You sometimes hear parents proclaim that their kids were more interested in playing with the box than the present inside it. At a certain age they grow out of this and develop different expectations. If you gave some kids a box and asked them to create something, they would probably feel confused. This isn’t from a lack of intelligence but because we have stopped encouraging creativity. We have given them so many gadgets and things to entertain them that their creative ability has been has stifled. They seem to have a limited attention span.
As parents we keep unintentionally hindering their creativity by buying our kids more things.
We have created children who need constant entertainment, so it’s our responsibility to change their mindset. It’s not that this generation of children is different from previous generations, it’s just that we have given them more ‘stuff’ and then wonder why they get bored.
It’s our job to encourage creative and independent playtime.
The holidays are long and at Christmas time we are all financially stressed. Taking a little time and cash to set up some really effective activities could save you money in the long-term. Theme parks and movies are expensive and should be seen as a treat for our children not the norm.
Sometimes we need to train our kids to play without electronic gadgets.
Below are a few ideas from different mothers I have spoken too. What may work for one mother may not work for another, so it’s about finding what’s right for your kids. They may think it’s boring but encourage them to stick with the new activity. It’s about encouraging them to embrace their creativity which has been limited by TV or any other electronic gadget.
Create your own ‘camp site’ in your back yard. I picked up a cheap tent for a few bucks but an old sheet makes a great tent. As a team you can design and set up a great camp site with a variety of outdoor activities. Each day have your kids think of an activity they could do at their campsite. Once my kids got a bunch of boxes and chairs and created their own rafting adventure on the imaginary river that flowed by their site. They were also responsible for cleaning up the site daily. It gave them a sense of ownership and freedom to create their own scenarios.
Out in the yard make a cardboard box wall. It needs to be BIG not small. If you have a back shed try lining the outside walls. Arm your kids with paint, pens, glue, tinsel etc. and have them become graffiti artists. Like all good artists, they have to decide on a concept and plan before putting it on the wall. It’s a project that can take a short or long time. One of my friends got 2 weeks out of this activity with her kids working together on it for about an hour every day.
‘From little things, big things grow.’
With your kids, create your own vegetable patch or flower bed. If this seems too much, then start with pots. Teach them about the care that is required to grow a successful garden bed or vegetable patch. I seem to kill all plants but even I can manage to keep a few pots alive. My kids love getting their hands dirty and are thrilled when seedlings begin to sprout. They feel proud and responsible when they see their hard work
I saw this at my daughter’s kindy and it has proven to be invaluable. With wool, string or ribbon create a big web around your backyard. I just bought loads of cheap wool and tied one end to something solid. Then the kids strung it around all types of objects in the yard. Both boys and girls find this a fun activity. My kids can play super heroes for hours. Of course it has to be monitored as it could be a choking hazard.
Mini Putt Putt
This obviously depends on how much you value your lawn. Create your own mini putt putt course or any other sports set up that interests your child. The kids can help design and build obstacles to keep the course challenging.
This really can be anything. I know a child who made their own illustrated story book while another created a little concert using the kids in the neighborhood. It’s about encouraging your child to find their particular interest and to pursue it. The goal is that by the end of the summer holiday they have something to present.
This is something from my childhood. My older brother could spend hours building and painting models.
We are blessed to have a wonderful local library in our city. It provides a variety of free activities that run over the summer holidays. The summer program covers a range of age groups and topics. I particularly love the weekly story time session and the workshops that teach children to develop their own stories through different mediums.
Your ideas may not always bear fruit but sometimes inspiration comes from failure.
I have mentioned just a few ideas in this article but there are loads of clever parents out there with great ideas. Do some research online for inspiration and use your imagination. What did you like to do when you were a kid? Or ask those who were kids before computers dominated our lives. Your ideas may not always bear fruit but sometimes inspiration comes from failure.
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