So your usually wired children are bugging you during TV-Turnoff Week: “Mommy, I’m bored!” The dreaded words. If the obvious response of “go outside and play” doesn’t work, or you live in a big city apartment and “go to your room and play” doesn’t work, why not break out the magic “Mommy I’m Bored” Box?
Find a shoe box, paper bag, jar or coffee can and fill it with slips of paper listing ideas of things to do. Here’s how it works: Your child pulls out a slip of paper and does that activity quietly and happily for the rest of the day. (Is Mom Unplugged hallucinating?)
Well, if your child is just not that cooperative, why not let the little darling choose three slips of paper…the alternative to selecting one of the three proposed activities being “clean your room.” When issued this ultimatum, I bet he or she will suddenly find one of the three choices to be quite fascinating. If not, then at least they’ll have a clean room, right?
Of course the ideas that you put in there should be appropriate to the age, abilities, and interests of your child, but here are some that come to my mind -
Of course there is the Obvious:
-Read a book
-Ride your bike
-Play outside on the swing set
-Write a letter to grandma
The purely Academic:
-Read a book
-Do your homework
- Draw a diagram of the solar system
The purely Creative:
- Create a collage of magazine pictures depicting your favorite color
- Draw a picture of a new food that you have just invented
- Write a song or poem about broccoli
More interesting variations on the Obvious or the Academic:
- How many swings on the swing set can you do between the passing of one car and the next?
- Set the kitchen timer for 5 minutes: how many pages of your book can you read?
- Roll a dice 10 times. Keep track of how many times you come up with each number. Now roll it 20 times, how many times did you get each number? Is it what you expected? Graph this result.
Hint – What did you like to play or do as a child? (not that I am saying that you are “old fashioned!!)
- String-figures (Cat’s Cradle, for example)
But how about adding odd things:
- Write a list of every object in the living room that begins with “T”
- Make a sculpture of the dog out of Playdough
- Go outside and bring back five objects that are red
- Put your hand down on a random spot on the lawn. Study it very closely (with magnifying glass if possible). Draw what you find underneath your hand. (Grass? Rocks? Sticks? Bugs? Anthills?)
You get the idea. The “Mommy I’m Bored” Box could almost become a scavenger hunt type activity if you want it to. Or at least an exciting source of random fun activities. The possibilities are limitless, plus it could even be entertaining for you to create it!
If you try this during TV-Turnoff Week (or any other time), please report your findings: How old are your children and what ideas did you put in the box? What did your kids like and dislike about the concept? What ideas went over really well? Which were a flop?