Evenings can be hard–sometimes we parents are so tired and the last thing we feel like doing is coming up with creative fun for the kids. But…our children will only be young once, and why not have some jolly times with them? I find it easier to mix up the evenings of busy, messy projects with evenings that consist of quieter activities. I was inspired by these ladies sharing, and I think you will be, too. Here we go…
I had fun thinking of some ideas that we’ve done but reality is that a lot of long winter evenings end up being just that – long. With me hoping the clock will say it’s bedtime the next time I look at it!
We all like games, our oldest would play them any waking minute I think! A favorite thing to do is let everyone choose a game/activity, write them on slips of paper, then pick them out and do them one at a time. Memory is always a good game from both the youngest to the oldest. Go Fish, I Spy, I’m Hiding In Something, 20 Questions, and Uno are all games we can all participate in. Sometimes the children play hide and seek in the house or a game my brothers and I made up as a child – gather up the dolls or stuffed animals and have one child hide them in a designated area and the rest find them. 🙂
Some books I’ve read aloud are Thorton W Burgess books, The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, The American Girl Collection books, lots of Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime story books and we’ve enjoyed the Laura Ingalls series on CD from the library.
A favorite activity for our children is to act out Bible stories and have mom and dad guess what they are! We have also occasionally done a fancy meal for supper or set up a restaurant or had a daffy supper.
It doesn’t take much to make your children’s eyes sparkle, just a little extra time and effort and a little creativity goes a long way! –Bethany
For keeping children busy at night in the winter we like to do puzzles and play dough (you can make your own in bulk and it lasts much longer!). We have two girls, 4.5 and 2. I started reading them Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White but they don’t pay as much attention as an older child might. -Lindsey
Games from Peaceable Kingdom—Lost Puppies, Hoot Owl Hoot, Race to the Treasure. Even 2-year-olds can play. Everyone wins, or everyone loses. Water or rice or sand in a bin–Put down towels or a sheet on the floor and expect some mess. Easier version is to put a couple kids in the tub, with bubbles. Tea Party or picnic on the floor in the living room. Mopping party–rags and spray bottles with water and vinegar and essential oils to smell yummy. My children think this is fun, and it’s the only way my floor gets mopped. Thomas trains–get all the wooden track and accessories out and make one huge track in the living room. Use all the stuff and everyone plays, including parents. Find the penny–or jelly beans, etc. Hide them all over the house, give them cups, and see who finds the most. House cleaning blitz–15 minutes of hard and fast labor by all children before a movie or other top-ranking treat. Wash walls and woodwork if nothing else. Storyline Online–actors reading children’s books. Mostly pictures of the book which move a tiny bit. But it’s sort of like a movie. The book Hector Elizondo reads is really good. ABC Say it With Me–video. Christian. Holy. Memorizing Scripture. One hour of bliss. Bonus for parents–during above video, play Pandemic. It makes our brains smoke. There–that’s eleven nights of entertainment for your children. -Maria
One thing my kids get carried far away with is all sorts of cardboard projects. (Summer or winter, outside or in, they love it, but it is something that can easily all be done in the house.) Living in the city they get to swipe large piles of it, along with other odd treasures like bits of wire and plastic, off the dump and their imagination is the limit. (They see exciting potential when they see such oddities lying around!) It is great to see them make a mess when they are designing and creating and building from their own ideas and skills (with casual help if they ask for it, but without an adult controlling every move with how things should be done–this soon kills the inspiration or makes them rely on adults instead of having the fun of seeing what all they can create themselves). Sure they get frustrated too sometimes trying to get their idea to work but when they figure things out they just feel so pleased. And I get to see and support them enjoying both the process and the play. Some things have lasted for a day and other things have been long-standing projects. We’ve had all sorts of things created…musical instruments, all sorts of vehicles (big enough to sit inside or small enough to push around) and accessories such as steering wheels, cars, airplanes, race tracks, houses, suspenders, unique appendages to turn their existing toys into something new… you get the picture. 🙂 -Elana
At our house on these winter evenings, our little girl helps with dishes, then has tear-around time with dad, then has an early bedtime. 🙂 -Dorcas
My girls (ages 1,3, 5, and 7) love to play with homemade flubber made with Elmer’s glue. Once we made it in two bowls–pink and blue–and then I let them mix globs together to make purple. The day I did this they played with it for nearly 3 hours!!
