Toddlers and younger school kids love to be visually stimulating. So a science experiment involving water, oil, and food coloring. Called “Fireworks in a Jar”, you fill a glass about ¾ full with water. Then you add about a half inch layer of oil. Last, let your child add a few drops of food coloring in any color they want. The food coloring slips slowly through the oil. When it hits the water, that’s when the “fireworks” happen. You're going to have to try it to see how cool this is!
Jessica Snowden wrote to me, giving me a bunch of really great ideas for kids' activities. She was able to find a lot of fun things through the Girls and Boy Scouts websites, as well as a few books from her years in the program. And they were so good, I had to share them all with you here. Here is are Jessica's suggestions for fun things to do:
- Obstacle course with found objects (plastic cups & bowls from $1 store), boxes ready to go out to recycle, sidewalk chalk. I used to do this one for Jared for him to do "tricks" with his bike.
- Balloon rocket races with straws taped to side & string "roads". http://www.sciencebob.com/experiments/balloonrocket.php
- Decorate the outside of a moving box (my mom would pick up stove or fridge boxes in the back of stores) & cut out a door & windows. We'd make race cars, houses, store fronts, etc. & then play forever in them.
- Make a fort out of blankets or put on a puppet show with blanket stage. Dress up in old clothes (we had a trunk in the garage that was just a bunch of old items like hats or scarves or clip on earrings that we dressed up in) & then put on a show/play.
- Hoola hooping or jump roping contest (longest and/or most creative)...can go on and on to see who's the best. This can also go for other games like Bolo, horse shoes, air rockets (with targets), bocce ball, hopscotch, HORSE (basket ball), etc. Just a tournament to keep track of to compete against.
- Treasure hunt (around house, neighborhood, town/parks). Make a list of age appropriate items (ie, young kids you can say "something tall, something red" & older kids you can say "something bigger than a foot" or "something horizontal"). They can have a pre-made list to check off & write on (I gave them a small clip board & pen tied onto the clip).
I have done this treasure hunt in teams for bday parties or sleep overs & I have also done it with "cameras" (phones & handheld video game systems worked for us).
- Spend a few hours, a day, or over a few weeks, and make it a goal to find & photo (with your kids) all the Peanut's statues around Sonoma County. The PD posted a map of where they are here: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20100505/ARTICLES/100509762 (or you can google "Peanut's Statues Map, Sonoma County"). They can even "log" in a book/journal, or a sheet of the day, where it was found, what it looked like (theme....also, if it was Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Lucy, etc.).
- I do a "scribble" game with my 11 year old son when he's got a few minutes. Take any piece of paper w/o writing & just "scribble" on it (but don't look at what you're doing --- part of the fun). Then hand it over to the kiddo to "draw what he sees" using the scribble. We get random things like dinosaurs or surfing dogs or sharks....just for fun. My brother & I used to do that when we had a program at church & draw people walking by on the photo or construction guys on the roof of a building.
- If you want to get really involved in a project that helps you explore, there is something called Geocaching (http://www.geocaching.com/). It is a way to treasure hunt & has a huge online database. You can choose a level (easy for younger kids, etc.). You can use GPS with a smart phone or handheld device or you can print out the "coordinates" before you leave. You choose an area you want to search & using clues, can go look for your treasure. Sometimes it's just a cool view or thing to do...sometimes it's a little item you can pick up. There is something similar for people who want to journal & trade "stamps" called: Letterboxing (http://www.letterboxing.org/). Both of these are so much fun to do & you can choose your age group, level of difficulty, area to search, etc.
- Decorate cards & write a note & mail them out to relatives.
- Do a craft project or science experiment --- there are tons of great ideas online.
- Make a mini movie or video singing or acting out a favorite movie, play, song, etc.
Lorna Brown of My Gym Santa Rosa suggests a few items for younger kids:
- Balloons - blow one up per child. Not helium. Give them indoor space to bop them around encouraging them to keep them up in the air. Let them know that if their balloon pops then game over so be careful. If they need a break, they can decorate their balloon with markers.
- Put the air mattress to work. Move the couches back and make as much clear space as possible. Put the inflated air mattress on the floor in front of the couch and surround it with pillows. Let the kids jump their sillies out. This activity is most suitable for children 6 and under.
- Invest in an inexpensive pedometer. One per child. Attach it on their waistband and see who can reach the highest number by the end of the day. This is a great activity for any age.
- And Just Dance on the Wii is GREAT!! I'd recommend that parents either preview or get the kids version though. Some not very appropriate kids dance moves sometimes.
My husband just reminded me about the awesomeness of homemade playdough. Even though my kids are older now (12 and 15), if I were to bust out the pots and make them some playdough, they would be all over it for hours. There is something therapeutic about playing with the squishy, warm (once it's cooled some!) material. I have a few recipes here in the forums. You can find it at http://www.santarosamom.com/forum/topics/homemade-playdough-recipe.
Babble.com just posted their own answer for how to entertain bored toddlers. And some of their ideas are BRILLIANT! My favorite is the bubblewrap hopscotch idea, where you take bubblewrap and tape it to the ground in a hopscotch formation to give your child noisy play in the most satisfying manner. They also have ideas for making boats out of ice and food coloring, fruit loop necklaces, creating a Jenga game out of sponges, balloon tennis, and more. See it at www.babble.com/toddler/20-activities-for-bored-toddlers.
Silvia Korver of Santa Rosa shared her Pinterest page with me to share with all of you: http://pinterest.com/sylestial76/for-fun/
It includes popsicle photo puzzles to entertain kids during waiting times, how to make flash light stars, swim noodle marble races, and so much more. I've already subscribed!
Pinterest in general has proven to be a huge asset when it comes to finding ideas about kids' activities. Just do a regular search, and you'll find tons of things you can do with your child.