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Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy -- Without Television!


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    vijigermany's Avatar
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    Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy -- Without Television!

    Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy -- Without Television!
    Make a Ball Maze

    It may surprise your kids to learn there was life before television. Also, before DVRs, before remote controls and before Dora the Explorer.

    At one time, parents kept their kids independently busy without the aid of television, freeing up valuable time to wash dishes, make phone calls, churn butter, scare away dinosaurs -- whatever responsible grown-ups did back then. Experts have warned us that televisions make lousy babysitters, so here are some contemporary TV-free suggestions to keep your kids doing their thing while you do yours.
    Cardboard Maze
    Good for ages: 2 and up

    Ever wonder what to do with all those paper towel or toilet paper rolls? Don't throw them away, make a maze for the kids! Cut the cardboard cylinders in half and glue them cascading down the long side of a large cardboard box. Let dry for a few hours. Sit up against a wall for support and let the kids drop balls, cars (or really, anything that rolls!) down the path. It'll keep them entertained for hours, and keep all those toys off the floor -- at least temporarily.
    Finger "Painting"

    Good for ages: 1 and up

    The thought of letting your little kids finger paint without you hovering over them, with a roll of paper towels in hand, might be enough to give you hives. To the rescue: This super-creative take on finger paining from Feeling Lovesome. Simply put a few blobs of washable finger paint in a zip-top bag, press the air out of it, seal it with clear packing tape and let your tot have at it. Mess-free -- and brilliant!
    Play Ball!

    Good for ages: 2 and up

    Play ball in the house? No, we're not crazy -- as long as it's this adorable, furniture-friendly version of paddle ball from pen n' paperflowers. Make easy, homemade paddles by attaching over-sized popsicle sticks to paper plates and blow up a balloon to serve as the ball. Your kids will have fun batting it back and forth, and we can almost guarantee that nothing will get broken.
    The Write Stuff

    Good for ages: 5 and up

    You may not be able to read them a story just now, but you can encourage them to write their own. Keep a "create your own book" kit on hand or simply staple several sheets of paper together along one edge to form a blank book; then provide pencils, markers, crayons, stickers -- anything your kids need to create their own literary masterpiece. Tell them to make up a story that centers around a favorite theme (princesses, super heroes) and dedicate their book to a friend or family memeber. (Just be prepared to help them spell the words they're writing!)
    Build a Fort

    Good for ages: 5 and up

    Need to get dinner ready? Give your kids a pile of sheets, blankets and pillows and let them build a fort using the living room couch or your dining room table and chairs as anchors. Once construction is done, give them flash lights to make shadow puppets.
    Stuffed Animal Dress Up

    Good for ages: 2 and up

    It's Project Runway at your house today -- make it work! Tell your kids that tonight is toy fashion night, and it’s up to them to come up with the outfits. Provide them with all necessary stylist’s tools, infant clothing and stuffed animals to use as the base for their creations, and enjoy the show!
    Impromptu Scavenger Hunt

    Good for ages: 3 and up

    Have your kids go through the house in search of any change they can find. Between the couch cushions, under the recliner, the one who finds the most change wins! (But don't let them cheat -- your purse is off-limits!)
    Make a Collage

    Good for ages: 3 and up

    Set your kids up with some old magazines and have them go to town ripping out what they like. Give them themes like "summer" or "grandma" and have them pick the photos that work best. Give them tape or glue sticks and some scrap paper and step out of the way! This one's practically guaranteed to keep them occupied for at least as long as it takes you to vacuum the house.
    Kiddy Car Wash

    Good for ages: 4 to 6

    Turn your kitchen sink into a toy car wash. Round up the plastic spray bottles and buckets you have lying around the house and fill them with water. Set up the bottles, sponges and dry rags and let the kids "wash" their mini toy cars and hose them down with your sink's sprayer. Yes, you might want to stick close to the kitchen while they're doing this, and yes, you'll need to mop up some water when they're done, but they'll have a blast.
    Finger-Sticking Good

    Good for ages: 3 to 7

    Kids love stickers, and so should you -- as long as they don’t become furniture graffiti. Collect lots of different stickers (pick them up when you see them on sale) and keep them in a box. When you need some free time, give your kids a cheap blank notebook or a stack of construction paper and tell them to create their sticker-based art work. Add to the sticky fun with glitter glue pens.
    Living Room Idol

    Good for ages: 3 and up

    Turn your living room into center stage. Tell the kids they’ve been commissioned to share their talents with the nation, and ask each for a song of his or her choosing. Queue it up on the iPod or Spotify and have them belt it out as loud as they can. (Of course, this isn't so great when you need to jump on a conference call, but it's good for most other needs.)
    De-Earthquake the Playroom

    Good for ages: 3 to 9

    The timeless “clean-up game” is still fun for young children, but it doesn’t always have to take place in “Hurry up, we’re leaving in two minutes!” mode. Give your children the assignment of de-earthquaking the playroom. It’s amazing how kids suddenly become more interested in toys they’re putting away, which is where the real time-kill happens. When you inspect your kids’ work, make sure to thank them for the help.

