How can we have fun at the pace of real life?
Video games are fun, movies are festive, but at some point we need a break. Our brains, hearts, and lungs need some space to breath. We need some Analog Adventures.
Three things to keep in mind:
- “I’m bored” is really asking for a reset back to the pace of real life. 😵💫
- Keep activities wonder-focused. Fun should never be a punishment. 🤗
- Fun doesn’t have to mean expensive.
Today we discuss a few adventure ideas, how to make them work for your family, and give some options that even the Scrooge’s out there will enjoy.
Purposely. Your life. God’s purpose. Listen at onpurposely.com.
Hello everyone and welcome to the Gospel Tech podcast. My name is Nathan Sutherland and this podcast is dedicated to helping families love God and use tech. Today we are talking about how to make wonder focused adventures easy. Another way we’ve said this in the past is analog adventures.
[00:00:26] How can we make these easy? How do we not make them such an uphill battle for us as parents, when we want our kids to do something fun and something that’s great for their brains and builds character and all that stuff, but that doesn’t feel like it’s, pulling teeth or nails against the chalkboard.
[00:00:40] And it’s always a fight to do. That’s what today’s conversation is, because your kids are gonna be at home. We’re gonna be on Christmas break. And for, at least for those of us in the United States, we’ve got an academic break coming up here with Christmas break and we want to make sure that our kids have awesome stuff to do.
[00:00:57] They can play with their cool electronics, they can do all that, [00:01:00] and sometimes they need to just walk away. So what can we do? That’s what today’s conversation is about. So with no further ado, let’s get this conversation started.
[00:01:13] Welcome to the Gospel Tech Podcast, a resource for parents who feel overwhelmed and outpaced as they raise healthy youth and a tech world. As an educator, parent and tech user, I want to equip parents with the tools, resources, and confidence they need to raise kids who love God and use tech.
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[00:03:36] So thanks to all of our partners for making this happen. Today’s conversation we are talking about how do we make these wonder focused adventures easy over break. Now it is awesome to watch a family movie and sometimes it’s even necessary for your sanity or for the sanity of your kids.
[00:03:53] We get that, and that’s really important. Sometimes we love like Charlie Brown, Christmas, great, but now [00:04:00] Hadley says you block head, which is adorable ish, but she actually means it as an insult sometimes. Every once in a while we have to take a step away, . And in fact, we we’ve come up with three reasons that like cue in our family, these might fit with your family.
[00:04:15] But when our kids say, I’m bored that’s not physically possible. There’s too many amazing things to do and learn in life to be bored. So I’m bored generally means I’m overstimulated. That’s what our kids, meaning my three children are telling Anna and I when they say I’m bored, they mean the stimulation has gotten too high and real life can’t compete anymore.
[00:04:37] My brain’s running 10,000 miles an hour, and they’re gently asking me when they say that for something awesome to do, that won’t make, their retinas smoke . So that’s one way. Second is when they get their anxious energy, Owen and Henry specifically, they start fighting like, baby bears.
[00:04:55] Generally it is Henry picking a fight with his older brother and then getting absolutely dominated. [00:05:00] But that generally when that breaks out, like they just have energy they can’t control and it just comes out in wiggles and wrestling matches. And the third would be they get really sensitive.
[00:05:10] Like they’ll be talking about the rules of a game or a book they’re reading. One brother will start testing the other brother on math problems that there’s no way he should possibly know the answers to, and that other brother will begin to break down emotionally from this torment of his of his sibling.
[00:05:26] Those are examples of like, all right, our children are overstimulated, they’re just at the end. We can’t set them in front of a screen for this. We can’t fix this with their favorite show or music or, circle, round story. We need them to get an activity that operates at the pace of real life that’s gonna be relational and might even be something they knew quietly by themself.
[00:05:48] So what are those things? That’s what we’re talking about today. Yes. Back in episode 148, Anna’s like trampoline, which I will get to, but there’s some caveats with trampoline. I know it’s not a great fit for everybody. [00:06:00] These are called analog adventures or wonder focused adventures. And those are our three cues.
