Guest Post: Fun for School-Aged Kids

Here in South Central Texas where it feels like the summer has been going on for decades and gas prices just continue to climb and climb, what’s a parent to do?  Sometimes it feels like the only two options are to succumb to the boredom and lethargy or dive into deep debt to Chevron.
Here are some ideas for cheering up your school-aged kids without leaving the house.
Indoor Activities:

1.  Have a taffy pull.   The kids get to participate in making the taffy by pulling it over and over until it changes color and texture.  The recipe can be a little touchy; so it might be better to experiment beforehand if you are planning to do this for a crowd.
2.  Let your kids dissassemble an old piece of electronic equipment*.  You know- the old broken microwave you’ve had in the garage for years because you intend to fix it “some day.”  With a screwdriver, pliers, and hammer in hand, your child could have no end of fun with that thing. 
3.  Teach them the old fashioned game of pitching pennies.  All you need is a bunch of pennies, a wall, and two or more players.  For extra fun, let them keep the pennies.
4.  Begin a couple of yes/no campfire riddles with your kids.  These require no props at all, and can be hours of fun if your kids get into solving the mysteries.  Be very firm about not giving away answers until they guess, and you will drive them mad with curiosity (It’s only right after they’ve driven you mad for half the summer!) 
5.  Make easy and beautiful marbled paper using shaving cream and tempera paint.  These papers make great cards, giftwrap, or bookcovers. 
Outdoor Activities: 
6.  Find out if you really can fry an egg on your sidewalk. 
7.  Make mini s’mores.  The burn ban doesn’t have to mean an end to tasty little marshmallow sandwiches.   Roasting mini marshmallows over a candle works suprisingly well (and is a lot less nerve-wracking than a bonfire)
8.   Send them on a photo scavenger hunt.  Have them look for particular colors, shapes, or phenomena that they find in nature. 
9.  Make an aquascope for viewing all those interesting creatures and plants at the bottom of the pond out back (or take it to Barton Creek to explore underwater there). All it takes is a yogurt container, plastic wrap, and a rubber band!
10.  Give them each a can of shaving cream, and let them go crazy spraying each other.   
Be on the lookout for an upcoming post on having free fun at home with toddlers and preschoolers.
Katey is a stay at home Austin mom to two (soon to be three) little ones.  She blogs about inexpensive and creative activity ideas for families at Having Fun at Home.

*Some electronics may be unsafe for children to handle.  Please take care when choosing electrical items to take apart.



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