I’m intent on providing my children with every possible recreational opportunity; I’ve done the kiddie gym, music and movement classes and even splurged on high-tech gadgets and games. But all these extracurricular activities and expensive “play equipment” are beginning to hit my pocketbook pretty hard! Sure, I’ve had occasional lingering thoughts about instituting more old-fashioned types of play opportunities — but like every other 21st-century parent with a supersaturated schedule, I’ve been too busy to actually follow through and make those changes.
Then we had a blackout, courtesy of a thunderstorm and a change was literally forced upon us.
First, we all freaked out for a solid five minutes. My kids were upset they couldn’t watch television, while my husband and I frantically ransacked the house for our one working flashlight. Then something quite unexpected occurred, we lit candles, plopped ourselves on the couch and proceeded to play!I know, it sounds very kumbayish. But you’ll have to take my word for it: It was great! This compulsory family time forced us to engage in basic play such as word games, charades and sing-a-longs. For two hours, we were so occupied in ourunplugged play games, we barely noticed that there was no electricity.
Of course, once the lights went back on, we each rushed back to our respective corners: e-mailing, watching SpongeBob Square Pants, but
jointly vow to participate in unplugged play at least once a week.
Now with summer upon us– and the great outdoors beckoning my kids to hop, jump, skip, and scooter themselves silly, it is the perfect opportunity for parents like me and you (you know who you are) to institute play activities that require no batteries or electrical outlets — just good old-fashioned brain power.
So for all of you in need of a refresher course on some fabulous backyard, outdoor games here are a few of my favorite ones!
Get your kids outdoors and BREAK OUT the stuff you wouldn’t dare want them doing on your expensive dining room rug! Open-ended art experiences like; play dough, finger- and easel-painting, clay modeling and spin-art Playing in water — fill an outdoor tub with bubbles — run around the yard, walk the dog and engage in dramatic play scenarios. Of course no outdoor play would be complete without games like Red Light/Green Light, frisbee and pick-up soccer.
Still need a bit more inspiration?
Check out the book: “Unplugged Play: No Batteries. No Plugs. Pure Fun,”
Bobbi Conner offers more than 700 ways to inspire valuable, creative play — that includes the essential ingredients of childhood: fresh air, make-believe, arts and crafts, problem solving and physical challenges.
Learn more about our Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board here.