an exclusive feature by Victoria Waller, Ed.D*
You won’t have to worry too much about your grandchild’s time on electronics at your house IF your house is filled with lots of “fun stuff” for your grandkids to create with when they come over.
First, get an empty Amazon box or a plastic storage box, like a toy box, with enough room for lots of “art stuff”. Next, mark the box with your grandchild’s name. Find one specific place for it, such as a closet in a den or room where your grandchild can always go to find new items for creating. I can assure you if you start doing this, your grandchild will come over and immediately go to the box and say, “What can we make today?”
All of the items I suggest can be found online on Amazon or in a toy store or a craft store like Michael’s, OR in your garage! The items can be put into your grandchild’s “fun box.” To make it even more enjoyable, go online with your grandchild to pick the items they may want. Some children like markers, some like crayons, some like colored pencils, some like paint. Yes, I said go online, but in this instance, it will help you see what you already have and what you might need to buy for your grandchild’s creations and their specific tastes. Don’t forget the kids will have many art supplies at their home so after you make the list with your grandchild, email their parents to see if there are any items they may want to contribute to your grandchild’s box.
What to have available:
Boxes: small, medium, large (Can also be purchased at a box store. I LOVE box stores.)
-Food boxes (only clean ones like pasta boxes)
-TV boxes or large boxes that some type of large product came in (great for making a puppet theatre, also for making games)
-Paint brushes (also can be used to make characters or whatever the child wants to make)
-Markers…there are so many different kinds; your grandchildren will know what they want
-Colored and white paper
-Poster board, cardboard, big and small
-Scissors (safer ones for little kids)
-Glue sticks… You can buy a glue gun for older kids for unusual items that won’t stick with regular glue; however, BE VERY CAREFUL, you can get burned!
-Stick-on alphabet letters
-Rocks (make great characters)
-Colored cotton balls
-Modeling clay (non-hardening)
-Keys and gears
-Old cameras and remotes
I just went on Etsy and they have lots of unusual art supplies. My new favorite items come from akeytoherheart. I bought 60 keys for $6.39 and you can see here what a student made from the keys and gears.
As an educational therapist, of course, I’d love there to be a book read, then something made relating to the book you read them or they read. Most importantly, if you’re interested in getting children off of electronics, let them create anything they want. Maybe they’ll even want to make up their own story about the thing or character they made with you. And think about it…that TV box you were going to throw out can have 8 characters made out of paint brushes and a whole play can be produced! And not one second will be spent on electronics. Hooray!
*As an educator for over 40 years, Dr. Victoria Waller has taught thousands of students to read and write using their passions and strengths: sharks, roller coasters, rocket science, the Titanic and even Pokemon, to name a few. The children learn to read, but more importantly, “love” to read, which lasts a lifetime. Look for her new book, Yes! Your Child Can, Creating Success for Children with Learning Differences, now available on Amazon; it’s filled with many ideas that can be used with all creative children.