Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Kid Craft :: Make Your Own Bored Game

I haven't posted a Kid Craft in ages and thought it was about time since my garden is on a hiatus right now. I prefer to tell people that my garden is on sabbatical to make it sound more impressive, but I know no one's buying it. I'll admit that I don't post kid crafts that often because I don't think my average reader comes here for that - I think most people come to this blog for my dyn-o-mite gardening skills - snicker, snicker, snicker.

I thought I'd put my gardening prowess to one side today and show off a kid craft that actually turned out great. The boys and I made this game at the end of the summer, when the long, hot days were dragging and I needed something creative to occupy them one morning. I'll start by saying that one of the fun things about having more than one child is that the chances of them liking the same thing at the same time are about nil. So one will like Star Wars while the other likes Indiana Jones. This led me to the game that killed the end of summer boredom blues for our family. It was a full-out life saver.

It was simple. I sat down with the boys with some pieces of paper and let them draw out some ideas for the game. Of course the ideas were awesome things like "Battle Darth Vader" and "Swing on a rope with Indiana Jones" and "Fight a monster with Scooby Doo" - all things that seemed impossible to integrate into one board game.

But then I had a eureka moment. Yes, we'd integrate all the ideas the boys had into the biggest mish-mosh of junk you've ever seen and everyone would be happy. This is something you would never be able to find in a store. It would be awesome.

I got a piece of poster board and a sharpie and drew out a long snaking trail for the game. I separated the trail into typical game board squares and gave the boys a box of crayons and let them color in the squares. We also made bridges (or the requested "shortcuts") that would allow a player to battle the bad guy of their choice, so they colored those in too. This whole process was quite time consuming for them, which I thoroughly enjoyed. That's not wrong, is it?

Then we went online to Google image search and printed out a handful of pictures of their favorite characters that we cut out and glued down on the game board in the appropriate places. We've got scenes from The Last Airbender, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Scooby Doo etc.

We used an oversized die from another board game and players can choose their own "guys" each time they play. We've used full-sized GI Joes and Star Wars figures, lego guys, army men, batmen and even a dirty sock once. Whatever tickles their fancy for the moment is their guy, which really does add to the fun of it.

My boys like twists in games so we made up a stack of game cards by making a bunch of simple text boxes in MS Word and writing appropriate game card lingo on each one. They all correspond to the characters on the board and some are just downright silly - "Sing your favorite song or go back 2 spaces" for example (I should note that my youngest son pulls that card, growls, and then moves back 2 spaces every time). I sat there on the computer and let both boys come up with ideas for an equal number of cards. We have some that move you forward (Yoda helped you. Forward 3 spaces you go); some that hurt you (You tripped on Indiana Jones' whip. Go back one space); and some that challenge you (A T-Rex is chasing you. Roll higher than a 3 to escape or go back 5 spaces). We made 20 cards and printed them out on card stock and cut them out. We also drew two rectangles on the board for 'cards" and "used cards" so they had a home while we were playing.

We then put numbers on all the bridges. When you reach a gateway to the bridge (a square marked with an X), you must roll the die and if you get the number on the bridge or higher, you can cross it. If not, you stay where you are (although one of the bridges where you battle the Emperor from Star Wars says right on the board that if you don’t roll the right number, you lose a turn).

We put star stickers throughout the game on random squares. If you land on a star sticker you draw a card and do what the card says.

If you land on a square with another player you have to battle the other player. Can you tell I have boys? This was their idea and their favorite part of the game. When another player lands on a spot that's already occupied, both players roll the die. The person who rolls the lower number moves backward that number of spaces. So if one person rolls a 4 and one person rolls a 2, the person with the 4 stays put and the person with the 2 goes back 2 spaces. And if you're really lucky you'll land on a bridge and get to roll to cross the bridge or land on a star sticker and draw a card. It's all very exciting.

I'm very surprised that we made this game in August to get us through a long summer day and here we are in October and the boys still enjoy playing this game almost daily. Since it's won the test of time at our house I thought I'd post it here incase another parent needs a basically free craft to entertain the kids. I am really amazed that they're still as excited to play this as they were the day we made it. You can customize it to whatever your children are interested in and you can put many different characters on the board to please multiple kids.

It's the best board game for killing the boredom around our house now… I'll admit that making a Halloween one with black and orange squares and Halloween characters sounds appealing and making a Christmas one with red, green and white squares and completing Christmas challenges also will be on the to-do list for the holidays. Who knew that a 59 cent piece of poster board could be so much fun?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Days Like These

Days like these make me happy to live in Florida. I complain about the oppressive heat and humidity of the summer. I get upset when September rolls around and it's as bad as August, which was even hotter than July. Then October sneaks in and the weather becomes the thing tourists dream of. The highs are in the low 80s and the lows have finally dropped into the upper 60s.

And we have sunsets like this.

I'll remind myself of this awesome weather when November rolls in and we're back to having oppressive heat and I'm drooling over pictures of bundled up northerners dashing about in the cold.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Saffron!

Smile, it's your birthday!

Doesn't it seem like I JUST got that little bundle of trouble...er...joy for Christmas? I mean didn't she JUST look like this five minutes ago?

I can't believe I've had her for 10 months now and she's turning one year old today. Amazing. She started out at 21 lbs and she's 62 lbs of fat puppy now.

She's considerably less annoying now than she was back then too. She goes up to an hour without trying to eat something in the house now, which is a huge improvement. She's turning into a real live bonefide loveable dog right before our very eyes. We'll be celebrating her birthday in style today so point yourself toward Florida and give a birthday shout out to my girl on her big day!

Happy Birthday Saffron!
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