More Activities for Bored Kids (and Adults)

There was a week where my kids all had Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease, and I thought I was going to lose my mind. 3 kids, 6 and under. And they can’t go out; I couldn’t go out. I didn’t own very many suitable games back then. I was so determined to do it video game free and minimal TV.
Not that TV would have helped too much. They would get bored and need to be entertained.
And then there are the summers of Southern Arizona. So hot you can bake cookies in your car. No one goes out during certain times unless you can’t help it.
So yeah, I do have a lot of ideas on how to entertain kids. Who are willing to destroy the house or each other to entertain themselves.
1. Build a blanket fort. Like the kind you wish you could’ve when you were a kid. Think of how epic you can make your fort now that you are the adult and have access to all those blankets, pillows, and chairs. Added bonus, perfect nap time areas.
2. Dance party. I’m torturing the boys with mid ’90s dance music. Wait until they hear disco. I randomly dance anyways. I can’t carry a tune, but I can lip sync. And air guitar. Little ones love to dance. And older kids are so much fun to embarrass.
3. Randomly decorate the house. Streamers, balloons, pictures, random party stuff. I decorate the house for May the Fourth every year. This is so much fun with kids. My poor parents.
4. Eat by candlelight. Those battery power ones. For fun, add glow bracelets. To be honest, my kids would spook themselves out. But it was fun while it lasted.
5. If you have Legos, competitions. Fastest car. Tallest tower. Best dinosaur. There are all sorts of cool Lego ideas out there. At my house, we’re behind in opening up Lego sets any ways. Lego days are a huge hit.

6. Sprinklers! Now that some places are getting hot. Or when you get your summers. God, my kids love playing in the sprinklers.
7. Can you hear me? Simon says, except you say “If you can hear me, do….” say it quiet. Come up with as many things as you can. My Cub Scouts get a kick out of this.
8. Speaking of Cub Scouts, you know how I calm down 12 hyper active 9 & 10 year olds? Meditation. 2 minutes of sitting still, listening to rain. I didn’t believe it until I tried it. Even my boys will find me when I meditate, and they just sit with me. It is all sorts of cool and weird.
More to come. Stay safe. Stay sane.

Science and Art and Coffee Filters

How about Science and Art!

I love art. And I love science. I love science demonstrations and experiments. I just like cool things. I like working with my hands. So we do a lot of art and a lot of science.

I’m sure I have pictures of these when the boys were little, and we did these. But I just spent 20 minutes going through hundreds of pictures. So I’ll find them the next time I search the pictures. Or maybe we’ll do some over the weekend. Mwhahaha.
1. Chromatography. Separate the pigments of markers. Fill a couple of glasses with water. Take a coffee filter and color it with markers. I have always had the boys leave the center white and leave a lot of the filter uncolored. But you can color the whole thing or make designs. Once the child is done coloring fold the coffee filter so the bottom is just touching the water. Eventually the water will climb the filter and separate colors or blend them together depending on your white space. Leave them to dry.

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2. You can do this with different types of markers and test the different pigments. We did this in Scouts.


3. Now you have these cool works of art to hang everywhere.


4. Or flowers. Take a few filters and layer them. Fold them into a cone shape, giving the resemblance of a carnation. Tie the bottom with a pipe cleaner.


5. Or butterflies. Take one filter. Fold it in half. Fold a pipe cleaner in half. Put the pipe cleaner up the middle of the filter like you’re cutting the filter in half with the pipe cleaner. Scrunch the filter to form to wings and twist the pipe cleaner at the top to hold the wings and create antennas.


6. Butterflies using 2 filters. Fold both filters in half. Put them straight edge to straight edge and take the pipe cleaner and copy the instructions.


7. Suncatchers. Cut the filters into pieces. Cut a piece of clear contact paper in any shape. Let the child decorate the contact paper with pieces. Cover the pieces with contact paper.


8. Mosaics. Cut the filter into pieces. Let the child glue the pieces in interesting shapes.


More to come stay safe and stay sane!

Make Puppets!

Here me out. When I needed a craft back when I was a teenage babysitter, this was a favorite among the kids. Especially sock puppets.

