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Discussion Starter #1
OK,

The summer in the NE will be there before I know... I can hope at least. So my question is. Besides the normal time wasters for kids, DVD, Nintendo DS. What can the kids (5-6) do on boat while sailing? As its a 6 knot event at best on our boat it's gonna take some time to get to an anchorage for them to swim.

Thanks!!
 

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At 5 and 6 they are ready to be shown some of the things involved in handling the boat during passages.. while they don't have the strength required they can be allowed to "help" trimming sails, sit on your lap and "steer". They can be given the job of keeping a lookout (for whatever). While their attention span may not be really long, it's a diversion and it will get them thinking about sailing. If you get them involved and interested early they may sail for the rest of their lives.

Highly recommend that you encourage reading as well.. or even at this stage amusing themselves with whatever books work. They won't be 5 or 6 for long and if they enjoy whiling away a few hours with a good book your life will be easier (and theirs better) on many levels!
 

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At 5 and 6 they are ready to be shown some of the things involved in handling the boat during passages.. while they don't have the strength required they can be allowed to "help" trimming sails, sit on your lap and "steer". They can be given the job of keeping a lookout (for whatever). While their attention span may not be really long, it's a diversion and it will get them thinking about sailing. If you get them involved and interested early they may sail for the rest of their lives.

Highly recommend that you encourage reading as well.. or even at this stage amusing themselves with whatever books work. They won't be 5 or 6 for long and if they enjoy whiling away a few hours with a good book your life will be easier (and theirs better) on many levels!
ditto
 

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Well, let's see...

We give the kids binocs and have them take bearings. We let them bring Legos in the cockpit. We let them steer (with supervision) and trim the sails. We play with the radar and electronics to help them learn it. We talk about right of ways. We do let them watch TV some. We have started getting into fishing from the boat (a really good hobby for kids, btw).

As a few words of warning, we do try and plan our runs such that we hit an anchorage in time to swim and have fun exploring with the dink. I think that is very important as quite candidly, there is no way to keep them completely occupied with things non-electronic related for a really long time. Best thing may be fishing and the binocs so far. They really enjoy running around with them. We bought the kids their own cheap set this year from Walmart (about $20-30 a piece, I think). A good investment since you probably do not want your $1000 Fuji's or Steiners going in the drink!!

Here are my kiddos...



 

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Agreeing with everything above..

But, also, don't underestimate how much fun it is for kids to just hang out in the Vee Berth.. It's like a little clubhouse for them, and something their size!

It's still fun with my kids, who are now 12 and 15.

CD .... let's see the video of your kids monkeying around on your boat again...

David
 

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This might be a good time to wean off of the "time wasters." Have them bring a few of their engaging low-tech toys. This is also a great time for reading, the adults can also set an example. ;)

Being lookouts, taking bearings, watching for navigation aids, spotting other boats, looking for wildlife, dragging a fishing line, helping to coil lines and keeping the boat neat.

I like the kite idea, must try that myself. I do sail with families occasionally.

The vee berth play space is good; kids need their own space.

Jack
 

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Agreeing with everything above..

But, also, don't underestimate how much fun it is for kids to just hang out in the Vee Berth.. It's like a little clubhouse for them, and something their size!

It's still fun with my kids, who are now 12 and 15.

CD .... let's see the video of your kids monkeying around on your boat again...

David
Like this...

 

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Almost forgot a great resource

Liza Copeland has a lot of experience. Check her SailNet article.

Jack
 

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That's the stuff!

When I was that age, we used to play "Pizza Parlor" with the sailbags representing the pizzas....

David
 

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On our sailboat, everyone has a job to do. The youngest stays in the cockpit or below unless there's an adult out on the bow. Her job is to spot buoys, which, for her, are often the one's we just passed, but darn it, aren't they important to be reminded about too!?!? The slightly older kids are lookouts for things like lobster pot buoys and navigation buoys, and they really help. (At haulout I had a nice thick rope wrapped around the prop shaft, probably from when they weren't with me.) The kids that are older help to steer and take turns at the helm. Oh, and the youngest can "stand" inside the wheel and enjoys the ride (think Leonardo Davinci's guy inside the circle).

We spotted a large white object last summer, turned out to be a floating mass of white balloons, that added some enjoyment. One kid let their balloon go by mistake and we never could overtake it, but just watched it recede into the distance.

