Beat Winter Boredom: Things to do inside

Ideas to Beat Winter Boredom @ Three Cornered HugOld Man Winter has teamed up with Jack Frost andΒ Punxsutawney Phil this winter to make a very miserable season for much of the US. If your kids you are tired of being cooped up, check out these ideas.

  • Play “Pockey” We invented this game a couple of years ago. Move all of your chairs away from the kitchen table and play ping pong–using your hands as paddles.
  • Have a sock fight in your living room. (Remember to hide behind a chair!)
  • Two words: SHRINKY DINKS
  • Put a pan outdoors to catch the snow, and use it make some snow cream.
  • Learn a useful skill with your kids. Grab a length of rope or paracord and head over to this knot tying guide
  • Learn how to finger knit
  • Make a PVC pipe fort (see this post to get started)
  • Roast marshmallows over your stove
  • Take apart broken appliances or electronics to see how they work
  • Let your kids do art in the tub! Color some dollar store shaving cream with a little food coloring (mix thoroughly in bowls before giving it to them)
  • Dance! Teach your kids to do the ChaCha Slide or look up vids with some old dances like the Twist or the Charlston.
  • Pull out the old home videos. Your kids will love to see themselves, and it will remind you to cherish your time together.
  • Make some new home movies–maybe of you trying the dance moves above!
  • Go to the Weather Channel’s site to search weather all over the world– from the equator to the poles. You may think yourself quite fortunate when you see what the temps are elsewhere!
  • Invest in a little indoor trampoline or a pedal exerciser (about $25 each)
  • See if any of your older neighbors would be interested in playing some games, or check to find out what you can do for them
  • Pick op a fridge box at Lowe’s (you’ll have to get there early) and make a house or castle
  • Order some pre-refrigerated bulbs to force indoors or start a potato or onion plant in a jar of water
  • Make up your own board game
  • Set up an indoor obstacle course
  • Have an indoor Nerf war!
  • Have your kids Facetime or call Grandma.
  • Make a card or some art to send to a grandparent or shut in. (After my Grandma passed, we found all of the cards and art we had sent her over the years in a chest)
  • Make your own play-dough: oatmeal, cinnamon, kool-aid, or fun cloud dough
  • Do a Google search to try to find possible volunteer opportunities in your area
  • Hang out at the pet store if you think you can do it without your kids begging for a furry friend!
  • Clean out your kids’ rooms. They are sure to find some old books or games they forgot they had!

If you have other ideas- please submit them in the comment section below!

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If you have a boy, you NEED this! DYI PVC Building Set

PVC Building Set @ Three Cornered Hug

A seemingly simple idea has provided us with a lot of fun–especially during the winter months when we need active indoor ideas.

We first saw a set like this at a kid’s museum (Cincinnati maybe?), and my son and husband spent forever lingering at station. When I got home, I thought–how expensive could that be? Well as it turns out, some of the little connectors add up, but overall, this is a good deal when you consider the cost of Legos and other building sets for kids. In addition we’ve been able to use this in so many more ways!

So, the set up is basic. We bought several long lengths of PVC pipe from Lowe’s and cut them down to 1′ lengths. We did this the hard way (with a hand saw), but a friend who borrowed the idea had her handyman husband cut them with an electric saw, which was much more accurate and faster. If you do this, I suggest you find a friend with a good saw.

Then, we basically bought every kind of connector we could find. AND THAT’S IT! See? I told you it was simple!

The amazing thing is all the different ways your kids will find to use these. You can make a structure which you can throw a blanket over for a fort, you can get a hose attachment and use them outside for a wacky sprinkler, I have seen kids make letters with them–the possibilities are endless! (If you blow into them just right they make a weird sound, too- like a sheep’s horn!)

So, what are you waiting for? Run out and get some! You won’t be sorry! (Unless you don’t warn your kids ahead of time about using these as swords)

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Beat Summer Boredom: Bird Watching

BirdwatchingBirdwatching is something you would typically think of as an adult activity, but not so. In fact, it was my toddler son who first piqued my interest in birds. One of his first phrases was “Lookittabirds, lookittabirds!” He was especially fascinated in the fall and winter when large flocks keep together and take off when spooked.

As the years have gone on and he’s matured, so has the hobby. We’ve found out that birders usually keep a life list and add to it when they spot a new species, so that was a must. He spends time on The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website listening to calls, and checks out books from the library about the world’s most bizarre birds (and believe me, they’re weirder than you think). When we travel to other places, he looks around for birds we don’t see at home. On a trip to Colorado earlier this year, we had the pleasure of seeing several bird strangers. He was able to use the birding app on his ipod to call them in close, and as they perched nearby and danced around, they held a kind of little “conversation” with him.

One tool he really enjoys is the monocular he got for his birthday this year. It’s handy to and light to tote around. A bird book from the library is equally helpful (although a good birding app will serve the same purpose). Still, you don’t have to have any fancy schmancy things to enjoy birdwatching. Just a few minutes, and some patience will do. See if your kids will get hooked, too.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find out if I have the proper spelling of schmancy πŸ™‚

Stellars Jay at Rocky Mountain National Park

Beat Summer Boredom: Ultimate Water Rocket!

I don’t mind telling you that my husband is the coolest dad on the block. What makes him so cool? Is it a red sports car with all the bells and whistles? Nah. The suave way he dresses? Not a chance. What is it then? It all comes down to one highly sophisticated toy.

Behold: the Water Rocket!

