Playing When the Power Is Out

Playing when the Power is out

Earlier this year, a severe thunderstorm blew through my town and knocked out the power. As we sat around in the dark realizing just how many things we do require electricity, I was inspired to write a post about things to do when your power is out. I had no idea exactly how helpful this kind of list might be, as we’re watching hurricanes knock out power in various coastal and island locations in the US and Caribbean for days, weeks, and maybe even months. And while playing in the dark is hardly a priority for folks who have lost everything, I know that providing our children with some sense of normalcy during times of disruption is important. So, whether you’re looking for a way to keep the family entertained during an inconvenient power outage or you’re dealing with something more serious, I hope these ideas for playing when the power is out are helpful!

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Card Games: Even if you’re not a big board game family, chances are you have a deck of cards lying around. Simple card games like war and blackjack are easy to learn, and they help kids work on their math skills. You can even use a standard deck of cards to play Go Fish (matches can include four of a kind, pairs of numbers of the same color, etc.). If you’re looking for something more challenging, try solitaire and its variations. Looking for something easier? Slap Jack is always good—any excuse to make hitting each other okay is bound to make your kids smile.

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Story Telling: If your children like to be freaked out, this is a great time for ghost stories; think camping out, but minus the fire. You can even do that spooky flashlight thing where you hold the light under your chin to make your face look creepy! And I know I’ve recommended these in previous posts, but eeBoo’s Create A Story cards are great for those of us who need a little inspiration to get our imaginations going. I also love Rory’s Story Cubes. (By the way, these cards and cubes are great to keep in your bag for passing time at restaurants.)

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Make Some Music: I can still remember getting stuck in a tornado at summer camp one year. We older campers entertained the younger campers by singing—and inviting them to learn and sing along—every camp song we could think of. Camp songs are great because they’re generally silly, loud, and have accompanying movements; it’s hard to concentrate on being scared when you sing them. Camp-style singing not your thing? How about playing Encore but without all the supplies? Basically, you break into two teams, a word is assigned, and the teams go back and forth singing a song with the word in it until one team can’t come up with a song. With just these loose guidelines, there’s a lot of room to make this game your own with whatever fun rules your family wants to add. Oh! One more idea: a power outage is a great time to put those music lessons to work and have a family concert.

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Go Outside: I always think of power outages as things that happen at night, but they can totally happen during the day. If the weather’s not bad, go outside for some old-school fun. Play catch, kickball, Pickle-in-the-Middle, or hopscotch. Jump rope. Shoot hoops. Blow bubbles. Chalk the sidewalk. Have a snowball fight. Build a snowman. Have fun! And if your power is out at night, head outside for some star gazing. Even city-dwellers might get to see some celestial action, since light pollution will be way, way down.

You can also have some fun with flashlights, which I wrote about here.

What are your family’s favorite electricity-free activities? Share them in the comments!

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Christina lives in Northwest Illinois with her husband, daughter, and two English Springer Spaniels. Before becoming a reluctant stay-at-home mom, she worked in a variety of customer-service-oriented jobs while dreaming of living in the lap of luxury as a housewife. Unfortunately, having a child threw a wrench in Christina's plan to do nothing but eat bonbons while lounging in the Jacuzzi reading all day. Now, she spends her time looking for fun activities and crafts for her daughter and easy-to-prepare meals for her family, while trying not to land the kid in therapy when she grows up. Christina volunteers at her local library, and does both volunteer and paid work as a sexuality educator. She loves to read, and to learn about--and share--new products and resources.

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