When my hubby taught our 7-year-old daughter, Stella, how to whistle, she demonstrated her new noise-making talent to anyone who would listen. A few weeks later, I showed her how to braid hair, and she was obsessed with giving her dolls new 'dos. "Once your child is 7 or 8, she's old enough to follow complex instructions," says Jenn Berman, PsyD., a Parents advisor and author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids. "Plus, her new skills are great ways to bond with friends." What other frivolous (but oh-so-fun) activities could we tackle next? Don't miss a trick!
Have your child chew gum to soften it. Tell him to make a ball with the gum, flatten it on the roof of his mouth, and then place his tongue in the middle of the gum and move the wad to the front of his mouth, says Chad Fell, of Haleyville, Alabama, who holds a Guinness World Record for bubble blowing. Now all your kid has to do is stick out his tongue and puff. "If he has trouble holding the gum in place with his lips while he blows, have him grasp the edges with his hands," says Fell.
Ask your kid to inhale deeply and then exhale to fog up the concave side of a spoon, says Miriam Peskowitz, coauthor of The Daring Book for Girls. Tell her to hold it on her nose and when it's sticking, slowly take her hands away.
Ask your kid to fill a thin-walled wine glass halfway with water, hold the base of the glass, wet his index finger, and then begin to rotate it around the rim with smooth, continuous pressure (pressing down slightly). Eventually, the glass will start to sing.
Start by collecting a big pile of flat, uniformly thin rocks, says Jerdone, author of Stone Skipping: The Complete Guide. Have your child hold the stone, with her index finger curled around the outside and her thumb resting on top, and fling it far and low, as parallel to the surface of the water as possible, rotating the stone as fast as possible.
Forget balls. Let your kid get the hang of it with nylon scarves, says Dave Gillies, director of Give & Take Jugglers, in Philadelphia. "Because scarves fall slowly, you don't have to worry so much about catching them," he says. Tell your kid to reach up, cross his midline with each hand, and drop the scarf when his arm is extended. Hold two scarves in one hand and one in the other, and begin with the hand holding two," he says. Watch Gillies's how-to videos at activitytv.com/juggling-for-kids.
Look for a hoop that reaches your kid's belly button when the hoop is stood on end in front of her, says Cara Zara, a hoop-dance teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina. Your child should put one foot slightly in front of the other, place the hoop on her lower back, wind it up, and let it spin. Teach her to rock back and forth (from front to back) with her hips rather than moving in a circle.
Originally published in the September 2012 issue of Parents magazine.