Does winter gloom, spring showers, or excessive sniffles have you and your littles housebound? Here are some of our favorite ways to engage with the kiddos while germs and/or the weather remains adversarial.
Bake a Homemade Treat
Few things bond kids & grown-ups more than a little bit of baking. Traditions can be passed, kids feel the pride of getting to do ‘grown-up-stuff’ all while creating a tangible, delicious outcome.
In my house, chocolate chip cookies are the pinnacle of deliciousness. Although I prefer a more traditional recipe, an eggless recipe allows the decadent, “oh-man-look-what-I’m-getting-away-with” face-generating event that is licking the bowl.
Here’s our current favorite bowl-lickable favorite from The Desserted Girl. Pro tip: 175C is 350F.
For an extra treat, substitute standard chocolate morsels with scrumptious chips by Guittard. They come in Real Milk Chocolate, Au Lait Vanilla Milk and Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips.
In case you didn’t already know, Bartell’s also sells baking staples including flour, sugar, spices, and, at most locations, milk, butter, and eggs!
Start a story. Build a world.
No illustrations or videos necessary. Create a story with your kiddos by taking turns building on each other’s effort. I usually start with one of the classic intros like It was a dark and stormy night, or Once upon a time, describe the setting, let them establish the protagonist and we’re off from there.
If everyone likes the outcome, you can create prequels, sequels and spin-offs starring key characters. This is also a great activity for situations with longer waits, including car trips, restaurants and physician appointments.
Stationary stories out of the question? Turn it into active play. Craft props out of things around the house, like empty boxes, paper towel tubes, tape, markers, popsicle sticks, balloons and whatever else strikes their fancy.
Around my house, our adventure normally takes us on a hunt for buried treasure in the couch cushions, bringing the dog along to address the crumbs.
For kids who may need a bit of framework, Bartell’s caries both the LEGO Creator series, a strong array of Playmobil figures and selection of Melissa and Doug roleplay sets let allow kids to create their own stories without depending on big franchises for ideas.
Nothing beats getting in there and getting your hands dirty figuratively and literally.
The Slam Dunk:
Elmer’s Galaxy Slime Starter Pack or Elmer’s Rainbow Slime Starter Pack (under $15 each) gives you everything you need to create three batches of washable, safe, non-toxic sparkly goop. And what kids can’t occupy an afternoon making, handling, and squishing fistfuls of non-toxic sparkly goop? Certainly not mine.
Want to start from scratch? Try one of these 4 goop-tastic homemade slime recipes and get the ingredients delivered to your door by your local Bartell’s.
For the more physical leaning galactic defenders (or despots) in training:
Are you sitting on a couple old pool noodles and a taste for physical confrontation? Craft your very own non-copyright infringing, replica laser swords!
Trim the noodle to an appropriate length such that it can be wielded without too much bend (we cut 52-inch noodles in half to make ours). Once trimmed, use duct tape to decorate the (incoming fancy name for handle) hilt. It’s as easy as wrap and tear. Or trim with age-appropriate scissors. Or hand to mom/dad and dictate what you want.
To supplement our existing stock of standard silver duct tape, we hit Bartell’s and bought a couple rolls of Duck Brand Duct Tape. My son added red, and, my daughter, after carefully weighing several options, settled on “Mermaid”.
I also grabbed a small roll of Scotch Super 33+ Vinyl Electrical Tape for the finer details of my creation. I’m claiming self-defense.
Safety goggles and ground rules are encouraged if you have any free-swingers in your space dojo.
When in doubt…
Open the junk drawer and go at it. Paper clip animals? A spirited game of What-does-this-magnet-stick-to? Rubber band bracelets? Chip clip + dish towel capes? A round of does-it-make-dad-frown-when-we- spill-this? Just say yes. Even to the last one. You have a vacuum cleaner, right?
Whether you are cursing the weather, or your kids are sadly under it, a board game or puzzle is a fun way to pass the time, allowing you to move at a pace appropriate to the audience. It’s also a good time to take stock of what you have and whether it still needs to be in your house.
A frequent practice at our house is to start with the least played game or puzzle you have in your collection and progress towards most popular. If the interest is cold to tepid, it goes into the donation pile.
If your “keep” pile is running low, Bartell’s has a great selection of puzzles and board games for all ages. Classics like UNO, Yahtzee, Boggle and Jenga are always great rainy-day fare.
If you are looking for newer classics, they’ve got you covered there too. Kingdomino is an easy-to-learn and quick to play (~15/match) tile placement game for up to four players. The recommended age is 8+, but my 6-year-old did fine with light strategy assistance during the first couple games and point counting.
For ages 7+, Tenzi is a fast-paced, simple, but addictive dice game where you try to be the first to match the numbers on all of your dice. It also has a ton of play variations that will keep it fresh and replayable for a long while.
Looking to amplify your street cred by, like, a million? Pick up some Pokémon cards! From preconstructed decks (you should probably start here) to booster packs (random cards from which you can supplement your deck), Bartell’s has what you need to start, build and protect your soon-to-be-growing collection. Although each deck contains a rulebook, here’s a quick tutorial that’ll help if you are starting from scratch. One quick note: selection of Pokémon cards can vary significantly by location, so use our store locator page to check the selection at your favorite Bartell’s.
Rain or shine, the important thing is to get on the ground, or around the table, and squeeze as much kid time as you can from every opportunity. As a parent, you know they grow up so, so fast, and the kid you have today might not be, developmentally, the same one you’ll have next month. Enjoy the stage they’re at now and strap yourself in for the next one.