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Monday, October 13, 2014

Indoor Boredom Busters!

The temperatures are getting colder and winter is quickly approaching.  As a fresh coat of snow covers the ground, families can get a little stir crazy.  Plan ahead with a list of our top 10 favorite indoor activities for your child!  (Or if you want to spend a day in your jammies on the couch watching movies sometimes, that’s ok too.)
To see more fun ideas like what we have below follow RIKC on Pinterest @rikcpins

1.      Sensory Bags:  Sensory bags provide great sensory input for children that may need visual or tactile sensory reinforcers.  Sensory bags are awesome “fidget toys” and can also improve concentration and focus.

These fun filled bags can be filled with anything you want!  You can make Goblin Guts, Spooky Spiders, or anything you can imagine.  Our favorite Halloween sensory bag is Goblin Guts.  To create Goblin Guts you will need:
·         A zip-lock Bag
·         Cooked Pasta (We prefer spaghetti noodles)
·         Green food coloring
·        Plastic Eye Balls, Spiders and Snakes (whatever you think will make good goblin guts)
·         Clear hair gel
·         Super Glue

Instructions: Mix the pasta with a couple drops of green food coloring in a bowl.  Allow several minutes to dry.  However, don't wait too long.  You don't want the noodles to dry out.  Once dry mix the green pasta with all other ingredients in a zip-lock bag.  Then just secure the seal with superglue.

2.     Sand Trays: You don’t have to get very fancy with this one to enhance sensory learning skills.  Sand trays are perfect for practicing shapes, letters, numbers, or designs and are so easy to make! To get started on your own sand tray you will need:

·         Sand (can be found at craft stores or pet shops in the fish aisle)
·         Shallow flat container for sand (make sure the tray is big enough to draw in)
·         Cards with numbers, letters, shapes, designs or whatever you want to practice on them. (Parents you can even make your own sand tray for your child to mimic your drawing)

Instructions: Once you have your container just fill it with sand and start practicing!  We like for our trays to have a dark or colored bottom to them so that it is easier to see what we have written in the sand. 

3.       Calming Bottles: Sometimes emotions run high and we can all be a little cranky.  Calming bottles are great for helping children during these times.  Just shake up the jar and hand it to your child as they watch the glitter and water settle so will they.  Here’s what you will need:
·         A clear container. ( We tall water bottles)
·         Clear Elmer’s Glue. (Make sure the glue is clear traditional white glue will make the mixture milky).
·         HOT water (this helps the glue mix with the water)
·         Ultra fine glitter (can be found at any craft or hobby store)
·        Super glue for plastic (this will seal the jar once you are finished to prevent leaks or anyone unscrewing the lid)

Instructions:  Fill your container with HOT water.  Next you will begin to add the glue, we recommend about ¼ of the bottle of glue.  The more glue in the water the longer it will take the glitter to settle. Step three, add the glitter and mix (we used a plastic knife so that it could be thrown away after).  We like to have more glitter but you and your child might like less.  Just add the amount you think is best.  Now you can add the lid and seal it.  We use super glue for plastic bottles. 

** You can add more glue if you think your mixture needs it but remember the more glue you add the longer it will take for the glitter to settle.  By following our instructions it will take about five minutes for the glitter to settle completely. 

4.     Water Marbles: Water marbles are a great sensory tool and are just as fun to play with. You can purchase the marbles for about $2 in a variety of colors. When we play with water marbles we like to hide objects in them such as letters or coins to double as a learning experience. Water  marbles should be used under adult supervision to prevent swallowing.

5.       Treasure Playdough:  Is there anything more exciting than digging for treasure? This will keep the little ones busy for hours while focusing on fine motor skills.  And making the playdough is half of the fun! For a treasure chest of your own, here’s what you will need:

·         1 cup flour
·         ½ cup of salt
·         1 Tbsp Cream of Tartar
·         1Tbsp oil
·         1 cup water
·         Golden yellow food coloring
·         Approximately ¼ cup of gold glitter
·         A variety of gems, gold coins, colored beads, play jewelry, etc.  (Be creative with your “treasure”)
·         A small shovel
·         A small treasure chest  *optional*
Instructions:  Start by making your golden playdough “sand”.  Mix together the flour, salt and cream of tartar.  Next add the oil and water then stir until smooth.  Cook the mixture over medium to low heat until the dough looks dry but is still sticky.  Let the dough cool for 1 min then knead in the golden yellow food coloring and gold glitter.  Flatten out the playdough and place all of the “treasure” on top.  Fold the playdough over the gems and make sure they are well hidden and evenly distributed in the dough to make the dig even more exciting.  Place the “sand” in the chest and let the treasure search begin!
** This can also be done with dinosaurs to make a small archaeological dig site!  

