By Lisa Edwards, M.Ed., Parent Coach
Kids need time to play at every age. I have found that as my children get older they tend to play less and less with toys. It is a transitional time where they are playing more with iPads and video games and less with their legos or dolls. Here is a list that every mom with a 8-12 year old should have. These free activities will promote creativity in your children and also provide hours of fun.
Setting Your Kids Up For Excitement
Have you ever heard your kids complain? We all have. I have a child that with every new idea, his initial reaction is to be bored, or to think he doesn’t wan to do it. Sometimes, kids don’t know what to be excited about if it is a new activity.
The best way to get them excited…is for you to be excited! Set up the activity with a little mystery, or that they are solving a problem. Get them thinking on their own and wondering what their crazy parent is up to next.
Don’t lose your excitement in the process. You may not win them over right away. In fact, it may take a long time for them to actually admit that they enjoyed the activity. Trust me, they will!
Be flexible! If your kids want to change the activity, go with it. Let them lead the creativity.
Creative Activities for Free
Create a Stop Motion Movie – https://tinkerlab.com/easy-stop-motion-animation-kids/
Stop Motion is created by taking multiple pictures of a set that is created by your child. In each picture they have a character that may move just a tiny bit. Multiple pictures add up to an animated movie. Click here to read a little bit more about this activity.
You can make this activity into a challenge. Who can make the smallest plane that will fly a certain distance? What type of paper creates a plane that can go the longest? How many different planes can we make? The possibilities are endless.
Lego Challenge – Lego Calendar https://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/lego-challenge-calendar-ideas-kids/
Kids should never stop playing/building/creating with legos. Their uses are endless and universal. You can constantly create new challenges or activities for your child to complete. Check out this website for a lego calendar with a different activity every day.
Build a Fort
Kids love building forts. Use blankets, pillows, anything around the house. We have even built forts out in the woods with sticks leaves, and branches. Plan a picnic in the fort or play a game under the stars.
Kids love edible creations. You can be complicated and learn new tricks on YouTube, or you can create with anything you have in your kitchen. Preparing and baking the cookies with your child is half the fun. The point of this activity is to create, not to eat, so don’t worry if some of the cookies are inedible at the end. Your child is experimenting with what combinations will taste good together. For example, we once had cookies with raspberries and sunflower seeds on top. Usually, kids will eat their own combinations. (And it is a good way to keep me from eating too many cookies, myself).
Building Strong Boats
You will need a few items for this activity, including aluminum foil, pennies, and a tub of water or place for kids to test out their boats. Kids simply create a boat with the aluminum foil and then test the strength by placing pennies in the boat. The more pennies you can fit in the boat before it sinks, the stronger it is. You can add variations such as letting your children use straws with the aluminum foil. Which design works best?
Read Comics and Graphic Novels
Comics and graphic novels are a great way to relate with your children. Both comics and graphic novels tell quite a bit with their pictures, and the humor is usually at a much higher level. Help your children to understand some of the humor and find enjoyment in this genre. Then take it to the next step and have your children create their own comics. It isn’t as easy when they only have a few frames to complete a story.
When kids read outside, their mind tends to open up farther. They become more relaxed and are normally in an atmosphere they aren’t used to reading in. This stimulates their brain and creative juices. You can get kids active by stopping midway through a story and having them act the story or what they think might happen next.
Go for a Walk
There are so many ways to make a simple walk into a creative activity. Become a nature observer. Point out all the different things you notice around you, the songs of different birds, the different colors of grass, or any bugs or animals they notice outside. You can create a scavenger hunt of different items to take note of on your walk. Or find ways to engage the senses. Pause and ask, what do I see, hear, smell, and feel right now. You can try taste, but be careful what you try!
Build with Recyclables
Clean up some of the items that you are planning to recycle and put them in a pile. Have your child create something new. You may ask them to solve a problem, or make an invention. No expectations means you never know what you might get.
Create Your Own Mini Golf Course
This can be done inside or outside. Kids love creating a course, and then they can invite the entire family or other friends to come over and play the course. Hours of fun.
Play in the Rain
Don’t miss an opportunity to play in the rain. We don’t slow down enough to do this. A nice rain shower provides a lot of opportunities to play outside, and use their imagination in different ways.
Kids love a good challenge, and an obstacle course will get them active. You can do this inside your house when it is raining, or outside in your yard or a park. Kids will love building the obstacle course and timing themselves as they go through, challenging their own time again and again.
Kids loves watching YouTube and there are so many great videos that will teach your kids how to do something new. Take that passion and help your child to try something new.
Jar of Jokes
Humor takes a lot of creativity. You can go to the local library and find a few joke books. Then have your children find jokes that they think are funny to write on a slip of paper and add to the jar. This jar of jokes can be used at anytime. You can use it at dinner time for conversation starters. Or hide a joke your child’s folder or lunchbox for school. It is sure to bring a smile anytime.
Hopefully this list gets your creativity started. There are so many things kids can do that will help promote their own thinking and creativity. Never stop playing and encouraging your child to have fun while they learn.
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