99 Things You Can Do to Stretch Your Mind, Improve Your Life and Make the World a Better Place

1.     Take a walk around your neighborhood and identify all of the trees.  (Look here for help.)  Sketch them.

2.     Make a map of your neighborhood.

3.     Set out a bird feeder and identify all of the birds you see in your yard.

4.     Spend a few afternoons with an elderly neighbor and ask them to tell you a story from their childhood.  Write the story, illustrate it and give it to them as a gift.

5.     Open a recipe book and make something new.

6.     See how many different constellations you can find in the night sky.  Write your own legend about a constellation.

7.     Study the mythology of Orion, Casseopeia, Taurus, the Pleiades, and other constellations.  (Look here for help.)

8.     Research where the water goes when it leaves your house.  Some water goes down pipes (to where?) and some water runoff occurs when it rains, or when you wash your car or run your sprinklers.  Where does it go?  The City Water Department might be a good source for your research.

9.     Observe animals or plants in your neighborhood and create a field guide.

10.   Plant a garden.

11.   Check out a section of the library you’ve never been in before – such as nonfiction, art, poetry, or biographies – and try a new book.

12.   Study the history of your city and write about it.

13.   Learn how to tie a variety of different knots.

14.   Study your family history and create an illustrated family tree.

15.   Write a play for you and your friends to perform.

16.   Make up a new version of tag.

17.   Write a song.

18.   Read to someone in your family.

19.   Work with your parents to create a family budget, including a system for tracking expenses.  Keep track of your spending for one month and see how closely you can stick to your budget.

20.   Calculate the square footage of your house.

21.   Read the paper with your parents and talk about what’s going on in the world.

22.   Make a paper hat out of the newspaper.

23.   Build something out of Legos or K’nex.

24.   Learn a new instrument, or try making a musical instrument of your own.  Look here for help.

25.   See how many states you can list off the top of your head.  Keep practicing until you can list them all.

26.   Memorize their capitals.

27.   Learn the five longest rivers, tallest peaks and largest cities in the world.

28.   Ask your family and friends what their favorite books are, and make a list.

29.   Memorize a poem.  Here are two suggestions.

30.   Observe the clouds each day for a week.  Find out what kind they are and sketch them.

31.  Observe the moon every night for a month.  Sketch and label the phases.  For help look here.

32.   Make a list (or a map!) of all the rivers, lakes and mountains in Oregon.

33.   Write some computer code.

34.   Go for a walk around your neighborhood with your writer’s journal.  Keep your eyes and ears open, and make a list of everything you notice.

35.   Write a story using an idea from the list you made in your writer’s journal.

36.   Design a family crest.

37.   Visit a museum online.

38.   Find out what Native American tribe(s) used to live in or near your city.

39.   Look at a map of the Pacific Northwest and count how many places have Native American names.

40.   Research the history and meaning of your first and last names.

41.   Create a healthy eating plan for a week, following the new USDA guidelines.

42.   Look at the Tuesday food section of the paper, find out what’s on sale, and help your parent make a shopping list.

43.   Create a secret code with a friend and write notes to each other.

44.   Create a treasure map for a younger sibling or friend.

45.   Make a time capsule.

46.   Learn the names of the countries on other continents.

47.   Design the perfect paper airplane.

48.   Look in the mirror and carefully sketch your self-portrait.  Try drawing exactly what you see.  This is great practice for drawing symmetrical lines and shapes!

49.   Play an online math game.

50.   Arrange a collection of objects on a table and sketch a still life.

51.   Build a house of cards.

52.   Learn to play chess.

53.   Working with your parent, see if you can find a place in your community where you can volunteer.  Ask at the public library, the City of West Linn (or whatever city you live in), a church, or perhaps on this list.

