10 fun ideas for families when the lights go out…

Our lights went out in the storm yesterday. As the sun went down I was in a quandry over how I could productively use my time. Today I have ten suggestions for family fun when the lights go out.

1. Sing, whistle, or hum: Name That Tune

If you know the words, sing hymns and songs together. If your repertoire is small, hum or whistle them together, or try a few rounds of “Name That Tune” where one person hums or whistles a tune and the rest of the family tries to guess the name of the song. Whoever names it correctly gets to whistle or hum the next tune.

2. Twenty Questions Game

To play this game, one person thinks of a person, place, or thing. For instance if she is thinking of Cinderella she would say she is thinking of a person. Then all other family members take turns asking questions that may only be answered with yes or no. For instance, a question might be “Is this person a female?” in which the answer would be “yes.” It works best to use logical questions to narrow down the possibilities instead of trying to guess names of people at the beginning. Players may ask up to twenty questions in turn. Whoever guesses correctly gets to think up the next person, place, or thing. If no one guesses it in the first twenty questions, the person who thought that round up wins the round. That person gets to think up another person, place, or thing.

3. Remember When Stories

Share “remember when” stories about days gone by. This is good for all ages – even children have backstory. Retell events from family vacations in the past, family reunions, remembering playmates who moved away. Mom and Dad can share about their childhood experiences, and children can explore their counterpart forms of entertainment.

4. Talent Show

Use your flashlights for spotlights on your “stars” as they sing, dance, recite, or perform skits. Everyone can get in the act one way or another. Invite your neighbors to join you… What fun!

5. Games from the Game Closet

Look in your game closet and pick the games that don’t require reading: Spread out your Twister game on the floor. It doesn’t take much light to see the big colorful dots. Checkers and chess don’t require much light. Parcheesi is another game that requires no reading apart from counting the dots on the dice. A flashlight will provide enough light for that if your candle isn’t bright enough.

6. Simple Yarn Crafts

Did you know there are ways to knit and crochet using only your fingers? The finished products are small, but they can supply hours of fun and provide a simple introduction to knitting and crochet. And even in dim light, you can use a combination of touch and vision to know what your are doing. Here is a YouTube video that shows how to do finger knitting. I recommend bulky yarn for this project. Search “Google – Images” for ideas of things to make from finger knitting.

Finger Crochet is a little trickier, but a chain stitch is pretty simple. Here is a YouTube video for making a finger crochet chain. I noticed on another video that the yarn was tripled using three strands together for making finger crochet. Here is the next step, but it gets more tricky and probably needs more light. I included it so I don’t leave you hanging with this craft – finish it when the lights come back on. :)

Another yarn activity is covering a wire hanger with yarn using a simple macrame-type knot with two strands of yarn at a time. The directions for this can be found on this blog post I wrote earlier. I know this can be done with little light, as I tried it last night when the lights were out.

7. Flashlight Hike

Take a walk with your flashlights if the storm has passed and it is safe to go outdoors. Wait until there is no lightning flashing in the sky.

8. Pig Latin

Now is a great time to teach your kids to talk Pig Latin. For those too young to remember, talking Pig Latin requires picking your words apart a little and re-arranging the letters. Every word ends with the sound “ay.” Take your word – ok, use the word “word” – take the first two letters (sometimes only one letter) off the front and put them on the end:


Now add “ay” and you get “rdwoay.” Have fun trying to pronounce it. This happens to be an example of a word that would be easier to pronounce if you only moved one letter to the end. Isn’t “ordway” easier to pronounce? Now let’s try a sentence:

Who turned out the lights?
Owhay urnedtay touay ethway ightslway?

On that last word, keep the gh silent. You may also have to fudge a bit and put only the first letter at the end to make it easier to pronounce the word. That is also acceptable. Pig Latin is meant to be fun, not hard. Once you get the hang of it try to hold a conversation in Pig Latin. This is a great way to think phonetically as you twist words around.

After doing my best to write this out, I discovered a website that does a better job of explaining it. This comes from the Pig Latin Web Page.

There might be some grandparents who remember this Pig Latin Song from days gone by. I found it on YouTube.

9. Share Bible Verses

See how many Bible verses you can quote by heart. Let everyone try. If they can’t quote it exactly, let them paraphrase. Then look them up later when the lights come back on – or get your flashlight out and look them up now. Offer a prize to the one who can say the most verses correctly.

