Tuesday, October 12, 2010

10 Ideas for making everday activities with kids FUN

 TwitterMoms has a campaign going, asking parents about how we incorporate fun and play into our everyday activities with our kids. As the mother of three boys under 8, this is daily life for me, so I decided to join in. I am sure most of the other mother's will agree with me when I say that if you don't make everyday activities fun, then you can reach the point of insanity very quickly. Here are ten of the most common things we do:

1. When making breakfast/packing lunches for school everyday, I let the boys "help" me hide surprises in their brothers lunch. For example, my kindergartner (Logan) has a "letter friend" of the week that they study in class. So one of his brothers will help me make the letter in ketchup, mustard, jelly, etc on the bread for his sandwich. Logan looks for this and finds it hilarious. We also try to make his snack/dessert be an item that starts with the letter of the week. For the 1st grader (Joshua), he is studying units of numbers in math. This week they are counting by tens, so we put 10 of each color of M&M in a small reusable container for his snack.

2.After breakfast, all three boys have to brush their teeth before we leave for carpool. We are usually in a hurry by this point, and they like to skimp here. Each boy has a favorite song they like to sing, so they each get a turn singing a song to a brother while he brushes his teeth. They know to make sure to brush the entire length of the song, and it is a race as the song ends to see if they can rinse before the song is done. (The singer usually picks up speed here too, LOL)

3) On the drive to school, we play the "Slug Bug" game when they spot VW Bugs. I have to say that we seem to have an abundance of these in our neighborhood. They have to yell out the color, and they do "pretend" slugs at one another since they can't actually reach one another. They keep score, and at the end of the week whomever has the highest count gets to be "KING" in the backyard when they are playing over the weekend. I also must admit that this is a game they devised and planned all on their own, and they are strict about following the rules!

4) Once home, I begin homeschool for my oldest son (Aaron). Incorporating "life skills" is an important goal for him, so we have a routine where we start laundry, make all the beds, and pick up any random items lying around the house. Having things neat and tidy helps him keep focus. To make it fun, we race to see who can be done with their chores first. Since writing is an especially hard skill for him, the winner determines how much writing he has to do for the day. He knows there is a minimum amount, but if he is the winner, he gets to verbalize some of the writing part of science, geography, etc. as his reward.

5) For lunch, if Aaron has done his schoolwork well all morning, we will bake something together for his stash of "secret snacks". He gets to help measure, stir, and pour the items into the pan. (He doesn't know measuring is an extension of math, haha!). Then he gets to write "words" with his fingers into the remaining mix in the bowl before we rinse it and put it in the dishwasher. (Sensory integration!)

6) For the afternoon, once all the kids are home, we will go outside if the weather is nice and do science experiments. We find most of them online for free! and try to select ideas that incorporate liquids and household ingredients on hand. We get more practice measuring, touching, and watching how things interact. We study leaves, cloud formation names, and keep a weather calendar of what the weather was like and what the temperature is. They have an increased awareness of nature, and love to keep their own weather logs.

7) If we have any errands to run, I will gather the kids before we head out and give them some supplies. They each make their own "map" of the stops we are making, and get a list of items they are responsible for making sure we get. They are much less likely to complain that its taking too long, or ask how much longer when they know these things ahead of time. They keep a close watch of their maps and lists. For the younger ones, we cut out store names from old circulars for them to put on their maps, and pictures of their items on their grocery list. Sometimes I think they know the stores and neighborhood better than I do!

8) Also when we are out running errands, we will practice our counting in the car. We live near a major interstate, so there are an abundance of tractor trailers. The kids will each keep count of how many we see. If we get to 100 without skipping any numbers, they get a special treat.

9) To encourage the kids to keep their rooms clean, we bring out the music again. If they get them picked up by the time the song is finished, they get extra time outside if the weather is nice, or Wii time if the weather isn't so nice. Children electing not to pick up get to sit in a chair by the backdoor and watch their sibling(s) play outside, or they may sit in their beds while the Wii is played. They don't often choose not to pick up.

10) For bedtime, we repeat the teeth brushing process, and then they put on their pj's and get into bed. I spend a few minutes talking to each child about their day, and they get to pick out a book for me to read to them, or in Joshua's case, he gets 20 minutes to read quietly before he goes to sleep. Once they are all settled, I add the books or number of chapters read to their respective reading lists, which they get rewards for. Our area offers programs from several stores, and they enjoy the rewards very much, so they are constantly asking to read or be read to.

I hope you find some of these ideas helpful, and will be able to incorporate them in some fashion into your own house. While not everything works for everyone, these are some of the things that work for us. We try to take our normal daily routines and find some way to make them fun, so that they kids enjoy our family time as much as we do. I would love for you to share some of your ideas in the comment areas, we are always looking for ways to spice things up!

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and The Hub blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

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