Friday, July 2, 2010

Boredom busters

If you’re stuck for ideas to entertain the kids, try these 10 fun and free alternatives
“Muuuum, I'm bored!”
This cry is no doubt echoing across Far North Queensland as the last week of school holidays drags by.
You’ve already spent a small fortune on movie tickets, go-kart racing, tenpin bowling, trips to the shopping centres and takeaway outlets, and now you’re only one dollar away from sitting them permanently in front of the TV or video games.
Well, I’ve got a few ideas that might help and can be tailored to suit most ages. 

1. Give your wardrobes a spring clean while also creating a fabulous dress-up box. 
Get the kids to help you pull everything out of your wardrobe. 
Clothes that haven’t been touched for a year go in a pile for them to sort through. Whatever looks interesting for dressing-up goes in a toy box, and the rest to go to a charity shop. 
Be sure to include belts, ties, hats, stockings, socks, shoes, hair accessories, old make-up, chunky jewellery and sunglasses. 
If you have a box full of sewing fabric scraps, see what can be salvaged to use as superhero capes or whatever their imagination creates. 
The next step is to get the children to perform a play wearing their new costumes. 
If they are old enough to write their own play, get them to work as a team to write a story first before getting out the costumes and performing. 
If they are younger, get them to act out scenes from their favourite story book, fairytale or nursery rhyme. 
If you spring clean your linen cupboard at the same time, you’ll find old towels and sheets that can be used as backdrops for a performance area, or let them cut out shapes to create ghosts or angels. 
If you time it well, and get them excited about putting on a show for family and friends, this activity could take up most of the day. 
Plus, if you video or photograph the event, it is sure to be a wonderful memory for them in future years. 
2. Slip ‘n’ slides are an age-old amusement that only require a piece of tarp, a hose, and plenty of washing-up liquid! 
Go with the green-friendly liquid so it’s safe to use on your lawn. 
3. Get creative: Roll out a long strip of butcher’s paper and using a set of paints or colouring-in pencils/crayons, get the children to draw whatever they please. 
The more complex you make it the longer the painting will take. 
For example, if you get them to draw what they did over the school holidays, you could get them drawing swimming, cycling, eating Easter eggs, camping, rainy weather, visiting their grandparents and so on.
4. Observation games can be good for all ages. Have your children observe one person (it could be you or another child), then leave the room and while gone, change a small detail in your appearance.
Remove an earring, put on lipstick, change your hair style or put socks on. See if they can guess what is different.
5. Get busy in the kitchen. There are hundreds of recipes that are child-friendly and only require a grown-up to pop into an oven. 
Look for recipes online for cupcakes, muffins, mini pizzas, homemade bread, scones, cakes, biscuits, jelly or rocky road.

6. Mystery bag game. Fill a bag with objects from around the house and get your children to guess what they are just by touching them, not seeing them.

This game is good for language development, helping children to distinguish between smooth, rough, soft, cold, furry, scratchy, and so on.
You can increase the challenge by putting a number of similar objects into the bag and let them guess which one is which.

7. Indoor sports can pass the time, if you use different equipment. For indoor basketball, use scrunched up newspaper and a rubbish bin; for bowling, use a soft ball and empty toilet rolls; and don’t forget games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, and Hide and Seek.

8. Make your own hospital with the kids as doctors and nurses and the parents, or teddy bears, as the patients. Give them old fabric or a roll of toilet paper to use as bandages.
9. An old fashioned scavenger hunt could keep them busy for ages if you hide enough items, and hide them well enough.
For younger children, draw a picture of the item to be found, while for older children you could give them clues to the missing objects.
10. And if the kids are still driving you crazy, don’t forget to visit your local library for some quiet reading time.


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