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Fire Day Activities - What to Do When The Kids Are Unexpectedly Home From School

Posted Aug 26 2008 11:36pm

Thirteen things to do during a rain, snow or in my case Fire Day

It’s day five of the California fires. For us it’s day four without school.

As I wrote about yesterday, the air quality in much of Southern California is terrible because of the ash and smoke therefore most parents are keeping their children inside after school. Many of us closer to the fire area are keeping our children home FROM school.


I should explain, for those of you in colder climes, much of Southern California is outdoor-based, down to the schools. I remember being amazed on my first trip to California at 12, that schools were less a building and more a series of buildings…even at the elementary level…a campus rather than a building. So, keeping the children “inside” at school is a bit tricky.

The other somewhat unique thing in this day and age is the lack of air conditioning in many, many homes in the coastal communities. (This often includes homes priced in the millions.) This is usually fine, since we leave the windows open and enjoy the sea breezes. This is not OK when it’s 90 degrees and we have to keep the windows closed due to the air quality.

All of the above creates the quandary I discussed – that is, entertaining a child home from school. Fortunately my readers came to my rescue (and my always creative, friend Tan who sent her suggestions via e-mail). Here are some great ideas for entertaining children during “fire Days’ but hey…you might just want to drag these out when school is closed for any reason.


1. Make colored ice cubes - kids really enjoy mixing colored ice-cubes in baggies. It sounds silly and way too easy, but they constantly beg to do it. Just make colored ice-cubes by dropping a few drops of food coloring in before the water freezes. Then let them pick whatever colored ice-cubes they want and put them in a baggie. As the cubes melt, the colors mix. You could vary the activity by letting them put the ice-cubes in the tub too.

2. Get out blankets and boxes and have a camp out

3. Make freezer cookies – so as not to heat up the oven. Gift of Green – how do you do this? I like the idea!

4. Create a theme for the day and think of things to do around the theme

5. Visit a bouncy house and play space. Lots of these types of places usually open for birthday parties and such also have days for the general public

6. Visit Aquariums (not zoos unfortunately)

7. Go to the Mall before opening hours...Most malls are open at 8am, even though the shops don’t open till much later. This is a favorite “rainy day” activities as the kids can run wild down the walkways without disturbing anyone or damaging anything. Another advantage...indoors and air-conditioned.

8. Go to Barnes & Noble, Borders and most bookstores for story time. This can however get expensive if your child is anything like mine and wants to buy 50 books.

9. Go to the library…this is cheaper and they often have story time too.

10. Go to a museum – in my case, this will be any that are all inside and away from the fire zone

11. Go to an art place for kids – We have a few of the ceramic painting places nearby

12. Visit Costco...indoors, air-conditioned and free samples (YUMMMMMM!!!)

13. Get a book or video and learn something new together. I just picked up Drawing with Children, which is a fun way to teach your children (and you) how to draw.

I also did a little searching and found a number of sites that have suggestions including this one.

OK- I have a few, rather more important, thoughts on the fire than how to keep my kid entertained. I’ll probably get to them later today (maybe, maybe not – kids from home from school…no time…remember?) Stay tuned.

BTW- though I didn't take this picture...this is exactly what the moon looked like last night over our house...bright orange from all of the smoke.

More Thursday Thirteen



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