Tuesday, October 12, 2010

10 ways to incorporate fun & play in your day

Oh cool, the title rhymes, I like that!

Today's intriguing question - how do you incorporate fun & play into daily activities for your children?

I actually find this a bit easier, now that F&B are older. We have a lot more flexibility in what we do with the kids, since the "baby" is 5 and we're no longer slaves to his naptime.

1. My favorite fun/play idea, of course, is bento lunches. I love cute food. I love making it for the kids. They like making it with me. They like eating it, etc. They do eat regular food (a question I get *all* the time) but this is fun, so we do it!

2. We love to cook together too. We have a ton of stuff to do daily, so one of the best ways to spend some extra time together is for them to help with dinner. And this doesn't mean just the boring stuff like setting the table or getting water. They help with the actual cooking, stirring, measuring, even with figuring out what to eat. They are still young enough that it's fun to cook with Mommy, so I'm trying to keep it that way!

3. We, unfortunately, spend a lot of time in the car. One of the ways we've broken this up is to pick fun books to listen to in the car. We started with the Magic Treehouse books a couple of years ago which got us hooked on this idea. Now we stop by the library and pick up a few titles that sound interesting to us and go with it. Faith sometimes will read us a story too, if something catches her eye.

4. Still on the car topic, F&B spend a lot of time playing games. Even better? A lot of them are learning games. We started playing alphabet games with Faith when she was younger--I went the grocery and bought an Apple, Banana, Cookie, with each player using the next letter of the alphabet. Since she's 8 now, she's expanded the games to groceries, animals, and more. She also started a guessing game one with "I went to the store and bought something that begins with the letter ..."

5. One of the ways we've livened up school time is a white board in the breakfast room. The kids can write spelling words on it, use it for grammar practice, math problems, memory verses, etc. I think sometimes, they like the actual writing on it more than the reading off it, but the writing process helps them remember.

6. We've started doing a lot of "race against the clock" for boring/mundane activities that are taking too long. The getting into jammies/wash face/brush teeth was taking entirely too long, so we've started timing it. If they can both finish in x number of minutes, they win! Sometimes the prize is an extra book, sometimes it's winning. They just want to win.

7. At night, instead of just going to bed, we take some time to do a fun quiet activity. It might be reading a book, playing a board game, building Legos, even watching a tv show together. It helps them relax and wind down with a bit of family fun.

8. Another favorite school tip is looking for game versions of their schoolwork. There are websites out there for everything, even iPhone apps. Yes, you can use flashcards, but computer ones are more fun. Spelling words and math facts are much better on the computer for my two. We even found a book quiz site that reminds me of AR in schools.

9. Music helps! We have favorite songs on quite often and the kids love to make up their own silly songs to the lyrics. Ben and I were heading home from the Mavs game last night and we had the Evita soundtrack on. He was singing along "Let's hear it for the rainbow ..." (tour) but subbing in silly words and have me guess them. We had rainbow sprinkles, rainbow ice cream, rainbow trout (that was mine), and rainbow feet (that was his, of course).

10. Can chores be fun? Eh, sort of, maybe, but they still have to be done. We try to make things a bit better by doing them together. Laundry folding, we can drag the basket to the family room and watch a fun show while we are folding laundry. Dishwasher emptying, we divvy it up and race (I get the breakables). Cleaning the playroom? OK, still don't like that one, but I'll randomly assign different ideas to each kid, then they check in when they finish that one for the next assignment, sort of a cleaning scavenger hunt, if you will.

Other ideas? Share them! We can always use some great ones.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and The Hub blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

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