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Hurricane Irene: How to Have Fun With the Kids When You're Stuck at Home

Much as we'd like to, we can't keep ignoring Hurricane Irene. (We'd also like to ignore all of our friends who think they're being clever by posting the "Rock You Like a Hurricane" video on Facebook.) Everyone's scrapping their vacation plans for the last weekend of August (my family's dream of heading to the Cape has been killed), and pretty much all of the events we recommended this weekend are already canceled.

While we hope this turns out to be much ado about nothing, chances are your family's going to be spending a lot of time at home this weekend. Right now you're in full prep mode. If you're wondering how best to secure your home, just turn on your local news (avoid the Weather Channel: They are freaking out!) or visit the official website of your town, city or state. New Yorkers can find info on potential flooding zones (there are many, not all along the water), emergency shelters, evacuation notices and more at nyc.gov. Mayor Bloomberg's even going to start shutting down subways and buses come Saturday at noon!

If you're heading out to buy toilet paper and snacks (we doubt even the most intrepid deliver guy will be on the streets on Sunday), think about stocking up on things to do, too. You can't watch TV all weekend (especially if the power goes out). But your family can try doing some fun crafts, cooking some kid-friendly dishes or playing a few cool analog games. And if you end up doing them by candlelight, just pretend it's 1811.

Here are creative ways to keep busy during Hurricane Irene.

For inspiration, peruse our roundup of 50 Indoor Activities for a Rainy (or Hurricane-y) Day. Our suggestions are short and sweet—throw a party, for example—but they remind you how easy it is to have fun, even when Mother Nature is pounding at your door.

Before the storm hits, head to your local toy or crafts store to find awesome activity books. We shared four of our favorites earlier this year, including the jam-packed 365 Things to Make and Do. That should keep your kids occupied for a while. Of course you'll probably want to hit Michaels on the way home so you have what you need to do the projects.

Since you can't camp outside, do it in your living room. This was one of my favorite things to do as a child, regardless of the weather. We give detailed, step-by-step instructions, including how to make s'mores in the oven. Just don't try a campfire.

Try a few projects on one of our favorite crafts sites. You don't necessarily need a well-stocked crafts corner. Many of the activities utilize common household items, and there are options for all skill levels.

Sensory activities aren't just for kids with issues. They help boost your energy and many are totally fun (pillow fight anyone?). We've got 99 sensory activities, most of which you can do at home.

While we're certainly not a cooking site, we enjoy making dishes with our kids. We've got a delicious and easy pasta recipe and there are many cookbooks that are aimed at families.

For additional ideas, peruse all of our crafts posts.

And if you still want more, we asked our Facebook fans, i.e. your neighbors, how they plan to spend their time indoors during the storm. So far, top picks include puzzles (run out and buy a 1,000-piece one, stat!) and throwing a "hurricane party with bubbles to ease the minds of our little ones." We just love that idea. As for us, I'm thinking of writing song parodies based on Irene. "Come on Irene" has a nice ring to it. My daughter, meanwhile, is planning a massive knitting project (that's her above).

Whatever you do this weekend, stay safe, healthy and enjoy each other's company. You're in for some quality time with the family.

Bird Walk at The Battery with NYC Audubon
Netherland Memorial Flagpole - 8:00 AM Pick
Giant Corn Maze Adventures
Alstede Farms - 9:00 AM Pick
The Great Bird Blind Debate
Planting Fields - 9:00 AM Pick
Scarecrows in the Village
Peddler's Village - 10:00 AM Pick
Cayton Creators Outdoor Community Program
Cayton Children's Museum - 10:00 AM Pick
Activity Guides