My oldest is 8 years old and I see her teetering between letting her wild imagination take over and feeling too old to play. I've started calling this age range the middle-era: they're not little anymore, but they're not preteens yet, they're a funky age right in the middle. Helping kids hold on to their creativity and playfulness is so important, but can feel really daunting.
There are many fun and educational activities you can do with these middle era kiddos! Here are some ideas:
1. Arts and Crafts: you can help your child tap into their creativity by engaging in arts and crafts with them! You can do simple projects like painting with water colors, drawing with sidewalk chalk outside, or making collages from old magazines. The crafts can be as simple or involved as you have the time, patience, and materials for.
2. Science Experiments: Conducting simple science experiments at home is easier than you might think! With every day kitchen supplies you can learn about chemical reactions, physics, and biology. There are many science experiment kits available online or in stores that are designed for kids of all ages. My favorite at-home science experiments are found on Busy Toddler's website: https://busytoddler.com/category/learn/science/
3. Outdoor Activities: Research shows that time spent outdoors with your child might be the most valuable time we can spend. You can go for a hike, play with friends at a nearby park, or practice sports skills like catch and shooting hoops together in the front yard.
4. Board Games: This is a personal favorite in our household! Board games are not only fun, but they also help develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and social skills. Board games with young kids can be more work than fun, but with these middle-era kiddos you'll find yourself having the best time! We especially love cooperative games like Forbidden Island by Gamewright Games.
5. Cooking and Baking: Like board games, teaching your child how to cook and bake can sometimes feel like more trouble than it's worth, but I promise it pays off! It's a great way to teach them about nutrition and food safety while also spending quality time together- plus you eventually get delicious treats made without any work on your part.
6. Reading and Writing: I personally love reading in my free time, but I know it's not for everyone. I would strongly encourage you to read aloud to your children. No matter how old they are. I promise you that they'll love the funny voices and the attention. One of my favorite activities is to read a short story to my children, like The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas, but stop right before the resolution of the story, then I give them each a piece of plain paper and a piece of lined paper and ask them to create their own solution to the story's problem and to draw an illustration to go with it. I am always amazed at what they are able to come up with!
These are just 6 of our family's favorites, but remember that no matter what activity you choose, your child will appreciate any special time with you! And no matter how old they are: they're never too old to play!