Tuesday, September 14, 2021

5 Kids and (maybe) 5 Days of Rain | Entertainment Ideas that Worked and Didn't

The weather forecast for our Tybee Island Adventure was looking grim. Meteorologists promised us two days of sunshine, and then a week of rain. I had visions of being trapped in our beach house with 5 restless children, ages 7 to 12. But, to be forewarned is to be forearmed!

To that end, I brought a slew of activities with us to the Georgia coast so the kids would have plenty to do. Some of these worked great, others were a bust. Here's how it broke down.

Shrinky Dinks

Hit. Thankfully, most of the promised rain held off and we were out and about for the vast majority of our trip. But when we did find ourselves stuck inside, everybody enjoyed crafting with Shrinky Dinks. The kids could be as sophisticated as they wanted, and the results, when shrunk, always came out looking good. Given how compact a Shinky Dink kit is, I'd be hard pressed to travel again without one.

Friendship Bracelets

Miss. The Klutz Friendship Bracelet book and Multi color embroidery floss were two high quality items that delivered on their promise: to teach the kids how to make an old school friendship bracelet. Alas, the kids just didn't have the interest to finish what they started. Maybe when the kids are older, or if we have longer stretches of nothing to do, we'll try again.

Drawing Kit

Hit. The kit consisted of a pad, Ed Emberley's Make a World drawing book and a package of colored pencils and was an absolute winner. Drawing was the perfect activity to help kids wind down for bed. Ed Emberley's Make a World is a thin volume that makes drawing accessible to everyone.

Legos, Attempt #1

Miss. On previous trips, Legos were an absolute staple. I'd usually bring a couple of larger sets for us to build one afternoon. This time, I went more minimal and brought a heap of Lego Mini Vehicles for them to build and play with, along with a baggies of extra pieces. The kids were unimpressed by the offering.

Legos, Attempt #2

Hit. Fortunately, our Lego playing didn't stop with what I brought. J asked if he could bring some of his own Legos to supplement mine and I eagerly agreed with him. He too mainly brought along odds and ends like I had, but his collection was filled with mini figures. And that, it turned, was what the kids wanted to play with. I learned my lesson: (1) they are far from too old for Legos (thinking back, at 12 I was just getting into my Lego prime) and (2) mini figures are key. I'll probably pick up a bulk collection of minifigs next trip.

Travel Tanagrams

Hit. Magnetic Tanagarm's were a hit both in the car and at the house. The kids enjoyed building the puzzles as described in the book, as well as inventing their own characters. When paired with online resources, there's no shortage of puzzle building fun to be had.

Card Game: Snip Snap Snorem

Hit. Snip Snap Snorem is an easy to play, group card game. I found it to be my go-to activity when I needed to keep the kids attention for a few minutes. We played it while waiting for our food to be delivered at lunch, or while Shira was finishing odds and ends before we could head out for the day. The game is fast paced and everyone gets to feel like they're winning.


Hit. What made this classic tile game especially fun was how we could invent variations. We'd take turns being the game master, trying out different rules to see what was most fun. What if you started with fewer or more than the required tiles? Or didn't allow users to pick from the bone yard? Or you had to play two tiles on each turn? The most fun version that G came up with was a co-operative version of Dominoes where everyone worked together to build the longest possible sequence.

Wire Jewelry Making Kit

Miss. I've tried Wire Jewelry Making a few times, and I've yet to really crack it. The kit I brought consisted of a spool of 20 gauge wire and pliers to manipulate the wire. The idea is that you find some awesome looking shells or stones and then artistically wrap them in wire to make a necklace. In my minds eye, I'm going to make a whimsical piece of jewelry, but I always end up with a clunky, awkward-looking creation. It didn't help that the beach didn't provide much in terms of interesting shells. Also, the kids didn't have the patience or interest to experiment on their own with this. For now, I'll leave the Jewelry making supplies at home and continue to hone my technique.

Journaling Kit

Miss. I thought this was genius. I packed a notebook, the drawing supplies described above, an M02 Pocket Thermal Printer and sticker paper. The idea was that the kids could both write, draw and print out content to include in a journal. The result would be both an activity to do while traveling and a keepsake at the end. Yeah, no. The kids were not moved. The M02 printer is neat, but they really didn't see the value of a fuzzy black and white prints that it produced. I still think the M02 holds promise, but even I have yet to find a good use for it.

1,000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle

Miss. This 1,000 piece Marvel Avengers puzzle was going to be the perfect activity for us to chip away at during the week. Alas, the only surface large enough to hold the puzzle was the table we ate at, so the pieces stayed in the box. The puzzle certainly intrigued the kids, but not enough to actually work on assembling it. This one may be pulled out on our next adventure.

5 Minute Marvel Cooperative Card Game

Hit. The kids disappeared upstairs and played this game for the first few nights of the trip. For giving Shira and Myself a few minutes to collect our thoughts, it will forever be considered a winner. In the past, when we played this game together as a family, I was fairly impressed. The game content and cooperative nature is well done.

Card Game: Solitaire

Hit. D had a habit of waking up before everyone. The challenge was to find an activity he could do that wouldn't cause him to wake up the other kids. The solution was solitaire. He'd play the solo card game quietly while everyone else continued to get Zzz's. I'm not sure who taught him this game, but whoever did gets my eternal thanks.

Movie: Sonic the Hedge Hog

Hit. We had a chance for movie night and found ourselves stumped with what to watch. Finally, we opted to watch Sonic the Hedgehog. It. Was. Awesome. The kids got the video game references, and we got the adult jokes. Everybody laughed and soaked up the kid friendly drama that takes place in the movie. As a foster parent, I appreciated the positive message about how families can be formed in unexpected ways. If we had tried to pick such an ideal movie, we never would have done so.

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