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Surviving a power outage with kids

© / Amanda Rohde © / Amanda Rohde

By Christina Vercelletto
From Ideas That Spark

It usually happens at least once a year: The power goes out for a few hours or (gulp!) the entire day. Tech-loving kids can make a blackout feel like an eternity -- if you don’t have a plan in place. Turn this surprise into a period of family bonding and fun with the following ideas. Grab your flashlights and lanterns first . . . and enjoy!

1. Stock up on glow sticks.

Easily found on Amazon or in party supply stores, they never fail to delight (and add a little light). They can be bent into bracelets or necklaces, too. Have your kids wear them and play a game of glow-in-the-dark tag.

2. Make a rubbing.

Go for a walk and find a few leaves, sticks, flowers -- anything with a distinct shape. You can also hunt for things around the house. Coins work well. Put a sheet of newspaper or a magazine on the table, and put your item on top of it. Place a sheet of regular white printer paper on top. Use a colored pencil or a crayon to color (rub) over it. You'll be surprised at how much detail shows up.

3. Go camping (at home).

Remember all those times you said "No, you can not build a fort in the living room!"? Now is not one of those times. Watch them squeal and giggle as they use the couch cushions to make a house. Or go all-out by setting up a real tent if you have one.

4. Have an ice-cream social.

Provided it's daytime when the power outage strikes, grab some neighbors or call a few local friends and have an ice cream party. Tell everyone to bring their soon-to-melt frozen confections and any toppings they have, and dig in.

5. Put on a shadow puppet show.

Haven't you always wanted to give them a try? No time like a power outage, as long as you've got a flashlight. If you Google shadow puppets, you'll find a slew of sites offering instructions. Print those out now; you may not be able to log on if the power's out.

6. Go Broadway.

Grab a storybook off the shelf (this is more fun somehow if it's a random pick . . . close your eyes and grab) and act it out. Kids adore putting on shows. Let them practice for an hour or two. Then call up the grandparents or some neighbors with kids the same age. The power may be back on by then, in which case you can make popcorn for the audience.

Keep a few books of Mad Libs on hand. Or make some yourself. It's not that hard. Do it in this format: One day, ____ (insert noun) skipped very ____ (insert adverb) all the way to his ____ (insert noun). You get the idea.

7. Make cards.

Figure out the next few birthdays and get coloring. No need to run to the card store on the way to the next party. You can also make cards for the elderly at a local nursing home, and hand deliver them.

8. Dust away!

If you don't normally use one, pick up a brightly colored feather duster at the dollar store. Toddlers and preschoolers generally get no end of kicks out of helping to clean with these. Hand one off and watch them dust their little hearts out.

9. Host a backyard Olympics.

Invite some friends over for a barbecue. While the meat that was in the now-warm freezer is grilling, set up some relay races. Give fun medals to the winners, easily whipped together with cardboard, foil, markers, and yarn.

10. Wash the dog.

It has to be done sometime . . . and it's usually good for a laugh! Take this one outside and really suds up old Sam.

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