I was a cool teenage babysitter. We played games. We made crafts. We cooked. I let kids stay up later if they cleaned the house with me. I read stories with voices and acted things out. If you had a sink full of dishes, I would wash them. (Except one family that always had overflow all over the counters. One time there wasn’t even a dish, cup, anything in any of the cabinets. Nope. No way was I doing that many dishes.) And I never had a boyfriend for anyone to worry about. Cool.

Also kids love acting out stories. And sock puppets are so fun.
1. Sock puppets. We all have old random sock singles. Let kids use markers to decorate the face. Glue yarn for hair. Glue buttons for eyes.

 
2. Brown paper sack puppets. Markers to decorate faces. Perhaps even clothes. Glue googly eyes.
3. Popsicle stick puppets. Decorate popsicle sticks like characters with markers. People do this all the time. With Minions….?


4. Paper puppets. Draw or print out figures. Color them. Cut them out. Glue them on popsicle sticks. Back when I was a cool teenage babysitter, I had a whole bunch of these in authentic historical costumes and did shows about famous people in history. Then the kids would play with them. Because I was cool.


5. Shadow puppets. Teach kids to make shadow puppets. I can only do a dog, bird, duck, and bunny. But I’m sure there are more. And just 4 characters can have a lot of stories.


6. Let the kids make up skits and present them.


More to come! Stay safe! Stay sane!

Rock Crafts Part 2

Who wants more rock crafts?

We’ll just pretend everyone is excited by this. I told that I had tons of these. If I look through pictures, I bet I can find a few more.

One of the annoying things about living with my parents is a lot of my stuff is packed away in what I call “deep storage.” Like a meat locker but for my things. So all my crafting books, all my cook books, all my old scouting books, and a lot of my crafting supplies are out of reach. So annoying.

But I’m sure that I can find more crafts and activities to keep my tornadoes busy and your little ones busy.

 
1. Paper maché rocks. Cut up colorful tissue paper. Or just pretty paper. Glue the paper all over the rock. Seal it if you want.
2. Rock collage. Cut pictures or words out of magazines or print pictures and words. Glue them on the rock. Seal if desired.

 
3. Paint rocks gold or silver. Makes for great treasure to hunt for. I used to hide them in the sand box when I had young pirates.

 
4. Paint rocks with nail polish. I should do a whole post on what I‘ve painted with nail polish. Like so much.


5. Words! Paint the rock. Write names.


5.a Write words. Have kids make sentences and poetry out of word rocks.


5.b Write cool sayings and quotes on rocks. Give them away. Hide them around the neighborhood.


6. Ladybugs. Find round or oval rocks. Paint them red. Paint a small portion black for the head. Paint dots. You don’t really have to do red. I’ve seen them painted with other colors.


7. Ghosts. Paint them white. Draw a ghost face on them in black marker. I had the cubs do this one year. They loved it. Points for painting in glow-in-the-dark afterwards. We also made jack o lanterns as well.


More to come. Stay safe. Stay sane.

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Rock Crafts: Part 1

In one of my first craft posts, I mentioned rocks. Now I’m going to get more specific on crafts with rocks because it was my go to for years. Even in Cub Scouts.

Rocks are easy to find. They are cheap. Even if you have to buy a bag of water rocks, there are so many crafts you can do with rocks.

Right now two tornadoes out of three are studying rocks and Earth’s crust, so I’m scouring the internet for science projects to add to the study, so rocks are our thing.
1. Rock hunt. Find that perfect rock. Or rocks. Look at color, size, texture. Like hide and go seek, I can draw this game out for a long time. (Coming soon how to draw out games for a long time. ) Bring home the rocks and wash them. Let them dry. If kids ask why the rock is darker, water changes the light reflecting from the rock. (My boys asked why a lot; they get it from their Mama.)

 
2. Pet rocks. Glue some googly eyes on that bad boy and done. Maybe draw a smile. Make a little home for it with a box. Decorate the box. Name the rock. Teach it to sit.


