Winter means more time spent indoors. Especially for my kids lately. There has been a coyote in our neighborhood recently and so, needless to say, my girlies haven't had their daily fill of fresh, outdoor air.
Before I even begin to write this post I must clarify. Our family uses technology. My kids use the iPad. We have movie night. The kids love Wild Kratts on Instant Amazon Prime and they've loved [amazon_link id="B007I1Q4MM" target="_blank" ]The Magic School Bus collection[/amazon_link] we gave Annabelle for Christmas.
We use technology. But we do limit it so there is more living and producing rather than consuming.
This is definitely one of those seasons in parenting, specifically homeschooling (thank you, three-legged coyote), when the normal routine needs an exciting, sporadic mix up, for the kids (and mom) without heavily relying on technology.
Here are some simple ways to bring life, excitement, and inspiration to those monotonous days that will actually deliver more positive results than you'd think...
Two things I've observed about kids and technology:
- When my kids have been "consuming" too much technology (even good stuff), they become bored, less creative, less innovative, and less able to come up with their own play/work after being entertained visually.
- When my kids are given new materials, old materials in a new way, or a new situation to discover, their minds expand, they problem solve, create, and, always, are further inspired for hours or even days later, in continuing something that stood out to them during that previous inspiring session of play/learning.
I try to reserve my kids' time on the iPad or watching something for specific times during the week. So when I can tell that the natives are getting restless, I have a mental grab bag to pick from of inspiring activities for them to try out, maybe love, or use as a starting place for further inspiring play at that critical moment.
Create your own physical list or "mental grab bag" of ideas to refer to so you'll never have the excuse that you couldn't think beyond the television. Your children will have more fun and you'll have a happier, more content household. :)
Here are some of our favorites.
My mental grab bag for "mixing things up" for younger kids:
- nail + hammer set
- simply set up stations for rotating
- puzzle time
- alphabet play
- Indian village play or other imaginary play
- Sensory bin with fairies or trucks (depending on the child)
- letter writing from the writing box
- story telling blocks
- kids embroidery
- play dough with new tools
- water play washing dishes
"Mixing things up" for older kids:
- journal jar
- creating and illustrating a story in a Bare Book
- kids' embroidery
- letter writing from the writing box
- Pull out the paints, watercolors, and new objects for collage
- Set up the sewing machine with a pile of fabric
- Bring out the tub of air-dry clay with tools
- card games or board games
- baking/cooking something they find in a cookbook
Every family's approach to "mixing things up" will look different because every family gravitates to different interests/skills/priorities.
Here are a few more specific ways to change things up without using technology.
More specific ways of "mixing things up":
- Encourage focused "collage play": Set up a workspace with a variety of art mediums (pastels, crayons, paints, clay), scissors, stack of colored paper, dry beans/noodle, beads, etc., and glue
- Encourage restaurant/store play: Set out a variety of canned food, boxed food, fruits + vegetables, and non-food items set up around a room with shopping bags, and cash register + money, if possible
- Bring out that project you've promised your kids you'd help them with they received from Christmas or a birthday and inspire their problem solving capabilities
(I love these girls' end product of some "mixing things up" that we did recently. It started with fabric paint and fabric and ended with these much needed personal clutches for all their tiny, important little things that go here and there with them. Don't you love them??)
What started out as a fun paint on fabric project turned into an afternoon project of simple sewing, clipping, ironing, and such pride for these two girls. And now, after having the sewing machine out and new ideas floating through the air, the older girls have a list of "things to make" and are excitedly focused on them this week. Inspiration and creativity is contagious. And something that expands everyone's mind.
Try out something new this week for your kids before you reach for the remote. I promise magical things can happen.
More on the series:
the sleepy time gal