54.   Make a leaf rubbing.

55.   Write a formal letter to your mayor or state representative/senator about an issue that concerns you.

56.   Learn a few words or phrases in a foreign language and impress your friends.

57.   Memorize your multiplication facts through x12, if you haven’t already.

58.   Pick a new word out of the dictionary each week.  Learn to say it, spell it, and drop it into your vocabulary from time to time.

59.   Go on a digital photographic challenge.  Try to snap photos of things that are in a category of your choosing.  For example:  animals, things that are red, patterns, geometric shapes, clouds, close-up views of everyday objects, etc.

60.   Make a paper snowflake.

61.   Make a virtual paper snowflake (here).

62.   Do a crossword puzzle (or make one up).

63.   Research where your last meal came from (before it got to the grocery store).

64.   Look at the labels of your clothes and find out what countries they were made in.  Find those countries on a map.

65.   Learn to knit (look here for help).  WARNING:  I just did this and I became HOOKED!

66.   Play Blackjack (aka “21”) for great math practice (addition, probability).

67.   Research the world’s most common languages, and the countries in which they are spoken.

68.   Find out what America’s main musical styles are, and where they come from.

69.   Research all of the uses of corn.  See if you can go for one day without eating anything with corn (or corn syrup) as an ingredient.

70.   See if you can predict the weather by observing nature.

71.   Create something using origami.

72.   Draw a poster showing the different types of salmon Oregon has, how to tell them apart, their life phases, and spawning locations.

73.   Make a color wheel with water colors or crayons, and experiment mixing different colors (you can even come up with your own names of colors!)

74.   Solve a Sudoku puzzle (you can find them in books or online).

75.   Build a fort.

76.   Write a letter to a grandparent.  Put it in an envelope, address it, place a stamp on it and send it through the U.S. Mail (NOT email).  I guarantee it will be the highlight of their week!

77.  Learn to draw skyscrapers using 2-point perspective and design your own city.

78.  Go out in your front yard, stand quietly and close your eyes.  What is the farthest thing you can hear?  What is the closest?  How many different things can you hear?

79.  Fix breakfast in bed for your parent for no special reason.

80.  Ask your parent or neighbor for some old magazines that you could cut pictures out of, and make a collage of your favorite things.

81.  Use those old magazines to make paper beads and create some jewelry.  Click here to find out how.

82.  Check out a library book about bridges.  Try to build your own model of a bridge.

83.  Stretch.

84.  Draw a floor plan of your bedroom at a scale of 1′ = 1/4″.

85.  Draw a floor plan of your “dream clubhouse.” (Hot tub?  Big screen TV?  Bowling alley?)

86.  Challenge a friend to see who can use objects found around the house to create the most buoyant watercraft.  Put your floating vessels in the kitchen sink and stack pennies on them one at a time.  Whichever boat holds the most pennies before sinking is the winner.

87.  Make up a card game or a dice game.

88.  Establish a fitness goal – such as 25 push-ups, or running around the block 5 times – and work your way towards it.  (My goal as a kid was to walk on stilts all around the block without falling off.  After I accomplished that, I did the same thing on a pogo stick!)

89.  Try taking a photograph of something outdoors in a reflection.  Look in windows, puddles, ponds, cars, etc.

90.  Create a piece of art from nature:  a rock tower, a stick sculpture, a leaf wreath… or see some other ideas here and here.

91.  Research something you’ve always wondered about:  how they make money, how they get the lead inside the pencil, why animals seem to be able to predict storms and earthquakes… what do YOU wonder about?

92.  Learn to say the alphabet backwards and impress your family and friends.

93.  Practice writing your name backwards in cursive.

94.  Create a dirt castle using dirt in your yard.  Make sure the dirt is slightly moist. Use yogurt containers or other containers as molds, just like building a sand castle.  Add finishing touches with sticks, leaves and rocks.

95.  Train a pet to do something new.

96.  Organize all of the clothes in your drawers and closet by color.

97.  Make your own play-dough.

98.  Learn to do cat’s cradle and other string figures.

99.  Come up with the 100th idea for this list!

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