[00:06:05] When our kids say I’m bored, when they get that anxious energy or when they just are on edge emotionally . And it’s not their normal on edginess. It’s the, it’s, this is distinctly different. Like they watched. Too many shows they’ve been inside too long. They’re just, they need something that exercises their brain but doesn’t feel like just go out and do yard work.
[00:06:23] So I’m breaking it into kind of three categories for each idea. Something free, which I almost always is able to find something free, something inexpensive, and then one like paying option. But none of them are like, just incredibly high paying. But if you’re willing to put money into it, an idea of where that money would be worthwhile.
[00:06:41] So the very first one is get crafty. So if you’re going to get crafty, the best free option, and I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again in the future, is Art Hub for Kids. It’s on YouTube. They do delightful little drawings and in the link I’ll include one for a pop-up Santa. I’ve got tape to a wall here behind me that Henry [00:07:00] made me the other day when he just needed 15 minutes to focus.
[00:07:04] And it sounds weird that I just said focus and YouTube and the same idea, but this is a delightfully made resource. I can stand behind at least their free version and the pop-up Santa, as long as you let your ki my kids, anyway. I won’t go too far into Santa. If you’re into Santa, it’s option.
[00:07:22] Other options are there as well. And they, there is an age range, so they can be done by kind of the six year old range, or it can be done up into middle school, lower high school range for your art ability. So that’s free, cheap would be Hobby Lobby. Go to Hobby Lobby and find yourself an opportunity to take those little gem murals.
[00:07:44] If you’ve ever seen these I believe it’s actually called Diamond Murals. And basically there’s little plastic pebbles if you will, and you pick ’em up on the end of a little pen thing, stylus, and you put ’em onto a sticky page and you’re copying an image that you’re given. [00:08:00] and it basically is cross-stitching.
[00:08:02] But way simpler that young children can do this. You can buy little simple off-brand ones or you can actually use the fancy on-brand ones. If you want ’em, you just go diamondpaintingpro.com. They’re not a sponsor or anything, but they have great resources. Again, a cool option. Hobby Lobby has things like that because honestly, the real ones are probably more expensive.
[00:08:24] And then if you want to pay for an awesome craft, two options. I guess it’s technically still Hobby Lobby for one of these. But get either one of those pre-made nut crackers or a pre-made gingerbread house. They are both very cathartic as your children will color them in or decorate them. You can get the little mini ones.
[00:08:44] I say pre-made because one of the worst parts of baking a gingerbread house is having to help your child construct and then dry it and then wait. . You can get ’em from Costco, you can get ’em from Walmart, you can get ’em from Target. And they’re more expensive than like a Hobby Lobby, little three to $5 art set.
[00:08:59] They’re gonna run you [00:09:00] like 10 to 20 bucks. Or you can get ’em off the internet for 50 if you really wanna drop some cash. But they are great and they give you the fun. Always you can just go with the good old fashioned golden grams, but that kind of independent, but do it together. You still get something to show for it, but you didn’t have to splurge on Legos.
[00:09:17] That is, if you wanna get crafty. The second which might feel very similar to some of you is to do a puzzle. And I know that might sound like you’re getting crafty, but I like puzzles because they don’t really have an expiration on them. We just leave puzzles out. This is an adult thing for me. I did not do this as a child.
[00:09:34] I have found though, that puzzles are awesome and they can be done in like just little 15 minute chunks. Hey, we’re getting crazy. Boys come in the room with me, we’re gonna do a puzzle for 10 minutes. And I’ve found that as long as I stand there and just am lost because I’m terrible at puzzles, the boys tend to jump in on it and then Hadley will play nearby.
[00:09:53] And for our family this works. Now you might think that sounds crazy, but it does. I don’t have a free puzzle [00:10:00] to use that’s not digital, so I’m not giving you a free puzzle option, but cheap puzzle option would be goodwill. Going to Goodwill and just finding whatever you have. And yes, missing pieces is just part of the fun and the challenge.
[00:10:09] Now the second option though that they’re not expensive is to, you go to Buffalo Games. They just have, if you type in Buffalo Games, Amazon, and then, I don’t know if you guys have noticed this, but you can go to the shop for a given company. So if you go Buffalo Games shop they have 300 piece Star Wars puzzles and it’s everything from Yoda dressed up as Santa to Darth Vader sitting in front of a fireplace playing the piano, like very random.
