I cannot remember when the idea of the Fun Jar erupted in my brain, but I can tell you this… the idea came before the heyday of Pinterest and the ease of quickly finding, pinning, and then finding again ideas to utilize at the drop of a hat with one’s littles. Regardless of my use of Pinterest, and all the pinteresting ideas found therein (and I do believe Webster’s Dictionary ought to put that one down this year as a new adjective), I find myself still very much using our Fun Jar.

What is a Fun Jar you ask?

A Fun Jar is simply a large container (glass jar, in our family) filled with large squares of paper that have been folded with ideas written on them for “fun” at a moments notice. Some of the fun comes simply from the idea of not knowing what is going to be drawn (the excitement for B when he was little was seriously palpable), from yelling out suddenly into the house, “Fun Jar!” at the top of  my lungs, or even with coming up with activities to put in the Fun Jar. 

I have a habit of sitting down first thing in the morning and coming up with 2 to 3 activities that I want to complete with B that day. Invariably, one of them is typically art. Reading together at night is a certainty, so that one doesn’t even get etched on my list, unless it’s going to be a crazy hectic day and I want to remember to not be too exhausted to read (or fall asleep while reading). But the other two are sometimes drawn from the Fun Jar or simply written on my list as Fun Jar picks. 

Here is the thing about homeschooling. The Boy and I are alone most of the day. I LOVE it! I don’t begrudge the time we get to spend together and I’m grateful that we have a warm and loving, as well as close relationship. Beyond schooling I find it important for B to manage his time alone (ie. keep himself busy, find things to occupy his time, etc). In fact, I’ve found that B rarely (like once in a blue moon) even mentions that he is what we would call bored. He will typically say that he can’t think of what to do followed by the query, “Can you help me think of something to do?”

But all that time also means that as an only child I am very much sometimes also a “playmate” for B. In this house we never ever use that word or the connotation associated with it. I am very much B’s mother and there is a line there. I don’t aim to be friends with B, though I hope that when he becomes an adult our relationship will allow for that. But we do play quite often together. I will admit, some of the games we play are born of B’s imagination. Some of them I LOVE, love, love. Others I inwardly (silently) groan and muddle through it, a big ol’ smile plastered on my face. Don’t we do that, though? Don’t we love each other deeply enough to share in each other’s joys and interests, even if we don’t care for them? 

But that is neither here nor there, as I’ve digressed. 

The Fun Jar. 

After homeschooling and chores and and free time and independent school work done outside of the confines of the “school day.” ie. the time we sit together and work on his school or I lecture, whatever the case may be, our day is peppered with activities that I’ve previously written down to complete that day. Again, one always being art, and the other two typically being something else. It can be to build a fort and watch a movie, to bake something together, to go for a night walk, to make a new bird feeder, to create balloon rockets, to have an indoor snowball fight (think white rolled up socks), etc etc. A lot of those ideas come from the Fun Jar. Some I find on Pinterest, and others I pull from my days preparing to teach early childhood ed. As B has grown the activities on the Fun Jar have evolved and changed too. “Playing with our parachute” no longer works as The Boy has gotten way too big for such things, or “pull out the water and sand table” is a thing of the past (and how I miss those days!). But you get the idea. I try to keep the things in the Fun Jar simple and easy, things that I know I have the materials on hand for and that, especially on busy days, be an activity that runs for 20 or 30 minutes.

I often remind myself, especially on hectic days where my to-dos are in competition with my do-wants, that the do-wants are especially important because they involve My Little. Now that doesn’t mean I neglect the to-dos, but that does mean that those do-wants get priority and that I make them happen. Here is another thing I often remind myself… most of the activities on the Fun Jar take 15, 20 minutes. That’s it! And you would be surprised at how those 15 to 20 minutes of something fun, and loved, and shared together energize kiddos and give them renewed spirt and umph! Kiddos will take your ear off because sometimes we are too busy to really listen and that is something I remind myself of often as well.

