Saturday, March 10, 2012

Boredom Busters

We are caught in the doldrums of everyday life these days. We've been busy with lots of household projects and seem to have a lot going on lately. Because of this, on the days home, we are stuck in a rut of the same toys, the same routine, the same TV shows, and the same snacks. The kids and I are super bored - especially when it's rainy and cold and we can't go outside or to the park to break the monotony. When we get bored, the kids get antsy and bicker constantly. As a teacher, I always had a few tricks up my sleeve for those times, and they came back to me the other day. I broke out a couple of the ideas, and they completely turned our day around. I wanted to take a minute to jot down a list of things to do in those times. I hope you find them useful too. First a disclaimer: Make sure to only pull these things out when boredom strikes and to only do these activities once every few months. Repeating them often will make them lose their appeal.

1) Storytelling: Bind a handful of plain white paper together into a book by either stapling, 3-hole-punching, taping, or tying. Pretend to read a story off the plain white pages describing in detail the pictures and encouraging the kids to play along. Then give the "book" to them to create their own imaginary storybook to read aloud.

2) Paper Sorting: Hole punch a stack of colorful paper. Put the paper circles in a bowl, and hand it to your child along with an ice cube tray. Have them sort the circles into like colors into the sections in the ice cube tray.

3) Steam Art: Create a steam room in the bathroom by turning the shower on hot for 10 minutes or so and closing the door. Sit the kids on the bathroom counter, and allow them to draw with their fingers, q-tips, or even foam paintbrushes on the steamy bathroom mirror.

4) Dry Erase Mirror: Lay a large mirror (we use one of the inexpensive tall wall mirrors) on the floor, and allow the kids to draw on it with dry erase markers. You can lead them to trace the images of things they see in the mirror.

5) Cup Stacking: Grab a package of plastic disposable cups, and show your kids how to stack them in a pyramid. See who can build the tallest one.

6) Sticker Starters: Place a sticker on a piece of plain white paper, and have the kids draw a picture that incorporates that sticker. For example, if you place a dinosaur sticker in the middle of the page, the kids can draw it standing on a mountain, pretend it's jumping in the air, or have it stepping on a truck. Encourage them to think outside the box.

7) Cardboard Town: Gather a supply of cardboard boxes of varying sizes (shoe boxes, cereal boxes, cracker boxes, jewelry boxes, etc.), and wrap them with butcher paper or colorful wrapping paper. Allow the kids to draw on them to create buildings to set up a play town. They can use plastic people, animals, and cars and trucks to play in their town.

8) Tape Roads: Grab a roll of blue painter's tape, and tape a pattern onto the floor. Encourage the kids to pretend the tape is a road for their Matchbox-sized cars.

9) Construction zone: Gather construction vehicles from your kids' play toys. Using an under-the-bed storage container, a box lid, a jelly roll pan, or any other shallow container, fill it with wadded paper for the kids to push around with the vehicles as dirt. They can fill up dump trucks, push with the machines, and build.

10) Candy houses: Create gingerbread-style houses using graham crackers and peanut butter as glue. Give the kids a variety of healthy treats (cereals, raisins, dried cranberries, fruit slices, and even a few chocolate chips) to decorate their houses with.

11) Snack necklaces: Give the kids an assortment of snack foods that have holes in them (cereals, pretzels, fruit and veggie straws, bagel chips, apple chips, etc.) to lace onto a string to create a snack necklace.

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