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Saturday, June 25, 2016

What to do with Children Who are Bored by Trisha Roberts

Alleviate Summer Boredom

Summer evokes in me wonderful memories of freshly mowed grass, a breeze caressing my cheeks as I sway in a hammock, the feeling of  lassitude. And Then.... The peace is shattered by the words every parent dreads:  "I'm bored!  There's nothing to do!"  Every parent wonders as summer progresses, "What am I going to do with the kids?" Don't give into "The Whine" by plopping kids in front a screen, be it a tablet, TV, or video!

 So how can we cope with the downside of Summer Break? I don’t have all of the answers, but I can speak from experience as to how I handled the boredom issues and stimulated Creative Thinking in my own children.

When my kids were young, I kept a running list that I called,

“Imagination Jump Starts”.  

You can write it out and put it on the refrigerator, make a note on your smart device, or keep it stored in your brain (that usually doesn’t work for me, as my brain develops leaks on a regular basis!)  I found that if I gave my children an idea to get them started, they were able to play creatively for hours.  Some of the ideas on my Imagination Jump Start List were:

  •  Zoo Day—pretend that you are opening a Zoo.  You need to feed all of the animals, get animal exhibitions ready, take tickets, escort visitors on tours of the zoo.  Let your children take the idea and run!
  • We’re going on a trip to ________ (Africa, New York, Europe, Camping, Grandma's House, etc.).  We need to pack, drive to the airport, take a plane (someone can be the person at the ticket counter, pilot, flight attendant), and visit different sights. Let the kids pull from past experiences and invent new scenarios.
  • Plan a Puppet Show for the family or neighbors.  Make Sock Puppets or Puppets from paper lunch bags, if you don't already have them.  You can keep them simple with Permanent markers and old socks or go into more of a craft project and use buttons, fabric scraps and a glue gun. 
Puppets from Paper Bags
Simple Sock Puppet

Use a Puppet Stage or move the couch out from the wall and have the children kneel or sit on small chairs behind it.   
Puppet Stage
Puppet Stage (Available at our Retail Store

  • We are Noah’s family.  We need to build an Ark.  We need to collect 2 of every kind of animal and get them on the boat.  We need to find all the food the animals will need.

Play Noahs Ark

  • Today we will be Columbus and Crew, Lewis and Clark, Daniel Boone, Captain Cook, the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, etc.  Let children recall the events and facts and then let them explore! (You can always Google an account of the salient facts!)
  •   Let’s be the Park Ranger today and make the backyard into a State Park.  What will we show all of our visitors?
  •  We are going to the Mall today.  Each child can set up a “store” or restaurant in the food court to visit.
  • Let’s turn our Family Room/Backyard into a Circus today.  What Circus acts will we feature?  What animals will our visitors see?
  • Read a story or remind children of a Fairy Tale they know well and have them act it out. (Think Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Three Billy Goats Gruff, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, The Wizard of Oz, etc.)

Cafe for Kids
Kids Restaurant

  •  Make the living room into your favorite restaurant.  Have the kids be chef, customer, server, bus boy, etc.

Most of these ideas can be indoor or outdoor activities, depending on your situation and the weather. This is just a few ideas to get you started.  You can vary the details depending on the age of your child, but it gives children the opportunity to recall information, relive memories, to create and re-create experiences, to imagine new worlds.  It develops life skills and allows them to explore possibilities.  See my previous blog article, “Importance of Pretend Play”.

We welcome your additional suggestions to share with other parents who might be pulling out their hair.  Make summer fun.  Make memories that will last a lifetime.  Keep children off those “devices” and “screens”!

by Trisha Roberts
Copyright © 2016 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Summer Family Activities by Trisha Roberts

Summer has Arrived!! Make the Most of it!

How can you engage your children in meaningful activities this summer that will develop character and teach them to care for others? Is it possible to keep your kids active, make memories, develop compassion, teach altruism, and encourage acts of kindness?  Yes! The following are ideas and suggestions that might make a hit with your family. This is by no means an exhaustive list!  Talk with your kids and ask them what they think would be a fun way to help people they know.

Make and Delivery Cookies. 

 Make a double batch of cookies, letting your children participate to the level that their age, attention span, and skills permit. (Check out our "Little Baker Package" at our Retail Website)  Place 6-12 cookies on a pretty paper plate or inexpensive platter (readily available in dollar stores).  Let your kids decide who might like or need a special treat.  Assist them in making a special greeting card and then play delivery man! Your children might want to make this a weekly event!

Making cookies together as a family

Making Cookies as a Family
Making Cookies is ALWAYS fun!

Child visits nursing home

Visit a local Assisted Living Facility or Nursing Home.

If your children are musically inclined, play an instrument, or can sing to music on your CD Player, you might want to encourage them to select several songs that could brighten an elderly person’s day!

Singing at Assisted Living Facility

 You might want to play a simple, interactive game with several residents like, "Roll the Ball around the Parachute". 

