6 Engaging Activities For Kids

Kids need diverse, interactive, and social experiences to truly thrive, and putting "Frozen" on for the thousandth time isn't going to accomplish that. To really provide enriching opportunities, parents and guardians would do well to bring their children to a museum or festival, or enroll them in a program that allows them to nurture their talents. In no particular order, here are some great ideas for engaging youngsters in activities that encourage creativity, play, and personal growth.

For #1 we have Bob Baker Marionette Theater, which seeks to celebrate and rejuvenate puppetry and other related theatrical arts. The company began in 1963, when Bob Baker and partner Alton Wood decided to transform a run-down scenic shop near downtown Los Angeles into a family entertainment institution. Named an official LA Historic-Cultural Monument in 2009, the Theater has since served over a million children with original shows.

BBMT hosts performances on-site and on the road, and offers theater rentals for birthday parties, weddings, corporate events, photo shoots, and more. For those who want to get in on the action from home, there are virtual activities such as Zoom puppet shows, twice weekly videos, customizable birthday party packages, and a variety of educational resources. Patrons can also "adopt" a puppet online and help support the Theater's operations.

Showing up at #2 is Milwaukee Children's Choir. Dedicated to helping shape the next generation of musicians and leaders, MCC provides choral music education and performance experiences that foster creativity, personal expression, and social growth. It offers a range of choir programs that span age groups, from Music Explorers for kids aged three to five, to the Milwaukee Youth Chorale for teens between thirteen and eighteen.

Music Explorers is a non-performance-based program that encourages kids and parents to experience song together. For slightly older children, Introductory Choirs help nurture aural skills and etiquette, and involve performances in at least three annual concerts. Offerings for preteens and early adolescents, meanwhile, include auditions, workshops, advanced vocal technique and music theory lessons, and collaborative concerts.

For #3 we get International Children's Film Festival Bangladesh. An annual event held countrywide, it showcases full-length features, shorts, and experimental works made for and by children, including fiction animations and documentaries. Founded in 2008, it aims to introduce the children of Bangladesh to a new world of cinema, while exposing them to a diversity of cultures and traditions from various nations.

One of the primary missions of the Festival is to provide youth with a platform to showcase their media talent, and to help them understand the role of cinema in bringing attention to various social issues. To do this, it features sections specifically devoted to the works of filmmakers under the age of eighteen, from both Bangladesh and beyond. Further spreading the power of cinema, the Festival's parent organization offers an advanced training program for teens, and conducts film screenings in schools all over the country.

Next at #4 is the Bucks County Children's Museum, located in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Its mission is to provide an environment that connects all kids to the world around them, and that inspires learning through play. The Museum's exhibits are designed for young children from twelve months up to seven years of age. There's also an Exploration for All Program that helps kids with disabilities prepare for and experience the Museum in a way that works for them.

Emphasizing the enjoyment and learning possibilities of pretend play, many of the exhibits consist of interactive model environments such as a hospital, a town square, and an archaeological site. Kids can simulate different scenarios as they put on a lab coat or work at a turn-of-the-century general store. Other exhibits include Factory Works, which encourages children to explore basic science and physics concepts in the construction and testing of a racecar, and Bucks County Country: A Recycled Adventure, which features a bridge, clubhouse, and a giant Lite-Brite.

For #5 we come to Children's Scrapstore. Based in Bristol, England, it's a reuse charity dedicated to helping businesses divert reusable waste away from landfills, turning it instead into a creative resource for the art and play of children and adults. The group maintains a large warehouse full of varied, colorful scrap materials that are ideal for creative play at a low cost. All of the scrap is safe surplus stock collected directly from local businesses.

For little ones serious about arts and crafts, the ArtShop offers a wide range of materials such as brushes, building noodles, paints, and glittery pom-poms. The organization also supports learning communities through myriad programs, including PlayPod, which supplies schools with an array of scrap materials to expand playtime choices and possibilities. Those wishing to join can sign up for a membership, which is open to anyone working or volunteering with children or adults in creative, care, educational, therapeutic, or community settings.

Finally, landing at #6 is the Spark Festival, the largest independent children's arts festival in England and Wales. Taking place in Leicester over the course of a week, it presents the best theater, dance, music, visual arts, and digital media events to young people between zero and thirteen. The program exhibits a variety of work, from puppetry to contemporary dance, that is specifically created for children by a range of regional, national, and international companies.

The Spark Festival aims for variety and access, in order to create as many opportunities as possible for children to engage with a wide breadth of performances and events. These are held at a number of different venues, from professional theaters and schools to community areas like parks, libraries, and the occasional swimming pool. Additionally, the Festival features hands-on creative arts workshops, free family drop-in activities, and school projects that bring exceptional performances to students.