Summer Boredom Bucket List: Day 3

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Welcome to the third installment of ways to bust boredom! Hopefully these suggestions are already helping you avoid the dreaded “I’m bored” in your summer of social distancing.

Idea 9: Math-a-Mowing. Want to trick your kids into mowing the lawn? Okay, maybe not really, but I’m not joking when I say that this activity kept Travis happily busy for almost an hour.

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The original challenge was to see how long it took to snip the grass in 1 square foot of our yard. Using school scissors, we calculated it took about 1 minute. You can then extrapolate from there. If your yard were 10 feet square, then it would take you 10 minutes. Just imagine how long it would take to do a full football field this way! (Come to think of it, sit your older kids down to solve that problem with math, for another boredom buster…).

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Now Travis had discovered the simple thrill of using scissors in the grass, and he couldn’t be stopped. He loved trimming clover flowers and blades of tall grass, and proudly showing me how neat he had made each patch of lawn. Plus he discovered lots of bugs as he worked, popping up from his work to tell me about the latest six-foot critter he’d found. So it turned into a morning of nature exploration!

Idea 10: Squeeze Fresh and Fruity Orange Juice. Start the day off right with this fun activity. First, make oranges nice and squishy by rubbing them under your palms. This will help get the juice out to the max in the next step!

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Squeeze out with a citrus juicer, or just squeeze the oranges over a bowl. Pour into a glass and watch your kids’ eyes pop at the freshest juice they’ve ever tasted.

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Idea 11: Learn to Juggle. Here was another suggestion that was a bit advanced for a 6-year-old. Highlights had broken the lesson down into three steps, and we took it one step at a time. First was just tossing one bean bag back and forth. Travis mastered this quickly. In fact, he mastered it with his eyes closed, standing on one foot, looking over his shoulder, you name it!

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I was glad he was so proud because step two was beyond his coordination: Toss up one bean bag, then toss the second up when the first one reaches its apex. At least now we have a goal to keep working toward! Even this mama wasn’t very good at moving to step three – 3 bean bags!

Idea 12: Make Stick Puppets of Family Members. As was the case with our doodles from fingerprints, this game started simple and became loads of silly fun. At first Travis didn’t understand when I said we should make stick puppets of our family on craft sticks. But I showed him that we were imagining the stick itself was the body, and we needed to draw on features.

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Now he caught on to the idea, filling in hair, eyes, clothing, and other details. He insisted we make a puppet for the cat, too! (Note: If your kids prefer to be craftier, try making these puppets from fabric or felt, instead!).

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We then acted out silly stories about our family. And I do mean silly! This brought out the little kid in me, acting out tales that had us swimming through swamps and giggling at family inside jokes.

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We’ll be back tomorrow with a new batch of boredom busters!

Nature Sensory Bags and Suncatchers

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I hadn’t made Veronika a sensory bag in a while, and she seemed due for some squishy fun.

Normally for a nature-themed activity like this, the first step would be a nature walk! But we needed to stay close to home this morning so ended up just walking around the neighborhood. The kids still found plenty of treasures!

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“I found a baby pinecone,” Veronika told me proudly, as she added leaves and pinecones and other finds to the bag. I also made sure to add a few pretty flowers, knowing I’d want them for the suncatcher.

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When we got home, I filled both a gallon-sized zip-top bag and a snack-sized zip-top bag with clear gel. (Either hair gel or aloe vera gel work well; use whichever you can find that is largest and cheapest!).

For the small bag, I added only the flower petals, spaced nicely apart. I then taped this to the window. An instant suncatcher!

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Veronika poked at it curiously, but I think the sun hurt her eyes because she didn’t linger as she has with previous sunlit projects.

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Then I added everything else into the goo of the larger zip-top bag. This version, a more classic sensory bag, received way more of Veronika’s attention. Through the gel, she could feel all the various textures.

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Prickly pine needles, hard pinecones, soft flowers. She needed to show it to her doll, of course!

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She loved picking it up and squishing it, especially around the firm pinecones.

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I love to leave bags like this out where a toddler can return to them over the course of a day or two, interacting with it slightly differently each time.

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For security, use hot glue along the zipper when you seal the bag shut, and you won’t have to worry about any unexpected messes disturbing the fun!

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Baby Soccer

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Veronika has shown an early interest in balls: bouncing them, catching them, kicking them, you name it! So today I decided we should play a classic round of baby soccer.

I set up orange cones as the goal posts then lifted her from under the arms and swung her legs toward a bouncy ball. “Goal!” I said with excitement.

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She squealed with delight! We continued to play, alternating kicks from up in my arms…

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…with chasing the ball around to kick it with her sturdy little legs.

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Each time she got the ball through the cones, I repeated “Goal!” earning more big smiles of excitement. She knew she’d done something right!

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Of course you can play this game outside, too. Simply set up a make-shift goal with sticks or rocks for markers. Your toddler will love chasing after the ball!

Fire and Flavor

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Travis has been exploring how to cook with different elements (air, ice) thanks to his latest Raddish Kids, and today we did a quick test: would the same ingredients taste different, if cooked using 3 different “elements”? We chose corn on the cob for the experiment and tested out the following: air (roasted in the oven), water (boiled on the stove), and fire (cooked on the grill). Unfortunately we weren’t truly using fire for the last, since I only have an indoor grill pan. But we still had interesting results!

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Of course first comes the fun of shucking corn. Then for “air”, roast the corn in a 400 degree F oven for about 30 minutes. Boil the “water” version for about 5 minutes in boiling water. Grill the “fire” version over your barbecue or grill pan for about 10 minutes.

Once the three methods of corn had cooked, Travis first wanted to smell them. I had never realized how different these three cooking methods smelled, but it was so apparent when they were lined up on the plate! The oven method had roasted caramel notes, the boiled one smelled sweet and fresh, and the grilled one had a toasty aroma.

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Once they cooled, it was time for a taste test. Travis far and away preferred the sweet tenderness of the boiled corn. Air (oven) was his second favorite. “It’s sweet and tart!” he declared.

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He decided he didn’t like the grilled one, which may again be the fault of the grill pan versus a real grill. Which method do your kids prefer? Please share in the comments!

Grasping Objects

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Has your kid ever wondered why we have thumbs but most animals they see don’t? Or asked what the thumb is for? Travis sure has! This quick STEM lesson illustrates how useful the thumb can be, and how important it is for us as humans.

To start, I taped Travis’s thumb down against his palm. Our tape wasn’t that strong, so he also had to promise not to cheat, ha.

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Now I challenged him to write his name using only the free fingers. Wobbly letters followed, which made him giggle.

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Then we placed several small objects down on the table. Smaller and flatter will be more of a challenge for this activity (think keys or coins). It took some pondering on his part, but then he figured out he could pinch items up using the middle and pointer fingers. He was quite proud!

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If your child knows how to tie his or her shoes, that would be another fun challenge with the thumb taped down. To finish the lesson, we brainstormed other animals that have opposable thumbs.

Travis’s mind was blown realizing that yes, humans are animals (sometimes we forget what our kids don’t know yet!), and that our closest relatives are apes and gorillas with thumbs, too.

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