[00:10:35] But there’s some other, just like Star Wars themed ones, like a Star Wars poster, and they’re 8 to $15 for the 300 piece sets. So when I say paying for this, you are paying, but it’s very reasonable and a 300 piece set with my kiddos and myself doing this it’s a few hours of enjoyment.
[00:10:54] It’s not something you’re gonna finish in eight minutes and be done with, but it’s not so hard that you’re gonna be [00:11:00] doing this for weeks on end and you’re never gonna have a chance. Just do the border first. So first is craft. Second is puzzle. And puzzles are so satisfying to finish. I don’t know why.
[00:11:09] Do it. It’s good. Slow, rainy day fun. That can just be left out on a side table somewhere. And these things are, I think they’re like 18 inches wide and about two and a half feet tall. So that’s the amount of space you need. If you have an old TV tin or tray, you could put it on one of those.
[00:11:25] Third is enjoy a story. So for free, the public library, we went and got A Christmas Carol. We actually got the one that had the artwork by Quentin Blake, who does the art for Roald Dahl books. So it’s this quirky, fun imagery that lets the kids’ picture of the story. And it also takes away from some of the kind of scariness, cuz it makes everything silly.
[00:11:43] So when you get to the ghost of Christmas future you’re not just dealing with the grim reaper. It’s a little bit more silly in that regard. But that’s been one we just read out loud. And again, not all at once, not as anything formal. Actually, when we finished it, the [00:12:00] boys and I were doing the puzzle while Anna read, which made my nerd heart happy.
[00:12:05] So that was cool way for doing it for free, for cheap. Getting something like there’s a Fisher Price Nativity book or excuse me, Fisher Price yes nativity book, but also then just a nativity. That is awesome. So Hadley loves playing with that, but Lit for Little Hands is another book option if you’re looking to buy.
[00:12:23] They’re very sweet. And there’s A Christmas Carol version of that. On the book side for your non-readers, something like The Little Fisher Price Nativity. And then, for the Lit for Little Hands is an awesome option for some of the literature options out there. There’s other little kid versions of classic stories like Little Women, but Christmas Carol is what we did for this one.
[00:12:47] And then if you wanna pay, get an audiobook. The Narnia audiobook is awesome. We use audible, we use it through an old Bose speaker, so we don’t have anything fancy. I don’t love the internet connectedness and the constant listening of something like an [00:13:00] Echo Dot. So we just use a generation one actually, Bose Speaker that often has to be plugged in, but put it on, connect it to my phone and then I just Bluetooth it. And that way it can be listened to for short periods of time. You can set a timer, be like, we’re gonna listen to this for 15 minutes or 30 minutes, whatever it is. And that’s been really cool.
[00:13:19] And yes, you, with your membership, you can get free audio books, but you can also just buy books and then discontinue your membership. So an option for you if you wanna enjoy a good story. So at this point we’ve had some nice quiet craft ideas, right? You do your craft or you do a puzzle or you listen to a story.
[00:13:39] If you need to burn off some energy, any form of tag people, we need to get our kids moving. I generally send them outside. I’ve done it before where I’ve just pulled the car outta the garage, made ’em go in the garage. If you’ve got one, that’s an option. But freeze tag is my personal favorite because it requires teamwork and you’re never really out.
[00:13:55] So I like that. That’s your cheap or your free version. Play some [00:14:00] freeze tag. You can spice it up with some toilet tag or some tunnel tag or pose tag, whatever tag you do. Cool. Do some tag. Play it with your kids or just make them play it with each other and that’s great. A cheap version of tag if you wanna spend a little money and get a craft thrown in is to do marshmallow blaster tag.
[00:14:18] This is my Young Life self coming out. I included a YouTube link for this. It’s great. It’s nine years old. The new ones have like much better camera work and music, but the thing they make is terrible. So just do the simple one. It’s PVC. It costs like a couple bucks per little blaster gun. And basically you make this little tube structure.
[00:14:40] You put a little tiny malo in the top of the tube and you blow on it and it just rockets out this little thing at the end of your little projectile machine, and it’s awesome. It’s simple. Your kids can help put it together. You’re teaching basic flow mechanics. It’s great. . If you want to make it more expensive, [00:15:00] oh, so you’re gonna shoot the little malos.
