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21 Ways to Entertain and Educate Children… Without Technology

21 Ways to Entertain and Educate Children… Without Technology

Technology is now a central part of children’s lives: TV, DVDs, computer games, the internet, social media networks, and mobile phones all make for a vast array of constant activity. There is no escaping it—digital devices are everywhere and they are an integral part of social activities, education, and leisure time. However, I would argue it’s equally important for this generation of children to experience the varieties of life, and to promote this I supply 21 practical ideas for entertaining, and educating, kids without the use of technological wizardry.

1. Paper Airplanes

    To get things rolling, we have the legendary process of making sheets of paper fly. Paper airplane-making sessions can start with simple dart designs, and then encourage your children to develop their design skills; folding the nose tip adjusts weight and momentum, experimenting with flaps on the wings to add lift, and change direction and trying out different airplane designs.

    Although paper airplane-making offers a huge amount of fun, it also introduces the principles of aerodynamics and develops design and craft skills.

    2. Science Experiment #1: Mouldy Bread!

      Science experiments at their most basic can be great fun, and educational. For this simple experiment you will need sliced bread, sealable sandwich bags, locations with different conditions in which you can leave the bread, and a magnifying glass. This experiment also requires around ten days for a proper investigation.

      For the first stage, get the kids to place single slices of bread into sandwich bags, seal the bags, and then find places to store them where they will not be disturbed. These areas should provide a variety of conditions: warm and cold, light and dark, dry and moist, indoors and outdoors. Once left, the children should check the state of their bread samples at regular intervals over the course of ten days, studying them with the magnifying glass and noting the presence of mould and the different conditions that encourage its growth. The bags should remain sealed. The results they find can form the basis of a conversation about why mould grows, what microbes are, which conditions are best for mould to grow in, why we refrigerate food, and other related issues.

      It should be noted some people are allergic to mould, so get your children to wear protective gloves and masks when studying the bread, never allow them to have direct contact with the mould, and dispose of the samples at the end of the investigation.

       

      3. Write a Story

        This is one of the simplest tech-free ways to entertain your children. It’s a simple process that promotes creativity and inspiration—vital activities for young, developing minds.

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        4. Perform a Play

          Holding an impromptu play is a terrific way to entertain children. You can use favourite toys to create characters, include the family pets as additional support, and generally make sure you have a fun, silly time of it. The play could be anything from a simple monologue to more elaborate productions that would encourage further creativity, such as script-writing, set-building, making costumes, singing songs, and dancing.

          5. Make Maps

            Cartography is a lot of fun and also helps develop a child’s spatial awareness. Drawing maps of the layouts of their bedroom, or the house, can begin with pacing out the lengths of walls and where things are located in relation to each other. Larger-scale maps could include routes to school, where friends live, and the local town and countryside. A world map would also be worthwhile, allowing a child to understand the scale of the Earth. It doesn’t have to be so serious, of course, as imaginary places (such as treasure maps) can a tremendous sourse of creative fun.

            6. Tie-Dye Clothing

              For this activity you will need clothing dye, freshly washed and dried t-shirts, rubber gloves, a large washing up bowl or bucket, and elastic bands or string.

              Use the elastic bands or string to fold, knot, and tie the clothing item: the way it is tied determines which parts will be exposed to the dye and coloured. Wearing the rubber gloves, mix up the dye with water according to the dye manufacturer’s instructions and submerge the clothing item for the recommended amount of time. Remove the item and allow it to dry for 24 hours, and then wash. Once finished you’ll have a very lively piece of clothing!

              7. Science Experiment #2: Make a Sundial

                This is an outdoor activity that requires the ever-useful Sun, a clock, a compass, and a stick. Push the stick into the ground, angled towards north on the compass. Use the clock to mark where the stick’s shadow is at the passing of every hour. Now you can use these marks to tell the time on any day when there is enough sunlight to cast a shadow. This is a handy reminder to any child of our ancient ancestors’ lack of access to digital clocks!

                8. Science Experiment #3: Build a Rain Gauge

                  This is a meteorological technique that measures rainfall—if everyone’s stuck inside thanks to a rainy day, here’s a reason to be creative. All you need is a large flat-bottomed jar, a ruler, and some rain.

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                  Leave the container out in the rain either for the duration of a rain shower; hours, days, or weeks would be fine. Use the ruler to measure to depth of water collected in the container and you have an accurate record of how much rain fell during the specific period of time. It’s a useful way for children to understand the arbitrary happenings of weather.

                  9. Science Experiment #4: Plant Seeds

                    This is the perfect way to introduce children to how plants grow. You will need fresh seeds such as sunflower, cress, or pumpkin seeds. Next, find some good quality soil or compost, and a few plant pots. Water, sunlight, and heat will also be handy for this experiment!

                    Place the soil in the plant pots, plant the seeds in the soil, and place the plant pots on a warm windowsill that receives plenty of sunlight. Keep the soil moist by watering daily. Kids can keep a record of how the seeds germinate and the plants grow, developing an understanding of biology and farming.

                    10. Juggle!

                      Juggling is a fun, and healthy, activity; it can help improve concentration, hand-eye coordination, and overall brain health. The creative and mathematical elements to the skill are also very handy for young, and old, minds alike. You can use Lifehack’s Juggling Guide to learn the basics—practice makes perfect!

                      11. Painting

                        This is a cheap, and rewarding, way to promote creativity. From watercolours to acrylic paints, all you need is a sheet of paper and some artistic flair.

                        12. Chalk Drawings

                          Every child should enjoy the artistic creativity of drawing with colourful chalks on a local pavement. If this is frowned upon in your community, get a chalk board—there’s no price on creative expression for young ones.

