Ironically, before this winter storm came through, I began our unit on Alas, Babylon! with my sophomores. At this writing, we have been out of school for four days and are a little dismayed to receive a report from the electric company saying it will be 10 days to 3 weeks before we all have our power restored. Most of us in KY have packed bags and headed south where there is warmth, electricity, and internet...but for those staying home, what are the best ways to entertain small children when there is no power? My vote is reading, but my two sons (9 and 7) are tired of that suggestion...plus, it's only good for daytime hours unless you want to burn several candles to generate enough light to actually see the page. They are suffering from video game withdrawal, as I am sure many of the young people are. None of our cell phones work, no TV, no heat. Lots of reports of deaths from hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of propane heaters. Serious lack of food and no gasoline or kerosene for miles and miles even if you do have a generator.
If it is warm enough to play sports, that is what I would suggest. Short of that, there are always board games. Another possibility is writing. Writing original stories and sharing them around the fire could be a nice form of entertainment with the potential to go on and on.
Your post makes me appreciate living where I do, where there are very few natural disasters or extreme weather events, but that doesn't help you I know. I remember, in my childhood before cell phones or video games, having to use my imagination to come up with games of my own, building forts, creating characters, using physical toys and writing and illustrating little books. Not sure what age you're talking about, and those can be labor intensive on your part, but its a start.
Wow-a long time to be without power. It makes us wonder what people did to occupy their time before there was electricity. I agree with the previous response that said to bundle up and go outside.There are plenty of things to do outside. Kids love playing in the snow, plus it gets them nice and tired so they go to bed early. Short day trips can also be fun.
I am sorry to hear of your unfortunate events right now. Yes, as much as you would LOOOOVE your children to think reading is as cool as you do - they are young. They are over it. It is a special breed of kid that will love to read hours on end. As far as things to do, why don't you have a scavenger hunt? Those are always fun. That could work indoors and out. Kids (generally) like to have a ton of attention too so you could put on a little skit for any neighbors that may be around - this is where you could work in a little literature!!! Have them put on a short play or something.
Bundle up and go outside. It beats bundling up and staying inside....I know, I've lost power frequently here in St. Louis. Find a sledding hill, let the kids stay warm by generating some muscle power, plus they get some much needed sunshine, even on a cloudy day. I know it's hard, but try to look at it as an opportunity to explore the outdoors in the winter. Nature is different, and many people these days don't see enough of it even in the warm weather! See if any of the museums and zoos are open; the zoo can be quite interesting in winter, and much less crowded.
Maybe you can find some volunteer opportunities, because as bad as it is for you all, people who are poor when something like this happens have it much worse. Kids feel good when they are giving of themselves, even if they balk at first :)
I would let them find their own solution to their boredom. If they are bored, don't rush in to feed them distractions. Nowadays Children are constantly stimulated, amused and entertained by so many media and products. I not sure it's healthy. They have the attention span of a goldfish and the boredom thereshold of a hyperactive box of fireworks. You say they have withdrawl from computers games which suggest they needed a long break away from it anyway.
It's awful to think that our great grandparents grew up without electricity, radio, tv, internet, computers games etc etc. Their parents didn't feel they had to be stimulated all the time. They didn't run about trying to find 1001 distractions for them.
Let them be their own entertainers. Let them find their own ideas. Use their bordeom as a spur to drive their imagination. They are 7 and 9, they should be able to amuse themselves!