Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues

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Going stir crazy yet?

Now we’re well into day 2 of the “storm days” off of school. Have your kids played every game in your house? Watched every movie? Are they now jumping from the couch to the coffee table? Running in circles around the living room? As a parent, one of the things that amazed me most is how quickly you can run out of activities, no matter how much planning you’ve done.

I hear that the movie theaters, the Spotsylvania Towne Center and Paragon Gymnastics are all packed. Those options never worked really well for our family, between our tight budget and our oldest son, whose severe autism makes any unplanned schedule change a challenge. So I learned early on to keep a list of ideas that could keep the kids busy during unexpected downtime.

Here are a few ideas to keep the kids occupied on this rainy, school-free day:

  • Creative painting: When my guys were younger, we could spend hours painting our windows. Just add a few squirts of dish soap to acrylic paint, and you can create artworks right on the glass, then wash them later. We also loved using toy cars as paint brushes–pour some paint onto a paper plate, drive the car through the paint, then drive it around a piece of paper. You can also use marbles, letting them run around the paper to create unusual patterns.
  • No-bake granola bars: You can “cook,” even if you’re one of the unlucky families without power. Click here for the recipe.
  • Plastic bottle bowling. This project looks so cool that I wish I could be home making it with my kids. Even though they’re teens and probably think they’re way too cool for something like this.
  • Blessings bags. If you’re on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen this project. It’s a gallon-sized baggie filled with goodies like peanut butter crackers, fruit cups and toiletries. You can keep it in your car and give it to homeless people when you see them panhandling. Assembling these bags would be a good project for children.  Click here for a sheet with little cards you can print and include in the bags, to help the homeless find assistance at Micah Ecumenical Ministries.

What are you doing with your days off? Please share any tips you’ve found to keep kids busy.

And I’m hoping to talk with some kids and/or parents about Sandy being “the perfect storm,” as storms go. This one gave two days off of school, but missed Halloween. So kids can get back to school just in time for class parties. Give me a call: 540/735-1973 or shoot me an email: