February 2012

Get Out!

Looking for some fun things to do with your kinds this winter? While many parents believe that indoor play is the safer alternative to going outside, the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that time spent outdoors can raise levels of Vitamin D, which can actually protect your child from things like bone problems, heart disease and diabetes.  With these fun, easy and inexpensive crafts, you will not only get your kids outside, you can boost their creativity as well.
 
Who doesn’t love a good 18 holes? Let’s face it, however; the golf course isn’t exactly cheap, or kid-friendly for that matter. This spring, why not build your own golf course in the yard? To make each “hole,” start by trimming the bottom off of a three-liter plastic bottle. Then cut out an arch in the remaining bottle for the ball to go through. Take each bottle and have fun labeling it using colored tape and markers. For each club, take a 3 x 11.5-inch piece of cardboard and wrap it around the bottom of a cardboard wrapping paper roll. Secure it with duct tape. Here is another chance for the kids (and you) to get creative. Using markers, color your “club” any way you choose. Take the bottles, spread them around the yard and have a ball – literally.(Source: http://familyfun.go.com/)
 
A backyard birdfeeder might seem totally old school, but when is nostalgia not all the rage? Besides, it’s also a great way to teach kids about nature. Start with a one-liter soda bottle. Draw a one-inch asterisk on the side of the bottle about four inches up from the bottom; rotate the bottle half-way around and draw another asterisk about two inches from the bottom. Draw a one-inch circle opposite each asterisk. Using a craft knife, cut out the circles and slit along the asterisk lines. Then, for perches, insert the handle of a wooden spoon through each hole and into the opposite asterisk. Insert a small eye screw into the bottle cap to use for hanging. Once done, fill the whole container with birdseed and hang from a tree in your yard. To make it an extra fun and educational activity, get a book on birds from your library. Each time your child correctly identifies a bird at the feeder give them a gold star, or bird stickers if you can find them. After they receive the number of stars or birds of your choosing, give them a small prize. (Source: http://familyfun.go.com/)
 
The arrival of spring is a great excuse to turn an outdoor clothesline into a theater. This is a great project for repurposing three old sheets and getting your kids to focus their creative energies. For this project you will need two clotheslines that run parallel to one another. On the back line, hang up a sheet that has been painted to depict scenery or even a generic stage image. On the line closest to the “audience,” hang one sheet at either end as the “curtain.” Use large binder clips to secure the curtain sheets, so the kids can slide them open and closed. Then, let the kids loose. Have them write their own plays or enact a family favorite. Either way, let them entertain you for a change. (Source: http://familyfun.go.com/
 
If your kids are more musically inclined, have them use their clothesline stage to perform using beans and rice instruments. Take empty coffee cans, plastic bottles or butter tubs with lids and fill them with uncooked rice or beans. Tape the lids on the containers with duct tape, toss on your kids’ favorite song and let them go to town. (Source: http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family)
According to a study by the University of Michigan, the average American child spends just four to seven minutes in unstructured outdoor play each day and more than 1.5 hours in front of a TV or computer. With these simple crafts, you’ll be able to at least get them out for say, 10 minutes. Hey, it’s a start.