Contributed by Michelle Hassler
“I’m bored.” How many times have those bright and adventurous little ones in your life uttered these two words? Finding activities that are engaging, yet promote learning and social growth are sometimes hard to find. Tapping into a child’s individual interests can help to keep kids on a positive track and create opportunities for learning and self-expression. If a child or adolescent is engaged in what they are doing, they will be invested in the task or project and ultimately put forth their best effort. Now, lending this effort towards the greater good can be a very powerful thing. Below are some creative activities for kids that benefit local communities.
Create a Book Cart
Take the opportunity to promote literacy and volunteerism by encouraging kids to spend time sharing books with others. By transforming a wagon or old library cart, a young reader can create a mobile library. Collect used books from friends and neighbors to help stock your child’s book cart. Kids who are artistically inclined can decorate the cart using paint, stickers, or markers. Once the book cart is complete, children can share their love of reading with friends. Depending on the reading level and genre of books, you may want to arrange a visit to a nursing home or senior center. Seniors can browse and borrow books from the mobile library. While visiting, encourage your kids to spend time reading aloud. Reading aloud to the elderly provides support and camaraderie, battles boredom and enhances literacy. Intergenerational activities are beneficial for both kids/teens and elderly individuals because they provide an opportunity to develop relationships, lift spirits, and even learn something new.
Stage a Performance
Does your child enjoy theatrics, music, or simply taking on a leadership role? Organizing an entertainment event that also supports a cause such as helping the hungry or cancer research is a great way to bring a community together. This could be done on a smaller scale (friends and family) or larger scale if you choose to promote your event to a larger group. Kids can choose a type of show that will generate interest in their community such a talent show, play, or concert. Admission to the event could consist of a small donation to a specific cause, or a donated item such as a canned good, article of clothing, or even a stuffed animal for a child in need. If you are operating on a larger scale, reaching out to various clubs or groups encourages communication and collaboration which serves as a great learning experience for young people. These creative activities for kids not only showcase artistic talent through performing but also challenge them to plan and manage such an event.
Make a Brochure
Older children might enjoy creating an informational brochure or a pamphlet to distribute to the community. Kids who like to work on the computer or have an eye for design would be perfect for this activity. The first step in creating a brochure is choosing an audience. For example, elderly individuals sometimes struggle with technology. Developing a brochure highlighting the benefits of technology or providing step-by-step instructions on how to check email might be beneficial to older members of the community. If your child is looking for a way to educate peers or younger children, choosing to profile a community helper such as a firefighter or police officer may be a fun opportunity. Interview a helper and highlight what they do, how they help the community, and outline steps the reader can take to stay safe and healthy. Young people may also want to educate the community on ways to help military members who are overseas with recommendations on the types of items to include in a care package and how to send them. Have the kids hand out brochures or give them to local organizations whose customers/members may enjoy them. You can even pin a few to a community bulletin board.
Encouraging creative activities for kids will not only foster individual talents, but will educate children about social issues and promote positive socialization with peers. It is important for kids to know that they can make a difference in the world and that their actions can and do affect others. If you give a kid a mission and an outlet, you may be surprised with how bright they can shine.