What do kids do for fun?
March 12, 2008 9:11 PM   Subscribe

A group of college students and I are volunteering at a local children's hospital for a day to entertain the kids there but we are at a loss for what to do. Can you suggest any crafts or activities that we can do with the kids? There will be kids of many age groups and we plan to split them up and do different activities for each. We want these activities to be fun for the kids so they don't have to be educational.
posted by killa62 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Are the kids able to walk and move around?
posted by thebrokenmuse at 9:20 PM on March 12, 2008

Are there any "holidays" soon? Maybe have an Easter Card making day? Doesn't have to be relgious; bunnies and eggs and whatnot.

Send those cards to a local nursing home. Maybe visit the nursing home? Or vice versa?


Do any of you college students know how to do magic? Or theatre/puppetry?
posted by porpoise at 9:29 PM on March 12, 2008

Make sure that whatever you do involves the kids being able to take part. I recently performed a couple of ukulele songs at my kids' day care, and the enjoyment quotient went up 50-fold when we passed out instruments and basically told the kids to make as much noise as they wanted (even though nobody could hear the song any more.)
posted by davejay at 9:46 PM on March 12, 2008

Younger kids (3-9) always like making crowns with glitter and jewels.

Older kids may like making rain sticks
(paper towel or gift wrap cardboard tube, decorate, put beans or something inside. If the kids are older, like teenagers, you could put tacks on the outside sticking in. Cover ends with giftwrap and ribbon, some tape, whatever to close it )

Both of these things can make the kids feel better, whether they feel like ruler for the day, or they get the relaxation of a rain stick.
posted by AsRuinsAreToRome at 10:01 PM on March 12, 2008

I don't know what (if any) money you could spend, but Oriental Trading Company has a ton of small kits and craft ideas. Small kids love to glue, and doing the foam picture frames or wacky glasses would be easy and wouldn't need a lot of adult supervision.
posted by saffry at 10:19 PM on March 12, 2008

1000 blank white cards might be fun if the kids are creative and over 10 or so. Equipment: index cards and markers. This would be nice because it's something they could keep playing after you leave.
werewolf, aka mafia, is a fun game for a group, best if the kids are 8+.
Pit is a fun, cheap, raucous game, good for ages 7+.
Parlor games/party games like Pictionary (you could bring a big whiteboard or big paper chart), charades, etc are fun with the right group.

Origami is fun and can be a good ongoing hobby for kids who can't move around a lot. You could bring cool papers and patterns for origami projects at several levels.

For the youngest, you can pick a story book to read that has nice big pictures (for example of butterflies). Buy craft foam sheets in various colors and cut out a pattern of one or two of the main characters (cut out foam butterfly silhouettes) in advance. Then the kids can decorate the silhouettes however they want with glitter, markers, ribbon, stickers, or whatever you bring with you.

gimp/boondoggle/plastic lace bracelets were always a popular camp activity when I was young. You could also bring embroidery floss (comes in a ton of colors) and do braided friendship bracelets. tips here, along with many others

beaded bracelets or necklaces would be popular, but a headache to corral all the beads.

a bunch of ideas here, including making little animated flip-books, which would be a lot of fun if your college students are into it.

about kids' art supplies including a bunch of great suggestions eg Crayola Model Magic clay. Another suggestion there is making kites.

papercraft is big right now and there are a lot of options. Here's a more ambitious option too.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:46 PM on March 12, 2008

When I worked at a daycamp, the kids really enjoyed making paper beads. It was a cheap, fun activity that was absorbing and took a long time, but wasn't too difficult for them, even the little kids, though I think your best age group for this craft is probably 9 and up. The end result was often surprisingly beautiful, considering the humble materials used. All you need are colourful, glossy magazines, scissors for cutting the paper into strips, glue, and wooden skewers/thin knitting needles/thin straws. You can coat the beads with varnish or nail polish afterward, but it isn't necessary.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:11 PM on March 12, 2008

A group of us did that at an orphanage last semester, and we did the following activities:

* Origami folding (yes, this was even popular with the high-school girls): just bring a few origami paper sets and print some online instructions. This turned out to be much more challenging and engaging than we thought, by the way.

* We made ice-cream! Using this machine (you should be able to purchase it in stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond or Target), some cream, sugar, and vanilla, we actually had fun playing with the ice cream balls outdoors--but they can be used for simple games inside. You can sit in a big circle and roll it from person to person, asking a question like "what is your favorite ice cream flavor?". The next person who gets the ice cream ball has to repeat all the answers that were given so far, then proceed to answer the question and roll the ball to the next person. Add some plastic bowls and spoons and chocolate syrup, and you can turn a rather bleak occasion into a very delicious afternoon.
posted by halogen at 11:19 PM on March 12, 2008

I spent three months in the hospital when I was 13, and I remember everyone looking forward intensely to the art-cart guy's visits. The art-cart guy didn't plan activities: he just had a bunch of art supplies, and we could do or make whatever we wanted. I remember making things to hang on the wall of my room, because hospital rooms are pretty depressing and impersonal. There was a kid in the hospital with me who was really artistic and made elaborate signs for the long-termers to hang above our beds: they had our names and then were decorated with pictures of things we liked, like hobbies or favorite animals or something like that. Could you bring an assortment of craft supplies and stickers and things and allow the kids to make something similar for themselves?

(I don't know if that would be so meaningful if you were only there for a day or two. Being in the hospital longterm is a very strange experience.)

We had a talent show once, and that was fun. I believe that there were some funny skits, and we took popular songs and changed the lyrics to be about hospital-related things. Some of the kids were too sick to participate, though. Could you do something like karaoke? Some sort of mock American Idol competition? (It would be important for it to be fun for kids who didn't have any real performing talents, though.)

For younger kids, maybe they could make puppets and then put on a puppet show? You could even just do the kind of hand puppets that you make out of brown paper lunch bags.
posted by craichead at 11:39 PM on March 12, 2008

* We made ice-cream! Using this machine (you should be able to purchase it in stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond or Target), some cream, sugar, and vanilla, we actually had fun playing with the ice cream balls outdoors--but they can be used for simple games inside.
While I am entirely in favor of ice cream in general and that contraption in particular, you'd definitely want to check ahead before you did anything food-related at a hospital. Some of the kids may be on special diets.
posted by craichead at 11:48 PM on March 12, 2008

make oobleck!
posted by thisisnotkatrina at 1:45 AM on March 13, 2008

Set up a scavenger hunt? The mobile kids could split up into teams and go around to different rooms/offices/nurse's stations collecting various things. And kids who are confined to their beds/rooms could participate by giving things out. You might have to do some preplanning with the staff to get some extra supplies planted around the floor.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:57 AM on March 13, 2008

How about bringing some Goo or Ivory Snow play dough? Recipes on this page.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:00 AM on March 13, 2008

Balloon animals
Apples to Apples
posted by JimmyJames at 11:27 AM on March 14, 2008

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