3. Monster rocks. Paint the rock. Any color. Multiple colors. Draw eyes and a scary face. Bonus points for googly eyes.


4. Turtle rocks. Find the perfect rock for a turtle shell. Paint the rock, preferably turtle colors, but it’s ok to have a pink turtle. Leave it like that or add other rocks or pompoms for feet and a head.


5. Fruit or vegetable rocks. Again this means looking for a good rock to match the shape of the fruit or vegetable or vice-versa. Paint the rock to resemble the chosen fruit of vegetable. I used to paint strawberries.


6. Paper weight. Find a bigger, heavier rock. Paint it. (Makes for great gifts!)


7. A word on paint. I’ve done plain craft paint. We’ve done markers. Spray paint works. Nail polish works. You can seal it with sealer or clear nail polish.


Good luck. Stay safe. Stay sane.

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Egg Carton Crafts

Do you have empty egg cartons?

I just spent 15 minutes looking through pictures, searching for pictures of these crafts. I hope I explained them correctly. They are fairly easy crafts and a fun way to reuse an egg carton. Not as practical as making fire starters.

You can use cardboard or Styrofoam egg cartons. Though cardboard is easier to color.
1. Turtles. Cut out one cup; flip upside down. Let the child color the shell. Cut out 4 round circles and an oval out of green construction paper. Glue the circle at each corner for feet. The oval is the head. Glue it in the right spot.
2. Ladybugs/beetles. Cut out one cup. Flip it upside down. Let the child color it. Red with dots for lady bugs. All sorts of colors for beetles. Add googly eyes if you have them
3. Tulips. Cut out one cup. Let the child color the inside and outside. Put a hole in the bottom. Thread a green pipe cleaner through the hole far enough to knot it or glue it. Cup side up. Make a dozen!


4. Spiders. Cut out one cup; flip it. Let the child color it a good spider color. Poke 4 holes on one side of the cup and 4 on the other side. Cut 4 black or brown pipe cleaners in half. Thread a piece of pipe cleaner through each hole far enough to tie it or glue it. Bend the legs to make feet or “knees.” Glue googly eyes.


5. Caterpillars. Cut out as many cups as you would like. Flip them. Let the child color it. Add eyes.


I have a bat one. But maybe I’ll save that for later. More to come. Stay safe! Stay sane!

Fun Kid Recipes

Oh no. I must be running out of ideas. Nah, I’ve got weeks worth before I start building this with new stuff.

We all hear how good it is to have kids in the kitchen. Teaches responsibility. Teaches math. Blah, blah, blah. Family fun time!

Of course, the best reason I heard was from Tornado E’s 7th grade math teacher. When you don’t follow directions when cooking, the consequences are immediate and disastrous. If that isn’t life lessons, I don’t know what are.

So I give you easy recipes to teach your kids how to cook. And yeah, I’ve got bunches of these.
1. Quesadillas. Try different cheeses.
2. Cheese crisp. Open face quesadillas baked in the oven so they are cheesy and crispy. Butter the tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, and pop into the oven until the edges get brown. Cut like a pizza Traditionally with cheddar. But I’ve done it with three different cheeses to make them look like candy corn once cut.
3. Trail mix. Kids love making it. Nuts, cereal, granola, pretzels, dried fruit, freeze-dried fruit, M&Ms. All kinds of fun and interesting combinations. I do this about once a year with my cubs. They love this. Their older and younger siblings love this. Their parents love this.


4. Popsicles. Juice in ice cube trays; plastic wrap over it; toothpicks or popsicle sticks stuck into the plastic in each square. No ice cube trays? Paper cups. Plastic wrap over the top. Stick a popsicle stick in. Freeze.


5. Peanut butter and crackers. Teach your kids early how to spread things. Mine are horrible at it.


6. Jelly and cracker sandwiches. My tornadoes loved these as kids. Regular crackers. Graham crackers. It can get a little messy.


7. Cheese and sandwich meat and crackers. Basically homemade Lunchables. Pick your favorite cheeses and meets. As a kid, I thought this was the height of sophistication.


8. Parfaits. Healthy: yogurt, granola, fruit. Layer. Dessert: pudding, cookies, whip cream (maybe a layer of chocolate syrup)


More to come. Stay safe! Stay sane!

