5 Fun Ideas For Big Kids

With the holidays almost upon us here in Melbourne, I thought I would share 5 ideas to keep bigger kids busy.

1. Make a Fact Sheet

This is one of my daughter's favorite things to do and can be modified according to your child's age. It's simple really, I just give my girl a topic and she has to find 20 facts on that topic. When she was younger, it used to be just 10. She uses the computer and reference books to find her facts. Sometimes I'll be specific and say "I'd like you to find 10 facts from a book and 10 facts on the computer". I think it's important kids know how to research topics they're interested in and that they can use a variety of resources to find facts, not just trusty old Google! We tend to stick to places and animals. For a first timer, you could give them a few ideas eg. For an animal they could find where it lives, what it eats, it's predators are etc. We collect up all the fact sheets and keep them in a folder. This activity builds research skills, literacy skills, computer skills and gets kids thinking about the everyday world.
Em's first typed-up fact sheet

2. Do a Project

 This is similar to the fact sheet idea, but I choose a topic that is a little more general and I give Em specific questions that she has to find the answers to. It usually starts with a conversation about a topic she's interested in. We had an earthquake here in Melbourne just the other day, so she did a project on that. You can see her efforts below. This builds similar skills to the fact sheet, but it hones research skills slightly because it asks the child to find specific facts. It also really works a child's ability to read text and find meaning on it. This is a really important literacy skill.

Em's Earthquake Project

3. Making a book.

We love making books at our house. This is a great activity for kids around 5-7 who are just starting to spell and write on their own. A great way to help it along is to put together a sheet of words that your child might use in their book but need help spelling. Ed just recently made a book about Mr Scribble, but needed help to write 'scribble'. I wrote out the words he needed first so he could work independently. This is great for spelling, writing, drawing and also planning how a story takes shape. It works on imagination and creativity and is a great self-esteem boost once it's finished. Start with just a few pages for really early writers. Ed's book was just 3 pages long for his first go.

4. Paint
Painting with bigger kids is loads of fun. I like to give them just a few colours - red, yellow, blue, black and white and allow them to mix their own colours in an egg carton. They can paint onto paper or canvas and you can either give them something to sketch and paint or allow them to use their own imagiantion and creativity. For extra experimentation, you can try powder paints. This means kids can experiment with the texture and consistecy of the paint as well as the colour. Experimentation and creative expression help with creativity, language, recall, problem solving and knowledge about the world.

5. Cubbies
It's easy to think that bigger kids are too old for pretend play, but children generally enjoy this sort of play until they're 10-12 years old and sometimes older. Bigger kids like details. They'll appreciate access to real food, torches, notebooks, lots of furry friends, dress ups, sleeping bags and pillows. And they'll also like having two or more cubby houses to move between. They great thing about bigger kids engaging in this sort of play is they can build their own houses and play around with size and shape on their own. They can also help to pack up too! Even for older ones, pretend play is great for self confidence, self esteem, problem solving, getting along, language skills, imagination and creativity.

What do your big kids like to do?

It's OK to Be Sad ....

As a generation of parents, I think we’re really bad at just letting things be. We want to step in, control a situation, make it better and right. I’m just as guilty as anyone else.

I wonder what this is doing to our kids.

We’re in make-do mode here at our house at the moment as we renovate our main kitchen and living area. It’s dusty and cold. The food isn’t up to scratch and we are surrounded by general chaos. But guess what, we’re all happy and ok.

Sure, there have been complaints about there not being enough food or space or cutlery or TV, but we’re managing and we’re all learning lessons.

It’s really got me thinking about how we try to make everything good for our kids all the time. We don’t like them being upset or uncomfortable. We are the generation of parents who have banned sports days because children get upset when they don’t come first. We give all kids trophies and medals for participating rather than recognizing those who excel. Hey, we even put a prize in every layer of pass the parcel so no-one gets upset when they miss out.

I wonder what this is doing to our kids, whether we’re actually doing more harm than good. Sure, in the short term they’re happy, but what about when they’re older? What happens when things don’t go their way? What happens when people around them get sick or even die? What happens when they don’t get that job the first time or they break their leg or they don’t have enough money to buy the car/house/holiday they really want? How will they cope when they haven’t learned the skills to deal with situations that don’t turn out the way they hoped?

Now, I’m not advocating purposely upsetting children or making things really tough for them or telling them to “just suck it up” when something upsets them. But I am talking about not manipulating and manufacturing everything to prevent them from getting upset. Instead of removing them from situations that might make them sad or angry, we should let them have these experiences and be there for them to pick up the pieces with love and empathy. We need to teach them to talk about things that upset them and deal with the feelings that arise. We should be honest with them and let them fail. 

They need to learn lessons like “things only hurt for a little while” and “all things pass” and “you don’t have to win/succeed every time and you’ll still be ok”. They also need to learn that sadness is a part of life. There are powerful lessons in suffering, as hard as they are.

Again, I’m not saying we should make our kids suffer because that would be wrong. I’m just saying that maybe we shouldn’t shield our kids so much from the things that can make them angry or upset.Maybe we should just stand back at let things be. Accept life the way it is, for us and for our kids.

We help our children develop skills to do all sorts of things. Surely giving them the skills to cope with anything life can throw at them is one of the most wonderful things we can do.