ENTERTAIN AND EDUCATE: FINDING ONLINE ACTIVITIES FOR YOUR KIDS

The following is a guest post from Daniel Sherwin. Daniel is a single dad to a daughter (9) and son (6). His site, DadSolo.com, provides resources and information for single dads. ​This post is about smart and healthy uses of online activities when it’s too cold to play outside.

Winter has officially set in, bringing with it many long cold and frozen afternoons and weekends that keep your children from enjoying their usual outdoor fun. If you’re a single parent, you know how important it is to find activities that will keep kids engaged and their minds off the fact that it’s too cold to play outside. There’s a lot at stake for you, too. If your children are likely to fight when they’re cooped up indoors, your blood pressure and stress level will surely hit the roof.

You can always default to a gaming system and let your kids while away the hours blowing things up and shooting at alien space monsters. Or you could find healthier, more wholesome and rewarding activities that they’ll enjoy and maybe even learn from at the same time. If you’ll take some time to look around the Internet, you can find some worthwhile games, videos and online lessons that just might lead to a new hobby, or even a lifelong passion.

Physical activity is the one thing kids need when there’s nothing else to do. Why not combine the need to blow off some steam with healthful exercise activity? Look no further than Youtube, an unparalleled (and free) repository of exercise videos for young and old alike. Check out a dance exercise video that’ll get everyone up and moving to an infectious beat, work every large muscle group, and provide a good cardio workout. If you have little ones, turn them on to videos that teach colors, show them how to have fun painting with bright colors, and encourage them to take part in pretend play.

Money is often in short supply for single parents, which can put a damper on fun activities for the kids. Fortunately, there are plenty of games and activities to be found online that kids can enjoy indoors without much expenditure. Try a new twist on the old game of hide and seek by making a list of objects that are hidden around the house. Every time an object is found it gets checked off; the one who finds the most objects wins a prize. Indoor cornhole is another easy-to-make game, requiring only socks filled with beans or rice that the kids toss into bowls. Your kids can also have fun making some do-it-yourself jewelry, such as bracelets made from multi-colored pipe cleaners.

It’s surprising how easy it can be to entertain your kids with web sites that are designed to be educational. MakeMeGenius.com features videos that impart information on a wide range of topics, like the solar system, human anatomy, electricity, and more. There are interactive exercises and videos for children from grades 1 through 8, as well as jokes, foreign languages, and interesting facts. The Kidz Page includes thousands of learning activities and games, with pages that allow kids to enjoy online coloring, jigsaw puzzles and word games. Earth Science Jr. presents a series of challenges that encourage children to develop problem-solving skills. Or you could help your kids learn about wildlife and the habits of animals from all over the world on National Geographic’s website for children.

Musical instruments can provide kids with a great source of entertainment and achievement. The interactive versatility of the Internet helps expose children to instrumental music in ways that weren’t available just a few years ago. Kids can learn to play an instrument online through many websites, some of which are free. You can even use the Internet to determine the instrument that’s best for your child.

The Internet is often seen as a threat to children. If you’re careful and spend some time researching beneficial sites, the Internet can be a valuable tool and ally, particularly on those days when you need to find something to keep your kids entertained indoors. It really is possible to entertain and educate your children at the same time.

By Daniel Sherwin, DadSolo.com

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David B. Younger, Ph.D. is the creator of Love After Kids, for couples that have grown apart since having children. He is a clinical psychologist and couples therapist with a web-based private practice and lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, 13-year-old son, 3-year-old daughter and 5-year-old toy poodle.


Originally published at www.loveafterkids.com.

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