Kids and Elderly Playing Parachute Games
Simple Parachute Games to Engage Children and the Elderly

Call the facility administrator in advance to get permission and discuss what you would like to do.  Ask what time would be good for a visit and whether you could visit several residents individually, address those eating in the Dining Hall, or perform for a group. If this will be the first time your children visit a nursing facility, you might want to discuss the fact that some of the people in the home may be in wheelchairs, have difficulty hearing, or be bed-ridden.

Make up Your Own Dance Routine and “Flash Mob” the park!

Pick a lively song and practice a series of dance moves that coordinate with the music. (You can get ideas from You Tube if your dance skills need some help!)  Enlist the aid of neighborhood children, friends, or relatives—the more, the better! 

Flash Mob Dance

Kids Flash Mob Dance
Children Flash Mob Dance Pick a location where other children gather--a local park, community swimming pool, shopping mall, playground, YMCA, grocery store (talk to the manger first!)  Map out starting positions and any movement patterns you want to incorporate and then make sure to practice your routine before staging your performance.  Have someone on hand assigned to video record the event!

Food Bank VolunteeringVolunteer at a Food Bank.  

Most Food Banks or Shelters need a steady supply of volunteers to help with unloading donations, shelving supplies, packing grocery bags, cleaning off labels, removing dented cans, etc.                                           
Food Bank Volunteers

Call to see what your specific local food bank needs and any age restrictions they might have.

Make "Goody Bags". 

 If you know any students leaving for college in your neighborhood, church, synagogue, or Parrish, it could be fun to put together a bag of special treats for them to take when they leave home. 
Goody Bags for College Students

Inexpensive items can be purchased from dollar stores or found on sale: shampoo, candy, gum, deodorant, pens, notebooks, lotion, picture frame, lip gloss/chap stick, desk calendar, etc.

Weed a Garden

 Do you know a neighbor who is elderly or someone who is having difficulty keeping up with yard work due to unusual circumstances in their life? 

Planting flowers

kids weeding flower garden

Why not donate a few hours one morning or evening to weeding, hoeing, or mulching their flower beds?  If they don’t have flowers, buy a flat of annuals and plant them near their porch or walkway. 

Model an unselfish attitude and caring spirit.  Raise children who are less self-absorbed. Demonstrate the joy of giving, expecting nothing in return! You’ll be surprised at how much your children will learn and grow!

Author:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2016 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.
Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

It's Bubble Time! by Trisha Roberts

Floating Bubbles

Bubbles are universal fun for young and old alike.  Something about that iridescent floating orb evokes memories of reaching for the sky and imaginary worlds beyond the rainbow.

Most children learn to purse their lips and blow around 3 years old.  

Blowing Bubbles takes practices
Learning to Blow Bubbles

Holding a full jar of bubbles and trying to keep it level while inserting the bubble wand is usually a skill not mastered until 6 or 7. 

Skill is required to use a bubble wand
Bubble Blowing with Mom
That’s not to say that young children can’t enjoy bubbles, but they require adult supervision if it is to be a successful adventure that doesn’t lead to a total mopping of the floor! 

Making Bubbles

I personally love the “spill proof” bubble containers, as the unique design of the container lid reduces the spillage of liquid to a minimum.
Bubble Container
Unique Spill-Proof Bubble Bucket

 If you don’t have the spill-proof bubbles, buying a set of small bubble containers (think ‘wedding bubble’ sized) and then filling them from a large container of bubbles is the most economical way to play. It reduces the amount of bubbles spilled and the number of tears shed when the bubble container is knocked over!

I prefer to instruct children ahead of time to get out their “pointy fingers” (index fingers) and try to stand in one spot and pop the bubbles. 

Pop bubbles with your finger
BOP Goes the Bubble!

Without instruction, most kids start running willy-nilly through the bubbles waving their arms and knocking other children down or whopping them in the head! By standing in one place and using their index fingers, they improve trunk control, isolation of upper extremities from the trunk, balance and postural control, eye-hand coordination, and fine motor skills.

Bubbles can encourage reaching
Reaching up for Bubbles

Young children can have fun with bubbles

Even infants can enjoy bubble play.  It helps develop early focus and tracking, reaching, language, and cognitive Skills.  If an adult is able to blow and then catch a bubble on the wand, 

Baby reaching for bubbles in the air

it can be placed within the baby’s visual range and moved to facilitate focus and tracking.  The child can be encouraged to reach out a hand or finger to pop the bubble, working on the development of core control, isolation of upper extremity movement from the trunk, and fine motor control.

Hold bubble on the wand for young children to pop
Catch Bubbles on the Wand so Young Children can Enjoy!

Large bubbles made with a bubble wand  are great fun outdoors.  Adults or patient older children can learn to make these gigantic bubbles with a bit of practice. 

Make Giant BubblesMake Giant Bubbles
Most wands come with a recipe for the bubble liquid and instructions in how to produce these monsters. It is important to keep foam and suds to a minimum and to slowly separate the wands connected to the ribbons of fabric so that the bubble doesn’t pop prematurely.

