Saturday, July 16, 2011

Need Ideas For When You're Stuck At Home With The Kids?

This weekend in Los Angeles one of our major freeways is shut down for about  55 hours. That's right. For a little over 2 days no one will be able to drive along the 405 freeway for the stretch between the 10 freeway and the 101 freeway. For those of you not in LA, I'm sure you're thinking, "so what?".


People are freaking out about it here. I'm originally from New York where driving is a definite luxury and most people take public transportation regardless of how much you earn or where you live. Here in LA just about everyone drives. Even if you're just going a few blocks to the post office...you drive. People are so freaked out about the closure that they've coined a name for it: Carmageddon. There's even a website dedicated to it: Car-Mageddon.com where you can get paraphernalia and watch a time clock tick down the seconds until...until what? Until you might have to stay at home for 2 days and enjoy some down time with your family?


That's what we're planning to do. We'll be home together enjoying a couple of days where we're not rushing here and there to activities. So, I've been trying to collect as many fun ideas for indoor or backyard activities as I can so I don't end up using the TV to save me from crazy, cooped up kids! I thought I would share some of my favorite craft and activity resources (and of course, I would love your additions, too)!
  1. The very fabulous Childhood 101 has a great section on their blog called Playopedia which is a comprehensive list of creative play ideas from around the web all linked back to the original blogs (so it's also a great place to find new blogs to read). It is truly a fantastic resource.
  2. Another blog I love that has great kid activities is Frugal Family Fun Blog. True to the blog's name, it is full of activities that cost little, but provide tons of entertainment. I bought a bunch of water balloons for the weekend and sure enough Valerie, the author of Frugal Family Finds, had a cool idea to make water balloon yo-yos
  3. Have any junk in the garage? I'll bet your
    kids would LOVE to take it apart!
    Tinker Lab is written by a super creative mama whose site is chock full of ideas. One thing I love is that she offers a drop-down menu for projects with subcategories for ages (from tiny babies to school-age) and type of play (visual art, science, everyday materials etc.). There really no end to the stuff you can find on her site! Her science section is one of my favorites mostly because I am so not  science minded, but it is something I really want to introduce to my kids. One of the projects the blog's author, Rachelle, suggests is Deconstructing A Computer Monitor. My son, especially, who is really into his tools and being a construction worker/handyman would go bananas for this. But I think my daughter would be equally intrigued.
  4. In our house, cardboard boxes are an endless source of fun. We make airplanes, houses, ice cream shops and more. The kids conceive the idea, decorate the boxes to suit their needs and play inside them until the boxes are falling apart. The Imagination Tree is a new site I found recently and I'm really digging it! One of my favorite ideas I found recently is Small World Play where the blog's author created a little town inside a large box for her baby girl. But seriously, this is just one of the fabulous things you can find on this blog. One thing that's special about The Imagination Tree is that Anna, the author, is also a teacher specializing in in early childhood education and art. So, many of her posts include the developmental reasons the particular projects are so great for our kids. 
  5. I definitely do not have a craft blog, but I wrote a post last year called Sometimes The Day Is LONG! in which I listed a few of our ideas for stay-at-home play. One of my favorites that I talked about, is doing treasure hunts with our kids. Given that my son is super into pirates these days, I plan on making some pirate treasure maps to keep us entertained this weekend. I might even try making some of my pirate maps this time with "invisible ink"!
  6. The best $1 I ever spent - my kids are
    overjoyed every time the flag is up on their mailbox.
    For the kids' fourth birthday this year they were given a really terrific gift of blank cards and envelopes along with Melissa and Doug stickers and stamps. Throw in some markers and crayons and my kids spent weeks decorating and dictating letters to everyone they knew. We also got the kids little mailboxes for their bedside tables which allowed them to receive mail and write to each other. I love doing this with them because it inspires the love of reading, writing and being artistic.
  7. Pink And Green Mama is another creative blog I really enjoy. She's got fun ideas for creating Rainbow Rice to play with, Life Size Body Maps And these very simple (but clever) Summer Boredom Buster Jars! Marylea, the author, also offers a big collection of themed e-books for sale with collections of her great ideas.  
  8. Amazing pirate dolls from
    My Submarine To The Future.
    My friend, Jackie, writes a blog called My Submarine To The Future and, among other things, she has some really clever activities she comes up with to entertain her son. One of our favorites is Making Paper Houses. Jackie is way craftier than I ever could be and even made these awesome Pirate Dolls made from apples! She's had some health issues and hasn't written lately, but I love her blog because she always keeps me wanting to find creativity and inspiration in everything I do with my kids. 
These are just a few of the blogs and ideas we use to entertain us when we're spending time at home. What about you? What are your favorite ideas for at home or in the back yard? Do you have favorite blogs for inspiration? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Thanks for reading!
-Gina
The Twin Coach

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6 Great Comments Made By Clicking Here!:

Lisa Sunbury said...

Funny you should mention water balloons! Last week, we got a bag of water balloons for $1 from the grocery store- it literally provided hours of silly, cool fun for the two and five year old children I care for. This is a great compilation of resources! I also like http://grassstainguru.com, for inspiring active outdoor play activities.

The Twin Coach said...

Yes! How could I forget Grass Stain Guru? I love her blog, as well. Thank you for the reminder. And how much fun our day with the kids sounds! Water balloons really are such a fun source of entertainment. Thanks for the note, Lisa. :)

RockStarMomlv said...

These are all great ideas! Sometimes, though, with four, I don't have the time to just throw this together...a couple of things my kids have been doing the last few days that have kept them busy:

Fort Building with couch cushions (they have to clean up before Daddy gets home!)

Treasure hunting...they take turns hiding candy around the house for each other to find

Running through the Sprinklers

Stations: I created four stations for them to keep up on their classwork through the summer: Math, Reading, Computer time (Starfall.com and one through our school district), and hands-on stuff like flash cards, pictures, time telling, shoe tying, etc.

Making cookies/cupcakes/frozen juice pops

Tents! Tents are crazy fun for them! I think they just love the idea of having their own space like a little apartment. It's so funny to see how they build and decorate the inside...you can buy cheap ones that just pop up at Target.

The Twin Coach said...

Stefanie, even with two kids I sometimes feel that way! I love your simple ideas for stay at home fun. Especially the tents....mine love doing that, too. :) Thanks for your note!
- Gina

jen at paintcutpaste.com said...

what an awesome list, which includes many of my favorite blog reads, too! rachelle at tinkerlab is genius! i have lots of simple artsy ideas using stuff you probably already have at home on my blog, as well. isn't it awesome how inspiring the internet can be? happy summer!

The Twin Coach said...

Thanks for your note, Jen. I checked out your blog and you have so many great things to do! I'm so glad you introduced yourself. And yes, TinkerLab IS genius! :)
- Gina

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