There’s always going to be a time when dinner needs to be made but only after the laundry machines are going while you’re mentally planning for tomorrow’s social event which requires a few phone calls to family members so you can do naptime schedule mathematics.
If a blue dog on a screen is what keeps the kids off your ankles during those moments, then that’s all that matters.
The thing about screen time, though… It’s way too easy to overdo it.
Auto-play is a feature that just sets us up for failure, right?
You want to get outside, encourage creativity, and involve the whole family. But what do you DO? Hopefully I can provide a bit of inspiration so we can guide our families away from those repetitive tv shows just a little more each day.
Colorful Nature Scavenger Hunt
Plain nature walks are fun, but this is a great way to get a lot more out of the experience. Kids get to search for and collect flowers, leaves, and rocks that make up the colors of the rainbow. There are a few versions of this idea that I’ve seen. A few paint sample cards and clothespins glued to a board is one method. Smiley faces in need of colorful crowns drawn on a page. Or even painted egg cartons. See some adorable ideas here and here.
Lay out yoga mats or blankets. Everyone in the family gets a turn to be the workout instructor who leads the class in stretches, karate moves, meditation, or dance moves.
Mug Dessert Night
Did you know there are a bunch of online recipes for quick desserts that you get to eat out of a mug? I recently tried a banana cake one to use up my overripe bananas.
Let me tell you. So good.
The beauty of this beginners’ baking activity is that everyone can pick their own different recipe for their own single serving. Minimal ingredients are used, minimal mess is made, and we all get dessert. What more could you want?
DIY Mini Coloring Books
Make little coloring books for each other! Start by folding a piece of paper twice (like a card), add a couple of staples to the spine, then cut along the folds on the top to create the pages. Use the pens to draw pictures, mazes, matching games, and word searches. Trade with family members and fill out each other’s books!
Practice Sign Language
Learn and practice spelling your names in sign language. Choose phrases to learn that your family says often. “How was school?” “I love little puppies.” “I am happy today!” “Can I have a cookie please?”
Visit a Farmers Market
This is one of my favorite ways to get outside. There’s fresh and healthy food as well as interesting crafts and beautiful artwork to see. Oftentimes there will be live music to listen to, and there’s always a grassy park or playground nearby.
Write a bunch of story prompts on strips of paper and mix them in a jar (trip to space, doctor visit, lost dog, mermaid discovery). Write names of family members and put those in another jar. Write random nouns that they have to include on strips of paper for a third jar (donkey, piano, one million dollars, hot air balloon). Everyone gets to pick out of each jar, and write their own story using the prompts and people that they ended up with. Read the stories aloud for each other!
The possibilities are endless when it comes to building forts. Cardboard boxes work just as well as couch cushions. Forts make good stages for sock puppet and stuffed animal shows. They also make great wild animal dens. Maybe one might become a bookstore, an art shop, or a post office for sending letters.