My children and I are always on the go. I try not to overschedule my kids with lots of activities, but the truth is, I don’t like to stay home. Why stay inside if we can go to a park or take a hike? Why sit on the couch when we can go to a museum or visit a new place? The problem is that my children enjoy staying home sometimes, and we all need the down time. There’s no reason we can’t try something new at home.
Here are a few of the new experiences we’ve tried at home so far this year:
1. Science Experiments: Children are naturally curious about the world around them. Simple science experiments can be done with even the youngest of toddlers. Mixing baking soda and vinegar never seems to disappoint the little ones. As children get older, they can find answers about the world around them. Finally, science experiments can be done just for the fun of it. We kicked off 2012 by licking 9V batteries- just to see what would happen. The kids thought it was so silly and even learned a bit about electricity while we were at it.
2. Take care of a plant: I have two black thumbs. Everything I try to grow seems to die within days. Luckily, I am better with children than I am with plants. And, even better, my children are better with plants than I am. I think it is because they are more mindful. They enjoy giving their plants water, raising the blinds so they get enough light, and transplanting them into a bigger pot when they outgrow their first one. Kids learn responsibility and observe the life cycle of a plant just by taking care of a simple bean plant. Leah came home from school with a bean wrapped in a paper towel in a zip lock bag. Two months later, the plant is over 4 feet high. She is amazed and proud of her little bean!
3. Cooking and baking: We love to spend time in the kitchen. One of our new experiences that the kids want to repeat is baking bread. Baking from scratch can teach children a lot about measurement and even chemistry. Best of all, the results are delicious!
4. Messy play: Don’t shy away from messy play with your children. It is so much fun, and it teaches kids to enjoy life. When we painted like Jackson Pollock, my kids were covered in paint, my lawn was covered in paint, and we had two dripping canvases in our garage for days. It was a pain to clean up, but watching the joy on my kids’ faces as they splattered paint all over the place was priceless.
5. Low-tech or No-tech day: I thought Screen Free Week would be difficult. My children like to watch a TV show in the morning and breaking out of that habit would be difficult, but the kids only grumbled about it. They found new ways to amuse themselves and rediscovered toys they had forgotten. I loved our Screen Free Week and think I’ll institute them more than once a year.