    Sock It to Them

    Good for ages: 3 to 8

    Most little kids know basic colors like brown, black, white and red. So why are you up late at night matching socks when you have such color experts in the house? Dump a fresh, clean load of socks over your kids’ heads like leaves (they’ll love that), then ask them to make pairs. Some kids will be able to bind them as well.
    All Ears

    Good for ages: 4 to 12

    Stories have more or less stayed the same throughout the years, but story-telling technology has grown like Jack’s beanstalk. Download a variety of free audio stories from Storynory and store them in an iPod. Then, the next time your little bookworm is bored -- but you're busy -- she can choose from a full library of audio options.

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    Last edited by Parasakthi; 26th Jun 2012 at 10:29 AM. Reason: External Link Removed

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    Re: Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy -- Without Television!

    Make a Fortress Out of Cardboard Boxes

    Good for ages: 3 and up

    Give your kid some clean boxes out of the recycling bin, some tape and let them have at it. (Hey, she's only 7 and she's got her own place!) Accessorize with cut-out windows and a garden drawn with markers
    Form a (One) Boy Band

    Good for ages: 3 to 6

    Encourage your child to bring his toy instruments -- drum, guitar, keyboard, triangle, tambourine, harmonica, recorder, whatever -- out from their hiding places, and place them in a line. Then have him go down the line, playing each instrument to create different compositions. Also challenge him to see how many instruments he can play simultaneously. Just know two things: This is not the activity to suggest when you have a headache, and forget about making or taking phone calls in a nearby room
    There's an App for That

    Good for ages: 3 to 7

    Your preschooler may not be chatting and texting nonstop on an iPhone (yet), but you can download some fun, time-killing, even educational iPhone games and other distractions for them right now. A few suggestions:

    Wheels on the Bus: They still go round and round, but your child can now add new instruments, different languages, new verses and even her own voice. Note: The song may not get any less annoying.

    Scribble Lite: A fun, sophisticated drawing app that makes Etch-a-Sketch look like…well…Etch-a-Sketch.

    SmackTalk!: When your child speaks into the microphone, a puppy, kitten, guinea pig or Chihuahua repeats it in adjustable speeds and pitches. (No, they haven't yet made an app to adjust your own child's voice quite yet.)
    Do It Your Shelf

    Good for ages: 5 to 7

    If you have a full shelf of kids books, tell your child you need them organized by size, theme, color and/or by preferred reading order. Chances are, he’ll take time to flip through a few favorites and rediscover some oldies-but-goodies, too. Later, have your child explain his decision-making process, and maybe read a top book to you.
    Cushion Diving

    Good for ages: 5 to 8

    Chances are, there's a fair amount of garbage and junk between the cushions of your living room sofa, but who knows what other treasures might be lying around? Arm your kid with a small, recently emptied hand vacuum and set him free. While most finders keepers’ laws will apply, make it clear that any edible discoveries need to go in the garbage.
    Reach for the Skype

    Good for ages: 5 to 12

    Set up a Skype connection between the computer in your and your parents' homes and schedule live video chats. (Skype-to-Skype calls are free worldwide and many web cameras cost under $10.00.) Your child will love not only talking to grandma and grandpa, but showing off new clothes, drawings, costumes, pets and projects. The grandparents may be hesitant about new technology, but they’ll never turn down an opportunity for face-to-face contact with the little people they’re genetically trained to spoil.
    Word Up!

    Good for ages: 4 to 8

    If your kids are old enough to type their names, then any word processing program can provide a lasting distraction. Show them the basics of typing, selecting text and changing fonts, colors and sizes. Then, let them find their inner word artists. You can help them further illustrate their words with built-in clip-art. This activity has the benefit of getting kids used to typing, and the curse of getting them that much closer to texting.
    Get Loopy

    Good for ages: 4 to 8

    It’s a project as old as summer camp. Pour Froot Loops and other hole-y cereal in bowls. Have your child first separate them by color, then string them into necklaces and bracelets. (Do it in two steps to kill more time.) When you’re done, ask for a home shopping-style demo of all the food jewelry. Fashion-wise, Cheerios go with everything, by the way.

    Last edited by Parasakthi; 26th Jun 2012 at 10:31 AM. Reason: External Link Removed

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