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Fun, independent wish list

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I am looking for some fun items that will inspire my kids to do something besides beg for screen time.  We have puzzles, snap circuits, games, etc.  It is hot here, so outside stuff will probably not get used, plus we live in a neighborhood with nothing interesting outside.  I would like things that don't require much from me since I am prego and tired.


I have boys ages 14 and 11, and a girl that is 9.


What items should I check out to inspire creative, perhaps educational fun?




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Boredom. It is free and doesn't involve you at all (or it shouldn't). Get rid of the screen, wait a few days, and wahlah! Creative, educational fun just magically happens. Sounds like you have plenty of things at home for them to play with already.


Seriously, I don't think there is a game out there that a child would rather play with over video games. That just hasn't been my experience or observation.


Tell them it is for their own good; you are concerned that their brain is atrophying from not being used often enough, so the screen has to go. If they complain of being bored, tell them to go find something to do or you have a list of chores for them to do to keep them entertained. They'll find something. And since they will be forced to use their brain/imagination it will automatically be educational. Good luck!

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Limit the screens. At the ages of your children, they shouldn't need you to entertain them or play with them to get them started, like you might need to do with a 3 year old. 


Make sure you have lots of quality science materials, art supplies, etc around. If your older kids have a hobby they like or are interested in, get them doing that. Some fabric and a sewing machine perhaps? Some woodworking stuff in the garage? Some clay (real clay) and some canvases and paint (real art supplies). 


Some scrapbooking supplies. Music instruments. A cookbook geared towards teens. 



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Yes, I do limit screen time.  I do offer up chores when I hear, "I'm bored."  We have our swimming outings, Tae Kwon Do lessons and church activities.  We have art stuff, but my boys aren't crafty.  We have shelves and shelves of books. 


What I am looking for are specific new things, links to products that your kids have enjoyed.  I think we need some new stuff to spark some new interests.

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Just a few random ideas:

- models -- cars, planes, boats, etc. -- aseembling, painting... maybe even researching the history of the original

- origami

- stamp collecting (another great tie-in to all sorts of historical research)

- musical instruments

- computer programming -- some great kids' & teen resources out there (yes, it's screen time, but a big step up from gaming)

- making jewelry -- beads and/or twisted wire / "chain mail"

- do you have a digital camera? check out stop-action animation -- software available to put images together into a movie

- redecorate their bedrooms (w/ lots of handmade details in a theme) or another area of your home (with your approval)

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My 11- and 14-yr-old boys need lots of outside time.  Which can be difficult if it's hot.  If you don't have access to a pool, make sure they have lots of outside time early in the morning or late afternoon/evening when it's not so hot.  Or provide water activities with a sprinkler and hose.  Projects that they can do on their own (14-yr-old taking the lead and 11-yr-old helping out) are also excellent. You provide the materials but let them do it.  Here are some ideas:


* build a sandbox

* build a zipline

* build raised garden beds, design and plant a garden 

* chess tournaments, actually learning the strategy of chess

* Life, Stratego, Battleship and other games

* library reading program or design your own

* get started on history fair or science fair projects for the school year

* skateboarding or basketball or volleyball

* running, strength or exercise challenge

* tie dye shirts

* projects from Backyard Ballistics (marshmallow guns are generally tame enough for even the most urban neighborhoods; potato cannons are more fun though!)

* cooking -- let the 14-yr-old cook an entire dinner

* volunteer work for a neighbor

* various art projects (knitting, sewing, painting, scrapbooking, whittling, small wood projects, etc.)


That's off the top of my head.  But, really, I think the key is to make the electronics off limits until Saturday, unplug the tv completely and provide a rich environment with hands-on activities.  There will be a transition time when the go-to electronics aren't available. But eventually, time + material = creativity. 



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