February 1995 // Volume 33 // Number 1 // Ideas at Work // 1IAW5

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Quality Family Togetherness with "Family Fun Times"

"Family Fun Times" is a book filled with over 200 activities for families to use when spending quality time together. Over 200 families in Allen and Sandusky counties participated by suggesting activities for the project. The book is designed for families with children under 12 years of age, and the activities are categorized by age group and the appropriate season to conduct the activity. The activities require minimal time and resources and are appropriate for limited resource audiences.

Sharon L. Mader
Assistant Professor, Extension Agent
Family and Consumer Sciences
Sandusky County
Fremont, Ohio
Internet address: mader.1@osu.edu

Nancy Recker
Assistant Professor, Extension Agent
Family and Consumer Sciences
Allen County
Lima, Ohio
Internet address: recker.22@osu.edu

Aware of contemporary concerns that today's families have limited time to spend together because of work and time restraints, Extension agents in Ohio's Sandusky (rural) and Allen (urban) counties conducted needs assessments to determine the extent of this perceived problem. Using an open-ended mail questionnaire, the agents queried over 400 families with children under age 12. The one-page questionnaire asked parents to list or describe leisure-type activities they did with their children- -games, trips, outings, traditions, celebrations, etc. Families who completed the survey had children involved in 4-H, Girl Scouts, or Campfire.

Fifty percent of the questionnaires were returned. Results indicated working families spent little time with their children outside of the daily chores of child care. Much of the time they were together was spent watching television. These responses paralleled the 1987-88 National Survey of Families and Households--American Demographics which determined that working parents had an hour prior to work and three hours after work to share with their children, including child care (Jacobsen & Edmondson, 1993).

The responses also showed, however, that families were interested in learning ways to spend more "quality" time together while having fun at the same time. The questionnaires returned generated over 90 activities which require an average of only 12 minutes per day to perform. Data were not available on how many activities were accomplished in one day.

The information was summarized and compiled into a publication entitled, "Family Fun Times." Designed to empower busy families to try new and creative ways to spend time together, the publication emphasizes activities that require little or no money and stay within the constraints of the families' busy schedules.

In addition to the 90 ideas contributed by the families, agents described over 200 supplementary activities categorized seasonally and by age of child (under 5 years, 6 to 9 years, and 10 to 12 years). Descriptions and instructions were furnished for activities on global and cultural awareness, mathematics, science, nature, art, music, logic and thinking skills, exercise, geography, dramatic play, and food. The majority of activities can be completed when minimal time is available, such as waiting for appointments. Examples of these include making a paper airplane, catch the dollar bill, word association, and leaf window stenciling.

Each survey respondent was listed as a contributor to the project and received a complimentary copy of the publication. Evaluation post cards were placed randomly in every fifth booklet (40% of total). Returns indicated 96% of responding families tried some new activities and were spending more time together. Since the project began, the booklet was featured in an Ohio State University Extension statewide newsletter, "Lifetime," and six other states have purchased the publication.


Jacobsen, L., & Edmondson, B. (1993, August). Father figures. American Demographics, pp. 22-27+.

Author Notes

A limited amount of the "Family Fun Times" publication is available for $4.75 (includes tax and postage). To order, make check payable to OSU Extension and send to Nancy Recker, 219 West Northern Avenue, Lima, OH 45801.