Saturday, April 10, 2010

Brownout boredom busters

“Brownout boredom busters”
Sun.Star Davao, April 11, 2010

“Ay, brownout!”

I’m sure all of us helplessly say this in frustration every time the power goes off. But, whether we like it or not, the regular brownouts are something we have to deal with during this long summer break.

How do we make our active children preoccupied even without electrical power? Let me count the ways!

1. BACKYARD CAMPING. Besides fostering team spirit in setting up the tent, your kids can take turns telling stories, singing songs, having a bonfire, cooking hotdogs and marshmallows, trying to tie the different knots, learning simple survival tips and practising hand signals. You can even teach them to do morse code using a trusty flashlight.

2. STARGAZING. When brownouts happen in the evening, why don’t you do some stargazing? You can share interesting and animated trivia about the moon and the stars. Make the discussion about the solar system, planets and constellations simple and understandable. Tell them, for instance, that the stars and constellations are used by sailors to guide them in their journey.

3. SHADOW PLAY. Be creative and utilize your hands/homemade puppets to come up with stimulating stories. Perform original on-the-spot plays or adapt a well-loved tale. The kids can even play a game of “Guess the Shadow”. I’ve used this activity on my four-year old daughter and she never gets tired figuring out the different animals we form using our hands.

4. READING. Forget about Wii, Facebook and all-day Disney Channel watching. There are worlds, characters and adventures to explore within the pages of a book. Buy or borrow age-appropriate books your children love reading. For older kids, develop their vocabulary by asking them to write unfamiliar words in a special notebook. They can check out the words in the dictionary by themselves or with an adult’s assistance. You can also encourage them to use the new words in a sentence.

5. GARDENING. During early morning or late afternoon brownouts, ask your kids to help water the plants, cut the grass and take out weeds, brown leaves and dead flowers. Identify the various plants, trees, flowers and insects that can be found in the family garden. Initiate a doable garden project by buying flower or vegetable seeds which are readily available at the supermarket.

6. OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES. Take out the plastic swimming pool and have a splashing summer fun (but remember to recycle the water afterwards by watering the plants or washing the car). Fly a kite, bike, play badminton, play kickball and drop by the neighborhood park. Summer is the best time to meet new friends and breathe the fresh air. Teach your children your own childhood games like “Hide and Seek”, “Cat and Mouse”, “Tag” and a lot more.

7. BOARD GAMES AND PUZZLES. Pass the powerless time away by engaging in challenging board games such as Twister, Pictionary, Boggle, Monopoly, Scrabble, Chess and, Snakes and Ladders. You can likewise provide puzzles suitable for your kids’ ages.

8. ARTS AND CRAFTS. Have a ready supply of paper, paint, crayons, pencils, colored pens, glue, scissors and other art materials which your children can use whenever there’s a brownout or not. Suggest art and craft activities to your children through books or online research. Do a scrapbooking project. Print favorite photos so that these may be incorporated in the scrapbook anytime.

9. COOKING AND BAKING. Most households utilize ovens and burners dependent on LPG so brownout is not an excuse to teach your little ones to prepare some family-friendly dishes such as spaghetti, burgers, pancakes, among others.

10. JOURNALLING. These days, journaling is more popularly known as blogging but when there is no electrical power, kids can write their thoughts, dreams, experiences and ideas in an old-fashioned journal or diary. It’s an excellent outlet for your children’s creativity and self-expression.

With these invigorating brownout boredom busters, don’t be surprised if your children continue to do them even when the power is back!

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