Crafts with Glue!

I have a lot of easy crafts with glue because glue and paper are cheap and easy. (I feel like there’s a joke in there somewhere.) I am sure I will post more glue activities.

Another day in the madhouse here, just like it probably is at your house. My boys have school work, but it’s a struggle to keep them from not plugging in to YouTube and videos games not having anything else to do. So I’m pulling out art supplies and science experiments here.

It slightly reminds me of the horror when all three of my boys had Foot, Mouth, Hand Disease. Tornado E was 6; Tornado S was 4, and Tornado A was 1. I saw no other adult for a week. It was …. It was hellish.

So good luck, parents. You can do this.

(Some of these use food supplies; just remember the supply chain isn’t cut, and things will be back to normal soon.)

 
1. Glue and rice. Make a design with glue, sprinkle rice, shake of excess, let it dry. I was promised a glitter effect, but no. It still looks cool.
2. Noodle Mosaics. Have the child make a pattern with noodles. Perhaps various noodles. Glue them down.
2.a. Or let them just glue noodles down without any thought. It’s fine. You’ll get over it, and they will love it. Just grit your teeth and say nothing.


3. Rock Mosaics. Have the child make a pattern with rocks. Glue them done. Like the noodle mosaics, people make some awesome pictures.

3.a. Or let them just glue rocks down without any thought. It’s fine. You’ll get over it, and they will love it. Just grit your teeth and say nothing.


4. Bean Mosaics. Have the child make a pattern with dry beans. Perhaps a variety of beans. Then glue them down.
4.a. Or let them glue beans down without any thought. It’s fine. You’ll get over it, and they will love it. Just grit your teeth and say nothing.


5. Decorate those large noodle shells. We’ve done markers, glitter glue, fabric paint, googly eyes. It’s great.


6. Print out or draw a large letter or word. Have the child draw glue on it. Then have the child decorate it with buttons, noodles, rock, glitter, whatever you have. This is how I taught letters and words to my own sons.


Stay safe. Stay sane

Discipline in the Time of Shelter in Place

First, you’re doing fine. Your kids are great. You probably know all this stuff, and you just forgotten. Like when you get a flat, some of us realize what to do right away. Some of us take a minute or two. Some of us freak out and need some one to remind us how to do it.

Second this is a reminder. You can do this.

What do you do if your kids are acting crazy, and you are just 30 minutes from taking drastic action. Possibly regrettable, drastic action.

If you are that close to the edge, Parent Time Out. They are great. You tell your children that you need a time out to calm down. Take 5 minutes, ten, if you have toddlers, they will probably suggest your age. Maybe don’t stay away for 100 minutes. Take the time to calm down and focus. Take the time to read a few funny memes, wash your face, eat the hidden chocolate. Do what you need to calm down.

Next before any of these next suggestions work, please make sure you’re spending time with your kids. They’re stuck with you; you’re stuck with them. You’re not accidental roommates. Be the Fun Parent as well as the Taskmaster. Carve out time to be with them. When was the last time you played Legos or Princess? If you need to set a time, do so, and let your child know that you will play later. Easy. You know this.

What if your kids are at each other’s throats?

Get them moving. My kids are high energy, so they need to move. We’re averaging two walks a day. Some days that’s not enough. Right now they aren’t getting PE, and they are dealing with their siblings and parents. Remember those days when you were a kid. So get them out of the house.

But Fae have you seen the weather, our neighborhood, my sleeping toddler?

Yeah, ok. Family walks, hikes, runs are not always feasible. When my boys are insisting on antagonizing the hell out of each other, I give them something to do instead. Chores. Some weekends my house looks amazing. Every time someone picks on someone else, I give them a chore. I tell them if they can’t think of something constructive to do with their energy, I will. Cleaning windows, cleaning walls, sweeping, dusting, scrubbing. Have a list ready.

But what about fighting?

5 for fighting. No, usually more time. Time Outs for calming down. I love the meditation jar or calm down jar. I tell my boys that they need to calm down and they need to be in a place without the distraction that’s make them angry. When they were younger, I had a time out chair. As they got older, I sent them to their rooms. Now they have a choice. For some reason, one boy will choose my room. Whatever.

