Spring Break is a time where we get a small sample of what summer might be like with the kiddos. It’s a snapshot of how the kids find things they like to do for a little bit, then complain of their boredom after that. But, believe it or not, boredom for kids is a good thing. If we, as parents and teachers, are always stimulating them with our ideas, then they do not get the discovery of what genuinely interests them. True creativity and self reliance are skills that arise out of boredom. Yes, the littles will groan and gripe when something isn’t ready at the moment they are ready to move on from their prior activity, but know that it’s our job to guide them to problem solve. Let them be bored for a little while - it’s good for them. It’s hard in our society now to slow down but allowing them to get creative and have a say in how they are going to fix that problem is so important.
Even with toddlers, problem solving can be done with a little assistance. It is important to start with some descriptive words for boredom. Associate words with the emotion so they can communicate it with you in the future. Explain times you have felt that way - give your perspective of the emotion. Then construct it into a positive activity by asking questions about what they want to do. Be careful not to lead the child to answers or go through this learning experience too quickly. In due time, ask questions about where they would like to be for their next activity, would they like to create something or look at something, do something alone or with someone else. These questions will not only assist with boredom (which is totally okay) but will aid with decision making and problem solving in the future.
Here are a couple ideas that are easy to do because there is not too much prep or clean up. I made sure to balance them out and have a variety of options. I hope there are a few that your kids will enjoy . . .
- Outdoor Paint with Water: All you need is water. If you have brushes or sponges, that can be used as well. Get creative and use things like twigs, leaves, and rocks to create a beautiful painting on the sidewalk with just water and then let it evaporate and start again.
- Puzzle Piece Hunt: Who doesn’t love a good hunt? Use your favorite puzzles to hide the pieces and add fun to putting it back together. Let the kids decide the details of the rules: inside or outside? put the puzzle together after each piece is found or after all are found? work with friends or alone? etc.
- Nature Collage: Go on a nature walk around the house, down the street, or the local park and collect treasures along the way. Examine and describe all the things you see on the adventure. Be sure to touch on all five of the senses. Then decide how you want to display the treasures. Should a poster be made? Should they be glued to a piece of paper and displayed that way? Can they be incorporated as pieces of a favorite game?
- Rainbow Crayons: Sort through old broken crayons and assign the kids the task of peeling off the paper. Take the opportunity to let them strike up conversation while this is happening. Move the task outside and enjoy the sunshine. Then the broken pieces can be matched with color schemes of your choice in cupcake liners. Throw them inside muffin tins and put them in the oven at 300 degrees, checking on them every 5-10 minutes until they look melted enough for your liking. When they all look liquified, pull them out and let them cool.