Quirky fun for adults and kids to have together
June 17, 2010 12:14 PM   Subscribe

Analog Amusement Filter: Looking for creative quirky artsy ideas for indoor amusement with/and without kids. But I'm looking for something new, for ideas that cannot be found in any of those "one billion kids craft/fun/game/activity" type books. Further specs inside.

I live where the sun blazes mercilessly from morning til evening and telling the kids to go outside to play is not practical. Letting them vegetate in front of various screens all afternoon is not healthy as a long term solution either. I need analog indoor amusements -- hands and head engaged -- that inspire a sense of adventure, exploration, creation, or accomplishement.

My kids are 6, 7, and 10. I want to schedule some activities with them. Alternatively, I want to do some actvities myself that my kids will find so interesting they will either want to help with it or watch it unfold. (This is a key strategy I use to engage my kids -- start something fun and different to do myself that will accommodate help or participation from the kids when/if they get interested.)

Futhermore, after four kids and a combined 29 years of school-level activities, I've had my fill of crafty junk and school project-ish effluvia. So, if this activity produces an artifact, then I want that artifact to be truly useful or inspire a "Cool!" reaction from an adult who is not biased because they know my kids. If it is an art project, I want it to look like actual art. If it makes a toy, then I want it to be a good toy that will amuse me and my kids for a decent while.

Knowing mine, and most other, kids, these would need to be activities that could be done with a 20 min to an hour attention span (with some pre-setup from me beforehand if necessary)

Of course, the simpler and cheaper the better, but some planning and setup is okay if the project is indeed cool.

So c'mon moms and dads out there, brianstorm some ideas. Also could use input from cool uncles and aunts out there as well. Especially like all the cool stuff you do with the kids "but don't tell your mother, okay?"
posted by cross_impact to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I know you said "none of those billion kids' books" but Steven Caney's Ultimate Building Book is different.

Along with really interesting discussions about architecture and design including different historical approaches and physical principles, the book includes lots of open-ended hand-on projects, like instructions for creating several different building "systems" made of various materials, from graham crackers and frosting to lengths of PVC pipe large enough to build room-sized structures. Also lots of really interesting one-off projects. Highly worth checking out.
posted by mneekadon at 12:24 PM on June 17, 2010

Teach them to cook? You eat the (acceptable) results, so there's no junk to stack up, and they can accumulate the good recipes into a personal cookbook.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:34 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe teach them how to sew? It's a good skill to have, if used for nothing else but sewing buttons back on to shirts or pants. You could look around online for simple patterns to make, say, stuffed animals, or you could make your own. My daughter made a monster pattern and we made a bunch of stuffed monsters to give to her friends. It was really simple and we did most of the sewing by hand. We could have done all of it by hand but she wanted to learn how to use the machine.

Seconding cooking. My daughter LOVES to bake with me and will drop everything to do so. She knows how delicious the results are, so she likes to help.

You could help the younger ones make homemade play-doh and then play with the results. And when you're done, either throw it away or compost it (there's no fat, so it's compostable).

What do your kids like to do?
posted by cooker girl at 12:44 PM on June 17, 2010


"if used for nothing else..." should read, "even if it's used for nothing else..."
posted by cooker girl at 12:47 PM on June 17, 2010

From Nature With Love sells many "make your own" kits, like soap, lip balm, and bath bombs. I would have fun doing these, and they actually make stuff you can use or give as gifts.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:27 PM on June 17, 2010

Drawdio (no link, on phone, Youtube it and then Google the instrux). Adult wow factor!
posted by Iteki at 2:00 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could start making handmade gifts now in anticipation of gift-giving around the winter holidays. That way you have the fun of making things without the dilemma of hanging on to it for an indeterminate amount of time.

Ideas for gifts: candles, soap, jewelry, small pillows/dolls, etc. You could also make pickles or jam, both of which use seasonal fruits/veggies but which will be shelf stable until you're ready to give them away.
posted by corey flood at 2:16 PM on June 17, 2010

The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen (a storytelling game) More serious RPGs probably wouldn't work with the 6-year-old, but Munchausen's great for quick, all-ages games.

Exquisite Corpse

Of course there are hundreds of card games and board games that would work for that age range, including perennial favorites like Uno, Give Me the Brain, and Labyrinth.
posted by luvcraft at 2:59 PM on June 17, 2010

I'm a big fan of knitting, because I'm a knitter. But seriously, knitting is awesome.

You can all take classes together, spend time poring over the books, build skills together, it's something you can pick up and put down in whatever time span you want, it builds dexterity and mental learning skills (which is why it's a key part of the Montessori curriculum), it creates something useful.... knitting is pretty much the best thing ever!
posted by ErikaB at 4:11 PM on June 17, 2010

My kids are much younger (4.5, 2.5 and 9 mos) but anything with water is fun for us. Including hosing down the car, watering the garden, or playing Cinderella, where they scrub my kitchen floor with big sponges. (Kidding about this last one but I'm considering it...)

Gardening? Is it too late to plant where you are?

Making jam?

My family (bros and sisters) love board games, so I bought some older ones on ebay.

I just bought a Zoku Pop Maker -- makes ice pops in minutes. It's $50 but testing recipes and beating the heat could be fun.
posted by mdiskin at 4:27 PM on June 17, 2010

I don't know if this is a good idea, but what about camping? Specifically, planning a camp.

Set up a major project where the kids do all the selections. I'm a Scout, so I'm a bit biased, but 10 year olds + 14 year olds can plan successful camps, so maybe with a bit of pushing yours can too ;)

Get them to select a location, determine a balanced menu, get some activities, make a plan on travel times and such. This can be broken down into chunks, such as "Make a travelling kit" and "Pick activities to do at camp" and such. Gathering maps could be an excusion to the library or the internets. You can practice the camp meals at home.
posted by Quadlex at 6:15 PM on June 17, 2010


These are always a hit at kids' birthday parties, and are only slightly dangerous. Chopped dry ice in plastic coke bottle with a hole in the cap, pour in warm water. They create warm fog similar to CO2 fire extinguisher clouds. Just use under close supervision: don't let kids make a mess by turning bottles upside down.

Instructions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3B5I4rpMrs
posted by billb at 7:54 PM on June 17, 2010

How about some indoor SCIENCE PROJECTS? A friend's
book Science Toys you can Make with your Kids is
pretty excellent
posted by billb at 8:04 PM on June 17, 2010

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