Winter break is here! With the kids home, you might find them asking at some point, “There’s nothing to do! I’m bored.” Boredom…the age-old problem that inevitably pops up during the winter months. Taking them to an activity is not always an option. Here are some engaging activities for families looking to use the digital world to alleviate that real world boredom.
Google’s Chrome Music Lab is a resource for children who love making music, singing songs, or both. The site provides a grid that you click on to add notes. The higher you place the note of the grid, the higher the sound will be. The options along the bottom allow the musician to choose the style of the sounds. Kids can select from a grand piano, strings, woodwinds, and more. They can also adjust the tempo for an upbeat, bouncy tune or a slower, melodramatic symphony. Children can even record lyrics using the built-in microphone on their tablet or by plugging a microphone into your home computer. While fun, this free activity won’t turn your little one into the next Beethoven. It is an excellent opportunity to engage their brain cells on a dreary winter afternoon. You can find this in the Chrome experiments section of Google’s site by searching “Chrome Music Lab” from your favorite search engine.
Google’s Birthday Surprise Spinner
The image above the Google search bar is called a Google Doodle. The Google Doodle calls attention to various topics such as an important date for an invention, an artist’s birthday, or a critical event or individual in history. Often, the Doodle includes an activity directly related to the focus for the day. The allure of these activities, puzzles, and games is how easy they are to play and how much fun they can pack into a tiny online package. Google created a digital spinner wheel that randomly chooses one of these activities. If you’re looking for some entertainment on a snowy day, Google “google birthday surprise spinner” and click the spinner. Kids and adults can easily waste hours online playing a version of Pac man, a DJ game, or an animated game of cricket.
Art Hub for Kids is a family-friendly YouTube channel that teaches children how to draw in a fun way. Each video includes the leading artist, Rob, and one of his four children drawing alongside him. He’ll draw a line or shape on-screen, and then his co-artist will draw the same thing. The camera shows both drawings side by side, so viewers can see exactly what to do. Kids can pause the video while drawing or rewatch a section if they don’t understand the instructions. Rob does a phenomenal job of emphasizing that every artist is different. It is perfectly ok if your drawing at home doesn’t look exactly like his. The artwork is colored and shaded when it is complete. The result is almost always something your child will be proud of. The most challenging part is choosing what to draw from the thousands of options available. You can find the channel by searching for Art For Kids Hub on YouTube. If you’re not a fan of YouTube, check out ArtForKidsHub.tv. It is a paid site ($5.99 a month) run by the same family that allows you to access all the Art For Kids Hub videos in a friendly, ad-free environment.
Highlights magazine was a staple of my childhood. The “Hidden Pictures” feature was easily my favorite part. The 60-year-old publication continues to entertain another generation of children through its website. The digital version of Highlights Kids has lots of great content for kids ages 6 to 12. The site includes jokes, online games, and puzzles. The activities section contains 40 different crafts and recipes that can be done without much adult supervision. Capital letter “ADULTS” tell kids when they’ll need a parent’s help. The site even includes an area where kids can submit the things they’ve made to be featured online, or ask questions to the Highlights’ staff like “I’m really messy. How can I get more organized?” The one downside to the digital site is the Hidden Pictures. The popularity of the activity caused Highlights to create a separate subscription-based website dedicated to Hidden Pictures. Parents can sign up for a free trial that will be billed monthly until canceled. Overall, the site provides a load of fun, free activities for kids when boredom sets in. Find Highlights Kids at highlightskids.com
Some readers may be familiar with the digital treasure trove of educational games, videos, and books that is Funbrain. Funbrain features content for kids in preschool through 8th grade. Some games help kids practice fundamental skills in language arts and math, such as Word Derby and Math Basketball. The “skill and drill” model is not ideal for teaching new concepts, but it can be a helpful practice tool. The content is leveled, which means your 4th grader will not see problems designed for a kindergartener. My favorite part of the site is the reading section. Funbrain offers digital copies of books for students to read. A quick search revealed books from popular series such as “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “Judy Moody.” The books are published online in their entirety. Free books online is an excellent way for kids to dip their toe in the water to see if they’d like a book series before going to the library. Funbrain is free; however, it is supported by advertisements. The advertisements appear to be family-friendly, but they can become cumbersome at times. Head over to FunBrain.com to learn more.
Remember to join your kids on these activities, too! While technology isn’t always the answer to boredom, it can help grow your child’s love of reading, art, music, and more by giving them opportunities to practice their skills in new and unique ways.