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Tips for beating summer boredomcomment (0)

May 3, 2007

By Cheryl Sloan Wray


It’s as inevitable in the summertime as the hot temperatures — children saying those dreaded words, “I’m bored” and “Are we there yet?” Keeping children entertained during the summertime and on summer trips is a challenge for parents everywhere.
  
According to Baptist leaders in the state, however, there are many creative — and easy — ways to keep children entertained, happy and busy during the summer months.
  
When it comes to answering the inevitable statement, “I’m bored,” the logical place to start is at church. Churches hold Vacation Bible School (VBS) throughout the summer months — a wonderful outlet for children both to have fun and to learn more about Christ, leaders say.
  
Steven Hicks, children’s minister at Valley Creek Baptist Church, Hueytown, in Bessemer Baptist Association, suggests attending VBS at both your home church and other churches in your community.
  
“There is no reason why kids can’t enjoy VBS at other churches,” he said. “In fact, I have found that my kids enjoy VBS a lot more the second go-round because they are familiar with the theme, song, hand motions and lessons.”
  
Hicks added that different churches offer VBS at different times of the day and evening so it provides an option for parents who either stay at home or work. 
  
At Forest Lake Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa, in Tuscaloosa Baptist Association, the Elderfuge program, a ministry to homebound members, provides children with an easy project that sparks creativity. According to Ann McCormack, children’s ministry team leader, the program collects “pretty refrigerator art for our homebound members” from any child in the church.
  
“Your bored children could adopt a grandparent who doesn’t have a grandchild nearby and make them artwork,” she said, adding that this project could work well for any church and could include nursing home residents and older neighbors.
  
Another easy activity recommended by McCormack is a prayer walk, something that her church’s missions teachers have started doing. “They pray in the office areas of our church, in the preschool center, in our baptistry, even on our front steps,” she said. “It’s a great activity for kids to understand the function of our facilities.”
  
At home, there are a number of different activities that can solve the boredom problem — all it takes is some time and creativity.
  
Hicks recommends a digital scavenger hunt around the house and outside. 
  
“Parents can create a list of items that the kids are to find, and the kids go on their hunt armed with a digital camera,” he said. “The list of items for the kids to find is basically never-ending. You can even make it educational by asking children to find different kinds of plants, trees, birds, bugs and so forth.”
  
Kimberly Keith, a licensed counselor at the Web site www.childparenting.about.com, encourages parents to do such things as make homemade ice cream together with their children, visit the local library, build indoor forts or play in an outdoor sprinkler. 
  
“Combine watermelons with sprinklers for extra fun,” Keith said. “Since watermelons are so sticky and messy in the house, just cut a whole watermelon into enough pieces for your kids and their friends, then send them outside and turn on the sprinkler.”
  
What about tactics for surviving those long car trips during your family’s summer vacation? 
  
Hicks said the easiest option is to utilize the many electronic devices that exist in automobiles today like those that allow children to watch movies or play games while traveling. 
  
If you’d rather not employ the DVD or video-game player (or if you don’t have access to these items), then he said there are many other options such as books, toys and other visual games. 
  
One of those visual games is seeing who can spot the most “bugs” — the new Volkswagen Beetles — first, Hicks said, noting the game can be made more challenging by assigning point values to different colors of the cars.
  
McCormack recommends playing “the color game” to make the trip go faster. 
  
“As we drive, we try to name all the colors we see,” she explained. “This makes kids aware of just how beautiful our world is, and it also teaches them to think outside of the ‘eight-color box.’”
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