Three Throwback Activities For Kids

The addition of electronics to childhood has fundamentally changed how our children experience the world.  Their childhoods are filled far more with video games and TV shows and apps than ours were and although there’s definitely reason to believe they’re lacking in certain areas (like time spent out in nature), I don’t think we can say childhood is “worse”, but rather just different.

There are, however, certain things that we did in our childhood that seem to have gone the way of the dodo and I think it’s time to bring them back.

Fun Thing #1: Do a Letter in a Bottle

Find a story or fairy tale that includes a letter in a bottle (if your kids like Once Upon a Time, there’s a great letter in a bottle in this season)  in order to get your kid to understand what the heck you’re talking about and then get your child to write out their own.  It can be written for a stranger, it could be to him/herself to see if they get it, it can be whatever they want it to be.  If your child is too young to write a whole letter him/herself, then help them do the writing by letting them dictate and then write it out.

Important to this is including some way for whoever finds it (if anyone finds it) to let you know they found it.  In my childhood days, it meant including your address.  In today’s day and age (and depending on where you want to throw it in), it could be including an email address.  Get it sealed up tight and then figure out where to send it.  If you’re landlocked, you could wait until you or someone you know goes on vacation and ask them to send it.  If you’re close to water, you could ask a fisherman to take it out for you or anyone with a boat.  If you take ferries regularly, send it off the side one time (provided it’s legal where you are).  Your child may never hear back from anyone from it and just wonder where on earth it has gone or they could get the surprise of a lifetime hearing where their bottle and letter ended up.  Either way, it’s fun.

Fun Thing #2: Start a Chain Letter

Remember chain letters?  They lost their touch when they became electronic and thus spam, but as a child I remember the pure joy of getting this weird letter from someone I didn’t know that had been traveling around the world for goodness-knows-how-long.  There’s none of this asking for money or anything, just getting letters from people around the world.  You could ask them to write out their favourite books, colours, shows, toys, etc. and treat it as the chain letter that connects kids from everywhere.  The more it involves learning about others and seeing where it goes, the cooler it becomes, and if it works, your child could end up with dozens of letters from total strangers telling them about their part of the world.

Fun Thing #3: Create a Time Capsule

You’ll need your child to figure out how long they want it stored for and who’s going to get the capsule (is it for you or for someone else to find?).  Once you know who it’s aimed for (you or strangers) and how long you want it kept, you need to find a good storage spot.  For example, if your child wants to find it themselves and you’re renting and know you won’t be there for 50 years, you may want to find a more permanent spot if you can.

Now comes the time to create the capsule.  You need to make sure it’s airtight so that nothing gets ruined and everything is preserved and you need to make sure to include a letter from your child describing the importance of these items and what they find important right now.  If your children are young, this is the time to possibly suggest doing one for themselves when they’re a teenager.  This way, you can pull it out when they may be rebelling to bring them back to a time when they were young and madly in love with their parents.  If your kids are older, this is a great bonding time and gives you an opportunity to see what’s really important to them now.  And for them?  It’s just plain cool to think of the future and see their part in it.

Image via Flickr/Richard Elzey

By Tracy Cassels

January 12, 2015