                          13. Science Experiment #5: Experiment With Static Electricity

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                            This activity is great fun, but also introduces children to ideas about how physics works. Here’s what you need: two balloons, a wooly jumper/sweater, an aluminum can, and a head of hair. Once in possession of these, rub the balloons on the wooly jumper and then experiment with trying to push them together—they will resist one another. Next, rub a balloon on your hair and gently lift it away from your head—it should make your hair stand on end! Rub the balloon on your hair again and then, with the aluminum can lying flat on its side on a table, hold the balloon close to the can—it will be pulled towards the balloon.

                            The kids can try out these experiments and you can explain what is happening: rubbing the balloons creates static electricity. When you rub the balloon on hair or wool it becomes negatively-charged because it has taken some negative particles (called electrons) from the hair or wool, leaving the hair or wool positively charged. The positively-charged hair, or aluminum can, are attracted to the negatively charged balloon. The two negatively charged balloons are not attracted to each other so resist being pushed together.

                            14. Draw a Family Tree

                              Children can learn a lot about their history by creating a family tree; they will be able trace distant relatives, learn how much other family members know about the family’s past, and find interesting connections and personal stories. Families are often very complex, but resist the urge to go online for research. Instead, speak to family members and ask them about their memories of relatives. Before long, a family tree will take shape.

                              15. Scientific Experiment #6: Create an Indoor Volcano

                                Making an indoor volcano is a real crowd-pleaser, but also has the potential to get very messy, so you need to be prepared. To build your volcano you need a large bowl, an empty 500ml soft drink bottle, a large oven dish, warm water, washing up liquid (dish soap), red food colouring, bicarbonate of soda, vinegar, cooking oil, 850g of plain flour, and 320g salt.

                                Place the flour and salt in the bowl along with 480ml of water and four tablespoons of cooking oil. Get your kids to use their hands to combine the mixture into a smooth paste.

                                Stand the empty drinks bottle in the centre of the oven dish and then begin molding the paste around the bottle to form the shape of the volcanic cone with the top of the bottle becoming the volcano’s crater.

                                When the volcano’s cone-shaped mountain is complete you can unscrew the bottle’s cap and start adding the ingredients for the lava. Pour in warm water until the bottle is about three quarters full, then add six drops of washing up liquid, and a dash of red food colouring. Finally, add two tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda, stand back and watch the eruption begin!

                                16. Take to the Great Outdoors

                                  Many of these activities have involved being outdoors, but this tech-free suggestion for is to take kids right out into the great outdoors.

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                                  There are infinite possibilities for activities to be enjoyed this way: head to local parks (or into your garden) and look for local wildlife; study the weather (or just guess the shapes of clouds), or explore urban landscapes in greater detail. Most cities have park areas, so seek them out and enjoy the relative solitude.

                                  17. Find Pen Pals

                                    A long-forgotten part of growing up is writing letters by hand, even if it’s just to each other or to family. Hold a letter-writing project and take your kids to post them in the nearest mailbox. Even better would be to get a pen pal from abroad; communicating with different cultures can be inspiring for any young mind.

                                    18. Charity Events

                                      Bring out the best in your children by holding charity events and initiatives. Find long-forgotten causes and contribute to them; such activity promotes good moral teachings. As it’s springtime, you could do something fun to raise money, such as opening a lemonade stand.

                                      19. Play Some Retro Games

                                        Classics such as Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit are still great fun to play and promote intelligent thinking, whilst games such as Jenga can provide fun shocks, and Twister will have everyone in hysterics. These games are also useful in promoting social interaction and communication, so dust off your old versions and get playing!

                                        20. Make Sock Puppets

                                          An item as simple as a sock can be a tremendous source of fun to a child’s vivid imagination. Sock puppets, which can easily be made by adding eyeballs and silly bits of wool for hair, immediately become sentient beings with children, and they can even make up a number of characters to form a play (which would be handy for Point 4).

                                          And finally…

                                          21. Music Lessons

                                            See if you’re in the possession of the latest Mozart by holding regular music lessons. With so much modern music focusing on electronic sounds, going back to music’s roots can inspire and remind children of different cultures and human history. Classical music is believed to have very positive effects on children’s development—Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s compositions in particular. The “Mozart Effect” has been a craze for 20 years, with studies from 1993 showing young people’s reasoning abilities improved after listening to Mozart’s music.

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                                            Alex Morris

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                                            Last Updated on July 8, 2020

                                            18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

                                            18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

                                            The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

                                            1. Understand Yourself Better

                                            Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

                                            Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

                                            2. Keep Track of Small Changes

                                            I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

                                            Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

                                            3. Become Aware of What Matters

                                            As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

                                            You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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                                            4. Boost Creativity

                                            The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

                                            When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

                                            You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

                                            5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

                                            A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

                                            Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

                                            6. Process Life Experiences

                                            When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

                                            Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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                                            7. Stress Relief

                                            In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

                                            Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

                                            8. Provide Direction

                                            Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

                                            One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

                                            9. Solve Problems

                                            Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

                                            Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

                                            When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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                                            10. Find Relief From Fighting

                                            Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

                                            Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

                                            11. Find Meaning in Life

                                            Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

                                            12. Allow Yourself to Focus

                                            Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

                                            13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

                                            When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

                                            14. Let the Past Go

                                            I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

                                            15. Allow Freedom

                                            Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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                                            16. Enhance Your Career

                                            Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

                                            Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

                                            17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

                                            All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

                                            18. Catalog Your Life for Others

                                            No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

                                            We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

                                            Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

                                            Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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