Image Courtesy of Karolina Grabowska at Pixabay

What I’m about to tell you may shock you; but when I was a kid, we didn’t have computers or cell phones. We didn’t have tablets or ipods and we didn’t have video games. We rode our bikes outside from sun up until sun down in the summer time and only knew it was time to come home when you could hear your mom yell your name from 3 blocks away. When it was raining or cold and we couldn’t play outside, we created our own games and spent the day with our imaginations. That’s right. Our imaginations.

With the current situation of schools being closed, it’s hard to come up with ideas on how to pass the time. Trust me….these fun things never go out of style and you can use items you probably already have around the house!

There are a ton of websites dedicated to activities for kids, but I wanted to share with you some of my personal favorites from when I was growing up.

THE SHOPPING GAME (AKA: “STORE”): My brother and I used to borrow canned goods, cereal boxes, paper towels and even toilet paper from my mom and set them up on our bookshelves just like they were at the grocery store. We had a calculator (that was our register) and we had fake money that we cut out from construction paper. (Mom gave us real coins though). We would sometimes use a vegetable or apple basket or one of mom’s sewing baskets as a shopping cart. One of us would be the customer and the other would be the shopkeeper. We would put prices on our “inventory” with stickers and this was a great way for us to learn math and cooperation as we played. (Other variations were the tool store, pet shop {played with our stuffed animals} and clothing store with of course clothing.

INDOOR CAMP OUT:  Whether you make a fort out of sheets and chairs or put up an actual pup tent; indoor camping can be a lot of fun! You can play outdoor sounds on your TV or phone for added background effect. Sleeping bags or pillows and blankets to sit on are a must and don’t forget the flashlights! This would be a great time to work on those story telling skills. S’mores are a must of course when you’re camping. We used to toast our marshmallows on the stove, but you can actually make them in the microwave too as a much safer option. (Obviously, if you have a fireplace in the “camping area” that would be ideal) You can avoid cooking all together if you really want to cheat and use a marshmallow fluff from the jar. Hot dogs too are a great menu item that makes it feel more like the great outdoors and these can easily be microwaved. You can also take a dark colored sheet and splatter glow-in-the-dark paint then hang it from the ceiling with push pins or drape it over the top of your tent to give your ceiling a starry sky effect. This is a great way to spend a snowy afternoon in the winter time.

Image by Dav Tres at Pixabay

INDOOR FISHING: An empty kiddie pool is a beautiful thing. A few simple items and you’ve got a fantastic way to spend the afternoon. Any stick or dowel rod will do as a fishing pole as long as you have a piece of string or yarn tied to the end. {We used real fishing poles but work with what you have} At the end of the string, you’ll want to tie or glue on a small magnet. {You can find them at the craft store} In the bottom of the pool should be a “pond full” of colorful construction paper fish that you can create as big or as little as you want. No fish is complete without a few paper clips glued to their side. Use the magnetic fishing pole to catch as many fish as you can. You can adorn them with numbers to make it a mathematical game, you can catch fish and name the colors, you can see how many fish you can catch on a timer basis; the variations of this game are endless. It’s a fun game for very young children as it teaches motor skills and patience. (use this game in conjunction with your indoor camping adventure for added fun!)

Image by Beverly Buckley at Pixabay

PEN PALS & STAMP COLLECTING: Letter writing is a lost art form in my opinion. Most schools don’t even teach cursive writing anymore! When we were kids, my brother and I both learned to write letters in school and our teacher would mail them to military personnel or to retirement homes. Each of us had a mailbox in our classroom and we would run to check that mailbox every morning at school to see if we had gotten a letter back. It was so much fun to get letters from people that were sometimes half way around the world. Who wouldn’t enjoy getting a heartfelt letter or hand drawn picture from a child to brighten their day. There are all kinds of charities on line that ask for letters and of course, don’t forget to contact your local nursing or retirement homes. In conjunction with letter writing; stamp collecting is a great past time. Adults can spend thousands of dollars buying stamps for their collections. Kids however don’t care about the “value” of a stamp other than how cool looking it is! If you start a pen pal campaign, you can keep a book of all of the stamps you get from the letters you receive like we did. We just had a regular old spiral bound notebook that we decorated and kept in a drawer. When we would receive a letter from one of our pen pals, we would cut the stamp off of the envelope and use clear tape or glue to put them on a page. We would write the name of the person we received the letter from, the date and a short description of what the letter was about next to the stamp. As we got older, it was wonderful to go back and remember all of the people that we had met over the years.