[00:15:01] If they’re doing that inside, they will end up on your ground. So just make sure you have a good Roomba or dog or responsible children, or make them go outside and that’s fine too. They’ll just melt in the rain and snow. if you wanna pay for this. The best version of tag, I think is laser tag. If you’re not going all the way to something like Airsoft, where you’re recreating children’s BB gun wars, but with plastic BB’s now, so they don’t pierce the skin.
[00:15:25] But I think the safest version is laser tag. I would put it above Nerf because Nerf isn’t very cheap. Nerf guns, I love them and I own them. But I have a hard time telling people to get into it cuz it’s not inexpensive. Like you’re gonna pay 15 to 20 bucks per gun. Whereas with this I can get you $15 per gun for laser tag and you don’t run outta darts and they shoot straight every time and it’s actually tagged.
[00:15:50] I’m a laser tag snob though, , I would say use the Kids’ Lane set. It’s 50 bucks for four. So right there you’re under 15 [00:16:00] bucks a pop. They run off double A batteries. You can just get the Amazon Cheap bundle batch of batteries. And the beauty of these things is they run forever and they fix The one problem with laser tag, which is people will hide their sensors and then just sit in one spot because the gun is the sensor.
[00:16:16] There’s no chest strap, there’s no head strap, there’s no wires anywhere. It’s just a standalone gun. It mimics what Nerf made like 15 years ago and now if you try to get those guns like 80 bucks a pop, so it’s a delightful design, they’re inexpensive. Again, splurge on Airsoft if you’re up for it. But when we talk about pain, I feel like sub 15 a kid is a good solid start.
[00:16:38] We got ’em for a birthday a few years ago as like the activity for the birthday, cuz we looked around and we were like, wait, it’s 200 bucks to take the kids anywhere. So we just bought a laser tag set and it’s been a genius idea. They’re a lot of fun. So I would say go with Kids Lane. You can again check out the link.
[00:16:54] Get it from Amazon if you want, but play some tag of any variety. [00:17:00] Two left. For this conversation when we’re talking about how do we do these analog adventures, oh, by the way, the reason a wonder focused adventure would be tag is because it’s relational. Because it gets your kid moving and using their bodies.
[00:17:12] And the reason unlike laser tag is you can’t hurt your eye. So that’s beautiful for any age group, Hadley can just stand in one place. They’re very engaging because it’s a similar concept to a lot of the games your children want to play. They want to play Fortnite. They want to play Call of Duty.
[00:17:28] They want to play these games that are Overwatch, where they are first person shooters. If you would allow your children to play that, you’re probably okay then with laser tag. But it requires your child to physically move and to physically run. And we went to Costco and got a bunch of cheap boxes and taped them together, and used them for our obstacles.
[00:17:48] So you can do that if you’re looking for something to be up for a weekend or a few days. I understand we don’t all don’t want the cardboard around forever, but we did. We just threw ’em up, taped ’em together so they wouldn’t blow over in the wind. And [00:18:00] that gave us our obstacles. We put some in the front yard in front of the backyard.
[00:18:03] Go nuts run loops around the house to your heart’s content. So that is why laser tag, even though it’s electronic, it’s still you operating it. It can’t move faster than you, it can’t be overstimulating because you’re still ingesting all of that sensory information at the pace of real life. Unlike a digital environment where it can move so much faster and so much flashing. Then we go to something a little more culinary. Bake it, bake anything, go to the library, get your free baking book if you’re gonna borrow a book. I, obviously you have Betty Crocker as a great option. I personally like the Perfect Pie by the American Tests Kitchen.
[00:18:42] You have a local library, they often would order in books and if they don’t have it anywhere in their system, and you can say, Hey, I was, I had a friend refer this book to me. They often will go purchase those books for you. It’s not the fastest, but it is an option. You can go and bake something and all you gotta do is have flour and sugar and [00:19:00] butter.
