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.

Some Fun Outdoor Crafts

In some part of the country, summer has started. In other parts, it’s spring. For others, it’s still winter. And I am so sorry for you. You’re living in my hell, and I have no crafts for snow.
Luckily where I live it only snows every other year. Seriously, I would die if it snowed in my area.
Which is why I have quite a few outdoor crafts. Because it’s nice usually here. And it gets kids out of the house for a little bit. Especially if you just cleaned the house.
Though some of these crafts are just wait and see like the crayon ones from yesterday.
1. Tracing shadows. I’ve seen it all over about putting toys in front of paper, and tracing shadows. It’s cool. The boys liked doing it when they were little.
But can I suggest even easier art?
2. Fading art. Lay the toy on construction paper outside. The sun will fade the paper, leaving where the toy was still dark. So with that in mind, arrange the toy(s) in an artful way for cool designs. Toddlers will just throw them down. The darker the paper, the better. In Tucson, this takes an hour or so. Basically nap time. Other areas of the country may vary.
07182010 pics - up to 167
3. Fading art with plants. This looks cool when you use cool looking leaves and branches.
4. Reverse the fade. We had dinosaur cut outs that you traced the inside when the boys were little. So the paper faded just the dinosaur. While you might not have something so cool, you can easily cut out designs and shapes to use instead.07182010 pics - up to 16607182010 pics - up to 168
More crafts to come. Hang in there. Stay safe! Stay sane!

Easy Crafts: Origami

First I suck at folding; so when I tell you it’s easy, believe me. Like I can’t do the crane that everyone does. “It’s so easy.” No, it’s not. “See, just fold here and here and here.” And they lift up this beautiful crane, and I lift up a colorful wad of paper, perfect for making baskets with the trash can.

It’s why I keep all the cranes kids make for me. Only in high school, the kids make them out of tiny candy wrappers. And I’m doubly-impressed. Also as high school teacher, you don’t get many gifts or pictures, so you really treasure the ones you do get.
When I was a cool teenage babysitter, this was always a fun craft. I would fold pieces for the kids, and we would make all sorts of stories and plays. As my chargers got older, I taught them how to fold the simple pieces…. until they learned to fold cranes and laugh when I would be at a loss as they tried to teach me.

My nemesis, folks, paper cranes.

Some easy one origami.
1. The dog. (a favorite among babysitting charges and Cub Scouts)
2. The cat. (Another favorite)
3. The whale.
4. The fox.
5. The elephant.
Here’s a site for them: https://www.origamiway.com/easy-origami.shtml
7. The house. I would fold this for a set piece, but I don’t remember if it was easy or not.
8. The prince.
9. The princess.


My original origami book that I had as a teenager is in deep storage. I cannot find a site for the prince and princess. For many days, I looked. I kept folding the paper in different ways until I figured it all out again.

So coming soon. Pictures and directions.

If you don’t have fancy paper, cut a square out of regular paper. I don’t recommend construction paper.


More to come. Good luck. Stay safe. Stay sane.

Let’s Play with Soap

I have so many random crafts and science projects. Seriously, so many. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I have ones for soap.

We use soap in Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts. And now that I’m writing this, I can think of a couple more that will have to wait until I find the directions. Hopefully they aren’t in deep storage….

While I know many states are letting people out into the world, I know many more are not. It’s frustrating and chaotic. But I still have plenty of crafts to share because before you know it, the kids will be out for summer.
1. Water and Oil and Soap. This is a fun little experiment to show kids what water does to oils. My Girl Scouts loved this. Take a zip lock back fill a 1/3 with water. Add enough oil (canola or whatever) to make a layer. Show the kids how the water and oil don’t get along. Then add dish soap. Dawn works the best. Make sure the bag is sealed. Like really make sure. Then shake it up. The water, oil, and soap combine because the soap binds with the oil. It’s more complicated than that, but yeah.

 


2. Make soap. You could buy soap and melt it and make it. OR you can save all those slivers of soap you’ve been using to really wash your hands. Melt them. I prefer the double broiler to slow microwaving. Pore into molds or into paper cups. Let cool. Pop them out of molds.


2.a I once made soap with toys in them. Lots of fun.


3. Carve soap. This is a Cub Scout activity. Whittle or carve shapes out of soap. I made templates from pictures online like a bear, a whale, a shell, and various simple shapes. We do this in 3rd grade in Cub Scouts. But using a plastic knife, soft soap, and adult supervision, you could probably do it younger.


4. Bubbles! My favorite memory is entertaining the boys when they were little and blowing enough bubbles to fill a mall court yard. It was magical.


5, Homemade bubbles. I lost my recipe. So try these: 4 cups warm water, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup blue Dawn dish soap. Mix. OR 2 cups warm water, 1/3 cup dish soap, and 1/4 cup corn syrup. Mix.


6. Bubble wands. Pipe cleaners bent into a closed shape attached to another pipe cleaner, dowel, or stick.


Stay safe! Stay sane! More to come!

Morse Code Activities

You want to know what’s fun? Secret codes.

Breaking them. Learning them. Making them.

Why do you think the Rosetta Stone is so cool? It broke a code.

Why save up box tops or bottle lids for that cool decoder ring? Breaking a secret code!

So while I hunt down my old Cub Scout and Girl Scout Handbooks, let’s start with Morse Code.
1. Teach Morse code. For fun. Or until we need to use it to coordinate a defense against aliens because they are hijacking our satellites.
2. Make secret messages of Morse code on paper. “Send” them to the kids. Let them “send” them to you. I remember a short story as a code where the Grandma made people ring her door bell in a code. It was SOS in Morse code. Do fun ones first. Wait on the “do your chores” message for later.
3. Make secret messages in Morse code with Legos. Or blocks.
4. Make secret messages in Morse code with noodles. Break up spaghetti or use long and short noodles. Glue noodles on paper. Or string them on a string.