Bubbles that can be touched and stacked are also available and are sold under a variety of names such as “Catch-a-Bubble”, “Stack-a-Bubble” and “Touchable Bubbles”.  These are great bubbles, as they usually don’t pop until touched and will float in the air for long periods of time, allowing young children and children with speed and control issues a higher chance of successfully capturing or popping the bubbles.  This type of bubble should be blown by adults or older children, as spills are very sticky and difficult to clean.  They are non-toxic and do not stain furniture or floors, although they do leave a cobweb-like residue that easily wipes away. 

So choose your bubbles, whip out the wand and turn on the smiles and laughter. 

Laughing with Bubbles

Bubbles and Kids

Author:  Trisha Roberts

Bubbles Floating across the field

Copyright © 2016 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.
Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Play---A 24/7 Job! by Trisha Roberts

Play—A 24/7 JobThe Benefits of Play for Children

by Trisha Roberts

Children’s play is their work, their 24/7 occupation! Childhood is a time of intense learning and growth, and in fact, there is no other time in our lives when we learn more! Foundational skills are learned in our childhood and serve us our entire lifetime. Those skills are learned through interactive play--not in a classroom, not reading a manual, not watching television, not taking a course, and not playing a video game.

Babies learn through play
Play Helps Babies Learn and Develop

Think about the first year of a baby’s life. It is a phenomenal time of growth and learning! Infants learn to lift their head, roll, reach, sit, crawl. Babies learn to stand and walk. They go from a liquid-only diet to eating a wide variety of food and textures. They begin communicating non-verbally and then verbally. Babies develop initial relationships with their parents or primary care providers. And that is just the first 12 months! 

Playing with your child is important
Learning Through Play

Play skills prepare children for adulthood
Imitating Adults Helps Children Acquire Skills

Toddlers and Pre-schoolers learn coordination, balance, and spatial relationships as they continue to grow and play. Young children distinguish sounds, learn language and vocabulary while playing with musical toys and listening to Nursery Rhymes and Songs. They learn about the world and how it works by interacting in play. 

Playing hop scotch, climbing a slide, and swinging on the playground give kids a change to develop strength, coordination and balance.

Climbing builds strength
Climbing Builds Strength
Swinging is fun and builds skills
Playground Equipment Forms Strong, Healthy Bodies

Coloring, painting, and cutting develop dexterity and hand strength. Kids improve their understanding of spatial relationships when they build with blocks or fit together puzzles. 

Playing with Legos
Play Teaches Spacial Relationships

Playing Chef,
Make Believe Play
During  Pretend Play, creativity and improvisation skills are enhanced; children also learn to sort their emotions and reactions during role playing which leads to better emotional health. Children learn to cooperate, solve problems, and improve social skills when they play in a group. They learn how to handle arguments and disagreements. Children have a chance to ask questions, postulate answers, and draw conclusions in a safe environment and without judgement when engaging in play. 

Pretending to be a Fireman
Firefighter in Training!
Pretend play
Dress-Up Play

Older children improve in their ability to reason when they play board games and puzzles. They learn to apply their organizational skills and math abilities in more complex pretend play and cognitively challenging games. Children learn to follow instructions, give directions, organize and manage tasks, develop leadership skills and learn to be good followers. They gain proficiency and expertise in all of these life skills by playing!

Board games as a Family
Family Relationships Improve During Play

Playing board games as a group
Board Games Teach Turn-Taking and Friendly Competition

When kids are given time to explore and discover things on their own, they retain the new information longer than when they are “spoon fed” data. As our society moves more and more toward a “Digital World”, we are losing precious teaching tools. Children are spending more time in front of screens and less time engaging in physical movement and hands-on activities, leading to the rampant increase in childhood and adult obesity. Many adolescents don’t develop good interpersonal skills because they rarely interact face-to-face with others.

When children play with their parents or other adults, they develop emotional bonds and shared memories. Parents are more likely to fully engage with their children when actively involved in a game, instead of attending with half an ear and a face turned to their tablets or television. Some parents fall into the trap of thinking that their child needs more activities to “enrich” their lives and they begin the endless cycle of over-scheduling their child’s life—Karate Lessons, Little League, Piano Lessons, Gymnastics, Cheerleading, Soccer League, Girl Scouts, Art Class, Ballet, etc. Don’t misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with any one of these activities. The problem is that we don’t allow time for our children to just play and we don’t play with them. They become so busy with ‘stuff’ and ‘things’ and ‘activities’ that they don’t have time for fun, unstructured play that leads to the development of critical thinking skills, healthy relationships, strong bodies, and creative minds. A schedule filled with extra-curricular activities is not a substitution for free play.

Enjoying play as family
Bonding Time as a Family
Outdoor Family Time
Outdoor Family Play Time--Make it a Priority!

Play is the vehicle children employ to develop the skills necessary to navigate life. Children need to play as vitally as they need food, water, sleep, and love. One of our roles as parents is to ensure that children have sufficient time to play and to make time to play with them. Play ensures healthier, happier, better-adjusted children and future adults.


Author:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2016 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.
Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.