[00:19:22] And then if you’re gonna pay, and you want just a little bit of cost, but all of that to be pre-thought out for you. Radish is a subscription program where you can get a monthly idea for baking and cooking and it’s just radishkids.com and basically they send you a themed, so if you went December, it’d be Christmas themed meal and desserts so you can make them, they don’t send you all the supplies. They send you a cute little menu. They send you some kind of like little cooking utensil that goes with it. It’s not inexpensive, but when we were homeschooling during Covid, we did this and it was part of our [00:20:00] math and that kind of the curriculum.
[00:20:01] It also was part of our recess when our children were glazed over and completely incapable of continuing. Baking anything. Fun option for all of us to, especially if we’re not bakers, like it’s an awesome option to get our kids in the kitchen. And no, it’s not always fun. And I say this with a smile on my face, but it’s not always fun because especially when you have a three and a half year old, she’s bound to just intentionally destroy something and make all of your food a little bit worse.
[00:20:26] But she’s engaged, she’s involved, she loves it. And if she sees. any rolling pins in our home, she immediately starts shouting apple pies. So I guess that’s success and maybe your child will too. And the final one, probably not a surprise for anyone who’s listened to a few of these episodes is play a game.
[00:20:47] Your free version of a game. I was stumped for a little bit. Your free version if you wanna play a game, is Mancala all you’re gonna need is some pebbles or marbles. So you’re gonna have to pull some from the yard or from that flower vase. Then you’re going to [00:21:00] need something to mark circles. You can mark them in the dirt, you can draw them on a piece of paper, but Mancala it would be completely free with just the stuff around you.
[00:21:08] You’re gonna 12 circles and I would encourage you to watch an instructional video from the YouTube link I included below because it’s a simple concept once you see it, but it’s just moving beads or stones around, and you’re trying to get ’em into kind of your goal at the end, which gives you extra turns.
[00:21:25] I would strongly encourage Mancala for a free one. If you want to go cheap so sub 15 bucks is what I would consider inexpensive kids on stage is Henry’s personal favorite. I would encourage you to look at Kids on Stage. It’s like charades for kids with simpler concepts and ideas. Sushi Go.
[00:21:43] I’m gonna include a link because when I Google or Amazon’s Sushi Go, you can’t find it. But if you go to the game like store on Amazon, click, so you search Sushi Go, and then it, so it says, go to the game, right store in little bitty front, right underneath your search. Click on that, [00:22:00] and under there you can find an $8 version of Sushi Go.
[00:22:03] So the Sushi Party, I think is like $15, $18, something like that. But the Sushi Go version is eight bucks, is the version we use and have, and give away to people that we want to have enjoy great games and then Sleeping Queens by the same company is 11 bucks. So those are the inexpensive games. They’re good for the whole family down to five or six years old.
[00:22:22] Again, Hadley doesn’t play them great. She likes being a part of it, but she doesn’t know like how to play. But anyone, I would say five or older can play those three games, Kids on Stage, Sushi Go Sleeping Queens. And because I am Nathan and I love board games, I’ll include it down in the notes part, but I’ll just say three to four years old.
[00:22:44] I’ll just list one Animal Upon Animal is an awesome game. It’s like a Jenga like, but you’re stacking these little wooden critters and you take turns stacking them up, and you person who makes it fall is out. For five to [00:23:00] seven, I had mentioned Sleeping in Queens already. So I’ll mention Out Fox.
[00:23:04] It was a gift from friends. It’s been amazing. And actually just this morning Owen was playing it with Hadley which was super sweet. That house was too quiet and I went upstairs and Owen is laying on the ground being very gracious as an older brother playing Out Fox. It is a fun game.
[00:23:21] It’s like an easier version of Clue trying to find a fox who stole a pie from the chicken town. He didn’t eat any chickens, so I guess that’s good. For eight to 10 year olds. I already mentioned Sushi Go. So I will mention car Carcassonne as in the region of France. Delightful. It’s a little co-operative puzzle game.
[00:23:42] You are working for your own team, but you’re to help one another out. You can make suggestions and it’s you make a lovely little region that involves fields and roads and towns, and you score points accordingly. If you’re 11 and 12 year olds this is always a hard age group because there’s so many great ones, [00:24:00] but I personally really like Wingspan.
[00:24:02] It’s about birds in, you’re building an aviary, so you have woods and kind of prairie fields area and then wetlands. But if that seems too intense, if you go read reviews and you don’t like it then I really like Dixit, which is little picture cards and you make up a story and you have a game to see who can guess.
