Engage your children in imaginative building projects

(NC) During winter breaks, keeping kids entertained indoors is a challenge for most parents and caregivers. When it's too nasty to play outside, why not challenge your children with fun and educational building projects that are guaranteed to develop essential skills?

Mag Ruffman, known as Canada's tool girl, explains that so many kids today - and even their parents - have never had the opportunity to work with tools. "It's why we have a growing shortage of skilled tradespeople in this country," she continued. "Introducing kids to building projects is an amazing bonding experience for both the adult and the child. It's fun, it instills confidence and new skills, and it helps develop cognitive ability, spatial perception, critical thinking skills, and coordination. Plus you have a really cool handmade project when you're done."

In partnership with Lowe's Canada, Ruffman has produced a series of videos featuring simple, fun projects that parents can do with their kids at home. She feels strongly that if kids can get their hands on tools and materials in the first five or six years of life, it can help their brains develop neural pathways that improve their intelligence and abilities for the rest of their lives.

"It's never too late, however," Ruffman adds. "This fall we're shooting a new Lowe's series with tweens and it's amazing how quickly and easily they learn to use power tools. They're designing and building awesome projects like headboards, beds that rise and descend on pulleys, gaming terrains, and sleepover forts on wheels."

With the growing trend of online resources and social media sites that feature inspiring projects and crafts, parents don't have to be DIY experts in order to take part in (and feel proud of) a fun project that they can make with their children.

Some of the many projects (all come with free, detailed plans) in Ruffman's online series include:

• How to make a regulation junior-size hockey net using simple tools and PVC piping

• How to build a classic puppet theatre, complete with marquee and lighting

• How to make easy, customized bedroom door signs

• How to create a beautiful indoor/outdoor castle with a few simple materials

A variety of projects for kids aged 5-12, can be found in the retailer's dedicated video series at www.lowes.ca/kidsvideos.

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Data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton.