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Family Files

Take time for a "family night in" this April

a family playing a board game

April is here and brings many changes. The temperature. The clock. Even our clothing.  Why not add one more change to the list?  Get out your calendars and pick a night for a “family night in” to relax and spend time together. What children really want is more time with friends and family. What gets in the way?  Children tell us that their family schedules are controlled by sports, school activities, homework and their parents’ work.

A “family night in” doesn’t have to be a major event.  In fact, simple things are often the most fun and relaxing.  Here are some ideas to get you thinking about your April family night in.

  • Become birdwatchers.  Check out books websites, or apps on birds.  Try to identify birds by their appearance or bird calls. Get out the binoculars and see how many different birds you can find. 
  • Build a birdhouse, bird feeder or birdbath.  You can make easy bird treats by cutting a fun shape out of cardboard, spread with peanut butter and sprinkle on birdseed.  Punch a hole in the top, attach a colorful yarn and hang it in a tree.
  • Bingo Nature Hunt.  Work together to make up bingo cards out of heavy paper or cardboard with an equal number of boxes across and down.  In the boxes write in specific items to find outside like a pebble, a daffodil, leaf or feather.  Give each family member a card and search for the items on their card.  See who can bingo first.
  • Celebrate Earth Day by planting a family tree.  Check out which trees grow well in your climate.  Are you going to plant it in a sunny or shady spot?  Choose a tree.  Let everyone help at planting time:  digging, preparing the hole, planting and watering.  Also learn to care for your new family tree.  Each year you can take a “birthday” picture of your family and the family tree.
  • Have a joke night.  See how many jokes everyone can tell.
  • Design and make paper airplanes.  Test them out.  See which plane can fly the highest, the farthest, the fastest, land softest, etc.
  • Have a bubble gum blowing contest.  Can everyone make a bubble at the same time? Who can blow the biggest bubble?

There are few rules for your family night in.  Just make certain everyone in the family gets a chance to actively participate.  You don’t need lots of preparation or planning. You may not remember the TV show you watched last week but doing fun things together will build memories that last a lifetime.  

Author: Debbie McClellan, retired Illinois Extension educator. Article originally written for Family Night In tip sheets.