Gifts We Love


As children, when my siblings and I would complain that we were bored, my mom always shooed us back outside with these three words: “Use your imagination.” We would scrunch up our faces, walk back out, twiddle some grass between our fingers, and eventually prove her right. Because who needed toys or television when our curious brains could come up with something far more fun? Like pretend Olympics with cartwheel and handstand practice in the backyard or playing runaway children and plucking lilacs from our bushes as our picnic food.

Now when my own girls say the same thing, I’m going to hide the iPad and whip out this fantastic new 352-page action and information-packed book:Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun by co-authors and parents Elizabeth Foy Larsen and Joshua Glenn. A modern-day collection of imaginative ideas and tested projects that goes far beyond the Dangerous and Daring series in scope and creativity, it makes me want to go back to the playground to clap out “Miss Mary Mack” with friends or yarn bomb my neighborhood. Yes, there are pages devoted to such things.

Geared to kids age 8 to 13, parents will appreciate its appeal to both genders—there are tons of projects, articles, and advice to entice both boys and girls. The authors kept it lively by parsing out the pages to a range of 30 talented inventors, crafters, and thinkers, including environmental activist Colin Beaven; Make magazine editor-in-chief Mark Frauenfelder; children’s book author Kate DiCamillo; and comic illustrator Joe Alterio.

Flip to any page and you might find the following: a how-to on building a geyser with a 2-liter bottle of coke and 6 mentos candies; simple steps for decoupaging a skateboard; a page with rules and illustrations for proper and playful roughhousing at home; parlor games to break out on family night; classic pranks like short-sheeting a bed (complete with a diagram); great nostalgic book suggestions like A Wrinkle in Time and Bridge to Terabithia; and articles that speak straight to kids on important topics like ADHD and bullying.

But what gave me the biggest kick were the asides sprinkled throughout about how kids can help out their parents.

An excerpt:

How late should kids allow their grownups to sleep on weekends? Until at least 9:30 or 10:00! Most kids can make their own breakfast, whether it’s a bowl of cereal or toast. Also, grownups aren’t supposed to be entertainment centers.

Advice that’s definitely worth it’s weight in happy wakeful parenting.


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