It would be great if we could just send our children out to play every afternoon after school, wouldn't it? Some people still can, and it isn't safe for others. We live in a city apartment, so it isn't an option for us. Most of our outdoor adventures are on the weekend.
After school activities and team sports keep many children busy to some extent, but that still leaves plenty of hours to fill, especially on the weekend. This posting is about filling those hours with activities which encourage children to use their minds, their imaginations, and their bodies in lots of fun and healthy ways, and build relationships. While they are doing these things they will be having fun and making great memories of a childhood well spent. These activities will build confidence and persistence and capability, encourage independence, and teach skills. You'll hear laughter and see smiles and the look of pride. (Most of the outdoor activities are winter ones. Summer is whole other barrel of fun outside!)
In this picture my sons are having a great time together.
Let the wild rumpus begin! Here are some of the cousins playing together.
It gets noisy, but a lot of the noise is laughter, and I love it!
Play outside in the snow! Sledding, (which looks like a very serious business,)
building forts, (always more fun with friends,)
burrowing in deep snow,
having a snow walk,
or a snow hike,
snowshoeing, (and of course skiing,)
playing with ice from a stream,
crawling on top of ice, (this is a frozen beach,)
having a snow picnic,
shooting a bow and arrow at a target,
making a snow lantern,
playing in the woods with toys,
using books to learn new things,
doing science, like this water pressure experiment,
doing science kits,
trying to repair something, like Grandfather's broken train,
playing with construction toys like bucky balls, lego, erector sets, and more,
creating something using recyclables,
making your own toys and games, (this is tiddlywinks with buttons,)
and this is "Troll My Dame," an American Colonial skill game with marbles,
working on your collection, (here a coin collection glued into a world atlas,)
making a play, puppet show, or shadow puppet play, (this is Peter and the Wolf,)
drawing your own inventions, like this Sky Snow Maker,
or this Turbo Limousine, with a cut-away of the engine.
Some of the big questions are, what do you want your child's childhood to be made up of? What images do you want in their imaginations? What do you want them to learn? What skills do you want them to take into adulthood? Giving your child a childhood which is not heavily dependent on the digital world for entertainment takes energy, purpose, and some parenting courage, especially if you live in an environment where you and your child feel like you are bucking a trend.
Think about your favorite activities from when you were a boy or girl. Even better, what were your great grandparents doing in the days before television, when they were children? There was lots to do, and if they were bored, their parents probably made them solve that problem on their own. By the way, children don't have to busy all the time. They can tolerate quiet time, and use it to imagine, think, and plan. Just because the adult world is busy, busy, busy, doesn't mean the lives of our children have to be.
Libraries and book stores are full of great books with unplugged activities for children, many with great illustrations and geared to children to read. The world of family-oriented blogs and craft blogs are also full of ideas. Tell me about your ideas for encouraging children to stay busy without dependence on television and video games!