BEATING THE RAINY-DAY BLUES ... WITH NO ADDED SCREEN TIME
The beginning of spring can be a magical time for children, especially here in the Chicago area. After months spent huddling indoors on frigid winter days, kids finally can stretch their legs and get reacquainted with the pleasures of playing outside.
Unfortunately, in addition to warmer weather, the first month or so of the spring season usually brings rain, and lots of it. And that can lead to some long faces and grouchy moods on the weekends.
So, knowing a few indoor games and activities can be a lifesaver for parents, especially if you don't want to plunk your little ones in front of tablet or television screens all day. Instead, try one of these solutions to burn energy, enhance learning and increase creativity.
Have performers in your family? Even if you're not the dramatic type, you might love putting on creative skits. Divide the family into groups — parents and kids, or even one parent and one child. Give each one a paper bag filled with miscellaneous items like paper clips, erasers, hair ties, pencils, bandannas and safety pins. Make up skits using the items, notching up the make-believe and the silliness that kids love. For example, your team could act out a story about a family pet in a bandanna that works on a pencil farm.
A treasure hunt is fun for all ages. Designate one person as the head of the hunt. That person leaves a list of clues around the house that lead to the treasure. The prize at the end could be something for the whole family (such as a takeout menu to order pizza) with a small token for the winner to keep for herself.
Family memento crafts
When kids get older, they like to look back on artifacts from their childhood. Those can require time and effort to make, which kids sometimes find in short supply. Take advantage of a rainy day indoors to make a family memory book. Have children draw a picture and some words describing their favorite things. A more sophisticated version is a family recipe book — ask family members to name their favorite meals and write them down in a decorative journal.
This game takes some space; it also requires several empty boxes of different sizes, and perhaps some chairs where kids can climb up. Take turns adding a box on top until the tower is as high as it will go. When it falls over, the person who put the last box on is out and play begins again until one person remains.
You probably have boxes of jigsaw puzzles in your hallway closet. That's great — but to give the activity a crafty edge, let your kids make their own puzzles. Supply thin cardboard and task them with drawing a picture, then cut the cardboard into pieces and put the images back together. Want to recycle? Use cereal boxes and draw on the inside.
Have everyone test their memories with the picnic game. One person starts by listing everything he is bringing with him on a picnic, starting with "I am going on a picnic and I'm bringing..." The next person recites that entire list and adds an item of her own. Players are eliminated by making a mistake while reciting the list. Also, try the listening game, in which kids look at a bag full of miscellaneous items, then close their eyes and try to identify each item by the sound it makes.
Great for toddlers, color games require you to color paper plates different hues. Tack them up on the walls and, when you call out the name of a color, the child has to run to the right plate. If your child is learning another language, use the words in both languages to enhance her skills.
If all else fails, ask your children to make up their own games — with just craft supplies, a deck of cards or their own imaginations, the possibilities for indoor play are endless.