Kim Hone-McMahan

Tell me it aint so. Luke has fought and conquered his new video game. Sarah has made bracelets for Aunt Ashley, Grandma and even the dog with her Rainbow loom.

Now they are b-o-r-e-d.

The word makes you cringe. You thought the new toys would occupy the kids until at least spring, but its months away and the kids are tired of the LeapPad and Big Hugs Elmo.

Never fear. To help hush the whiners this winter break, we have put together some ideas to keep them busy, and you happy.

Gadget printing

Materials: Raid your junk drawer for anything that can be used as a printing stamp. Items such as spools, plastic forks, cookie cutters and plastic toys are a good choice. Get out the tempera paint in a variety of colors, brushes and paper.

Tell the kids to paint one end or side of an object and, like a stamp, press it onto the paper. You can concoct all sorts of awesome artwork.

Rain stick

Listening to the raindrops on the roof can be very relaxing. Your child can capture that feeling and listen to the drops snow, rain or shine.

You need cardboard tubes from gift wrap or paper towels, strips of cardboard, sturdy paper, tape, uncooked rice and seeds.

Cut two 4-inch circles out of sturdy paper (trace a cereal bowl for the shape). Place one of the circles over the end of the tube, folding down the sides and taping it around the tube. Make certain it is well taped or the stick may spring a leak!

Cut cardboard strips narrower than the tube (about 1 inch wide should work). Fold them back and forth like a fan. Put the strips into the tube. The first one should fall to the bottom. Keep adding strips until they reach the top of the tube.

Pour cup of rice and two tablespoons of seeds, such as corn or lentils, into the tube.

Fit the other circle over the open end and securely tape in place.

Decorate the tube with markers or paints. You can decorate the tubes before they are filled, but remember that the paper circles will be taped partially down the sides and could cover your artwork.

Tents

Kids love having a place of their own, a spot where an adult wont or cant invade the premises.

You need a large sheet, blanket or enormous bathrobe; two chairs or a table. Place two chairs a few feet apart back-to-back, or use a dining room or card table. Throw the blanket over the top and crawl inside. To ensure complete privacy, make and post a sign Kids Only.

Create the fun

Provide your 5- to 9-year-olds with several medium-sized boxes, a couple handfuls of pingpong balls, some empty cardboard rolls from paper towels or toilet paper, and masking tape. Tell the kids to invent their own games. This provides hours of fun! (Parents may be needed to cut holes in boxes.)

Memories

Create a family photo book on a site like Shutterfly. Tell the kids to go through old pictures (time consuming!), scan the pictures that arent already digital, and ask questions about whos in each photo or when it was taken. They could write their own text, which would make it a fabulous keepsake.

Getting out

If you are looking for something outside the home, consider these:

?The Holiday Market at Lock 3 Park in downtown Akron runs through Dec. 31 and features local artisans and German crafters. The ice rink is also open at Lock 3.

For more information, visit www.lock3live.com.

?Feed the penguins from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily at the Akron Zoo, 500 Edgewood Ave. Zoo hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Additional information is available by visiting www.akronzoo.org or by calling 330-375-2550.

?Metro Parks, Serving Summit County, has a lot planned the next couple of weeks.

At 10 a.m. Monday, you can participate in a Snow Fun program at the F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm, campfire area, 1828 Smith Road, Akron. Kids can play in the snow, learn about nature in winter and make snow candles to take home. Dress to be outside. Advance registration is required at 330-865-8065.

To learn what else is happening at the parks, visit www.summitmetroparks.org/Home.aspx or call 330-865-8065.

?The Great Lakes Science Center is offering Winter Break Camps next week that focus on things like Legos, monarch butterflies and astronomy.

To learn more, visit www.glsc.org or call 216-694-2000.

?Akron-Summit County Public Library is also in on the fun for winter break. Kids can do everything from watching a movie to playing Wii with their pals. Check it out at www.akronlibrary.org or phone 330-643-9000.

Sources: Im Bored by Suzy Barratt and Polly Beard; The Super Duper Activity Book by Lynn Gordon; Creative Kids at Home. Kim Hone-McMahan can be reached at 330-996-3742 or kmcmahan@thebeaconjournal.com.