Play Activities

Kids Can Be Friends with Boredom – Being Bored Isn’t Bad

This might sound like a strange post for Friendship Month, but being bored isn’t bad, for kids or adults, and kids can be friends with boredom. Both the solution and the results can be very satisfying.

kids can be friends with boredom

Kids often say, “There’s nothing to do. I’m bored.” Our first reaction is just as often to worry. Next, we might find them something fun to do or hand them the remote or digital device, but we also need to let them be bored. Certainly, not all the time, but some of it.

Our first response needs to acknowledge their feelings. We might say something like, “Being bored is really boring, isn’t it?” Or, “It can be so boring to have nothing to do.” It’s really hard not to jump in and solve the problem for them, but stepping back gives kids a chance to get creative.

Have you ever gotten in the car with the intention of just wandering around and seeing what you can discover? We might explore places we didn’t know were there, hidden treasures. We might also discover places to avoid. The brain sometimes needs to just wander too.

As parents and educators, we hear ourselves telling kids they need to slow down and take their time, and the very opposite, to quit taking so much time and to get something done. Managing time is very challenging and contradictory. Kids, and adults, have to figure out the best ways to use time. Being bored is part of that process.

More than that, being bored means the space and time to tune into ourselves. In Huffington Post, Dr. Vanessa Lapointe writes, “Children need to sit in the nothingness of boredom in order to arrive at an understanding of who they are. And just as important, children need to sit in the nothingness of boredom to awaken their own internal drive to be.”

There are dozens and dozens more articles on why kids sometimes need to be bored. The video below explains in words and images and gives us more to think about:

Boredom can be truly positive, and kids can be friends with boredom. In that boredom, can be the space and time to be friends with oneself. How does your child handle being bored?


Kids Valentine Play Dough Fun is Hands-on Learning and Play

Part of the appeal of any holiday is doing some things again every year so, for a play-of-the-day, how about some kids valentine play dough fun? It’s hands-on and hands-in.

valentine slime

Although available in stores, play dough and it’s cousin slime or goop are easy to make at home and very inexpensive. Here are some instructions posted previously:

  • To make slime, first mix 1/2 cup of warm water and 1/2 cup of white glue. We popped several cinnamon candy hearts into the warm water and waited for them to turn the water a lovely red. Most of the hearts melted leaving only a little bit of the candy center to take out. When we added the glue, the red water became light pink.

  • In a second bowl,  mix 1 teaspoon of borax and 1 whole cup of warm water. Get ready for the next part, which changes very fast! Now, pour the gluey stuff into the clear water/borax and stir. Right away, the two solutions combine to make a polymer. There will likely be some extra water in the bowl which you can just pour off, leaving the wonderful goo.

As kids play with slime and playdough, they are developing:

  • fine motor dexterity and strength, and hand-eye coordination,
  • the ability to visualize, that is making pictures or images in the mind,
  • language skills, such as vocabulary and descriptive language to talk about what’s happening,
  • some basic math strategies like measuring and counting,
  • their senses, especially the sense of touch as they learn to discriminate texture, temperature, and size,
  • higher level thinking skills, such as planning, problem-solving, imagining and creating.

playdough learning and funChildren are using more than their hands to play. They are also expressing themselves and how they feel. Playdough or slime can help children release pent-up emotions and tensions. The world isn’t always a friendly place for kids, and with these materials, they can feel more in control. Slime adds an unexpected element, because it’s so much more flexible. Even though this can be a little bit frustrating, it’s also exciting. Kids soon learn that cookie cutters will not work with slime, like they do with playdough.

Play dough activities can happen at any time of the year, not just for special events and holidays. They appeal to kids of various ages and interests. Not all kids will want to make valentines, flowers, or hearts; some like to make dinosaurs and volcanoes. Kids get to create whatever they want to suit their needs and ideas. Can some kids valentine play dough fun be part of the action?

How to Get in the Zone? Kids Need PLAY!

Kids need play. Each New Year we think of ways to improve health and well-being. Our kids need unstructured play for healthy bodies and bright need time to play

With days so busy we have to plan our time, we run the risk of over-scheduling our kids too. While it’s understandable we want to give them as many opportunities as possible, unstructured and imaginative play is one of the best kinds.

