My sister had children before I did—two sons. When they were little, I would watch her run through her litany of activities for boys and think, “Whew! That would wear me out! There is no way I could be so active all day.”
Flash forward a few years to when I had my son. Now I was the one who was shooting hoops, keeping fish bait in my freezer, and avoiding the balls that flew through our house at any given moment. I didn’t know I had it in me! Now I actually enjoy coming up with activities for my son. One of my favorites involves a hammer and a clock radio. Intrigued? Let me tell you about that one and a few more. Here are 5 activities moms can do with their sons.
1. Learn and Smash
I don’t know what gave me the idea, but I’m glad it came to me because my son loved it. I took him and one of his friends to the Salvation Army on a half-price day and let them peruse the electronics section. “Choose something,” I said, “and I’ll let you take it apart, see how it works, and then you can smash it!” One of the boys chose an old clock radio ($2), and the other chose a small paper shredder ($3). So for less than the price of 10 minutes of arcade games, we were set.
First, I helped the boys take apart their finds. We looked at the wires, switches, and buttons and talked about what made them work. Then came the real fun. Each of the boys put on a pair of safety goggles, grabbed a hammer, and took turns smashing it. After each hit, we would examine the parts that survived and the ones that didn’t. Needless to say, this was a very popular activity.
2. Nail It
Grab a piece of wood or buy a 2 x 4 at the hardware store. Take as many nails as will line up on the board when spaced about 2 – 3 inches apart. Hammer each nail into the wood just to the point where they are secure. Next, grab those safety goggles for your son, and give him a hammer.
Before he starts hammering, make sure you go through the safety tips: Keep your free hand out of the way of the hammer. Hit directly on the nail head. And don’t “wind up ” and lift your arm high above your head to get momentum—it’s unnecessary. If you want to get a little fancy, buy a bird box kit you can build together.
3. Go Fish
A really nice, elderly man at church gave my son a practically new fishing pole he had never used. With that, a fisherman was born. The first time we went out together in our neighborhood, my son stood on the bank of a very muddy, gunky, dark-watered canal. He didn’t catch a thing, but he loved casting his line. Once I saw he was serious, I found an inlet just a mile or so from our house where he could stand on the bank and fish. And he actually caught something! After that, he used an old cast net to catch his own bait fish (sometimes successfully, sometimes not).
As with any activity where boys are involved, give your son the knowledge he needs to stay safe. We talked about how to secure the hook before he started walking while holding the fishing pole. I pointed out the need to be careful when throwing the cast net so he wouldn’t get entangled. But when it comes to advice on how to actually catch the fish, I’m mum. (Here are 10 things boys do want to hear from their mom.)
4. Mix Master
This activity might make you feel a little guilty about “wasting” food but, if you see it as a learning experience, it’s really not wasting—it’s educational. Here’s what it sounds like at our house: “Mom, can I mix some milk with orange juice?” A couple of minutes later. “Mom, can I put some flour in here… what about some Coke?”
Eventually, my son had a gloopy, globby, food-colored bowl of goo. Since the oven was already heating for dinner, he spread his concoction in a baking dish and slid it in to cook. The result? Very interesting. The cleanup? Even more so.
5. Radical Reaction
Most boys love the sight of something exploding or bubbling over—think soda cans shaken and opened with great glee. For this activity, you can get fancy and build a volcano out of Play-Doh or mud-packed dirt outside. Just be sure to insert a plastic cup or tube in the center so you can create an eruption. Or you can forgo the volcano and let your son put a bowl in the sink.
Either way, fill your cup, tube or bowl with five parts vinegar and then let your son add one-part baking soda. You’ll get a fizzy, foamy reaction. If your son asks you, “Why does it do that?”, here’s your answer from the Ask a Scientist site: The reaction between baking soda and vinegar is an acid-base reaction followed by the dissolution of a gas. See, you’re not only a fun mom, you’re a smart one too. 🙂 Don’t miss iMOM founder Susan Merrill’s Mother Son Bucket List.
How do you have fun with your son? From one boy mom to another, I’d love to know!