It’s been a while since we had to prepare to ride out a hurricane up here in Rhode Island. Right now I’m making a list of what we’ll need to have on hand – bottled water, bread, peanut butter, flashlights & batteries, books, sharpies, cardstock, pool noodles, story cubes … what, is my list a bit different than yours? Maybe that’s because I keep thinking about what my kids are going to be doing while the storm blows outside. Since I don’t want them to spend the whole day on the computer/Wii/tv and they won’t be allowed to play outside (obviously), I’d like to have a few ideas in mind to head off the inevitable laments of “I’m bored, there’s nothing to do!”
Maybe this sounds like a good idea to you, too. So while you’re gathering provisions for this weekend’s summer storm, remember to include a few supplies for some simple yet fun arts activities for your family:
Reading aloud together can be an entertaining way to pass the time (especially if you really put a lot of personality into it!). It’s also a good way to distract your more fearful kids away from their anxiety about the storm, and it gives older kids a way to revisit favorite stories from their younger days. Outstanding read-alouds include Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, Matilda by Roald Dahl, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic by Betty Macdonald, and Scumble by Ingrid Law (and also her first novel, Savvy).
When your kids start to get antsy, fort-building is a classic activity that all ages can enjoy. You can use the traditional chairs-and-sheets method of fort construction, or you can bring in those pool noodles and build a more modern boots-and-noodles framed structure (curves, anyone?). Just present your kids with an assortment of materials (sheets, pool noodles, boots and/or adult sneakers, wide-width painter’s tape, clothespins, etc.) and let your kids find their own way using their imaginations. Need a hint? put the ends of the noodles in the boots and voila! you’ve got an arch – and look here for more inspiration!
Another perennially pleasant way to pass the time together is to look at old family photos. Before the hurricane hits, dig out those boxes of photos from the days before digital cameras, the ones you haven’t yet put into photo albums (we all have them). Kids of all ages enjoy looking at old photos of themselves and their family – and to bring some humor to the day, dig out the photos of your teenage self and laugh as they marvel at your total lack of cool.
Telling stories about “the old days” is often inspired by looking at old photos. Another of our favorite storytelling inspirations is Rory’s Story Cubes (pictured above), a little orange box positively brimming with fun! Inside are nine 6-sided dice with a different picture on each side. You take turns rolling the dice and making up a story using the nine pictures that come up – playful entertainment for the whole family! I love the line printed on the front of the box, “let your imagination roll wild!” Rory’s Story Cubes is definitely a gift worth giving to your kids, but for this weekend you can easily make your own – in fact, this is a craft project that can occupy your kids for a good long stretch of time while the hurricane rages. All you need is some cardstock or Bristol board or similar sturdy paper, a pencil, a ruler, a couple of Sharpies (or washable markers, depending on your kids), scissors, Scotch tape or a gluestick, and this folded box template. Tip: draw your pictures on the paper BEFORE you begin your cutting, folding, and gluing.
A hurricane is nothing to take lightly of course, and we should all make the necessary preparations for the safety and well-being of our families and homes. That said, I also know I don’t want to spend the day dealing with whining, complaining, and quarreling kids! Time will tell, but I’m hoping these arts activities will inspire us to find a little fun while we ride out the storm!