By Diane Burton
Most of the U.S. has been experiencing record heat temperatures. If you’re in those areas, that’s no news flash. Usually, Michigan has a few 90+ days. Not this summer. We’ve had more than our share. So, what do you do with the kids when it’s too hot to go outside?
You could let them watch television all day. Or play computer games. Too much “screen time” isn’t good for any of us. Even if you let the kids watch “educational” television, like PBS programs, that’s still passive. Kids—actually, all of us—need more stimulation than that.
What kind of indoor games can you play? Something as simple as a sheet over a table where kids can play “fort” and imagine all kinds of enemies from which to protect the home. (That’s what my mom used to do for my sister and me.) Or card games. My mother taught us how to play rummy when we were little. That’s terrific for matching numbers or teaching sequences for young kids plus strategy for the older ones. Remember Go Fish or Old Maid? Concentration, where you matched the numbers on cards. Of course, there’s always board games like (depending on the age) Candyland, Life, Trivial Pursuit.
Or the kids could make up stories. Under that sheet over the table, they could pretend it’s night and tell ghost stories. I do not recommend that if there are little kids present. LOL They might never take a nap. And, believe me, not only do little kids need a nap, but their parent/grandparent needs one, too.
I found this unique storytelling game online through the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, called Storymaker.
My grandchildren love this. When they were young (age 3 or so), they would tell a story, using the prompts in the program, and I would type. It’s interactive with characters, settings, objects that they can choose and writing prompts for action and interaction between characters. Now that they are older, my grandchildren like to do it by themselves. After the story is finished, it can be printed out. I will add a caveat here: be careful. Lately, some stories have been lost because I didn’t handle the computer with care. A wrong touch on the screen made my grandson’s story disappear. Maybe I should have “told” him instead of “showing” how to print. LOL
No computer? No problem. There’s nothing wrong with writing stories the old-fashion way with a pencil and paper. Then, using crayons or markers, illustrating the story.
A game my youngest granddaughter (age 3) likes to play is “who’s this?” We go around the house finding family pictures. Same with picture albums. At first, I told her who the family members are, now she does. She gets the biggest kick out of finding her daddy when he was young or grandpa without a beard. Her attention span is not long, so the game is short.
You can make up games, too—like I did with “who’s this?” What about trivia questions from books they’ve read? They could write down the questions to try to stump their siblings. Use poker chips for guessing the correct answer.
Reading is always an alternative to watching television. My daughter has a rule for her family—they can’t watch a movie (that’s based on a book) until they’ve read the book first. Even at ages 8 and 11, the kids like to be read to. So, if they want to watch a certain movie, daughter or son-in-law will read the story to them. Of course, there’s nothing like being told by an eight-year-old that he’d rather read it himself because he can read faster.
Working with clay or Play-doh or making slime is a great way to keep hands busy. So is making and decorating cookies with a yummy reward. Playing hide-and-seek (tiptoeing instead of running) is always entertaining.
Enjoy the last of the summer. School is coming fast.
What games have you made up for your kids/grandkids?
About the Author
Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mystery series. She is also a contributor to two anthologies: Portals, Volume 2 and How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.
You can read Diane’s “Family Life” column on the 3rd Wednesday each month here at Pandora’s Box Gazette.