• Think outside the box (literally). The Smithsonian voted the cardboard box as the absolute best toys – ever. Stock up on them. They’re not only free but also can provide hours of imaginative play. Give your kids marking pens and masking tape and they can make igloos, forts, villages, castles, garages, storefronts and hotels. Give them flashlights and they can turn them into caves. Put sheets over the top of boxes and chairs and there’s a whole new dimension.
  • Think hats and costumes. Draw out your children’s singing, dancing, writing, or acting talent and suggest they write, direct and perform plays (for the neighborhood, their family, or certainly grandma and grandpa).
  • Think oldie but goodie type games. Check out one great book (like Bobbi Conner’s Unplugged Play) and review all those great outdoor games you did (okay, or your parents did) as kids. Red Rover. Mother May I? Hopscotch. Tag. Buy sidewalk chalk and get your kids to draw on that driveway. Think of this summer as the great play revival!
  • Think games. You know you have them. Cards. Clue. Scrabble. Candyland. Chutes and Ladders. Hold Risk championships and Monopoly marathons. Teach your child and his best friend at a sleepover and you’ll start a trend.
  • Think arts and crafts. Start looking around your house and stock up and stuff you already have like popsicle sticks, glue, pipe cleaners crayons, paper, scissors, marking pens. Also think of recyclable items like toilet paper tubes, magazines, and newspapers. Or what about carpentry: give out hammer, nails and wood.
  • Think hobbies. This is the summer to get your kid excited about one hobby or passion. Support that interest—whatever it is. Guitar. Knitting. Yoga. Drawing. Architecture. Photography. Computer. Macramé. Cooking.
  • Think collections. Rocks. Flowers. Bugs. Coins. Stamps. Get your child interested in one type of collection. Anything! If it’s butterflies then just give him the net to catch the butterflies and the board to mount them. Check out a few library books about the subject, which brings me to….
  • Think library. Check out books, books-on-tape and videos. Enroll your kid in the summer library program. Make going to the library a weekly event. Get your kids reading for the sheer fun of it (and not always from that required school reading list).
  • Think unplugged. Don’t let your child rely on electronic “stuff” to entertain them all summer. Television and video games can be an easy way out for a kid who can’t think of anything to do. I’m not suggesting you go “cold turkey” but consider at least setting limits on daily television or video game watching. Then hold your kids to those limits. Some parents make their kids track their viewing hours (on the honor system) on a paper taped to the side of the TV. Or you can set the timer from your TV’s remote for the total minutes allowed per day. But limit television viewing.
  • Think real. The absolute last thing I’m suggesting you do is all this stuff. But why not just trying one new thing this summer? Just one.

And if one of your kids just dares to say, “I’m bored!” tell them you have the perfect solution. It’s a list of household chores that you just happen to have posted on the fridge. I bet you anything they’ll find something to do.

All the best!

Michele Borba

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Jun. 1, 2008 at 12:44 PM

That was good.  I'm planning on doing some of those things.  I've already told the kids we'll be going to the library more and that we'll stop by the store to stock up on craft supplies, too.  Another thing we may do is buy a couple of tennis rackets and balls and go down to the local park just to hit them around a bit.  

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Jun. 1, 2008 at 2:16 PM Thanks for the great reminders.

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