- Making homemade playdough. This is a great activity that can be enjoyed by children of all ages and used over and over again. It is a great rainy day distraction. Psssst! Parents—don’t tell your kids, but here is a little secret: not only is making playdough loads of fun, but it is also a great way to practice following directions and basic math/measurement skills.What you need:
- 3 cups flour
- 5 cups salt
- 6 tsp cream of tartar
- 3 tbsp oil
- 3 cups water
Store finished product in a plastic container; it should last for around 3 months. To add color or scent to the playdough, you can add a few drops of food coloring, vanilla, an extract like peppermint or almond, or a packet of unsweetened Kool-Aid. Note: Keep an eye on young toddlers to make sure they don’t eat the playdough. The recipe provided is non-toxic in small amounts, but could result in an upset stomach if too much is eaten.What to do:
- Dissolve salt in the water.
- Pour all ingredients into a large pot.
- Stir constantly over medium heat until a ball forms by pulling away from the sides.
- Knead the dough mixture until the texture matches playdough (1-2 minutes).
- Baking. This classic rainy day activity can be customized to suit the taste and dietary preferences of your family. Like making playdough, baking is a fun way to practice following instructions and develop basic measurement skills. It is also a great way to practice taking turns and teach basic sequencing (i.e. first we add all the ingredients, then we put the dough on the cookie tray, etc).
- Puzzles. If your kids have mastered all the puzzles in your house, help them create their own! All it takes are scissors and construction paper. Have your kids draw or paste a picture on a sheet of construction paper or poster board. Use a puzzle you already have as a template, or draw the pieces freehand before cutting them out into puzzle pieces. Once the puzzle is created, they can have fun putting it back together. This is a great activity to use during get-togethers with other kids. They can also trade puzzles and try to piece together their friends’ creations.
- Board games. Create a new version of your favorite board game that is unique to your family. For example you could change the pictures in Candyland to match the places you stopped on your trip to Grandma’s last summer. You can also create your own version of Memory using pictures of your family’s favorite things. You might also create a brand new card game and name it after your family pet or favorite food. Be sure to write down the rules to any new games so there is no confusion about how to play.
- Scrapbook. This is a great project because scrapbooks can be created in all shapes and sizes and can include images specific to the interests and ages of your children. Scrapbooks are an excellent way to encourage creativity and can be done with any art supplies you have on hand. The following supplies may help your kids to create your family scrap book: small journal or album, scissors, construction paper, crayons or markers, photos, magazine images, and stickers.
- Plant a spring garden. If you have an empty corner in the yard or even just an empty reusable grocery bag you can create your own garden. Take some time this winter to do some research on what types of plants will grow best in your climate and in the space you have. After you have decided what you want to grow, you can draw a diagram of your future garden and make a list of any supplies you need. Once you are prepared and the weather is right for planting, head to your local hardware store or garden center and pick up a few packets of seeds, a shovel, and start planting. In a few months, you will be able to enjoy your garden together as a family. It will also be fun for your kids to see what they have planted grow and bloom.
- Story creation. If your children love stories and have active imaginations, this is the perfect activity for them! There are endless variations that will keep them busy for quite some time. Your child can create a story from scratch and add his or her own illustrations. Together you could write a new ending for your child’s favorite book, or just draw new pictures to go with the original story. Your child might come up with a new comic book character and write a comic strip about them, or create a fill-in-the-blank story that other family members can take turns filling out.
FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress) is a resiliency building program of the Department of Defense. The FOCUS program is designed for military families, couples and children facing ongoing stress and change. FOCUS promotes family strengths and supports families and children to help manage the challenges of military life.