My friend Kelly has four adorable kidlets whom she homeschools. She is taking the month of December off and was inquiring of fellow bloggers for ideas to occupy and entertain those wee ones when the stir-crazy sets in.
I thought back to the days my kids needed me to help them stay busy. Here's what I came up with. Maybe you can add some of your own over in Kelly's comment box?
1. Visit a local train garden. Many fire stations have them, though I don't know which ones. They are mesmerizing to little eyes (and big). They're free usually. I saw a link for one at a mall, too. Google "shops at Kenilworth" or malls near you. Personally I'd rather get the shingles than visit a mall any time of year. I much prefer to drop a couple bucks into the Volunteer Firefighter's bucket at the firehouse as a donation in exchange for the hour of entertainment, decent parking, and their experience in the event one of my children starting convulsing with excitement.
2. Make a Christmas chain of alternating green and red construction paper. (I always did the stapling, but to make it last longer, have them put a dot of glue on each "ring" as they go, holding the ends together for a count of 60.) Sixy times however-many-days-till-Christmas is a lot of free time for Mom! But the caveat is, not all little hands are patient ones.
3. Let them make cards. Glitter and glue optional depending whether you want it to be fun for them or you.
4. Videotape them singing Christmas songs. They love to perform and watch it back--over and over and over. Again, a small time investment upfront with huge time dividends later. And precious, funny memories of sweet voices that will never, ever sound like that again. Of everything we did together, I wish we'd videotaped more often, not just the holidays, but normal times.
5. Make sugar cookies. If you chill the dough and give them cookie cutters, they can cut, bake, and decorate till kingdom come (or till dough runs out, whichever comes first.) Yes, all the handling might make them tough cookies, but to me, it was always worth the free time it gave me. I cheerfully said, "This is your very own batch." (Read: I woudln't for the life of me let me people know how many hand-to-mouth-to-hand trips the dough had made en route to the plate.)