-PLAY DOCTOR & MAKE CASTS. requires: 2(+) kids, 1 roll of toilet paper + 1 squirt bottle with water.
This was a consistent crowd pleaser with me and my siblings growing up - we spent hours casting each other's limbs. Bonus points for coming up with awesome stories about how the fake injuries occurred.
how: have your young doctor wrap a layer of toilet paper around the victim’s pretend broken limb, i.e., arm or leg. Then have the doctor squirt water on the toilet paper to make it stick. The more layers, the more time this game will take. I encourage very thick casts. Do this outside.
-SCRIBBLE ART. requires: 1 piece of paper, a few markers.
how: using a black or dark marker, make a crazy big scribble on a piece of paper. Then have your child color in the scribble using different colors. It will look like stained glass if they ever finish. (this is best for advanced color-ers – like ages 4+)
-MAKE A FAIRY GARDEN. requires: 1 patch of dirt, 1 stick.
how: explain to your child that there are fairies who fly around looking for nice places to sleep at night. Impress upon them the need to help make a spot just right for a fairy, and have them beautify the dirt patch for a potential fairy landing with grass, little weeds or flowers, etc.
-MAKE A MINI BOOK. requires: 1 piece of paper, a pencil.
how: instructions can be found here. We’ve used these in school projects, for Christmas cards, and during many a church meeting. Even if your kids aren’t old enough to do the folding themselves, they will have fun filling a little book with pictures or words to songs or whatever.
-MAKE A FIELD GUIDE TO THE BACKYARD (older kids) requires: paper, pencil, colored pencils, & a nature book or the internet to help identify leaves & plants.
How: send your kids out into the yard to collect specimens of your flora. Then have them draw, describe, and properly label them. Staple them together at top, or fold in half and staple on fold, for a simple book.
-MAKE SIMPLE PAPER DOLLS WITH FABRIC SCRAPS requires: 1 piece paper, some teensy scraps of fabric or colorful paper & a pen. Idea from Joel Henrique’s great upcoming book MADE TO PLAY, instructions can be found here.
-Work through the lessons in Sewing School, a fantastic guide to teaching little ones how to sew (I love, love, love this book! The instructions are super clear, and the projects are really fun).
-Have them brush up on their knowledge of current events by reading kid-appropriate news on Here There Everywhere, a great website edited by a mother and former producer of the Today Show.
-And finally, look for opportunities for your kids to serve in your community. Even little things like helping neighbors carry in groceries, secretly dropping off a little bouquet of flowers on someone's doorstep, or covertly make their sister's bed, hopefully help them to become better and happier little people, right?