Thursday, September 29, 2011

Guest Post: Beat Boredom Without Spending a Dime

Submitted on behalf of Primrose Schools: preschoolsthat believe with the right foundation anything is possible by Emily Patterson (@epatt1062)

Don't let boredom (or screen time) define your child's days. Children grow intellectually if their time is directed toward learning and creative activities. Studies show that if they don't get this type of stimulation, they tend to fall behind in their studies. For instance, if they don't keep learning over the summer, children tend to forget 60 percent of what they learned in school! 

As parents in this electronic society, we have a special responsibility to help kids turn off the screens and turn on the creative play Fortunately there are many ways to do this, and once we have the methods in place, we don't always have to be part of it. We can just direct them and let their imaginations take hold.

Here are ten ways to beat boredom without spending a dime.

Art Treasure Chest: Gather everything and anything artistic and put it in a box. This includes basic art supplies such as crayons, markers, tape, scissors and glue. It also includes recycled items such as paper towel rolls, oatmeal cartons, magazines, aluminum foil scraps, fabric scraps, string and yarn. Stay on the lookout for more to add to the box. That way it is never quite the same each time that they open it. You may want to add special items as surprises. This may be as simple as stickers or more challenging like a model car kit. Encourage children to add to the box as well. Make it a habit to restock the box, even if you keep similar items around for their school or everyday use. Make opening the box a special treat and they'll come back for more.

Beat The Boredom Jar: When they say they are bored, sit down with them and have them write up every fun idea or indoor project that they can think of. Turn this into a 'beat the boredom' jar. You'll be ready the next time they complain 'I'm bored.' Make sure you keep adding ideas. You may want to create an indoor and an outdoor jar. An outdoor jar can include the sports games you keep in the house, 'make a kite and fly it', make bubble solution and bubble wands (fly swatters), etc. Make it just challenging enough that it will take time to think about and to do it.

Family Performances: Keep a box with costuming and set pieces. They can create their own characters and plays. Encourage them to perform. Add music from another box of simple instruments. Or, let them make their own musical instruments out of spoons, pots and pans. They may want to make drums out of empty canisters or shakers. Make it easy for them to include music. Don't forget to record it to watch again and again.

Scavenger Hunt. Make a list of items to find or draw or cut out pictures. Make sure to keep it age appropriate. Then hand over the list and say 'don't come back until you've found everything on this list'. This can become a family favorite if you put a little time and energy into making it different every time. Expand it to the outdoors if weather allows and they can do it safely. It's fun to play with visiting cousins, friends and neighbor children. Try to make your lists interesting, funny and challenging. For instance, "find something without legs that is made to be sat on" (the toilet!) or "find something that looks back at you (a mirror)."

Camp In/Camp Out. If the weather is bad, let the children move chairs together and cover it with sheets to turn into a tent. Ask them what they need to camp out: flashlight, sandwiches, thermos, marshmallows, etc. If the weather is good, you might make a similar 'tent' outside. Put up a real tent if you have one. This is lots of fun when it gets dark early. Inside, turn all the lights out and just use flashlights. Outside, count the stars and shine the light in the trees to try and catch nocturnal animals. You may even decide to actually spend the night inside or outside. Don't forget the blankets and the treats!

Fort Building: Instead of a simple tent, suggest that the children build their own fort. This helps children learn problem solving as they draw from the rooms of the house all of the chairs and cushions that they need. Stay flexible. With adult supervision, they can use it all and spend time putting it back.

Listening Game: Is your child complaining that things are too quiet? Use this to your advantage. Get a blanket and suggest that everyone lie down on it. Listen. What do you hear? Do you hear what I hear? Can you imitate the sound? This is similar to watching the clouds and naming the shapes, and it encourages everyone to slow down and focus on listening. Make sure they notice the sound of their own breathing! Point out the difference between man-made sounds (construction work, sirens) and natural ones (running water, birds, animals).

Stories Alive: Read a story (or having them pick a favorite story). Then challenge them to make it real. They can create their own world by turning recycled items such as boxes and toilet paper rolls into towns. This is demonstrated in the book Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran. If it's a nice day, have them make the town outside or gather items to bring inside to make their town more exciting and "authentic".

Scrapbook: Go through an old photo album or scrapbook. Let them talk about their memories. Then, start keeping a spiral notebook for them to add recent memories and their own pictures. Each time they seem restless, encourage them to record special memories in the book.

Cookbook: Go through family recipes or favorite cookbook entries. Let them pick out what they want to make and help them make it. Don't get mad if it gets messy or doesn't turn out just right. That's part of the fun!

1 comment:

  1. These are some great ideas- we seem to always have a fort in our house and out!


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