Welcome to week 3 of DADuary
The Theme for this week to to get out and be active with your kids; create memories that you all will never forget. Dads, uncles, and grandpas play a vital role in teaching kids how to play. You can teach them about life and the world, and about yourself, and let them learn what they’re made of. Get out and get some fun done!
As I was brainstorming what DADuary would look like and what should happen this month, as I had the idea to highlight DAD-Activities, I was contacted by Ben Cohen-Leadholm. Ben is the author of the family activities blog Kids Are Awesome But So Am I, helping parents reclaim their mojo through kids’ activities that don’t suck. He is the co-author of Have No Career Fear: A College Grad’s Guide to Snagging a Job, Trekking the Career Path, and Reaching Job Nirvana. Find him on Twitter (@parentingmojo), Facebook (www.facebook.com/kidsactivity), and Email (email@example.com).
Here is Ben’s post on 10 Kids’ Activities That Don’t Suck for DADuary
Kids’ activities matter. A lot. In their best form, kids’ activities can be a way to teach, bond, grow, and have fun. Problem is, the activities we do with our kids can become surprisingly routine and habitual over time – and that’s a missed opportunity for showing our kids something new, growing as parents, and having a rock-star story to tell friends over beers afterwards.
Here are 10 unique, fun, and even unusual activities for dads and their kids in the name of DADuary, celebrating the key role of dads in their kids’ lives. The ideas run the gamut from hitting a car show to playing Frisbee golf to holding an ice cream sculpting contest to going yurt camping. Here’s to trying something new, dads. Now grab your keys, iPhone, and some snacks – it’s time to go grab Life by the you-know-what.
A bright red Enzo Ferrari, with Formula One racing styling and butterfly doors, will stop most people dead in their tracks. Same goes for the imaginative Jetsons-like concept cars from more accessible brands like Audi, Toyota, and Ford. And that is why I love car shows, especially with my kid.
Auto shows make us all feel like kids as we walk around for the day marveling at the most luxurious, technologically advanced, innovative, and just plain cool cars in the world. Good news is kids absolutely love these cars, too. Additionally, many car shows and brands at the car shows have begun catering to families with kid-centric activities on site.
As your starting point, here is a US auto show directory (and did I mention that most shows let kids in for free?). And if it’ll be a while until the next local car show, you can always consider checking out a nearby auto museum listed here or here.
You’re probably asking, “What the hell is geocaching?” And that’s exactly the question I asked when another parent introduced the idea to me. Simply put, geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunt where people locate hidden containers of cool or unusual stuff (geocaches) using clues and GPS-enabled devices, like your iPhone.
But here’s the part I like: geocaching is an adventure for you and your kid waiting to happen, and one that can happen at any time and anywhere in the world, even in your own neighborhood. (For a point of reference, there are 240 geocaches within 5 miles of my house.)
To start, you simply visit the Geocaching main site, register for a free membership, type in your zip code or any location of interest, and choose your adventure for the day. It’s just that easy. And since geocaching is not what I’d call mainstream, you’ll have a unique story to tell your friends over beers.
Work out together
Exercising with your kid is a first-rate family activity for three reasons: first, it allows you to squeeze in a much-needed stress-killer workout for yourself; second, it’s high-quality bonding time as you teach and practice with your kid various exercises; and third, it helps to pass on an appreciation of fitness to your kids, quite possibly one the most important lessons a dad can teach.
The beauty of working out together is that no exercise equipment is needed, you get to decide what you will do and for how long, and it can be done at home or outside (like a public park). The most important element of this activity is selecting your exercises, so start by checking out the exercise demos at 57 outdoor exercises for the park and CrossFit Kids.
Cooking the Best Fill-in-the-Blank Ever
All men can appreciate the value of developing a manual skill, such as carpentry, auto mechanics, welding, or … preparing the best grilled cheese ever. Unlike many kids’ activities, this culinary activity can be done in your PJs, is unaffected by lousy weather, and you get to consume what you produce. Sounds like a winner.
There are three points worth noting. First, ingredients matter. Teach your kid – and remind yourself – of the importance of the ingredients you choose and of the wide variety and quality level of those choices. Second, preparation is key. Remember we’re developing a skill here, so the intricacies of things like spatula use or cooking time or skillet temperature are fun to discuss and debate (even if your kid won’t be handling any of the cooking). Third, let your kid’s mouth decide the winning recipe. Maybe set up a blind taste test to decide the winner? It’s up to you.
Frisbee golf is a simple game that you can play in any park or field of a decent size. (In fact, playing on a snow-covered golf course is an under-appreciated winter variation.) Playing is as straightforward as selecting the “hole,” determining the number of strokes for par, and letting the disc fly. And that’s about it.
