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Keeping The Kids Busy

Whatever we are dealt, we must put up with. Everyone seems to be out of school. Here are some things for you to try when you have to entertain the children.

Well, with the cancellation of school for two to three weeks people are going to be scrambling to find things to do with the children. There are plenty of things that can be done at home with little or no equipment.

First, I will start with some simple games — probably the children have not played these so new is good. I taught my grandchildren these games when they were staying with me.

The first one is the game of cootie. All it takes is a die and pencil and paper. Each number on the die stands for something to add to your figure. You must get a number one to begin. That is the body. Once you have the body you can use a three for a tail and a five for the legs. Each figure needs six legs. You also need a two — that is the head. Once you have that you can use a four for the two eyes and a six for the feelers, you need six of those. The total of items that complete your cootie is seventeen. You can play until someone gets to 50 or you can play each game individually. I remember one time my grandson and I were playing cootie and he got very silly. We had a lot of fun with this.

Then, there is Pig in a Pen. You set up a grid by making a set of dots in rows – whatever number of dots you want. The first person can connect two dots. The next person connects two dots. This continues until someone creates a box. The person who makes a box continues until no more boxes can be completed. He then makes a line somewhere else. The game is done when all of the dots are connected. You place your initial in each box that you create. The person with the most boxes wins.

Of course, there is Hangman. This game requires that the child can spell. You make a structure to hold your man. If a letter is not in the word, a body part is added until a whole man is completed. If the man is completed, that person loses the game. The person who is thinking of the word draws lines to indicate how many letters there are in each word. A list of the letters guessed will help, so make that list. If the person guesses the word, he makes the next word.

How about making some cookies? Children love to bake especially, if they get to eat their work. There are many simple recipes. Let the children help by letting them crack the eggs or measure the sugar and flour. If the children are older, they may be able to run the mixer.

If you are really adventurous you might try making loaves of bread. I did this with the grandchildren and they loved the kneading process. They were thrilled to be able to take home a loaf of bread when it was finished.

Go outside and take a nature hike. See what you can find. Maybe you can make it a game. Find things for every letter of the alphabet for instance — or you can limit it to one or two letters of the alphabet.

Take the children for a ride. Let them find things that are a certain color or begin with a certain letter. Count the number of black cars you see. Count the things that are found on a farm. When you return, record your findings in a little book that you create with some paper that you have stapled together.

The idea is to entertain the children and possibly learn something in the process. Some exercise cannot hurt either for you or the children. Get a jump rope — cut a piece of rope that you have around the house — and learn how to jump rope. There are many rhymes that can help you count the jumps you are able to do. If you have a computer, look for rhymes there. If you do not have a computer, simply count your jumps to see how many you can get.

If you notice, I avoided the computer games. A little computer time is all right, but do not depend on it as a babysitter. That being said, I found several sites that have specific things to entertain the children. There are 113 museums offering pictures to color. Scholastic is offering a class about Clifford, the big red dog.

If you happen to have some old magazines, they are a treasure that will help entertain. Let the children cut out pictures that they like to make a collage. You can even use a paper bag as your canvas if you do not have a piece of paper.

How about using Play-Doh? You can make a whole lot of things with that. Often, we used to create letters or numbers. Get out your cookie cutters. Children love to roll out the Play-Doh and cut shapes.

How about doing puzzles? Mount a picture on a piece of cardboard then cut it into shapes. Put the shapes back together to make the puzzle. If you happen to have jigsaw puzzles use those for another activity.

Make some cards to send to loved ones. Children love to draw and color. Loved ones will love it when they receive a note or a card.

Go to your game cupboard and play an old-fashioned board game. Play with the children to make it extra special. Of course, there is always time to read a book. If you do not have a new one, try rereading something you have.

Make the most of these days. It is your chance to connect with your children and grandchildren. Time is precious. I miss the times I used to have with the grandchildren when they were small. We did most of these things that I have mentioned and had a lot of fun doing them.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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