[00:24:20] It’s like apples to apples, but with pictures. So I really like Dixit as an option. I think there’s four or five different versions. And as I always say with Dixit, when anyone asks me, make sure you preflip through. There’s no inappropriate pictures in the first set, in the original Dixit, but there are some that are a little scarier.
[00:24:38] There’s one where there’s two kids like holding hands and their shadows make like a wolf on the wall, , and it freaks my kids out, so we don’t play with that one. But just give it a quick scan through, make sure you’re comfortable with what’s in there and just know that, and I would say that with every board game you ever get because board games are awesome, but like video games, they’re made by people who have different standards than you.
[00:24:59] So [00:25:00] just make sure you’re aware of it. And 13 plus, oh my goodness, so many great games. Super Fight. Or if you want like a more intense game, Lord of the Rings living card game. LCG is like a non super creepy magic, the gathering. So you build the deck, you play with each other against the central deck.
[00:25:19] I strongly encourage. And then Code Names for party game. Any age group older than probably six or seven, they need to be able to make a clue about their word. So that’s the one trick. They have to think a little abstract. They can’t use the word in front of ’em, but the idea is you’re getting your teammates to guess your clues and not your opponent’s clues. So to finish this whole idea of wonder focused adventures, we’re having fun, we’re playing together. We can do it inexpensive or even for free for almost all of them. So just keep this in mind that there are amazing options for your family. They don’t even have to be major Christmas presents.
[00:25:53] They can be stuff you just throw into your life rhythms, I would say trampoline. I’ll include a link for the one that we [00:26:00] got. It’s, it goes on sale from Walmart for $250, and it’s giant, it’s 16 feet across. It takes up most of our backyard , but it’s not on sale right now. When I made this list two weeks ago, it was, it’s sold out for Christmas, which I guess makes sense include the list anyway, so you can check it in January, February so that you have this another other option.
[00:26:21] It’s literally an open door or an open roofed playroom for our kids. We send them out often in jackets and boots. We have found that because they come with nets installed on the sides, you don’t have to be worried about digging ’em into the ground or kids falling off and breaking their necks or arms like they did all the time when I was growing up.
[00:26:39] I have multiple friends who snapped collarbones on trampolines that won’t be a thing with this one. And our kids have been relatively safe. Yes, you’ll get the occasional bonk. But I would say it has been a net gain. We’ve had this thing for three plus years and as long as I don’t go on and send the [00:27:00] kids, which is the only time we’ve had anything like mildly scary, I buckled Owen.
[00:27:04] Probably two years ago, , when he was seven, and by buckled, I mean I jumped him and he couldn’t handle the force of the up and it crumpled him in directions that one should not move. And that was scary and sad and I when I go on, I’m much more careful now, so parents don’t get carried away. It is fun to send your kids, but you can put a lot of force on their little bodies and that’s really the only concern.
[00:27:28] They can’t do that to each other when jump in cuz they don’t weigh enough. Yeah, that’s my, if I had to give you a list of what you could do when the movies run out, when the games run out, when kids are bored or over stimulated or just anxious . These would be the directions I’d go. I’d say, Hey, do something crafty.
[00:27:47] Get a puzzle out for the fam. Enjoy a good story. Play some tag, bake something and play a game. And all of those and would stand aside to get a trampoline at some point. Save up 10 bucks a month for the next two years, whatever it [00:28:00] is. But it ships to you, by the way, for that price. It’s nuts.
[00:28:03] They can’t make money off that. I don’t know. But that’s my hope that you would be able to apply some of these to your family. You’d be encouraged in it. It would feel easy and accessible. You’d see a win with your kids, and your kids would see a win of oh, this isn’t high tech or super fancy and it doesn’t take forever.
[00:28:19] We can do it in 10 to 15 minutes, but it’s still fun. It allows relationship, it helps us grow and it resets our brains at the pace of real life. So we can have fun and eventually use our tech but not have that be the only thing we can do for fun. So I hope it was encouraging to you. I hope you apply this list, you share it with somebody you think would benefit from it, and you join us next week as we continue this conversation about how we can love God and use tech.