Two times in the last week I have seen a post on Facebook asking, “What do you do with your kids after school that does not involve tv or an ipad?” This was definitely a struggle for me when the boys were younger. It’s a lot easier now to tell them to go ride their bikes or play in the back yard. We also have homework and reading some days. But even after all of that is done sometimes it’s like what do we do.
Lately I have been trying minimal tv at night and no tv in the mornings which means they need to be entertained or they are going to end up getting into some kind of mischief. These are a few of the things that we have done and are doing in the mornings and afternoons.
This may seem like I am putting my kids into child labor but they love doing chores. When they were little I would put socks on their hands and let them clean the baseboards. Now that they are older and can help more they do things like empty the dishwasher, put up clothes and clean the bathroom. They have daily chores they are responsible for and extra things they can pick up for money. Especially yard work. My kids love to rake and sweep and as soon as the leaves start falling they are looking for a job.
Color Scavenger Hunt
This is actually a lot of fun for any age and you can play it inside or outside. I have cards with colors on them that I will lay on the floor. Each person is responsible for finding an item that matches that color and place it in front of the card. Pretty simple and loads of fun.
Ice Tray Games
My mom taught me this one. Take an ice tray and depending on their age and motor skills they can put little items in to the cups with their fingers or if they are older try tweezers. You can use items like small pasta, googlie eyes, puff balls, cotton balls, beans and more. You can make this more challenging by encouraging them to color sort into the ice tray too.
Spice Jar Manipulatives
Another Mom game that she used to do with my boys. Take a used spice jar that has the holes in the top if it and have them slide small items like toothpicks into the holes. Easy and really beneficial for small motor movement and hand eye coordination.
This is something I need to do more with the boys. We have make your own pizza night every few weeks but I have been trying to get them more involved in the cooking process. Teaching them how to use kitchen appliances like the can opener and cutting veggies. It’s a simple way to teach them about measurements and cooking and also keeping them occupied.
We always have sidewalk chalk on hand but this year I started drawing large squares and giving them a defined place to draw. Limiting them to a space makes them more creative because they look at it like a sheet of paper. They also love seeing their art until it gets washed away by the rain.
Homework at the park
I need it to be a little cooler before we do this but taking homework or an art project to the park is always fun! I like bringing blank sheets of paper for the boys to create on and you can draw what you see or trace items they find or even color rocks! Either way it is great to be outside and just good ot be in a new environment.
Great one to do while you are doing dishes or another job and need the kids to be entertained. Just like Simon Says. I come up with fun names for exercises like lunges are duck walks and spinning is being a tornado. They love it and it helps get some of the energy out.
Butcher paper Art
You can get butcher paper or craft paper by the rolls and it is super cheap. I roll it out on the floor and secure it with blue painters tape and just let them have a blast with colors and markers. They love art projects where they can go wild!
What Does the Pet do?
This one was a suggestions I found online and a great one to help with language and creative thinking. What did the pet do? Come up with a fun story of what you think the pet did during the day when you were gone. Help them write it down or draw a picture to illustrate the story. You could even do this with wildlife in your back yard, what has the tree seen in his lifetime? WHat did the neighbors do today? THe list goes on an on.