Still finding fun ideas, and sometimes allowing my girls to play, too.
Rube Goldberg was an American cartoonist. His name has become synonymous with creating a contraption that accomplishes a simple task through a series of complex, mechanical steps. If your goal was for a ball to be in a bucket, you could simply place it in the bucket in one easy step. However, a Rube Goldberg machine might involve ramps, pendulums, items knocking over, and switches being triggered in order to accomplish this.
Here’s an example of a really involved Rube Goldberg Machine.
But there are easier versions as well, like this one.
You don’t need to drop a couple hundred bucks at technology and hardware stores. You can make part of the fun a scavenger hunt to see what supplies can be found in your own home. Cardboard can be bent to form a track. You can use DVDs as dominos. A piece of fruit with string tying it to something higher up can become a pendulum. A vacuum hose can become a tunnel. Duct tape might become a huge help.
This sort of activity involves physics, testing, failing, lessons learned, hands-on project work, and ultimately perseverance until a successful outcome. Little kids might love this, using legos or hot wheels and race tracks as some supplies (parents might need to help but can bond and let the kid be the leader). Older kids can immerse themselves in this and create a more sophisticated machine, with a longer attention span to spend time on this. The whole family can even all do this for a fun group activity. And couples or roommates can even do this as a date night or activity to accompany an evening cocktail. It’s definitely worthy of videoing at the end!
Turning Homeschooling Into Home Equity with My Kids
Those living in a place they don’t own might feel this can’t apply to them. But there are smaller options, such as creating a colorful scene through planting a variety of flowers in various sized containers. Or you can start a vegetable garden in flower pots in lieu of a raised bed. You might line the back patio with tiki torches.
There’s a vastly increased ability to order what you need and have curbside pickup or delivery these days. There may even be a chance to re-purpose materials you already have, such as using that old pile of flagstones or bricks for a small side patio; or splitting some plants to have free shrubs; or transplanting some ground cover or flowers that have been spreading. The mental challenge of reusing materials can be interesting, budget-friendly, and safe.
Again, the project can work within any constraints you have. But the many aspects of completing it will pay visual dividends for your space and invisible ones for you.
Finding a way for a small act of kindness to touch a stranger.
Many people feel the heavy stress and negativity arising from the countless effects created by Covid-19, along with the inability for most people to have a broader impact. One way to make a difference is to focus more on the opportunities to positively affect even one person.
The Kindness Rocks Project existed before this virus, but may be meaningful now as much as ever. Our family has been fortunate to find a few. We’ve been meandering along a beach and randomly discovered a rock with words on it that were general enough to apply to almost anyone, yet specific enough to feel like it’s the perfect positive message at a time when you needed it. We’ve passed these along to someone who would be touched, as a way to pay it forward.
This can be a really easy project. All you need is some rocks with a suitable surface to write on, some paint and pens that will survive the outdoors, and some empathy. It’s an art project with a touch of humanity that can capture people’s attention for a little while, and leave them thinking about how to lift someone else’s spirits.
I bet the founding fathers didn't debate if a circle has sides to it.
People will often be happy to debate plenty of topics. These days, there’s an added edge to some debates. But let’s turn debates into a fun activity. As long as there are three, or even two of you, you can have debates. Zoom or FaceTime offers the same opportunity for someone who’s single. We won’t have normal debates this time around. These topics are based on comical, zany premises. They aren’t serious but do require thought, and can involve discussion afterwards to keep the fun going
Topics might include debating whether white is a color; why tacos vs. hot dogs are sandwiches; if cereal is actually a breakfast soup; whether or not eating a mermaid makes you a cannibal; and why plants are a kind of meat. But brainstorming is as fun as the debate itself!
Some simple rules (which you can adjust):
Kids benefit from the critical thinking skills of researching, presenting, and thinking on their feet, and will enjoy coming up with topics. Grown-ups will shake off their seriousness, and can enjoy this with a couple of drinks on FaceTime or Zoom. After a couple of rounds, you’ll also see improvements, despite the nonsensical topics. You might even have people making laughable assertions that becomes a memorable story with your friends!
My kids just did a big chore, helped me out, and liked it?!?! Wow.
Covid-19 has created challenges around food and left us spending much more time at home. Perhaps you’ve accumulated more nonperishable food to survive the ups and downs of the food supply that’s not well stored. Or perhaps there’s the occasional messy area that becomes more of an eyesore when you’re home so much. Organizing an area can be an opportunity to feel better about your little corner of the world
organize can offer several benefits: it’s a way for them to genuinely contribute to the family; for them to do something casually physical; it’s an exercise in spatial relations, so has an intellectual value; it gives them input into their world, through their decisions; and the project-based activity helps them focus and have an accomplishment at the end. Having them show and explain what they did further engages them and offers opportunity for pride at achieving a goal.
If you don’t have kids, this can still be helpful. If it’s food organization, it helps you figure out what you do (and don’t) need. For nonperishable items that you might stock up more on in order to reduce grocery store trips, it lets you see how much space you have. But even if it’s a closet and dressers, since maybe your wardrobe will change if you’re working from home, or if it’s an attic cleanout, it still helps you sort through and assess things.
Everyone has that project that they talk about getting to but never tackle. Now may be the perfect time!
Since your households may include different combinations and ages of people, and may be houses or apartments, we’re listing safe and low-cost ideas that can be broadly applicable, even if a little Yankee ingenuity is needed to tweak something to best fit your circumstance.