10. Pray Around the World

Instead of dwelling on how bad you have it when the lights go out, think of people around the world to pray for who have situations much worse than yours. Consider those who lost their homes to fires, tornadoes, or hurricanes; people in areas where there is famine; people who are being persecuted for their faith; people who never had electricity in the first place… Also remember relatives and friends and neighbors who might need prayer. By praying in these circumstances, you will help instill an attitude of gratitude in the hearts of your children – attitudes that may comfort them again and again in times of stress.

Have fun the next time the lights go out. But then, you don’t have to wait until a storm comes – you can just turn the lights and TV off anytime and give these ideas a try. It might help you to plan ahead better for when the real thing happens – like purchasing yarn or checking out the game closet when you can still see to find everything…

What kinds of things did you find to do with your children when the lights went out in the late evening? What ideas can you share?

This post was written by Janice D. Green, author of The Creation and The First Christmas.

Grandys – Real or Adopted

When I was a child, I often walked across the driveway to visit Grandma. We played Scrabble; ate lunch before she revealed what it was; walked a mile measured in quarter-mile stretches; made clothespin doll skirts from hollyhock blossoms; played with Jackie, her dog; fed birds in any season; admired precious elm trees; picked cherries in Grandpa’s orchard; planted vegetable and flower seeds; splurged on a daily piece of chocolate; collected rain water in a barrel—to soft-rinse her hair after a shampoo.

We sat on her favorite cast iron bench with a broken leg, a’tilt against a tree;

spied humming bird’s nest in our maple tree; reveled in town history; watched the Memorial Day parade, which ended at the cemetery across the street.

We walked her mile around and through the cemetery. She told stories about Lulu buried here, her father buried there, and town fathers buried yonder. We paced the perimeter of the first log church; wondered at the rotting wooden grave marker inscribed, “Here lies my strong right arm.”

We remembered lots of things. But after all those years of showing, telling and listening, what I remember most is the person of Grandma herself, who shared untold hours of her God time with me.

Grandma lived alone, so I was often encouraged to go see her. Our times together were rich with words spoken, Scrabbled with tiles, or felt in our hearts. Even today, as I wonder how my mother does something, I also think of Grandma and how she might  have done it.

Does your child get to spend time with a grandparent living nearby? Yes? Your child is blessed! No? Then why not adopt a “Grandy” from your neighborhood or church? Give the new Grandy the gift of your child’s innocence, curiosity, sense of awe, searching for truth, drive to ask questions, and more. Most senior people understand the Childrenese language. They are wise. They see through children’s eyes. The influence of a Grandy on the life of your child might be key to how your child grows and lives for the rest of his or her life.

In our church, we once had twelve senior citizens and twelve young children. We paired them–child and “adopted Grandy”, encouraging them to interact at church and to  remember birthdays and Christmas. On Sundays, as Grandys grinned when children ran up to them with hugs, greetings and news of the week, we witnessed the essence of gifting love.

As you plant vegetables and flowers in your garden, don’t forget to grow Grandy flowers! Plant a grandparent or two—real or adopted–in the life of your child, and watch the love grow!

Being Flexible

We’re on vacation this week. Our regular schedule has gone to the dogs, and everything feels a tiny bit off. This got me thinking how important it is for us to be flexible. We have our plan. God has his. Sometimes it seems like the two are moving in different directions.

1 Corinthians 1:25 reminds us a foolish plan of God’s is still wiser than the wisest of human plans. We need to open our hearts and our minds to God’s plans for our lives. It isn’t always easy. We need to remain flexible; be willing to either stick to a road that seems like it’s going nowhere or take a path that leads in a new direction as God guides us to do.

This applies to how we interact with our children too. We have our plans for our children, but God has his plans for them too. We need to seek his guidance in how to direct our children. We need to remember that while God has blessed us with these children for a short while, they remain his, and we must help them discover God’s plan for their lives and help them not to stray from it.

I pray each day that I remain like clay in the potter’s hands, open to being molded and shaped by his will, not mine.


Remembering His Greatness

Several weeks ago Linda McQuinn Carlblom had a great post about praying with children (you can find it here).  One of the things that really resonated with me about it was the idea that we should follow up with our children and see how God is working in their lives through prayer.  It is often easy to forget the answered prayers and focus on the current list of requests.  So how do we avoid this?    How can we use all those answered prayers to strengthen our faith and the faith of those around us?  We can do it by remembering His greatness!

