "au naturel," if you prefer.

8.Make a map of your house, your backyard, or your neighborhood. When you're finished making your map, laminate it and hang it on the wall.

9.Play architect. Turn an old shoe box into a miniature dream home. (The lid makes an ideal "roof.")

10.Make your own placemats. Draw colorful designs on a piece of construction paper and have your artwork laminated at your local office supply store.

11.Host a backyard craft party. That way, your kids can enjoy really hands-on art activities without anyone having to even think about the mess: painting with squirt bottles, finger-painting with their feet, and finding never-before-dreamed-of ways of using glue.

12.Make a flower power t-shirt. It's a great way to get additional mileage out of a t-shirt with a spot or stain. Simply paint flowers over the stained area using fabric paints. Suddenly, this castaway t-shirt will become a "brand new" favorite.

13.Whip up some "homemade fossils". Press an object (e.g. a shell with ridges) into a piece of clay and then spoon plaster of paris on top of the clay mould they've created. Once the plaster of paris is fully hardened, simply peel away the clay to reveal the fossil.

14.Try your hand a mirror writing. Show your kids how to write "backwards" messages by printing letters and words backwards so that the messages can be read when they're held up to a mirror.

Hint: Older kids will find the activity more challenging if they try using handwriting rather than printing.

Ann Douglas is the author of Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Guide for Each Age and Stage. She is best known for authoring, The Mother of All Pregnancy Books, The Mother of All Baby Books, as well as numerous other pregnancy and parenting books. Ann is also an advisor to MothersClick. Visit her site to find out more about Ann and her work.