When the rainy days keep kids inside, it's not long before there are complaints of boredom, followed by whining and complaining... essentially the full production of "The Play Inside Blues." What's the best way to treat it? Head to the kitchen! Here are a bunch of nifty things to do with children.
Use your noodle!
There are oodles of activities for kids to use their noodles, and yours too! Speaking of noodles, they can be painted with color, glittered, strung on a necklace or glued into a design. If purple pasta sounds palatable, add a few drops of food coloring to the cooking water.
Or, how about some dough? It's easy to cook and smells good enough to eat. This easy recipe can be doubled. Or perhaps you'd like to make two different flavors. Although it's not tasty, it is not going to hurt little ones should they try it.
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 package unsweetened drink mix
1/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 cup water
Mix dry ingredients (flour, salt, cream of tartar and the drink mix) in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add water and oil. Stir three to five minutes, until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat, turn onto flat surface and knead until smooth. Store in a zipper-type plastic bag in the refrigerator. Then gather the cookie cutters, the glitter, and the rolling pin and use your imagination.
More recipes for fun
Unsweetened powdered drink mix can be used in making lots of kid-friendly crafts. Add it to water to make scratch 'n' sniff paint. Add it to 3/4 cup of shortening (or melted bees wax), put in little tins or old film canisters to harden in the fridge and bam, great smelling lip balm.
Peanut butter makes great edible glue. Try making a spider cracker sandwich, using eight straight pretzels as legs four on each side. Or spread the PB, and spread the weath: Give the birds a needed mid-winter treat with a pinecone frosted with peanut butter and then rolled in birdseed.
Other creative crafts kids really enjoy
- Make your own rock candy. Heat 1 cup of water until boiling and slowly add 2 cups of white sugar, stirring constantly and carefully. Use a candy thermometer and heat to 240 degrees (Ours only got to 210 degrees and it worked fine). Carefully pour into deep clear container (mayo jars work well). Hang strings from a stick over the top of the jar, making sure not to let the strings touch the sides, bottom or other strings. Let sit at least 48 hours, or for larger crystals, up to a week.
- Create a special greeting card or booklet by "binding" construction paper folded in half, punching holes in the middle and tying with string or ribbon.
- Frozen juice concentrate lids make great magnets when decorated. Cut out round photographs and glue on lids. Add sparkles, glitter or stickers. Glue (or by magnet tape) a magnet to the other side. These are great gifts.
- Did you know that sterilized Styrofoam meat trays make great Shrinky Dinks? Draw on them and cook on a cookie sheet at 325 degrees F for a few minutes.
- Make your own bookmarks by weaving yarn through the tines of a fork. Wrap another piece of yarn around, gently pull off and viola.
- Who doesn't have old crayons? They make great custom picture frames or wreaths when glued onto Styrofoam or wooden forms. If you want to recycle them, remove the wrappers and melt them in a microwave-safe container. Then pour the colorful mixture into candy or soap molds. We used flower-shaped soap molds for each different color and had great results.
- Recycle old magazines and make a collage. Pick out dreamy pictures, and accent them with glitter. Or cut the pages into long narrow triangles. Paint with glue (or a glue and water mixture), and tightly roll them up around a toothpick. Let dry, then string.
- My five-year-old made her own sidewalk paint by grating sidewalk chalk, but there's a better way. Mix cornstarch and food dye in a zipper-type bag. Add water and you're ready to paint.
- Try the ancient Ukrainian art of egg blowing and painting. Use a needle to make small openings on each end of the egg and blow the insides out. Rinse with white vinegar, pat dry and draw, paint and glitter.
- Sponges and potatoes make great stamps. Cut in half, or in shapes, dip in paint and turn ordinary paper into stationery.
- A wire coat hanger can be a base for a mobile. Tie shells or pictures to it with fishing line and hang.
- Two pieces of felt or scrap fabric and with some cedar needles inside can be sewn into a great smelling sachet.
- Make your own Pet Rock by painting and drawing or gluing on eyes.
- Old and clean baby food jars make great little snow globes. Just fill with corn syrup and glitter. Close tightly and tape. Make it extra special by gluing a little flat-bottomed toy to the lid and let dry before making snow globe.
- Don't toss those beautiful holiday ribbons add them to a garland crown. Shape the garland to fit, and tie on coordinating ribbons to make a train.
Other fun indoor ideas
- Create art by doing rubbings of coins, leaves or keys.
- Make a simple gingerbread house with frosting and graham crackers.
- Paint and glitter bottles, boxes or flowerpots.
- Get the couch cushions and some blankets and make a fort!
- Set out a blanket in the living room and have an indoor picnic.
- Make some lemonade and little sandwiches and have a tea party.
Use your imagination when spending time with your children. They won't remember that the bathroom wasn't spotless or the laundry wasn't folded, but they will recall the afternoons that you played with them.
Points and Prizes Keyword: WHINING worth 50 points good through 01/28/08.