The busiest – and sometimes scariest – time of year is here…
While the kids always count down the days of not being in school, moms like me are scrambling to come up with new ways to keep their kids from driving them bonkers once the newness of late mornings and being home all day wears off. Having a teenager as well as an almost seven-year-old, my little crew has seen and done many of the great activities our fair city has to offer this time of year.
Most Columbia moms are familiar with the popular local attractions to entertain our children, and it just takes a simple online search to find “activities for kids near me” to get us out the door. As a matter of fact, Columbia Mom has plenty of up-to-date articles on the happenings around town (check out Weekend Events for Kids for the latest and greatest offerings).
On the days when the weather just isn’t cooperating and neither are your kids, you want to do something different…something new and exciting that doesn’t include TVs or tablets…
So, what’s a mother to do???
Get creative! Here is my list of creative ways to keep all ages of kids entertained.
Depending on the weather conditions that we are graced with on any given day here in Soda City, an obstacle course can be a fun activity indoors or out. You can use any number of items to create an exciting and challenging path through the living room or around the back yard. Make the course age-appropriate and even let the kids design the challenges for each other. Increase the fun by timing each round and having the kids compete against themselves to beat their own best time.
Take a walk in the woods near your home, or in one of our many local parks, and collect fallen items to take home and make a nature collage. Have the kids choose a theme before setting out then let them create art with their finds.
Have your kids star in their very own episode of Chopped (and get lunch/dinner made in the process). Mom gets to choose the mystery ingredients and is available to assist younger kids. This may even encourage everyone to give a new food a try! When my oldest daughter was younger, we’d visit the produce section of our local grocery store and find a fruit or vegetable that we’d never had. That always leads to researching ways to prepare it. Having her participate from the beginning made the unknown a little less mysterious, and sometimes she even liked it.
Treasure and scavenger hunts are another activity that can be done inside or outside. Mom creates the list of items to seek while the kids get the job of finding each item. You can even sneak in a little extra reading practice for your early elementary kids! And, of course, have a great “prize” for completing the hunt.
Christina Katerina & the Box
Do you know this children’s story by Patricia Lee Gauch? It is my all-time favorite from childhood and inspired many creative afternoons. I read it to my girls and love it just as much now as I did as a kid. The beauty of this one is that it can be a multi-part activity. Grab a copy of the book at your local library and read it together. Then, find a cardboard box (or a few) and get to creating. Christina Katerina takes one large box through many iterations, and your kids can do the same. Once the box’s usefulness has expired, make a trip to your local recycling center to give it yet another new life.
Hot Mess Canvases
This may require a little more effort (and possibly a lot more cleanup), but this project does double duty by having the kids create potential gifts for loved ones. Win-win! All you need are painters’ canvases, masking tape (or your Cricut or Silhouette if you’re super crafty), and lots of acrylic paint and brushes. Don’t forget to protect the painting area and throw some old shirts on the kids! This is even a great activity for the littlest ones since there are no “rules.” Here are two ways to approach this craft:
- Take a blank canvas and place masking tape or decals in whatever design you like. Let your kids coat the entire surface in their favorite Jackson Pollack-esque painting. Once the paint has dried, you just remove the tape and end up with an awesome piece of art any grandparent would treasure!
- Another way to do this is to have the kids go nuts with the paint on the canvas first. Then, apply the decal/tape once the paint is dry. Your next step will be to paint the canvas a solid color and let it dry. You can then remove the decal/tape and have the wild painted creation show through your design.
It’s a classic. Take sheets and pillows and be a kid again with your kids. Make a cozy fort, grab some books and flashlights, and just hang out. Naps are always a great option (if they’ll let mom get away with it)!
Have everyone grab a pile of Legos and offer different challenges. Who can build the tallest? The longest? All one color? The possibilities are endless.
Okay…this one can get crazy. And this is one that could be done inside that awesome pillow fort while you’re at it. Start with “Once upon a time…” or any other favorite opening line and let each person contribute to the story. Go from youngest to oldest and back again. Allow each participant to speak only one sentence at a time. The story can be stopped and restarted at any time.
The painted rock craze has not died! There are still active, local Facebook groups for posting painted rocks that you’ve found or plan to hide. It’s always exciting for my girls to find a painted rock around town. You can always take the time to paint rocks, hide them in one location, and go seek more rocks in another. It’s a fun activity for everyone!
That’s my list of a variety of ways to get creative with keeping the kids entertained. I look forward to trying each one with the many breaks from school coming up! And some of these will always be on repeat with my girls.