I have also been known to pull the plug on video games and videos for 24 hours. Right now in this time of crisis, that sounds like a bad idea. I still did it to Tornado S last week. I sent him to his room to calm down and write an apology letter, and then I banned him from video games and videos. I wouldn’t stretch it beyond 24 hours, even with repeat offenders. You get to far down the days, and time holds no meaning to them; you’re also likely to crack after the 3rd day.

But they keep fighting?

Then chores. So many chores. Your home is going to look amazing. If you have a backyard, pull weeds, move rocks. Be clear that as soon as they can figure out what to do with their energy and frustration, they can stop.

Name-calling and Cussing.

I hate name-calling. It gets on my nerves. I’ve tried time out, chores, apology letters, apology chore for the other person. None of this has worked for me, but they may work for you. We have a Name-calling Jar. Fifty cents for a name. Last time I cleaned it out we had over twenty bucks. Yes, I’ve had to put money in the jar for telling my dad he was acting like a jerk. Oh, and “acting like” or “are like” are still name-calling in my house. Nice try, kid; I know what you did there.

Oh and a buck for calling someone a penis. Living with boys….

I don’t like cussing either. I have tried time out, vinegar, all sorts of soap. We know do bar soap. Because I live with my parents and my dad is stricter with cussing, my dad tends to do this punishment. For some reason, this has worked better than the other times. Who knew?

What about you, the adult?

I am a big believer in modeling the behavior we want and setting rules everyone goes by. So yes, two weeks ago, I let out a doozy of a word while driving. The boys chimed in and demanded that I eat soap when I got home. So I did. It was just as bad as when I was a kid.

Temper Tantrums

Guys, we are all frustrated, bored, worried, scared, lonely, angry, sad right now. We are all dealing with some pretty big feelings right now, and most of us are not handling it well. I refuse to count the Thin Mints I have eaten. We need to help our kids deal with their feelings as do we all. Encourage healthy outlets before the tantrums. Yes, I know, easier said than done. Encourage writing, drawing, exercising.

When those temper tantrums ok, I do time out with a meditation jar. I set the time to their age. The jar is filled with water, glitter, glitter glue, and food coloring. Watching the glue settle is relaxing. After the time out, let the child know exactly why he or she was sent to time out and brainstorm on better ways to handle it. I go over the family rules. Some parents demand apologies. Do what works for you, but be fair.

If you have a temper tantrum, you need time out too. You need to apologize. Yes, I follow my own advice. Nothing is more humbling than admitting that you lost your cool, but it feels so good to brainstorm and try harder next time.

Good luck! Stay safe. Stay sane. We’re all in this together.

More Crafts: Cheap and Easy Edition

I meant to post sooner, but I have kids to teach like we all do, and I work from home, like most of us do. Teaching online is just as hard as kids learning online. I am embarrassed by my own tech savviness. Or really the lack of it.

Then to add that the kids need to move or they start attacking each other. And I have to move of I start feeling anxious. It’s a mess.

Here are some more easy things to do to entertain kids or yourself. (Also I swear that I’m putting line breaks between the numbers, but it’s just not showing up. I am a tech genius.)
1. Water painting. Bucket of water, brush, wall. Preferably outside.
2. Ice painting. Ice cube, sidewalk, preferably outside. (I have a chalk ice recipe somewhere…. I haven’t tried it, but I’ll let you know.)
3. Sand painting. Let them glue a design on paper. Let them pour sand on the paper. Shake off excess sand. Preferably outside. You can dye the sand with food dye over night. It may dye your hands. Just saying.
4. Freeze toys in ice cubes. (Do people still have ice cube trays?) (Use plastic or paper cups that you can destroy to get the ice cube out) Let child figure out how to break it open. Give them “tools” they can use. Or they will just throw them on the ground. Still fun.


5. Glitter painting. Let them glue a design on paper. Let them pour glitter on the paper. Shake excess glitter off the paper. Teach your child to sweep. Then swifter. Then vacuum. Find glitter two weeks later. The gift that keeps giving.

More to come. Stay safe. Stay sane. We’re all in this together.