Image by Sh1ra from Pixabay

MAKE A DREAM COLLAGE: Collages were really popular back in the 70’s. I think it’s probably because everyone’s mother seemed to have at least one magazine subscription. Today, we get the bulk of our information from digital sources, but there are still a few ways that you can use old school techniques for this very fun project. Here’s what you’ll need: Poster board (any color / size), scissors, glue sticks, paints, markers, crayons, glitter or any other decorating materials you wish to use and of course: photos, articles and inspirational lettering. Using scissors, cut out images of things that you’d like to do when you grow up and arrange them on the poster board. You can decorate the poster board however you choose. Check with your local library. They will usually have old, outdated magazines that you can buy for just a few pennies. You can also find images online and print them out. You could also “wing it” and draw images on paper, cut them out and glue them on to your board. This is a great way for kids to remind themselves of the goals that they have. When we were really little, mom would help us make them with what we wanted to be when we grew up. {I wanted to work with animals as a veterinarian or marine biologist and I’ve done both!!} As we got older, we used to make them to focus on what we wanted to accomplish in a particular school year. It was a lot of fun to do and I’ll bet if I asked my mom she’d probably still have them somewhere in the basement. (You can also convert the traditional poster into a book as pictured above ~ Like a motivational diary!)

Image by Tumisu at Pixabay

WRITE YOUR OWN BOOK: Once every few years, I ask my mom to pull out “my books” from her treasure box. These are books that I wrote when I was little. Writing your own books is a creative and fun way to get your kids to turn on their imagination! For very little ones, these are great because they can draw the pictures and you can write out the text as they tell you the story. You can put them on their book shelf and then read their stories to them at bed time! You can use spiral bound books or piece together construction paper with a three hole punch like we did when we were little. The adventures are only limited by your child’s creativity! We used to have stories about dinosaurs, spaceships and cowboys all in the same story. We would also make up stories about our family or our pets. If your kids are stuck on an idea, start them off with a topic or write down ideas on pieces of paper and drop them in a bag. Then pick a topic at random from the bag. These are treasures that you will keep for your child’s lifetime. You could even share them one day with your grandchildren!

Image by Narcis Ciocan at Pixabay

PUT ON A PUPPET SHOW: Using a large cardboard box (appliance boxes work the best), cut out a hole in the top center and decorate with paints, fabric, sparkles or whatever you want to create your performance “stage”. This is the area where the kids can hide in the back and hold their hands up to create the performance. We used to have some fantastic puppet shows back in the day. You can use dolls, stuffed animals, whatever you have hanging around the house. Or better yet, you can spend some time creating puppets using felt or fabric, glue and other decorating materials. Trace your child’s hand on a piece of felt with a magic marker. Cut out two identical pieces and either glue or sew them together and leave an opening at the bottom for your child to insert their hand. Then decorate as you like and ta-da! You’ve got yourself a puppet! You can find all kinds of patterns online for puppets, but I think that the one’s that you imagine are the best. {We used to use dad’s old socks too and add lips, eyes and lashes!)

Image by jezzrealfaith at Pixabay

TALENT SHOW: Everyone has some form of talent. Whether its dancing or singing, juggling, paper folding or magic tricks. Every kid loves to show off! Put together an audience of stuffed animals, get the dog and the cat, grab grandma and grandpa (they are always up for a show) and bring them into the biggest room in the house. The kids can dress up to match their talent and “perform” for anyone that will listen. My mom used to have us make up programs for our audience ahead of time with what talent each person was performing. This is a great way to bring kids out of their shell and reward them for their hard work. You don’t have to make it a special occasion either; this is a great way to let the kids spend the day any time of the year. You can even take an old sheet and let the kids decorate it for a backdrop and hang it up on the wall for added effect.

MAKE STAINED GLASS WINDOWS: Using a piece of clear plastic sheeting and some blue painters tape, cut out a large piece of the sheeting and tape to a window within reach of your child. A sliding glass door works the best – but if you don’t have a large window or it’s not within your children’s reach, you can lay the plastic sheeting out on a table top and then hang them up in the window when you are done. Cut up sheets of colored tissue paper in small squares or abstract shapes. Use a glue stick or clear tape to place the pieces of paper on the plastic sheet. You can keep your beautiful pieces of artwork up on the windows all winter long! This is a great project for any time of the year, but we used to love making little Thanksgiving and Christmas scenes and then tape them up on our picture window in the front room of the house surrounding our Christmas tree for all the neighbors to see!

MAKE EASTER OR SPRING DECORATIONS: Easter isn’t far away, so why not make a bunch of cool decorations for your home. A cheap pack of construction paper and some safety scissors and glue can go along way for holiday fun. You can draw and cut out masks that look like bunnies, you can cut colorful construction paper strips and connect to make paper chains to decorate around doors and windows. If you’re really feeling creative; you and your kids can whip up a batch of salt dough to create long-lasting ornaments for your mantle piece or to place around the house. (Click here for recipe) Paint and decorate your ornaments and make sure you put your name or initials on the bottom and the date. I still have a few of these ornaments that I made as a child that I set out on my dining room table every year and it’s a wonderful reminder of my childhood.

Do you have some fun projects that you like to do with your kids? Comment below and we’ll add them to our list!






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