March 18, 2013
"Mom, Dad...I'm bored!" You've probably heard this before. Even in today's world of hyperconnectivity, video games, and toys galore, kids still get bored. In fact, I think that kids today are especially likely to get bored easily because they have become used to 24/7 input via television, the Internet, and smartphones. When I think back to my own childhood, I remember a great deal of making my own fun: building "forts"' in the woods, making parachutes from trash bags and string, and creating elaborate dioramas in the sandbox with plastic army men and/or dinosaurs*.
I still do such things as an adult, such as building a functional albeit very low-powered crossbow entirely from wood, twine, duct tape, and two tent stakes, much to the amazement of the boys in my Scout troop. They asked me how I knew how to build it. My answer: I didn't, I just started fiddling around and a couple of hours later I had a crossbow. Pretty soon they were all building various gizmos out of sticks, twine, and duct tape! All it took was a little encouragement and instruction.
Enter Unbored: the Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun by Joshua Gleen and Elizabeth Foy Larsen. I can't recommend this book highly enough! Right here is a manifesto for getting kids to think outside the screen, to realize that fun isn't always something that is delivered to you, but something you can make for yourself! They also have a website, Unbored.net, and they draw in a lot of support from the Maker crowd. I simply have to love a book that encourages kids to make explosions (vinegar and baking soda sealed in a ziploc bag), go camping, perform backyard parkour, and of course, go to the Library! So, get this book and get your kids Unbored!
*Despite a valiant last stand by the Bazooka Guys, the Army of the Green Men lost the Battle of the Time Rift to the Dinosaur Legion. The victors then celebrated by turning on each other in a vicious feeding frenzy. Only the heavily armored Ankylosaurus and the Radio Guy lived to tell the tale of that fateful day...