Creative Kids Activities
by Robin mcgraw
Anyone running out of (non-screen) activities to keep the kids busy during quarantine? Well you’re in luck, Secret Squad! Whether you were already a stay-at-home parent or you’re tackling that work-from-home life right now, having kids around full time without their usual outings and school is a major adjustment! Which is why I’ve come up with a few fun ways to keep the whole family from going stir crazy. The best part? Set ups are simple and everything can be done with things you already have at home; All you need to add is a little imagination!
First up, “WALL ART”! - I know what you’re thinking, “Who needs one more mess?!” But hear me out! This is a sure-fire way to get creativity flowing and engage your child’s inner artist or author. Dig through your holiday wrapping paper stash and tape some, blank side out, to any wall in your home. I’ve found that thicker foil Christmas papers work the best! Let each child choose which wall in the house they think will make the coolest canvas. Be sure to use masking or painter’s tape to adhere the paper so you don’t damage your walls. An easy tip especially for younger illustrators is to cut out pictures from old story books, (choose ones your kids have outgrown and no longer read) to paste on the paper canvas. Set out pencils, crayons, colored pencils, pastels, chalks…anything that won’t bleed through, and let the creativity flow! You’ll be amazed at what your kiddos produce! It might be a full written story of an actual experience or some fantastic fiction, a comic strip of favorite book pictures with a new story twist, graffiti style street art, literacy practice (write sample letters, sight words and digits along the top border for younger kids to copy) or simply a beautiful mural of creativity…the possibilities are endless! Be sure to take a minute to explain the difference between surfaces that are ok for art, and the ones that are not. You might be surprised at how well they respect this as a very special privilege. And what a nice way to keep everyone occupied so you can maybe finish that cup of coffee or respond to some emails.
“I DO! Do you?” - Who doesn’t love a spring wedding?! Germs don’t have to be the only thing in the air right now, there’s still room for a little love. First, dim the lights, gather everyone together (snuggled on the couch under a blanket is best) to enjoy watching “Father of the Bride” with a little popcorn. This will set the tone perfectly for you to have your children style a wedding for you and your significant other from top to bottom using only items they can find in the house! Appoint them the directors of everything! Have them choose and beautify the venue (Living room? Backyard?), string lights, crepe paper, ribbons…the craft closet and their imaginations are the only limits. Bake and decorate a delicious wedding cake together! Let the kids make out a master guest list of who they’d like to invite, design invitations and then have them pick any item from the house to represent each guest in attendance! My grandbabies did this at their house and picked a tennis racket for Phillip and a big, beautiful sun hat for me! Next, have them select your wedding clothes, accessories too, you can even have them act as your glam squad for hair and makeup (if you’re feeling daring!). But what’s a wedding without music? Decide together on a very special song that the whole family loves and play it as the wedding ceremony begins or afterward while everyone dances and eats cake! Finally, explain to them what vows are…quite simply they’re loving promises we make to each other for the life that lies ahead. Ask older kiddos to write out vows for you both to exchange, or for younger ones research some vows online together and have the kids choose which ones they’d like mom and dad to recite. Then take a deep breath, walk down the aisle and enjoy what love looks like from a younger perspective! Don’t forget to have EVERYONE get in on snapping photos of the prep and final soiree so you can remember the in-the-moment fun that was had along the way.
“NAME GAME!” - Did you ever wish you had a different name? When I was a little girl, I used to wish my parents had named me Renee or Rachel! To play this game, each night (perhaps during dinner or at bedtime) every member of the family chooses a new name to go by ALL day beginning the following day. It can be absolutely any name they can think of! It’s nice to present this to kids the night before the game begins so they can wind down thinking about their new name for tomorrow, and hear in advance what names the other family members have picked. They may even hurry off to sleep excited for their new name in the morning. Once the names are chosen, the family then collaboratively comes up with the official “Oops List” which is a set of penalties they will impose, one by one, if anyone fails at any point to call someone by their new name. An “Oops List” penalty must also be issued if anyone uses a real name, and the person they named doesn’t catch their mistake! Each penalty should only be used once per person and can be things like: telling a secret about yourself that you haven’t ever told before, recounting a favorite story about the person they misnamed, telling the story of a time when he/she did something so funny that you thought you might wet your pants laughing, or telling the story of a time when he/she did the nicest random act of kindness. Please feel free to use my personal favorite, having to do a silly face and silly dance while saying “OOPSIE” three times!! Trust me, it’s just impossible not to laugh! It’s so much fun to discover the names each person chooses as the week goes on, and a great way for the whole family enjoy laughs that last all day!
CLOSET CLEAN OUT – Anything can be fun if you make it into a game! And now is the perfect time to make organization FUN! Choose one day for everyone in the family to clean out their closet or dresser drawers. Begin by having them remove anything and everything they know they will never use again. Designate a box or area to store everything until a time when it can all be safely given away. Then, in the evening, have each member of the family choose one item from their contributions to the donation pile and take turns sharing stories about why they loved it, a memory attached to it, or why they are happy to be getting rid of it! Then gather everyone up and on the count of 5 have the entire family say, “BYE BYE!!” to the items while snapping a selfie of the group! The photo will serve as a great memory of the experience, as well as a reminder of the items selected to be sent for a new life with someone else.
DAY OFF! - This is sure to be everyone’s favorite! Though I think parents will really enjoy it more than kids! Lol! As a family, decide on the specific rules for how this happens, who goes first, which day belongs to which person, etc. But one day a week each family member gets to have a day off! They can spend it in any way they choose!!! ALL ALONE! DOING WHATEVER THEY DECIDE…did I mention ANYTHING!? Want a day to skip all chores? You got it! Ice cream for breakfast? It’s your day! TV marathon? You’re the boss! No bedtime? Your call! The key to this game is letting go of the rules and giving everyone one day to just be themselves and do exactly what feels best. When it’s my day off, that means no cooking, no cleaning, no talking, and me getting to be all alone in the bedroom, or on the sofa, or in a bubble bath until I’m pruney!
Rediscover tried-and-true favorites – build a couch cushion or cardboard box fort, go on a treasure hunt, cook up homemade playdough, run in the sprinklers or sit outside with s’mores at sunset and tell ghost stories. Everything old seems new again lately and nostalgia has a renewed appeal. Take it back to simpler times with the games you grew up loving…your kids are sure to love them too.
Making memories is a really special way to pass the time, and it helps us all forget, even if just for a moment, what’s going on in the world. I can’t wait to see how you and your families make these ideas come to life! Be sure to share with me your creative ways to keep kids active and engaged! And remember Secret Squad, we’re all in this together!
In case you need a little inspiration, here's a time I really let my creativity flow! I made this painting and video for Phillip for our 39th anniversary! By the way...I’ve Got A Secret for you! Towards the end of the video, I’m wearing something that is the ‘original’ I wore in our wedding on August 14, 1976! ❤️