We tend to overly complicate our kids’ lives in this modern world.
From scheduled playdates to structured activities to meticulously planned-out road trips, we’ve forgotten the beauty of puttering around our own homes and neighborhoods finding imaginative things to do to pass the time.
According to the American Association of Pediatrics, in their 2007 study on the importance of play, “Despite the numerous benefits derived from play for both children and parents, time for free play has been markedly reduced for some children.”
When left to their own devices, I’ve found that my modern kids lack the ability to see the fun that’s all around them. And despite my best efforts, my kids are technology driven. So, this summer, we’re making an effort to engage in what I like to call “bricolage play.”
But what is bricolage I hear you ask? Well if you search for videos on bricolage… this is the first result.
Or how about this? To the point don’t you think?
Bricolage is a French term typically used in the art world that means, “Something constructed or created from a diverse range of available things.” You don’t need to spend extra money or go out of your way – just use what you have on hand in new and inventive ways!
And if you’re serious, how about bricolage as a way of life?
Here are 10 ideas for how to have a super-simple summer of bricolage.
- Make a miniature golf course out of cardboard boxes, books, kitchen items, stuffed animals, and whatever other non-breakable items you can find. Use plastic cups as the “holes.” If you don’t own putters, make some out of broom handles or sticks that you find outside. Cut out cardboard putter heads and tape them in place. Your kids most likely have balls that will work buried in their toy boxes. Once the course is set, it’s game on!
- Make homemade popsicles. Pour your favorite juice or non-carbonated sweet drink into an ice cube tray. Tightly wrap with plastic wrap. Insert a toothpick into the center of each square. Freeze until solid, remove the plastic, and enjoy!
- Play table-top board games. If you’re tired of the games you own, try making up “family rules.” You’ll not only have a new game at your disposal, but you’ll have a new family tradition, too!
- Put together a puzzle as a family. Pick a puzzle that will challenge your younger kids while still entertaining older kids and parents. Put it on a table that’s central to everyone so it can be worked on a bit at a time. Coffee tables are perfect puzzle spots, and they provide an immediate alternative to the TV across the room.
- Have a fashion show. Let your kids put on your clothes and parade around the house while you snap pictures or take video. Let your kids commentate each other’s performances. Encourage them to make silly – but kind – observations about each other’s outfits.
- Make a sock puppet theater out of cardboard boxes. Then, make use of all those single socks you have sitting in that corner of your bedroom. Use colored markers to draw faces. Glue on old buttons for eyes or bits of yarn for hair. Write silly scripts or just ad-lib!
- Make home-made playdough. With the measuring and mixing involved, it’s a wonderful lesson in practical math and gross motor coordination. If you have essential oils around the house, you can even make your playdough smell good!
- Make homemade paints. Blend ½ cup of flour with ½ cup of salt. Add ½ cup of water and mix until smooth. Divide your paint base between three plastic bags and add a few drops of liquid food coloring to each. Seal up the bags and knead each until the color is fully incorporated. Use empty egg crates to hold bits of each color and paint away on plain white or colored construction paper. Bonus: Hold an art show and invite the neighbors to come see your creations!
- Meet the neighborhood kids. Your kids just might spend less time in front of a screen if they have the option of playing outside with the kids down the street. Not to mention, knowing your neighbors is shown to be good for your health.
- Draw on the walls. Forget what your mother said! Drawing on the walls is fun, liberating, and can create wonderful, lifelong memories. Pick a wall in your house, or a part of your fence out back, give everyone a paint brush or sharpie markers, and make some family art. It’s okay if it’s not perfect. You can always paint over it and make new creations on the same wall! Just remember to take a picture before you wipe that slate clean. Imagine the photo album that would create!
There’s a lot to do if we just look around with an imaginative eye. Creating something from nothing fuels the imagination, kills the boredom beast without wasting the hours, and builds strong family bonds.
What are some of your favorite “bricolage” activities? Give us your ideas, and let’s get this summer rolling!