–– GUEST BLOGGER ––By Dan Gilbert on behalf of Primrose Schools: a preschool environment that enables children to flourish and develop as well-rounded individuals.
All parents dread the cry, “I’m bored!” Unfortunately, it’s a year-round phenomenon. Television and video games further drain creativity and leave kids at a loss for entertainment ideas. Stimulation through play and activities has been proven to increase imagination, creativity, problem-solving abilities, intelligence, and emotional well-being. Entertaining your kids in a way that is engaging doesn’t have to break the bank. Arts and crafts and family-fun activities can help you bond with your little ones while spending a minimal amount of money. For some inspiration, take a look at these 10 wallet friendly ways to beat boredom all year long:
SCRAPBOOKING: Scrapbooking can be a great way for families to relive memories and have a few good laughs. Choose items from a local craft store, or even from around the house, to decorate the scrapbook pages. Let each family member have a page or two to turn into a work of art. Go through the pictures and allow everyone to choose their favorites to be included in the book. These can also make great gifts for grandparents.
HOME DECOR: Set up an arts and crafts station and let children make decorations for any upcoming holiday. Stars for Fourth of July, ghouls and spiderwebs for Halloween, hand print turkeys for Thanksgiving, or whatever feels festive. Put on some music and decorate the house.
FAMILY OLYMPICS: This is a year round-way to allow kids to get some fresh air and exercise. For extremely chilly days it can even held indoors. Work together to create a safe, age-appropriate obstacle course. One obstacle could be climbing-based and another could feature a puzzle. In the winter months perhaps there could be a snowman building station. In the fall a leaf raking obstacle may fit the bill. Invite friends and neighbors over and let the games begin. Be sure to give the youngest ones a head start.
CUPCAKES: Whip up a batch of cupcakes and let the children each have a duty. When the treats are done, provide the kids with icing, sprinkles, colored sugar, jelly beans, fun-sized candies, or anything colorful so that they can decorate their own desserts.
HOMEMADE PLAY-DOH: Homemade Play-Doh is simple to make and non-toxic. To create your own, mix two cups of flour, two cups of warm water, one cup of salt, two tablespoons of vegetable oil, and one tablespoon of cream of tartar. Heat the mixture on the stove on a low heat while stirring frequently. When the Play-Doh thickens and begins to pull away from the sides of the pot and clump in the center, remove it from the heat and let it cool. Once cool, knead the dough vigorously until it’s smooth. Separate the dough into balls to create different colors. Use a drop of food coloring on each ball, work the color in with your hands, and you’re good to go. Let the kids’ imaginations run wild. When play time is over, store the Play-Doh in an air-tight container for future use.
MAKE YOUR OWN BEDTIME STORY: Either using blank notebooks or hole-punched constructions paper bound with yarn, have your children create their own story. Give them markers, crayons, glitter, and a glue stick in order to draw or write a bedtime story. When it’s time for bed, hand over your reading duties to them, asking them to read you their stories.
DIY CHIA PETS: Use one 9- to 12-ounce plastic cup and 1 1/4 cups of potting soil per child. Purchase grass seed, such as rye grass, and plant the seeds in each cup according to the package’s directions. Children can then decorate their cup with markers, stickers, googly eyes, and ribbons. Place the cups in a warm, sunny spot, water daily, and wait for the grass to sprout.
MESS-FREE ART: Cut pieces of fuzzy yarn, in a variety of colors, into different sized pieces. Children will love drawing with the yarn on 40-grit sandpaper. They can move the yarn to create shapes and pictures. The final product will stay put on the sandpaper.
KITCHEN LABORATORY: Science experiments are educational and fun for kids of all ages. There are a multitude of projects that can be done using items from your pantry. Try creating tiny volcanoes. Put a small bowl on a cookie sheet, add a tablespoon of baking soda, and one tablespoon of white vinegar that has been tinted with food coloring. Watch the volcanoes erupt as the colorful mixture begins to fizz and bubble.
BUBBLES: Blowing bubbles is entertaining, even for adults, and the solution is easy to make. Mix 1/4 cup of liquid dish washing detergent, 3/4 cup of water, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of light corn syrup in a plastic container. Use pipe cleaners to make wands. For even larger bubbles, soak circles of yarn in the bubble solution and wave them through the air.
Beating boredom can be as easy as rummaging through your closets. There’s no need to splurge on pricey toys or events. With the right arts and crafts supplies and a few prompts, kids can rely on their own creativity to have a blast.