There’s a fine line there as well. In all this activity and planning and executing there are boundaries. If I’m working on something on the computer or on the phone B understands he must respect that time and he can come and talk to me later and share whatever is on his heart. His understands, as I’ve often told him, that I love him and I love hearing all his ideas and thoughts and opinions and “light bulb” moments. However, we have to respect others and especially adults. We have to wait and be patient. I refuse to drop some things to listen as I understand that that is a valuable lesson as well. And there are times I drop what I’m doing to listen or run and see something he wants me to look at right this second, typically during housework or cooking. 

And yet, I digress again.

So ideas for the Fun Jar. The ability to add and subtract from this list is obviously easy and feel free to add things that will appeal to your littles. I have a boy and so my jar has always been dictated by the fact that he enjoys some things that perhaps girls might not, but you get the picture.

Fun Jar ideas:

Play with bubbles.

Build paper airplanes (and see who can fly theirs the farthest, etc).

Build an indoor fort.

Play with shaving cream on the table (um, this actually helps clean the table 😉  )

Put on silly kids music and dance, dance, dance.

Bake something together.

Create (and eat) no egg cookie dough.

Paint your face (think of like a carnival).

Splash in the kiddie pool.

Pull out the slip-n-slide.

Suminagashi.

Make a bird feeder.

Have an indoor snowball fight.

Make a recipe for a smoothie and make it (kid inspired).

Work on a comic book page together.

Play dress up!

Put on a puppet show!

Build a tall structure with blocks.

Have an indoor scavenger hunt (with or without clues).

Write a letter to someone (and get excited about the response).

Collect and paint or draw on rocks (on hot days you can take crayons outside and draw on the hot rocks, just be careful!)

Go for a dice walk.

Play with something gooey (think Gak!)

Make homemade play dough and whip out kitchen utensils for fun and endless play.

Declare it a Wacky Dress Day and see who is the wackiest.

You Pick the board game (ie. the kiddo does).

Indoor treasure hunt replete with treasure map (this can be done quickly, it’s the idea that seems to be most exciting to kids).

Have breakfast for dinner!

Learn a new but classic card game.

Watch a beloved movie (pop some popcorn, pull our every pillow you own, and get some comfy blankets).

Might I Bite? (Variation of 20 questions with only animals)

Take turns drawing on a half piece of paper to see what your drawing ends up looking like.

Be a Ninja!

Two Truths One Lie

Work on a puzzle together.

Make and fly a Kite, or one or the other.

Switcheroo (Dress up in wacky clothes and then in secret remove one article, like a scarf, and see if they can guess it. Take turns)

Pull our paper and scissors and cut and paste away.

Do a challenge, winner has no bedtime (or later bedtime)

Go on an imagination walk.

Play with homemade mud.

Create an obstacle course.

Put on a talent show (part of the fun can be creating a banner to go with)

Snowblowers (race against others to get your snowball across the finish line)

Build structures with red solo cups

Build structures with mini marshmallows and toothpicks.

Ping Pong Basketball

Go for a bike ride.

Take a hike!

Play video games (yup, I said it!)

Pull out the stuffed animals for hospital, school, or whatever play.

Declare it a Pajama Day!

No Rule Day!

Play bocce.

Play balloon volleyball.

Water balloon fight.

Play with marbles.

Make a marble run.

Make a mini golf course inside.

Create a sculpture out of clay.

Paint outside.

Create an obstacle course with chalk.

Sleep in a fort.

Marshmallow War

Create your own island (on paper or in the house)

Have a nerf war.

The list can be endless and as I said you can add stuff, retract stuff, or change things up so they work for you and your family rules, values, etc. 

Writing all this up makes me a bit sad that we won’t utilize our Fun Jar today. We are hoping the weather holds off today so we can go play at Busch Gardens. I suppose we can call today, “Hookey Day ;)”

As always, I find myself every so grateful for another day.

 

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