I have to start this article on a personal note and I don’t very often so please indulge me. I have two sons and my feelings for them are unique to anything in my life. I honestly believe I could stare at their faces all day. I could sit in a chair and watch them play for hours and they bring me more joy in life then I ever thought imaginable. I’m sure this is true for most mother/son relationships because as moms we try so hard to understand these little wild things from the moment they enter our life and it’s not always easy and doesn’t come naturally like it does for dads. We know they are different from us and it’s a beautiful feeling to just accept and embrace those differences.
From the time my boys were young, being active outside, running off massive amounts of energy was my connection and way to engage my guys. Now, more and more I find them craving anything electronic. They could bounce from the TV, to computer, to handheld devices all day and go to bed happy. Why the pull to electronics for boys? Starting at the age of 5 and 6 I’ve really noticed this behaviour and it worries me. I find as a parent I need to stand on my head to entertain them enough to leave these games. Part of me knows that boys need to be stimulated constantly to stay engaged with activities. What activities are effective with keeping them entertained and away from the screen? Here are a few ideas I can share that effectively keep their brains and hands busy:
Wood-nails-hammer. It’s really that simple. Put a pile of wood outside, different size nails and a kid friendly hammer and trust them to not break a finger. My 7 year old even made a Halloween decoration out back this year with wood and was so proud of himself. To encourage this healthy activity, Santa will be bringing my boys their very own toolboxes. This gift idea is a great price point and something practical that will get used. A hammer, variety of nails, tape measure, screws, and scrap wood can all go inside.
If your child is pre-school age and too young to handle real nails, my sons’ preschool had an incredible idea that introduced 3 year olds to the idea of hammering. They collected the packing foam that comes with a new appliance and put out golf tees and little hammers for the kids. The golf tees slide into the packing material like butter and they can’t hurt themselves. Pretty smart and the kids love it!
Drawing and crafting. Nothing keeps hands busy like paint, glue, and markers. My boys love to draw and craft. It can sometimes be daunting to come up with great ideas on the spot, so here it’s always nice to receive a great craft kit to bring out when boredom strikes. My little guinea pigs loved building the wooden rocket Green Planet Parties just got in. It includes paint, stickers, glue, 15 wooden parts, and boys had a blast putting it all together!
Playdough – so easy to make at home! Best ever play dough recipe found here and read the comments at the bottom of the article – there are some great ideas.
Ink pads and stamping. Great for boys that get easily frustrated drawing. I picked up a fantastic knights stencil and stamp set from Dandelion Kids and the brand is called Dejeco. It’s amazing and I can’t wait to try the stamp kit that consists of all robot parts. So you stamp robot parts together to make full robots which all boys love. Aliens, robots, wild animals are great bets that boys will want to draw and a stencil set can really benefit a child just learning how to draw.
Writing and story and illustrating. A great way to help with writing and drawing, my boys love to sit and create little books. When they are young, we write the story for them and they draw pictures. Now that they are older, they get to write and illustrate. These little books also make a great keepsake!
Dress up. Yes, boys love to dress up and a good cape is a magical gift for any young boy. Pirate gear or masking a caped crusader is wonderful to watch a boy transform. Try to purchase the cape without any shiny decals because it screams PVC. And if a treasure gold hunt accompanies these costumes, why that’s even better!
Kids and bird watching. Borrow a pair of grown-up binoculars, purchase a bird book of bird species local to your area, grab a pencil and notepad and you’re ready to bird watch. The small winter birds are out and hungry so it’s easy to put out a bird feeder and watch and record their activity for hours. A fun craft that we did today is making bird feeders out of pinecones, peanut butter, rolled in seeds. For full instructions click here.
Empty box. I hate to say it because you hear it so often, but my boys have the best time with oversize appliance type empty boxes. Cutting out their own windows, decorating with stickers or words is just the best feeling in the world. My 5 year old made his own Christmas house out of a box last year and I still have it in my garage. He worked so hard on it and it sat in my living room for months before we finally put it away. The best thing is these boxes are free and can be recycled at your curb when the boys are done decorating and playing in it. Here was the result with led lights and a christmas welcome sign attached by a craft tube that he thought of himself.
Do you have more ideas for keeping boys (and girls) entertained and unplugged? Please post a comment and share your ideas.