6.       Pom-Pom Target Practice:  This one is pretty simple but will still keep the kiddos entertained for hours.  The difficulty level can be increased or decreased depending on the age of the child. 
Here’s what you will need:

Painters tape or masking tape
Large and small pom-poms (can be found at a craft or hobby store)

Instructions:  Tape a target on the floor.  For younger children you can only put only two rings on the target and use larger pom-poms.  For older children increase the difficulty by adding more rings to the target and use smaller pom-poms.  If you are a competitive family you can create your own scoring system to make play a little more interesting.

7.       Indoor Snowmen: Sometimes the desire to build a snowman is outweighed by the desire to not get frost bite.  The good news is that you can make a snowman without any snow at all and all from the kitchen counter!  To get started you will need:

·         2 boxes of cornstarch
·         A can of foaming shaving cream
·         A box or plastic container
·         A sheet, tarp, trash bag, newspaper or anything you can use to cover the table for any spills
·         Odds and ends you may have to help play in the “snow” Ex: buttons, yarn, beans, hard candy, dry pasta, ribbon, bottle caps etc.

Instructions:  Empty the boxes of cornstarch into the containers and add the shaving cream to the corn starch (we use the whole can).  Let your little one mix the snow together until it makes a crumbly powder that will stick together when formed into a ball.  If it isn’t sticking you may need more shaving cream.  You are now ready to make your snow art! Your snow should last a few weeks if you want to save it for another “snow day” just put a lid on your container for storage!

8.       Campground Living Room: Camping can be a lot  of fun but can also be hard to do for some families.  No worries!  Bring the campground to your living room.  Here we will show you how to set up your Campground Living Room.

·         Tent (If you already have the real thing great, if not a good old fashioned tent from bed sheets will be perfect). 
·         “Campfire”
·         Oven S’mores
·         Flashlights
·         Sleeping bags
·         Nature Crafts (perfect way to bring the outside inside for your special campout)
Setting up camp:  Decide where to set up the tent so that it is easily accessible for everyone and in a safe place.  Next it’s time to start the camp fire.  For logs we use old paper towel and toilet paper rolls or you can use brown construction paper formed into a tube shape.  For the center of your fire use red, yellow and orange construction paper cut into flame shapes. (For an extra touch we also like to put a battery operated candle in the center of the fire to give off a real glow while being safe!) Glue your logs and fire to a square piece of cardboard (pizza boxes work well). 

Don’t forget the s’mores!  Preheat your oven to 450 F and assemble the s’mores on a baking sheet (just bottom graham cracker and marshmallow for now) place the crackers about an inch apart from each other.  Let the s’mores bake for about 5 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and place the piece of chocolate on the marshmallow and top with graham cracker.  Let cool and enjoy!

Bring nature indoors!  You can create a nature loom or skip ahead to #10 on our list!  Nature looms are a classic camping activity.  Collect sticks for the frame of your loom, choose a size that best represents the size of loom you wish to make.  Lash the sticks together with yarn to create the base.  The base can be in any shape you would like! Pull the yarn tight in a criss cross motion to bind the sticks together at the base.  For the inside of the loom tie a piece of yarn at the corner of your base and begin wrapping it around the loom.  To decorate your loom use items from outside such as flowers, leaves, nuts, bark or pine cones. Just be creative! 

9.       “Stained Glass”: Creating your own “stained glass” masterpiece is great fun on rainy day, cold day or snowy day.  This can provide entertainment for hours or just as a quick activity depending on how big you want to make your piece.  Here’s what you will need:

Press and Seal Wrap
Masking Tape
Colored Tissue Paper

Instructions:  Cut the desired size of press and seal wrap for the “glass” and use the masking tape to tape to a wall or window (this just holds the wrap up so it’s easier to add the tissue paper). Next cut the tissue paper into different sizes and shapes.  Once you have cut your tissue paper press them onto the press and seal to create a colorful pattern! 

10.   Birdseed Wreath: We love every part about making a bird seed wreath, from the sensory feeling of the bird seed, to creating a food source for the birds we share a yard with.  Once the wreath is hung outside your children will be anxiously waiting to see the first bird stop by for lunch. To get started you will need:

4 cups of bird seed
¾ cup of all purpose flour
½ cup of water
3T corn syrup
1 package of plain gelatin
Cooking spray
Bundt pan or other mold with a hole in the center

Instructions: In a large bowl put ½ cup warm water and gelatin mix together and let the gelatin dissolve.  Whisk in the corn syrup and flour to create a paste.  Add in 4 cups of bird seed and stir well.  Spray the Bundt pan with cooking spray then scoop in the seed mixture as evenly as possible.  Compact the seed in the pan with a spoon or spatula. Leave the seed in the pan for 24 hours to harden and dry.  After 24 hours turn the wreath over onto a plate or paper towel and then allow continuing to dry for 24 – 48 hours.  Now you are ready to hang your wreath from a tree limb with your ribbon (Just make sure to tie the knot tight). 

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