Engaging Activities for Kids: Creative and Fun Ideas to Keep Your Children Entertained

The World has changed a lot since my children were young.  It’s driven by by technology! It's quite common for children to get absorbed in screens, whether it's watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the internet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dismissing all of these activities as they can be both entertaining and educational but it’s crucial to strike a balance and offer children a range of engaging experiences that promote their creative and social development.

With the summer holidays coming up here in New Zealand – 6 weeks off school – lots of parents find themselves struggling to entertain their children.  It’s hard when we are juggling work and family and trying to do what’s best for your kids.

The Importance of Keeping Your Kids Busy

Engaging children in activities brings benefits that contribute to their overall well-being.

Participating in activities that involve movement and exercise not only helps them maintain a healthy weight but also promotes the development of strong bones and muscles while improving cardiovascular health. The trick is to find something that really lights their fire and keeps them happy. As soon as your kids think they are doing “exercise”, you’ll lose them.

I was raised with a mother who was very creative. She spent so much time encouraging pursuits such as arts and crafts, music, or storytelling spark imagination and nurturing our self-expression.These endeavours empower children to explore their creativity, enhance problem-solving skills, and build confidence in their abilities. They certainly did for my brothers, sister and myself.

Even better, fostering interactions through playdates with friends, team sports involvement, or club participation provides opportunities for children to learn how to engage with others effectively. It allows them to develop empathy towards others' perspectives and cultivate connections – essential skills for success both academically and socially.

I can’t tell you how many cardigans and jumpers were knitted by my mother whilst standing on the side of the sports field!

DIY Row Counter Tutorial

The Impact of Excessive Screen Time

While screens can provide entertainment and learning opportunities, spending much time on screens can negatively affect children's development. Research has shown that excessive screen time can result in attention issues, disruptions in sleep patterns, and heightened aggression. Additionally, it can contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle, increasing the risk of obesity and other health concerns.

I know for me personally when my children were small, watching cartoons used to hype my daughter up so much that we made her run around outside afterwards. For my son, it was the opposite. Some programs actually made him feel angry or lethargic.

Experts advise that children under the age of two should avoid screen time altogether while those older than two should limit their screen time to one hour per day. It is important to offer children activities that engage their minds and bodies in ways.

I see so many children in the supermarket or out and about with an iPad in their hand, keeping them busy while their parent shops.  Learning to shop is actually a great learning experience, and a vital one.

I home schooled Jesse when we lived in Canada and the weekly supermarket shop was part of his schooling.  I had him work out how many meals he would get out of a box of cereal if he ate a certain weight each day, or how much each 100 grams would cost.  He loved it and didn’t even know that it was “schoolwork”.

Phone Safety

So many children these days have mobile phones. I get it. You want to keep them safe and they are good for that.  But please be aware that your phone, or your child’s, could be hacked at any time.  Now is the right time to check it out if your phone is being tracked and enhance the security measures on your phone, especially if your children have access to it. Check out this article, how to tell if your phone is being tracked.

Indoor Activities for Kids

When the weather is not cooperating or you need a break from the outdoors, there is plenty of fun and engaging indoor activities to keep kids entertained:

  • Arts and Crafts: Unleash your child's creativity by engaging them in painting, drawing, sculpting, or even making DIY crafts. By the by, making stretch bracelets is a really fun activity for your children, especially if you use letter beads so they can add their names.
  • Building Challenges: Encourage problem-solving skills through building challenges using blocks, Legos or other construction materials. Legos was always a favourite in our house. Take away the instructions and see what happens!
  • Educational  Games: Combine learning with fun by playing board games, word puzzles or trivia quizzes.
  • Indoor Scavenger Hunt: Create a scavenger hunt around the house with clues that lead to treasures or prizes. This is one of my most favourite ways to entertain children and can go on for hours! Just make sure you’ve hidden the Christmas presents well before you embark. Children have a knack of finding things they aren’t supposed to.
  • Storytelling: Engage your child's imagination by reading stories or taking turns creating your imaginative tales. You will be surprised at what creative stories emerge from your child’s mouth when they are given the opportunity to “spin a tail”.
Butterfly in the Rose Garden Bracelet Tutorial

Outdoor Activities for Kids

Playing outside can be a lifesaver for parents.  If you have a fenced garden or backyard, you can just let them lose but if not, there are other options. Outdoor activities provide a wealth of benefits for children's physical and mental health:

  • Play in the Park: Visit a park where kids can run, climb, and play on swings, slides, and other playground equipment.
  • Explore Nature: Take a walk in the woods, go for a hike, or visit a local nature park to discover the wonders of the natural world. A trip to the zoo can also be a great adventure.
  • Sports and Games: Encourage active play with sports like soccer, basketball, tag, or frisbee.
  • Gardening: Get your hands dirty and teach your child about plant life by planting flowers, vegetables, or herbs in a garden. Kids love to watch things grow!
  • Outdoor Adventures: Organize outdoor adventures like camping, fishing, or geocaching to create lasting memories. A trip to the lake, sea, park (whatever’s near you) including a barbecue is a fun way to spend some time.

Educational Activities That Are Also Fun

Learning doesn't have to be boring! In fact, it’s really important that it isn’t. Make it fun by combining education with fun through engaging activities:

  • Science Experiments: Conduct simple science experiments at home to teach kids about concepts like magnetism, gravity, volcanoes, and earthquakes. Jesse     and I did this experiment as part of his home schooling. He loved it.
  • Cooking  and Baking: Get kids involved in the kitchen by helping to prepare meals or bake cookies. This is a must have life skill.  I love it when I see Jesse sniffing spices to decide which ones should go into a dish.  He learned this because we “played” in the kitchen.
  • Educational Apps and Games: Utilize educational apps and games that teach about various subjects in a fun and interactive way.
  • Interactive  Museums and Learning Centres: Visit museums or learning centres that offer hands-on exhibits and activities. During our time in Canada we went to the Ontario Science Centre quite a few times.  It was always lots of fun.
  • Educational Tours and Workshops: Participate in educational tours or workshops that explore topics like history, art, or nature.

Family Activities for Bonding

Engaging in activities together can strengthen family bonds and create lasting memories:

  • Family Game Night:  Gather the family for a game night with board games, card games, or trivia quizzes. We have a tradition of playing board games on Christmas Eve but it’s definitely not limited to that date. We like to gather around the table and play all the time. In fact, my family hosts a weekly game of Dungeons and Dragons.
  • Family Movie Night: Enjoy a cozy movie night together with popcorn, snacks, and comfy blankets. Make it a movie experience by putting your popcorn into cardboard containers and getting the right ice cream!
  • Family Outings: Plan outings to the zoo, bowling alley, park, or other kid-friendly destinations.
  • Volunteer Together: Give back to the community by volunteering together at a local charity or organization. During his time at Wa Ora Montessori School, Jesse did a lot of volunteering. It was part of his school curriculum. There are plenty of places you an go to volunteer. A quick google search will show you.
  • Create Family Traditions: Start family traditions like weekly family walks, monthly camping trips, or annual baking competitions. Just like our Christmas board game tradition, there are lots of ways you can create traditions. Believe me, your children will cherish these and probably take them on to their own families. Just make sure you are consistent with your traditions.

In today's world of distractions, it is crucial to provide children with engaging activities that nurture their abilities, creativity and social skills. By setting limits on screen time and encouraging experiences through the activities mentioned above, we can help children develop into well-rounded individuals who are ready to embrace life's challenges and seize the opportunities that will come. 

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December 4, 2023