Sure it's great to have the kids home for vacation or snow days, but let's be honest: it's easy to run out of things to do with them. And if left to theirown devices, kids will often plop down in front of the TV or computer.
But the cold weather is an excellent opportunity for families to have quality time and fun together.
Education.com's editor-in-chief Danielle Wood has some great ideas to make these bad weather days special.
Kids create a bowling lane in the hallway or living room.
Supplies needed: ten individual plastic water bottles and a ball (or an orange if no ball is handy).
With kids so often buried in video games, they don't get many chances to work on gross motor skills and coordination. For younger kids, this also gives them an excuse to practice computation. Plus, kids can't resist the explosion as all those bottles shoot up into the air.
This is a fun game that's challenging for all ages. This can also be done on the floor. Supplies needed include quarters and masking tape.
It's hard to get kids to practice fine motor skills - the muscles in the hands that allow them to write. In fact, handwriting is a skill that many children have great difficulty with these days. Art works those skills, but for kids without an interest in that, this is another way to take a crack at it. This is also a game that requires deep concentration and teaches beginner strategy skills. It allows parents to coach and give pointers, but with something that's a lot less threatening and serious than baseball or another "real" sport. Kids in the 7-11 age range are entering more complex social waters, and this game offers great opportunities to encourage sportsmanship.
Ring the Bottle/Carnival Corner
This is a homemade version of the popular boardwalk game.
Supplies needed: ideally, a crate or small box that we can stick a bunch of bottles inside of, plus the bottles to fill it. This can be an assortment of glass and plastic ketchup bottles, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce - whatever - they just need to have narrow necks, so bangles can be throw on them.
When we're preoccupied with the past or worried about the future, we are physically present with our children, but mentally absent. Children don't need us to be fully available all the time, but they do need our full attention at some point on a daily basis. At its heart, the carnival is just pure fun. This game gets families thinking again just how fun it can be to be together when they shut off the cell phone and interact with full focus. Remind yourself of that with this game. Then try this: set the kitchen timer for ten minutes of undivided attention every day. It may not seem like a lot, but you'll be amazed at how hard it is to commit to that fully. Work from there.
This is a fun racket game.
Supplies needed include one to two metal hangers from a dry cleaner and pantyhose to assemble the "rackets." The ball is made up of a pair of rolled up socks.
As kids move from "little" to "bigger" and land in this 7-11 age group, what they crave more than anything is a genuine connection with parents who understand them. They crave parents who really listen, who stop what they are doing to truly focus on them, which is a very difficult thing in our fast-paced society. This one gets families off the conveyer belt and forces them to focus attention on not letting the ball (a pair of rolled up socks) hit the ground. It is impossible to do this with partial attention, or the cell phone at your ear.
This bunko event will give the whole family an excuse to slow down, make eye contact, laugh together, and connect. This could be the first of a New Year's commitment to have a monthly family night like this. When it's over, challenge your kids to plan the next one!