To better understand what’s meant by unstructured play, think back to your own experiences and times when you announced to your parents, “I’m bored!” When urged to go play, you may have complained some more but also suddenly discovered something exciting to do or to make. Like a blanket fort, or a space station. Perhaps, you used a toy or ordinary item in a new way you hadn’t thought of before. It was such great play, you may even be able to remember it. From the outside, it may not have looked like play, but there was no doubt it was from the child-expert’s perspective.

imaginative play

Somehow, this sort of play builds better brains. Researcher Serfio Pellis, states, “The experience of play changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain….without play experience, those neurons aren’t changed.” (NPREd, Scientists Say Child’s Play Helps Build a Better Brain)

Unstructured may not be the best name, because it doesn’t stay that way. As kids play and interact with each other, they negotiate and create their own rules and structure. The play process wires pathways and connections in the brain. Learning to take turns, play fair, and not hurt, “prepares a young brain for life, love and even schoolwork.” We all live work and play in a social context.

kids need play

Blog posts and plays-of-the-day this month have all been about resolutions, ways to get in the zone. Absolutely, kids need play. It’s a sort of vitamin to take in a daily dose. By the way, adults need some too. How do you and your child get in the zone and play?

P.S. You can follow the 1 2 3 Kindergarten blog for ways to play and play inspirations. There’s an open invitation to come and play!

P.P.S. Check out Mrs. A’s course on Building Brain Power with Play.


New Year’s Resolutions: U = USE Non-Toys for Children’s Play

Kids impress us with their creativity and flexibility, especially in how to use non-toys for children’s play. So good, it happens almost daily! Have you had to search all over the house and car for something a little one was playing with? Like the keys or your phone? Kids play with almost anything. What appeals … Continue reading New Year’s Resolutions: U = USE Non-Toys for Children’s Play

New Year’s Resolution: Kids Need Time OUTDOORS Every Day

There are many great New Year’s resolutions, but a priority is kids need time outdoors every day. Try for at least 10 or 15 minutes, depending on weather. While this doesn’t sound like very much, it’s more than the average! Research has discovered kids these days only spend 4 to 7 minutes a day outside. … Continue reading New Year’s Resolution: Kids Need Time OUTDOORS Every Day

New Year’s Resolution Word #9: Kids Need IMAGINATION

Today’s new year resolution-of-the-day post combines two ‘i’ words, imagination and IQ, because kids need imagination. Thinking and feeling both use it. Here is a post from a few months ago, but imagination is so powerful, we can use the reminder. While we don’t think of imagination as part of IQ, it is a powerful … Continue reading New Year’s Resolution Word #9: Kids Need IMAGINATION

New Year Resolutions #8: H = Hands-on Play Activities

A New Year’s resolution word starting with the letter ‘H’ is easy; kids need hands-on play activities. Almost like they have brains in their fingers. When you look at a picture of the brain, it’s only the outline shape. What are too small to see, are the billions and trillions of brain connections. In a … Continue reading New Year Resolutions #8: H = Hands-on Play Activities

Dragon Dress-up Pretend Play: Imagination Helps with Reality

Imaginative play can help kids understand and cope with reality, so open up the tickle trunk—it’s time for some dragon dress-up pretend play. This play roars. A tickle trunk is just another name for the box, basket, old suitcase, or drawer that holds the collection of dress-up clothes and accessories. Halloween isn’t the only time … Continue reading Dragon Dress-up Pretend Play: Imagination Helps with Reality

The Story of the Last Playground

To kids, playgrounds are treasure, and the story of the last playground brings this message to our ears, our eyes, and our hearts. Children have been terribly affected by the war in Syria. Their schools and playgrounds have been bombed out of existence. The children are hungry, sick, and terrified. As they look around them, … Continue reading The Story of the Last Playground

Dragon Treasure Search Game: Warmer-Colder Clues

Dragons aren’t really into playing games but kids can play this dragon treasure search game and give clues warmer and colder for closer or farther away. Do you remember playing this game as a child? Pirates hide their treasure and at least make maps. Of course, dragons can’t write so they guard their treasure and … Continue reading Dragon Treasure Search Game: Warmer-Colder Clues