In the book of Joshua we hear the story of Joshua and the Israelites crossing the Jordan river.  In order to facilitate their crossing, God stops the water and affords the Israelites safe passage across.  Once they completed their trip, He asks them to take twelve rocks from the river bed and carry them to their camp.  Joshua 4:6-7  “In the future, when your children  ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

Not only did this pile of stones serve as a reminder of God’s greatness to those who crossed the Jordan that day, but also to the generations that followed who could still see this testament standing.  It is the same for us today, by sharing the stories about how God is working in our lives we can strengthen the faith of those around us.  With that being said, I would like to share a personal story of my own as a testament to His greatness.

When my second daughter turned one I wanted to give her a book that would show her how talented, special and uniquely created by God she was.  Not finding this book in stores, I wrote my first draft of what would become my book Perfect You.  On the same day that I gave her this book and celebrated her birth, we found out we were pregnant with our third child.  As my due date grew closer I was filled with anxiety wondering how I could continue my part time job as an engineer while having 3 little girls at home.  Could we afford to have me work?  Could we afford to have me stay home?  Did I want to stay home?  I prayed for guidance through out.  I began sending out copies of my manuscript out to publishers feeling that this was a direction I should be heading.  I also started my blog, the little hearts project, to encourage families to serve together as this is something else that I felt He wanted me to do.  On my oldest daughters fourth birthday, while five months pregnant, I was called into my bosses office and was laid off.  The day before I was contacted by a publisher who was going to publish Perfect You.

I could never have imagined this turn of events, which is why I was so glad that it was Him in control and not me.  My separation from that company was wonderful and I ended up consoling them in the end!  Being laid off allowed me the financial flexibility to be home with my girls and get things underway with my book.  All these circumstances came together in a way only He could have orchestrated.

Do you have a pile of rocks?  A Perfect You?  A reminder of His greatness?  I encourage you to find yours so when those troubled times come, you can always have a way to remember that He is great!




Happy Birthday America!

Happy 236th Birthday, America! 

We live off Main Street, USA in a quaint New England town filled with proud historical markers. Two streets to our right our founding father, George Washington, hitched his horse in front of my daughter’s home. Down the hill the birthplace of Lyman Hall, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, still stands proud. Flags fly from country porches, line the center of town and wave their red, white and blue at passers-by from Memorial Day through September.

My preschool grandchildren frequently walk these flag-lined streets and can already identify the American flag from all the others. It makes this grandma’s heart proud! I’m sure their natural curiosity influenced conversations with their parent’s about the flag, but I’m glad to know they’re already learning to identify the symbol of this great country.

I remember when my son was in second-grade, I asked if his class recited the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. He hesitated, wondering if he should tell the truth. “Well, the principal says it every morning over the loud speaker, but our teacher doesn’t make us say it with him every day.” My heart sank and my mind raced wondering how to respond, how to instill the importance of this symbolic act in an eigth-year-old. So, I simply asked him to pay attention to the words the principal was saying and to recite the pledge in his heart every morning, even when his teacher didn’t lead the class.

How exactly do we instill patriotism, the love of country in our children especiallly if they attend public schools? Live it. Just as we live out our faith at home, we should also live out our love of country.

Here’s a few ideas: 

  • Display an American flag on your home for significant patriotic holidays (Flag Day, D-Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Veteran’s Day) explaining the origination of the flag during the Revolutionary War and the symbolism behind the colors and stars. For preschoolers, simply stating it represents our country and the stars stand for our states – where we live.
  • Salute the flag as it passes during a parade. Teach your sons to remove their hats and place them over their heart and daughters to place their right hand over their heart as well.
  • Pray for our nation’s leaders as a family.
  • Vote at every election and take your children into the voting booth, explaining the importance and great privilege it is to choose our own leaders.
  • Practice simplified democracy in appropriate ways, like voting on which movie the family will watch or which snack they’d like to eat.
  • Make a patriotic dessert for these special holidays. I’ve seen confetti cake mixes with red/white/blue sprinkles in the mix and star sprinkles to go atop the icing. Easy-peasy.
  • Talk about the WHY of the day when they’re off from school or on the way to the fireworks, etc.

How does your family celebrate freedom and how do you teach your children to love this country?  

Happy 4th of July,
Dawn Aldrich/@DawnAldrich
Author of Auntie’s House