To make flubber, mix together 1 cup Elmer’s glue, 3/4 cup cold water, and food coloring of your choice. Then add 1 tsp borax that has been dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water. Slowly add to glue while mixing, then pour off excess water after flubber has formed and thickened.
Cleaning up house has been going so much better since we developed our own little method we like to call speedy clean. I set the stopwatch and we have a little huddle then I say go and we all run around putting things away! For the age of our children it has worked wonders, instead of trying to divide up the room or have them pick up a certain number of items….most times we are done in 5 minutes! -Mary
One word comes to mind for us: PAPER.!! We go through reams of paper. They love writing, drawing, and snipping. Ahhh…the snipping. For Christmas, I got them each a page of stencils and a punch, like a little heart punch, etc. There is always paper mess around here. Also I got a new Bible story book, (okay used) and coloring books of Bible stories. They LOVE when I color with them. The twins will color for a long time if I “help”.
Bomani prefers to play with his different balls and bats. This is definitely more in the “destroying the house” arena. 😀 I also think of library books. My kids can sit and look at books for a long time after I get a new stack. I’m pretty picky with what they look at, so it takes effort, not just dashing in and grabbing a pile. So it doesn’t happen real often.
Right now the kids are having a picnic on the hall floor. With my dishes and their play dishes… They love to use my dishes and pretend to cook and bake. That is in the “mess up the house” category… 🙂
I’ll be honest, we often watch some TV show in the evening. We’re pretty picky, so they have only a few things they can watch. I like to watch MasterChef Junior with them. But most of us don’t need that idea! -Rachel
The first thing that came to my mind was Legos for the older ones. Some people make Lego building centers with drawers beneath it to store the extra Legos and build on top of the stand. A rolling Rubbermaid tote may work well for this where it could be rolled into a room or closet out of reach of the littlest ones when not in use and the Lego construction underway could still be kept intact. My brother allows his kids to take turns to pick out a game or project each night. This allows everyone to have a voice. I pulled out my old stamping and card supplies the other day when I had kids at my house and they had a blast! –Linda
Mom always read to us in the evenings and we could color or make cards or snip paper or do latch hook rugs (now there’s a throwback for you!) or crochet or look at the National Geographic maps pasted to the wall while we listened. So many good books she read to us… -Louisa
And now, a few tricks of my own. Our boys like to listen to books on loyalbooks.com, and can quote whole sections of The Swiss Family Robinson or Tom Swift by now! But we have a rule that the children can only listen to books after they have listened to the Bible for 30 minutes. We downloaded a free copy of the Bible from the Faith Comes By Hearing website. The site offers a number of different translations, and you can select what you want. We picked the audio drama ESV version, and our children really like it.
My four-year-old loves listening to the My Bible Friends set by Etta B. Degering while following along in the books. I spent hours doing this as a child, and I enjoy seeing my little girl do the same! Finding a set of books along with the CD is a little hard–I had to scour the internet before I found what I wanted. But the stories and illustrations captivate preschoolers!
Every evening Will reads to the children. He reads out of a chapter book before reading a Bible story. He’s read through many children’s classics, as well as some history such as The Story of the World. Some sets the kids enjoyed were the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Little Britches series by Ralph Moody, the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and James Herriot’s books. E.B. White (author of Charlotte’s Web) was another favorite author–not just any writer can make you drool over slop fed to a pig!
Will also does little projects with our boys when inspiration strikes. They made tiny crossbows that shoot match sticks, a small crane to pick up blocks, and a little dog out of lead. Currently they’re working on casting an aluminum spoon (an idea Elijah got from a book he read). A little imagination or research can go a long way! (Check out Grant Thompson’s videos for some cool ideas for boys.)
Feeling inspired…or tired? You don’t have to do it all! Spend time with your kids, love them well, and they will be happy.
We didn’t even talk about ideas for ministry-type things we can do with our children! That will have to go into another post sometime…