We are getting high wind gusts this weekend in Western Washington. It’s not unusual, living on an island in the Salish Sea, to have a power outage. My husband and I don’t like when the power goes out — we have to get the loud generator attached to the fridge/freezer, so our food stays good. Our kids think it is so fun — they love getting out flashlights and candles. So I decided to share a list of fun activities for kids during a power outage.
10 Ideas for Kids During a Power Outage
Families need creative activities to keep kids contented and calm during long power outages and when weather keeps them housebound. Here’s a list of ideas that will make staying indoors fun, even with no electricity.
Hide and Seek
Hide and seek rules vary. Decide which areas will be out of bounds, how high the seeker should count to give the others a chance to hide, and whether discovered players may help the seeker find the rest. If more than eight people play, it is fun to play the game in pairs. Pairs hide and a pair of seekers will hunt them down. The pairs game is helpful when toddlers want to be included. Hiding or seeking with an older person helps toddlers learn how to play, and will keep them out of trouble.
Hide and seek is even more fun when it’s dark. Give each player a flashlight or glow stick. When they find someone hiding, they shine a light on them. The game could be played silently for a real challenge!
Board Games and Books
Keep board games and books handy so that during daylight, the family can enjoy game time together. When adults have chores to do, board games can keep the children safely occupied. Reading books can foster quiet time, especially when younger children are napping.
Read aloud to the rest of the family. Let reading become an incentive. When a child has a household chore to do, a parent can read aloud to the child; if the child stops working, the reading stops until the child gets back on task.
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Drawing and Coloring
Children can entertain themselves coloring, but an interactive idea is to have a group drawing activity. Person One draws several strokes on paper. Person Two takes over and adds a few more strokes. Person Three adds more detail, and so on, then back to the first player again until the drawing becomes recognizable.
Another idea is to have the toddler in the family draw first; then older members of the family ‘complete’ the drawing. Or have each participant trace their hand on a piece of paper and then continue drawing to turn the outline into a picture of some kind of animal.
It’s fun for the whole family to make a collage. Use a large piece of scrap paper as a base, then completely glue over it with cut-out pictures from old magazines. Children too young for scissors can be given colored paper to tear into pieces which will be used to fill gaps.
Popular paper games include hangman, connect-the-dots, tic-tac-toe, pictionary, and battleship (a two-player game). Another amusing game is called Dictionary. It requires a dictionary, some pencils and slips of blank paper. One player chooses a word from the dictionary, the meaning of which is not widely known. He spells the word and asks the players if they know the definition. If any do, a new word must be chosen. Once a mystery word is chosen and announced, the person with the dictionary copies down the real definition of the word, while the other players each invent their own definition for the word.
The player with the dictionary collects all the definitions, then reads them aloud. The other players all vote on which definition they think is correct. There is no set scoring procedure, but bragging rights go to the player who guessed the highest number of correct definitions and to the player whose fake definitions fooled the most people.
Brain Games and Storytelling
Sometimes during power outages or violent weather conditions there is neither daylight nor paper and candles. At these times the kids can still be entertained by playing inventive ‘brain games’ such as the 20 questions game.
Most forms of alternate lighting have safety rules and require supervision. Candles and propane or kerosene lamps left unattended are fire hazards. These are just a few examples of alternate light sources. When using such forms of lighting, be sure that they are placed out of reach of toddlers. Take care when using matches and put the matches away immediately after use.
Power outages at night are an unpleasant surprise. Be prepared with several crank-style flashlights needing no batteries, stored in handy locations around the house. Keep batteries on hand for other battery-operated lights and radios.
Invite Friends Over
Banish boredom by spending time with friends from the neighborhood. Depending on the severity of weather conditions and using good judgment, invite friends over. Children of similar ages can play together while adults tackle weather-related clean-up, or in the case of protracted power outages, chores like packing perishable foods in dry ice. Work can turn into a pleasant get-together when neighbors help neighbors.
The Arts by Candlelight
What could be more pleasant at the end of a long day than a talent show? During the daylight hours, children prepare by creating costumes, inventing skits, drawing or painting artwork, or practicing music. Then by the adult-supervised light of candles or propane lantern, the performance is presented. If the kids didn’t have all day to practice for a performance, have an impromptu game of Charades instead.
Aim a flashlight at a blank wall and host a Shadow Puppet Theater. Remember that more complex shadow images can be created when more than two hands are used. Crowd close together and see what many hands can accomplish.
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Whatever the challenge, be it lack of power keeping families in the dark or bad weather keeping kids housebound, maintaining a happy (or at least a sane) home by trying some of these ideas will make kids less afraid when the next disaster strikes, and they’ll be better equipped to entertain themselves and their siblings in that event. The whole family will be better prepared to face the next unexpected event with confidence. Enjoy your next power outage!