Monday, December 30, 2013

When We Were Young

These were my favorite games to play growing up! Read on for more classic activities of a childhood without video games

Today I was watching an episode of the Brady Bunch whilst enjoying a steaming mug of hot cocoa during this lovely Winter Vacation from school. One of the scenes cut to Peter and Bobby having a contest of who could cast a fishing line and land the lure in the target (which was a bucket). I began to think to myself how innately creative children are, and yet in modern times, their minds are not exercised to use that creativity to its full potential. A conversation that I was having with a dear friend and colleague (yes, you, Theresa!) sprang into my mind: so often children have the thinking done for them in play, that they rarely get a chance to think for themselves. With the widespread use of batteries, electronics, screens, and buttons with very specific and very limited buttons in toys, playtime is becoming less and less developmentally helpful. I'll be the first to admit, I'm a tech junkie! I'm in front of a screen more than I should be during any given day...yet I wasn't brought up that way. My creativity and brain flexibility survived, and I believe it was because of my lack of video games throughout my childhood.

Wow, that was a long rant. Anyway, this is NOT supposed to be a scholarly post, but a fun one! That Brady Bunch episode inspired me to compile all the fun games I used to play when I was little into a list for a rainy day...or a power outage! :) I remember being entertained in the same game or dramatic play literally for hours as a child...whereas these days, kids are involved with an activity for a half hour and then they're bored. Actually, that reminded me of my last (or maybe not) scholarly point: I heard on the radio recently that the heavy use of technology actually lowers attention span! Think about it: Are you on your smartphone often? When are you most commonly on your phone? Waiting in line? Commercial breaks? Dare I ask, at a red light? We are so used to being occupied by something that we, as a society, are finding it harder and harder to just do nothing. Go ahead, try to do nothing for one minute, I bet you'll want to pick up that phone after about 20 seconds.

ANYWAY here is my list, broken into categories. No more tangents for me!...Yet... :)

Wait, one tiny side-note: worried your kids won't be into it? Make it into a mini Bucket List to complete over a power outage or school vacation! Do it with them! And while you're playing with them, don't forget to act as immaturely as you acted 30 years ago ;)

*Clay- For the multi-talented artist, make some salt dough so their creation can bake and then be painted
*Design clothing- so fun for your little Fashionista or Fashionisto!
*Writing songs: Let me tell you. My 3 best friends from Middle School and I were in a band. It. Was. The. Sh!+. Kathryn, Molly, Sam, and I were the Ice Girlz (obviously inspired by the genius 90s band the Spice Girls). We would take popular songs and rewrite our own lyrics to them. We wrote them, practiced them, choreographed them, and preformed them. I am shocked that we are not sitting in our Ice Girlz mansion because we were fantastic. Just saying.
*Teach your kids to crochet or knit: This just leads to MORE hours of handmade, creative fun

Dramatic Play
--These are such great ways to practice social interactions!
*Trolls!! (Thanks Jen!) Or any other action figure/doll you can think of
*Play House
*Play School
*Play Store
*Play Doctor
*Playing Salon: I mean...the possibilities are endless. M, J, and I used to play this at the No-Electronics-Allowed Yacht Club they belong to. They would give each other manicures, pedicures, hair styles, massages, and they would have done make up, I'm sure, if we'd had it there. Who doesn't love free spa treatment?! I was always ready to play salon! ;)
*Raft Game: I have no idea where I got the idea for this game, but it's a Christie Millar Original. I would spread a blanket out on the floor, get all my beanie babies and a couple pillows. The blanket would be the raft, the beanie babies: the crew, and the pillows: the cabin. We would sail stormy seas, discover uncharted islands, and go weeks without eating anything but fish! Not sure why that was such a fun game for me because in real life it sounds almost dreadful, but it was my favorite!

Indoor Movement/Outside Games
*Water gun fight: I'm not talking, let's get in a line and spray water...I'm talking military tactic, hunt you down and soak you, water gun fight.
*Bike adventures
*Red Rover
*Capture the flag
*Manhunt (Thanks Niki, Molly, Tom, and Gerri!)
*Go for walks-I feel like this was our original chat room since it was more of a social event than an exercise event
*Host your own Olympics Games (Thanks Sarah!)
*Street Hockey (thanks Dad!) or any other organized sport...but probably not taking place in the street these days, depending on what kind of road you live on.

Indoor Games
*Slinky Races (provided you have a staircase)...need I say more?
*House- wide hide and seek (this would be REALLY fun in a power outage)
*Board games- any good ol' classic board games!
*Create your own game! For example, the first game I'll create will be to upcycle a Monopoly board to Harry Potter Monopoly!

*Building a fort
*Building SOMETHING (Legos, blocks, LINCOLN LOGS!!) Architecture at its finest.
*Making fairy houses...No! Not the kits! I mean go into your back yard and scavenge for items like a REAL fairy would do ;) No manmade materials! You need something stuck together? Get some sap. You need to tie something? I hope you have long blades of grass in your yard.
*Climbing Trees: Thrilling and an immense feeling of accomplishment! Also, good exercise :)
*Scavenger hunt
*Experiments (just please don't harm any animals!)

There are millions of other things to do, I'm sure. And if you've read this blog and you would like to contribute I ENCOURAGE you to email me, leave a comment, or find me on Pinterest and comment there.

Thanks so much for reading, and may your New Year be filled with love, health, happiness, and a good dose of creativity!

xo Christie

**Disclaimer: I am not responsible for the safety or well-being of any people participating in any of these games in their personal lives. It is a sad truth that some of these games are not as safe to play as they once were, so please be smart and safe in every choice you make!**

Saturday, December 7, 2013

"I'm thankful for..." Ornaments

About a month ago, I wrote a post about different Christmas Traditions you may want to start with your family or friends. My all-time favorite on the list was the "I'm thankful for..." ornaments. It's a dual-holiday tradition, so on Thanksgiving you all write why you're thankful for each other on a strip of paper. Before you decorate your tree, make ornaments our of the papers, and you can read them aloud while you adorn your tree with so much gratefulness!

I just HAD to start it this year. Before Thanksgiving, I made this image on Photoshop:
I opened a new file, set the paper size to US Letter, and used an image of ornaments from a Google search which I then reduced the opacity. Though I used Photoshop, I'm sure you could use Word just as easily. I printed and cut them out, and on Thanksgiving, we filled ours out together.

I went to one of the craft stores near me and bought:
A pack of glass ornaments (enough to have one ornament for each participant)
Some shredded glitter snow stuff, kind of like this
Opaque paint markers

I used a piece of paper as a funnel, stuffed some snow in, and shook it around to make it stick to the sides. Then I rolled the "I'm thankful for..." paper up and put it in the ornament. These were kind of a pain because the paper flopped around a lot. Next year, I think I'll leave extra room on the paper so I can make it wider...that might stop the rolling around. I've also thought about using fishing wire to "hang" it from the opening of the ornament. Not sure, I'll have to experiment. Last, I used the opaque markers to write the year on the bottom, very important! This is how they came out:

I'm in love with them! Can you five years, we'll have 15 ornaments of why we're thankful for one another. Now THAT is what Christmas is all about.

If you're looking for a slightly less pain-in-the-ass approach, you could just Mod-Podge the pieces of paper on to little wooden shapes you find at the craft store, paint them, glue on a ribbon, and be done with it! That would make them so much easier to read. Get creative!

TIP: If you do the craft snow, make sure a hand-vac is close by. That gets everywhere!

Hope you liked my ornaments just as much as I do. To you and yours, have the most wonderful Christmas Season!