Saturday, November 12, 2011

Family Fun Boredom Busters

I received this awesome guest post article from Emily Patterson of Primrose Schools! Enjoy these awesome holiday family fun tips!

Submitted on behalf of Primrose Schools: educational child care services strengthening confidence, encouraging curiosity and developing talents by Emily Patterson (@epatt1062)

The holidays are a magical time. Unfortunately, those visions of sugar plums dancing in your children's head don't last throughout the whole holiday break from school. Bad weather might keep them cooped up in the house, or they might not be able to entertain themselves while you're busy preparing for a holiday party.

Try one or several of these 10 ideas to keep your children's minds active during their holiday break:

1. Stories Alive: We all know how important reading is to the development of a young child's mind. We also know how hard it can be to get that child to sit for any extended length of time. Try making the book more interactive. Instead of simply sitting down to read the words on the page, bring them to life. Read a holiday book, such as A Christmas Carol or Frosty the Snowman. Then recreate the scenery and act out the story. The children won't feel as though they are simply reading the book; they are living it.

2. Beat the Boredom Jar: Gather the family together at the very beginning of the holiday break before anyone starts to get bored. Brainstorm a list of ideas, activities that can be done both alone and with the entire family, that will keep them entertained. Write each idea on an individual piece of paper and drop them in the jar. To make the Beat the Boredom Jar even more enticing, have the children decorate it with a holiday them. Use red and green ribbon, gold sparkles, pine cones, or any other material that evokes holiday cheer. Any time the children start to utter those dreaded words, "I'm bored," have them pull out a slip.

3. Family Performances: Most kids love to be the center of attention. When all eyes are on them, for good or bad, they are pleased. Instead of waiting for them to whine and cry for attention, hand them some old clothes or costumes. Maybe even break out the pots and pans for musical instruments. Inspire them to put on a holiday play, concert, or parade. Just make sure you don't forget to record the performance! These are rare opportunities to capture a bit of family history that can be enjoyed for years to come.

4. Build a Fort: There is something about building a fort that attracts kids like a magnet. Handing them some blankets, pillows, and other structures from around the house can keep them occupied for hours as the build and problem solve. When their architectural masterpiece is complete, have them decorate it with holiday cheer.

5. Art Treasure Chest: Find an old box and start gathering basic art supplies. Fill the box with glue, tape, crayons, safety scissors, paper, and glitter. Next, add some more unique items, such as paper towel rolls, aluminum foil, old magazines, or chalk. Whenever the children start complaining that they are bored, pull out this art treasure chest. Suggest they make some holiday cards or decorations for the home. Even if these are items that are normally around the house, it is exciting for them to know that everything they need is in one spot and just for them. To keep it interesting, occasionally add new art items, such as stamp pads or new colored pencils. This is just what they need to get their creative juices flowing.

6. Cookbook Fun: Cooking is a great way to sneak some math skills into a day. Ask the kids to help you make some Christmas cookies or other treat, and watch as they measure ingredients, calculate time, and follow directions without even realizing the educational value.

7. Camping Out: Unless you live in a warm climate, the holidays are probably not the best time for a camping trip. Instead, help them "camp out" in the living room or even their bedroom. They can set up a tent, eat marshmallows and trail mix, and tell stories with a flashlight. This is especially fun to do on Christmas Eve when excitement is through the roof.

8. Holiday Scrapbook: Using the Art Treasure Chest, ask the kids to make a scrapbook about the favorite holiday memories or traditions. This is a great activity for the whole family to engage in, and makes a wonderful keepsake that you will cherish for decades to come.

9. Scavenger Hunt: Hide some holiday treasure around the house. Use bows, pine cones, wrapping paper, or whatever else you can think of. Make a list of all the missing treasures, and ask the kids to find them. This is a great activity for when the children have friends over.

10. Observation Game: A popular summertime game is to go outside and listen to the noises of the birds and insects. While this game can be played during the winter, there are so many textures, colors, and smells to enjoy in the house when holiday decorations are scattered throughout the house. Have them experience the holiday with all their senses.

While this boredom can be irritating, it can also be damaging to the children's education. Studies have shown that children can lose a significant amount of what they have learned during long breaks without stimulation. With imaginative play while away from school, much of this can be retained.

Thankfully, you don't need to plan an expensive activity or extravagant trip to engage them. At home, you can provide less structure and more imagination than school sometimes offers. This freedom allows their brains to soar as they partake in projects that they will remember as festive pastimes for years to come.

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