50 Ways to Play
Use this list to create a jar of fun things for kids -- then pull them out when boredom strikes.
1. Say hello! Make tin-can or paper-cup string telephones.
2. Design a family crest using meaningful images and symbols.
3. Hold a Hula-hoop contest.
4. Make sock puppets.
5. Craft cootie catchers.
6. Tie-dye coffee filters with food coloring and hang them in a window like stained glass.
7. Empty a matchbox and take turns filling it with lots of tiny objects.
8. Play archaeologist. Bury "fossils" (plastic dinosaurs) in the sandbox and excavate.
9. Finger paint!
10. List what you'd bring if you had to live on a desert island.
11. Dream up a make-believe animal and describe it. Bonus: Draw it!
12. Draw something using only the letters in your name.
13. Build a hallway tent with a sheet and a tension rod.
14. Go fishing -- indoors -- with paper fish with paper clips attached. Use a rod with a magnet on the end of the string.
15. Listen to audio books for kids. Audible.com has classics like Stuart Little and Pippi Longstocking.
16. Fly a kite.
17. Host an indoor picnic.
18. Start a long-jump contest.
19. Use moss, twigs, and rocks to create a terrarium.
20. Sketch a shape and challenge your child to finish the drawing.
21. Put together your own puzzle by cutting up photos or postcards.
22. Roll out Bubble Wrap, tape it down, and jump and play.
23. See who can build the highest block tower.
24. Put on blindfolds and do a taste test of different random foods.
25. Lie down and get up without using your arms.
26. Mix 6 cups water + 2 cups dishwashing soap + 1 cup light corn syrup = big bubbles.
27. Put on a concert and record it.
28. Draft a handwritten letter to a pen pal or a far-flung relative.
29. Plot out an indoor obstacle course.
30. Get coloring!
32. Throw an impromptu dance party.
33. Fold airplanes.
34. Switch it up: Kids dress like parents and parents like kids.
35. Press flowers and leaves between sheets of wax paper; then iron.
36. Fill and decorate a time capsule in a shoe box.
37. Play hot potato.
38. Trace your shadow on the asphalt with chalk.
39. Jump in a pile of leaves: Make leaf angels.
40. Adorn your bike with streamers or stickers.
41. Dance with a balloon; don't let it touch the floor.
42. Play mirror and mimic your partner's actions.
43. Toss Ping-Pong balls into an egg carton.
44. Make water and food coloring "potions" -- with Mom's permission!
45. Play leapfrog.
46. Draw a map of your neighborhood.
47. Do the limbo!
48. Pretend to be a lion tamer with a Hula-hoop.
49. Cartwheel contest: Who can do the most?
50. Create a stuffed-animal zoo and make "habitats" in different rooms.
Originally published in the October 2013 issue of Parents magazine.