It’s 10 a.m. on a snowy day, and your kids have just stuck the carrot into their snowman’s face. They’re cold and wet, and done with the great outdoors—now what? Instead of plugging in the Wii or popping in a DVD, bring everyone together with one of these creative indoor activities.
1. Brownie Bake-off Most kids love to help with baking: measuring, stirring … and of course, licking the spoon. But when you add a little friendly competition to the mix, baking becomes the tastiest game around.
What to do: Pair up the kids and give each team a box of brownie mix and an 8-by-8 baking pan. Then put out a spread of possible add-ins—chocolate chips, cookies, pretzels, raisins, sprinkles, candy bars—and let them loose to create their own incredible, unique and yummy batch of brownies.
How to judge: Assemble a panel of parents. Come up with various criteria to rate the competing brownies (e.g., most creative, most bizarre-looking, best add-in combinations). Give each batch a point score from 1 to 10 for each criterion, then tally up the total—making sure that each entry comes out a winner in at least one or two categories. Then make some hot cocoa and dig in!
2. Art Auction The fun of drawing or coloring wears off in half an hour or so…but not if you turn your child’s artistic endeavors into a booming business. This activity works well with kids of all ages—and the more kids, the merrier.
What to do: Lay out all the art supplies you have on hand: construction paper, coloring books, fabric scraps, buttons, glitter, glue, markers, crayons, etc. Have children create as many masterpieces as they want. When they’re done, help them mount their work and then tape each piece to the wall, gallery style.
How to bid: Invite all the parents over for an art auction. First hold a viewing so bidders can survey their options. Then, with everyone seated, go through the pieces, one at a time, and get the bidding wars going with a minimum bid of 50 cents. At the end, take a portion of the proceeds and divide it among the artists. Then have the kids decide as a group which charity to donate the rest to. Follow up with a juice-and-chips reception.
3. The Write Stuff Creative writing is never more fun than when it’s a collaborative effort. One great idea feeds off another, and the next thing you know, you have a best-seller on your hands. With this activity, older kids can help the younger ones put their inspired thoughts to paper.
What to do: Take a large sketchpad or drawing pad—anything with pages that turn. Begin the writing process by coming up with the first line of a story (“Joey Blockhead missed the school bus this morning for the third day in a row!”) and write it across the bottom of the first page. Then, going around in a circle, have each child build on the story by coming up with the next sentence—one per page. Keep writing across the bottom, leaving plenty of space above. When the story is complete, have the kids take turns illustrating their own pages.
Hold a reading: Invite older siblings and parents to attend a dramatic reading of the collaborate book. Have each author read her own page and hold it up to show off the illustration. Follow it up with a “book party,” complete with homemade cookies and hot cider.
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