This summer we'll increase the fishing and definitely try the kite flying thing. I may try the binoculars idea too.

This was on land, but was effective: I asked the oldest child to teach one of the younger kids all the parts on their sailing dinghy that they could (I think I may have had a reward for the 2 of them, depending on how many things the younger one could name.) There was a lot of pride and excellent learning that took place.

Also we use puzzles. We have board games but haven't used them too much. Dolls and doll clothing/accessories are good too.

They love to jump off the boat, and using a digital camera, they try to get pictures of the kids in mid air.

We aren't real fond of Lego at home, after stepping barefoot on too many pieces, so maybe that's why we haven't brought Lego along.

Swimming is a big factor too. We try to anchor where there's some good swimming and good shore exploring (whether woods/beach or town/ice cream).

Any child that has helped on the boat I call "crew" ever after, since they've earned the title after week on the boat. Really everyone's a helper and seems to enjoy being a part of the team.
 

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when all those good recommendations fail, crazy gluing a couple of fingers together will occupy them for hours.
Especially if you glue two kids together :eek: ;)
 

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All these are good suggestions, and having only one kid who's now in his mid-20s, i would humbly suggest:

Let the kid steer, watching the compass for a course. Works better than you think. then let the other kid, if there is one, handle whatever else happens on deck, with "adult" assistance as needed.. then switch kids (they're very competitive) and repeat. Whatever you think needs to be done, tell the "free" kid to try it, and assist only as needed. Praise both kids for whatever they've done, no matter how small, they like it.

At some point, you have to let them go below and slack off, but occasionally call them on deck for a lifejacket drill.

That's about all I have to say, as Forrest Gump once said....
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks all for the ideas. They are great. I re-read my post and you are right 'reading' is a key activity that I overlooked. Shame on me as that is perfect.

Thanks for the ideas on helping while underway.

Kite flying is just too cool...

Binocs is perfect and their own is a great idea. I will have to keep an eye out at Walmart or for a sale locally over the winter here.

Thanks again!!!

Crazy glue would be fine but the drag would be when (notice no if) they glue themselves to the boat. Fingers and too themselves is just fine!!!!... But it tough to get them home after a day on the water when they are adhered to the cockpit.
 

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I like most of the suggestions so far.

We tend to keep it simple. We don't have the electronic games at home so that's not an option. Lots of books and board games. When the kids were too young to read on their own, my wife always had a chapter-book that she could read to them enroute in the cockpit. Books like Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and any of the Swallows and Amazon series (especially Peter Duck!) make great reading aboard a sailboat. Captains Courageous is a good one too.

Another old standby are books on tape/cd when parents are too occupied with sailing. If the kids' attention spans aren't developed enough for chapter-books, try short story collections from storytellers like Jay O'Callahan and Jim Weiss. These are usually available at local libraries. Also, if you can find a well narrated version of Treasure Island, a good actor can read those pirate voices more convincingly than most parents.

When our kids were really young, we had a rectangular Rubbermaid storage bin, about 2'Wx2.5Lx1'D that we'd fill with water and set in the cockpit footwell to let them splash around in. Now they like to drag their feet over the rail or even hang in the bosun's chair.

At anchor, our kids have a blast with the sailing dinghies and kayak. We consider these "must haves".



 

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Like a road trip only more fun!

Our kids are older now, but many of the activities that kept them occupied during long car trips translate well to sailing voyages, like:

  • Travel Bingo: make up things to look for and have kids check off a list to see who can find the most...buoys, watertowers, jellyfish, whatever interesting things you can think of to see.
  • Trip Log: get an inexpensive notebook and have the kids keep a log for you. Every so often do a heading, position, wind and conditions report along with interesting sightings...later, they can add comments, etc that will help them remember THAT special trip. Paste in pictures, that special shell, etc.
  • Print out Google maps of the trip, "laminate" them with clear contact paper, and provide markers for them to plot the trip.
  • Get a bird book for your area; fish book, too. Play ID THAT CREATURE
DANG...now I wish I had grandkids!
 

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On the subject of great kids' books, another guaranteed winner (but possibly hard to find) is the Enid Blyton's Adventure series.. Eight books, I think, of the same bunch of kids being raised by a single mom and a mysterious "secret agent" some-time companion..and getting into all sorts of adventures and misadventures.

Appropriate to read to 6-8 year olds, and for them to read themselves after that!

The Adventure Series - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
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