5. Make secret messages with beads. Make cool jewelry with a special messages or words.

Morse code - Wikipedia
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.

20200326_161830


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!

Some Fun Kid Activities

I’ve been posting lots of crafts, but if you have kids like my boys, they need to move and run and jump and climb and punch. So much punching.

We are taking 3 walks a day. I feel like I’m preparing for being a dog owner.

And watching my kids, I can see how people come to the conclusion video games cause violence. Yes, I know the studies. But they do seem to be more violent when they play more. I feel like that’s really the result of frustration for a difficult game with the high energy combined with no moving.

Here’s some ways to go play with the kids.
1. Stick to the classics. Tag, which never goes out of style. You don’t have to move half the time.¬† Nerf guns and squirt guns. Jump in there and show the kids who can really shoot. Hide and go seek. Play this one right, and you can snag a 5 minute nap. (What? I couldn’t find you; you’re such a good hider!)

 

2. Put Away Toys by Number. Give the kids a number and they put away that number of toys. I taught my 2 oldest my phone number that way. Or you can race to see who puts away that many toys. Tornado A still loves that game. My mom hates this game.
3. Find the…. When I lived in my own place, I used to hide a dinosaur decorated with glitter and a few flower stickers (because I can). First kid to find it got a piece of candy. I hid an axolotl recently. Unfortunately the boys haven’t found it. Like it’s been over 2 weeks. I’m disappointed.


4. Flash light tag. Tag in the dark. It person has to turn the light on you to tag you. My brothers were pros at this.


5. The Smell Game. Blindfold the child and have them smell spices or various kitchen stuff and have them identify it. Born out of desperation to entertain two little girls. I made them close their eyes and then grabbed jars from their mother’s spice cabinet and had them guess the spice by the smell. I have babysitting chargers all grown up who remember this one.


Good luck! More to come. Stay safe! Stay sane!

Tales from the Great Covid Pandemic

Why write a blog and not tell stories? That was the whole point of this…..

 

Me: I can help you.

Tornado E: You can’t.

Me: I teach freshman English.

Tornado E: But you don’t teach GATE freshman English.

Kid….

***

Me: I can help you.

Tornado E: No, you can’t.

Me: You’re working on English. I’m an English teacher.

Tornado E: Well, you don’t know MLA.

Me: Kid, do you even know what my degree is in?

***

Me: Tornado S, you’re in trouble!

Tornado S: I didn’t do it.

Me: No kidding. I’ve heard from two teachers now. You haven’t done any work for 2 weeks. You’ve just sat in front of the computer doing nothing for TWO WEEKS.

Tornado S: I did science.

Me: Try again. The last teacher that emailed me was your science teacher.

***

My Mom: Fae, you need to go to the grocery store. I forgot to ask you for sour cream.

Me: You sent me yesterday.

My Mom: You’re the only one who can go.

Me: And the day before that. And the day before that.

I am the red shirt of my family.

***

My mom has been making masks.

My mom: Fae, I sold your mask.

Me: You sold my mask? The one you made me last week?

My mom: One of my friends wanted a green one. It’s not like you’ve worn it.

Touche.

***

Tornado A: Hi, Mama! I’m up!

Me: It’s…. 6…. why…?

Doze because I don’t have to commute anymore….

Tornado A: I checked my assignments! I didn’t have any! So I did 3 math exercises and 3 English assignments! So I’m done!

Me: It’s…. 6:30….. Dude, your teacher hasn’t posted anything. I haven’t posted anything!

Tornado A: But I checked!

***

Tornado A: MAMA! I’m done! With all my assignments!

Me: It’s only been twenty minutes!!!

***

My grandma: I need to get milk and eggs and a cake mix.

Me: Why won’t you let me go for you?

My grandma: I’m not frail.

Me: You’re in. the. vulnerable. group.

My grandma: I’ll be fine.

Me: I have charts and articles. I’ll bore you with research.

My grandma: Fine. If it makes you feel better, go.

***

Me: Are you done with homework?

Tornado E: …. Yes….

Me:…..

Tornado E: (nods and smiles)

Me:…….

Tornado E: ….Maybe…..

Me: Do you work.

Tornado E: (sighs, grumbles, goes to his desk) mumbles something

***

Me: Are you done with your work?

Tornado E: I’m watching something first (on his phone).

Me: Is it for school?

Tornado E: ….Yes…..

Tornado E’s phone: *%$!@

Me: Your phone tells me that’s a lie. Do your work.

***

Me: Did you read?

Tornado S: YES!

Me: Was it game stats online?

Tornado S: Yes!

Me: Go read an actual book.

Tornado S: But-

Me: Now.

***

Tornado S: I don’t see why I can’t read online.

Me: Are you reading game stats?

Tornado S: I was researching.

Me: Game stats?

Tornado S: What does it matter? Reading is reading. It’s all the same.

Me: Can you make connections? Predictions? Analyze theme, plot, characters?

Tornado: I’ll get a book. (mumbles something about teachers and mothers.)

***

My mom: Fae, I need green onions.

Me: I’ll put it on the list. I’m going now.

My mom: Do you have your mask?

Me: Yeah!

My mom: Let me see.

Me:….

***

Me: Why does my face mask smell of peanuts?

***

When you wear a face mask, no one can see you mouth cuss words. Even when you wear a face mask, people can still hear you cuss though.

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.

IMG_20140603_102851_805