Sunday, May 22, 2011

Unplug: Fun and Cheap Ways to Entertain and Educate Your Kiddos

My friend had a baby girl 4 months ago and I just got around to buying her a gift. Terrible and late, I know, but with an 18-month old, and being 18 weeks pregnant, remodeling a kitchen and trying to build a business, I'm trying not to be too hard on myself. Anyway, as I was walking aimlessly down the aisles of Babies R Us, I was shocked at the price of educational toys. More than that, I had to scour the entire store to find simple wooden toys, you know the ones that require no batteries. Things like puzzles, blocks -- remember those?

I got to thinking that we, as a whole, may have lost sight on what kids love and why. As a teacher, I saw first-hand that kids these days LOVE TV, video games, anything that's loud, flashy and fast-paced. I think they love it so much because it's what they know. They haven't been told enough to "go outside and play", or "make up a game" when they're bored. What has happened to hide-and-seek and quiet puzzles? Are we, as parents, so busy, that our only resort is to having these electronic babysitters? (Rest assured, the irony that this blog is possible only because of the existence of these gadgets is not lost on me.)

As a result, I turned off the electronic games and toys and took my daughter (18 mos) out in our backyard to blow bubbles. She could not have been more thrilled. We "caught" the bubbles on the wand and she popped them. I can't think of too many things that are more simple, inexpensive and fun.

Then I drew some circles on the sidewalk with sidewalk chalk and she had a ball gathering leaves from our yard and placing them in the different circles. (Obviously, this sort of activity wouldn't work for kids older than 3-4, but the point is that they were very inexpensive and fun...for both of us.)

There were no batteries, no outlets, no flashes of light or sound -- just giggles and good ol'-fashioned pitter-patter of tiny (light-up, of course) shoes on the concrete.

Other things we both enjoy that I hope you'll consider squeezing in, instead of turning on the TV:

- checking out books from the library (great for all ages)

- coloring

- working on puzzles from a thrift store or garage sale (the older the child, the more and smaller the pieces)

- making up games, like "Where in the house are 5 pink things?" or "How many books have cats and turtles in them?"

- painting with water colors, or finger paint

- making homemade playdough

- going for a walk

The point is -- we can't blame kids for not being more creative when it comes to making up games if we are not setting a good example.

What are some things that you love to do with your kiddos that are fun and exciting, inexpensive and most importantly, unplugged?

1 comment:

  1. Hi, friend! I'm happily following you now :) I'm admiring all your creative posts here so can you please share them with us at the Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop? Hope to see you there at the party :)