Water Rocket @ threecorneredhug.wordpress.comOk, so it doesn’t look like much, but this is totally the kind of thing that MacGyver would have used to keep cool in the summer (remember him?). Kids gather from all over the neighborhood to watch my husband shoot it off, and to hopefully get sprayed. The water rocket is even more popular than fireworks come Independence Day. A boy who visits his Grandparents across the street annually remembered it from last year. He begged us to bring over on the 4th. His grandpa, who teaches physics at the university here, is equally amazed– “It’s so scientific!”

If you’d like the plans to make your own, click here to go to the This Old House website. You can get plans and there’s also a video to show you how it’s done. You might tweak it a little. I’m told that it would be better to attach part of the string to each side of the trigger mechanism instead of one side as planned.

Now you too can be the the coolest. Only if you don’t live on my block πŸ™‚

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Beat Summer Boredom (and the heat!): Ice Skating

Ice Skates

Ice skating has long been one of our favorite summer activities. Yep, you read me right. Typically a person would only think about ice skating as a winter thing– but let’s face it, it’s hot outside and you don’t want to be out there. Where we live, it’s just a real special kind of life-sucking humid sort of heat, too.

Now, imagine how wonderful it feels when you enter that ice rink and suddenly your lungs are free to breathe in all of that fresh crisp air. It’s like a brick has been lifted right off of your chest! Have I convinced you yet?

We’re very fortunate here in that ice skating is very reasonably priced–only $2 each if you bring along a group. Our rink requires only 10 skaters for this, and it’s not hard to convince people to go! A quick email through our homeschool group’s chain made for about 30+ skaters yesterday, and we had a blast! Some rinks even have free days. So why are you still reading this? Call your local rink and see if you can make a deal!

Beat Summer Boredom: Printable Paper Planes

Printable Airplane & Helicopter PatternsSome years ago, I found this great site for printing out plane and “helicopter” templates. I’ve found that they never, never cease to amaze kids. The planes have varying degrees of difficulty, but the helicopters are so simple, it’s ridiculous, and they’ll keep kids busy for EVER- especially boys. And just a warning: if you make a boy one of these copters, he’ll want you to make more. Many more. You can make them fly just by throwing them up, but if you’re a cool mom you’ll let the kids stand on a chair.

*note: you’ll need a paper clip for each little helicopter.

Find the templates here.

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Beat Summer Boredom: Reverse Tie Dye

Twisted

My Grandma’s parents both passed away very early. The many kids that survived them were split among relatives. Grandma was sent to live with her Grandmother who was a pretty tough- she ran a maternity hospital in the Detroit area which was no small feat for a woman back in her day. My Grandma spent most of her childhood in that hospital helping out, and as a result she was a pretty spunky lady. She lived with us when I was growing up, and many colorful times were painted on the canvas of my life as a result of her colorful personality.

One of the things that sticks out most in my mind about our wonder years is that boredom was simply not allowed. “Sarah,” she would say, “only stupid people get bored.” (This was one of her many signature quotes. She really had a way with words, no?)

Now considering all of this, I have been wondering lately just WHY the summertime makes me feel so stupid. Read: BORED! I guess it’s because our homeschool group doesn’t do much during the summer, everyone is on vacation, and we don’t have family in town. Really, here it’s so hot and muggy that one doesn’t feel like doing much at all- but that’s so…boring!

Fortunately, there was a second half to her saying: “Smart people find something to do.” Now if you ask my husband, he will tell you that this is a driving force behind my everyday life. I don’t sit around for too long before I’ll find something to do. I’ve always got a project going.

Also fortunately (for you!), I’m going to try to share some of the kinds of boredom killers we’ve tried so you’ll have some things to do to finish out your summer with a bang!

One thing we’ve had a lot of fun with is reverse tie dying. The thought hit me awhile back after doing some “traditional” tie dye that it may be able to be done in reverse with bleach. So what did I do first? The same thing you would do! A quick search on Pinterest proved that I wasn’t the first one to imagine the possibilities here. Since then, we’ve tried it many different ways. While one can get contact paper and cut out a design to stick on and spray around, it seems that the more traditional tie dye looking shirts are a bigger hit with the younger folks.

Fan foldFor the yellow example shown above, we put the shirt down flat on a table, grabbed it in the middle and started twisting until we got a flat sort of ball. Rubber bands were wrapped just snugly around the sides to spray. For the one with diagonal stripes, just use a fan fold on the shirt starting at one sleeve. This one was harder and took a couple of tries to get it folded right. It was then secured by putting rubber bands around it all along the length. It helps to have more than one set of hands for this.

Put some full strength bleach in a spray bottle and go to town!

Tips:

  • Use a 100% cotton if possible.
  • Make sure you get enough bleach on the exposed parts. It doesn’t spread as much as traditional dye. However, sometimes as with the fan fold, you can try it, let it sit a few minutes unfold and fold again to reapply if needed. (This does not apply to doing shirts with contact paper designs as mentioned above. Less is more with that method.)
  • When you are finished letting the bleach do it’s job, just hose it out well and then wash, or throw it right into the washer (alone).

This is a fun project and it’s really neat to see how the colors change. The yellow shirt turned to a white and the bluish green turned into a peachy cream (although it’s hard to tell in the pic). We’ve also tried black which lightens to a rusty sort of color and some red just turns lighter red.

Enjoy!

*PS I apologize for using a potty word which may or may not be allowed in your house. I sincerely hope your little ones were not reading over your shoulder. Keepin’ it real πŸ™‚