While many kids will simply enjoying chucking a Frisbee with all their might, it can help to include some variations to keep kids engaged. For kids who want to toss the disc, consider including rules like mulligans (re-do), super throws (dad-assisted toss), and blindfold throws (for dad). And for kids who might be less interested in tossing the disc, consider the roles of navigator (“Throw it that way”), pointer dog (“I found your Frisbee”), and scorekeeper (“Par was three throws, and you threw it nine times”).
Lastly, if you’re the type who enjoys some competitive company, Frisbee golf with another parent and child can also be tons of fun. Plus, the bonus is that this activity is laid back enough that it can easily be done with a coffee (or something stronger) in hand.
Yurt camping makes an adventure in the wilderness with your kid easier and more accessible than ever, because yurts thankfully take the place of tents. (Cue memories of cursing tents when you’ve arrived late to your campsite and are crashing around in the dark with a dozen mixed tent poles, all while enduring the impatient looks from your family.)
Simply put, yurts allow for camping to focus more on camping. Instead of stressing about your shelter, you can enjoy what you’re really there to do: hang out, hike, enjoy nature, and sit by the campfire. Plus, depending on your camping area, yurts can range from the most basic accommodations to having downright luxurious amenities. So it’s your call where to land on the scale of camping vs. “glamping.” (It’s OK, no one will judge you. Well, maybe your wife will.) Here’s a site that lists many state and national parks across the country that offer yurt camping.
It is not a coincidence that many of the best family activities revolve around sampling fantastic foods. And it is not a coincidence that hitting a food festival with my kid is one of my favorite family activities. Hooray for food.
What I love about food festivals is that they’re part education and part enjoyment. On the one hand, I can teach my kid about the importance of imagination and innovation as we browse and sample the different and distinct recipes, following our noses and hopping from one interesting aroma to the next (Fried MARS bars? Curry cheese fries? Lamb sliders?). And on the other hand, it’s a party in my mouth.
Bottom line, I have always admired those who create, and food festivals bring out a level of creativity and competition that’s just plain fun to spectate and consume. As a reference point, here is a national directory of upcoming food shows and festivals.
Spontaneous Road Trip with No Set Destination
The life of most kids is pretty structured and it does not involve getting to make that many choices. So imagine the curiosity and excitement that your kid will feel when you tell him he’s in charge of the Road Trip to Awesometown.
Even for parents, the spontaneous road trip can be a fun reminder of the importance of unplanned activities. Plus, there’s no way to do this activity wrong – because there’s no plan! Ultimately, you will have had a memorable adventure and you will have discovered something new and different. Lastly, for those with some extra cash burning a hole in their pocket, another option is to rent a sweet ride specifically for this activity. There’s nothing like a piercing red convertible to bring a smile to a dad’s face.
Ice Cream Sculpting Contest
Kids love this activity because it breaks all the mealtime rules. Not only are you purposely playing with your food and creating an epic mess, but the food is ice cream no less. This activity couldn’t be simpler, as it involves buying your favorite (or most colorful) flavor, setting up your table for an ice cream explosion, and unleashing your inner artist.
To take this activity to the next level, remember to provide a few sculpting “props.” This means assorted candy, marshmallows, cut fruit, nuts, and small cookies. These extra supplies take the pressure off perfect sculpting by focusing on decorating and adorning, and the edible props make an already enjoyable activity that much better … and delicious.
Food Tastings Around Your Town/City to Find the Best Fill-in-the-Blank
Dads love being the expert, and organizing an afternoon of food tastings around your town or city is the perfect way to discover new neighborhoods and to increase your local food know-how.
Step One is determining your target food for the day (i.e. pizza, hot dogs, cupcakes). Step Two is browsing Yelp for 15 minutes to map out your itinerary. And Step Three is hitting the road to enjoy some time with your kid eating lots and lots of scrumptious food.
Also, don’t forget to take snapshots of the food and yourselves at each stop. This visual chronicle of the culinary adventure will be fun to review together and to show to others later. (Besides, you probably need more photos of your child with mouth wide open and stuffed full of pizza, right?)
Kids’ activities shouldn’t suck. They represent great opportunities to show your kid something new and to keep you growing as an interesting and engaging adult. Bottom line, you and your kid will be happier for it when you find activities that are fun, unique, and equally enjoyable for child AND parent. So here’s to dads, DADuary, and awesomeness with your kid.
I invite you to comment below with some of your favorite, and awesome, activities to do with kids!
-JB & Ben