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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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                                            How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                                            How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                                            Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

                                            Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

                                            I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

                                            You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                                            Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

                                            When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                                            I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                                            Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                                            Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                                            Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

                                            1. The Inner Critic

                                            This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

                                            • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
                                            • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
                                            • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
                                            • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                                            He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

                                            Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                                            2. The Worrier

                                            This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

                                            He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

                                            Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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                                            3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

                                            He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                                            He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                                            He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

                                            4. The Sleep Depriver

                                            This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                                            His motivation can be:

                                            • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                                            • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                                            • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
                                            • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                                            How can you control these squatters?

                                            How to Master Your Mind

                                            You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                                            Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                                            There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                                            • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                                            • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                                            This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

                                            The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

                                            Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                                            For the Inner Critic

                                            When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                                            You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                                            For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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                                            You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

                                            “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                                            If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                                            • He riles up the Worrier.
                                            • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                                            • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                                            • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                                            • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

                                            Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                                            Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                                            For the Worrier

                                            Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                                            Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

                                            You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                                            • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                                            • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                            • Muscles tense

                                            Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                                            If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                                            Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                                            “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                                            Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                                            If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                                            Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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                                            Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                                            For example:

                                            If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                                            “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                                            Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                                            “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                                            Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                                            For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                                            Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                                            The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

                                            • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
                                            • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                            • Muscles tension

                                            I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                                            Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                                            Breathe in through your nose:

                                            • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                                            • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                                            • Focus on your belly rising.

                                            Breathe out through your nose:

                                            • Feel your lungs emptying.
                                            • Focus on your belly falling.
                                            • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                                            Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

                                            Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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                                            One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                                            Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                                            For the Sleep Depriver

                                            (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                                            I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                                            Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                                            1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                                            2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                                            When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

                                            From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                                            For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                                            If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                                            You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                                            • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
                                            • Shut down your thinking.
                                            • Calm your feelings.
                                            • Simply focus on the present moment. 

                                            Becoming the Master of Your Mind

                                            Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

                                            You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                                            Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

                                            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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