A Power Outage Activity Box for Kids

Our son is on the autism spectrum. He is an advanced learner with some verbal communication delays. He is a bright, happy child and, in truth, some folks don’t even notice that he has some struggles. But like all parents of autistic children know, life is not without some interesting quirks. For us, power outages are a big thing. Even in the middle of the day when lights aren’t needed, a storm that knocks out the power will also knock us for a loop.

lightning strike power outage

Unfortunately, our new house is in a much more rural location than our old one. In 12 years at our old house, we lost power 2 times. That’s it. But our current one? In our first year of living here, we had 9 outages!

So needless to say, we had to come up with a strategy to help Matt during those stressful times. And a few months ago, I did it! I figured out a way to make our power outage issues a thing of the past!

A Power Outage Activity Box!

I put on my thinking cap and pulled together a Rubbermaid container filled with some items that I thought would distract Matt or just keep him comfortable. I also included a few items to make a loss of power a bit more fun for Mom and Dad. What I love about this box is that it makes the most out of being stuck in the “dark ages.” This is a nice way to have some good old-fashioned, unplugged fun!

This is what we have in our Power Outage Activity Box:

  • A flashlight or lantern: This kid-sized Coleman lantern which is quite bright and can take a beating. After a few years of getting dropped by little hands, ours even rattles from loose interior parts but it still works!

  • A pack of glow sticks
  • A couple of food treats Matt loves but doesn’t often have like M&M’s and Pringle’s
  • A new Matchbox car (just in case I need a HUGE distraction)
  • This printout of hand shadow puppets – laminated
  • And my favorite part of the box: Shadows in the Forest!

Our Favorite Power Outage Activity

Created by ThinkFun, this board game is MADE to be played in the dark! And when I say dark, I mean complete darkness. It is perfect for a night with no power.

Shadows in the Forest comes with a board filled with paths and clearings. Players fill the clearings with three-dimensional trees and boulders. Then players choose a seeker. The rest are shadowlings.

Without the seeker watching, the shadowlings work together to hide their pieces on the board. Now the game also has a wee little working LED lantern. Using this lantern, the seeker tries to illuminate the shadowlings out of hiding! It’s a board game twist on hide and seek.

This game is quite fun but also quietly educational. It involves teamwork and strategizing. Better yet, as players need to think about how light waves work, they get a mini physics lesson without realizing it.

We also love to play real Hide and Seek in the dark. Matt always gets a partner so it’s two against one but it’s still tons of fun!

With this power outage box, we’ve stopped dreading weather forecasts that warn of high winds, heavy snow, or ice. We are ready!


In the spirit of honesty, we’ve added something else to our power outage box that isn’t as old-fashioned and unplugged as our other items.

power outage television

It began as a joke. In the weeks leading up to the premiere of a show we were eagerly anticipating, I teased my husband about how much a Sunday evening storm would thwart our viewing. A couple of days later, Amazon delivered this:

While the reason for this purchase stemmed from a bad joke, I can’t say I’m disappointed with it at all. Because, though it wasn’t on a Sunday night, we have already had the opportunity to use this portable generator.

We lost power in the middle of an extraordinarily windy day. I mean shingles-blowing-off windy. We didn’t need any lights. So we plugged in the router. And it worked! We suddenly had WiFi. Jon was even able to continue on a work project. It ran the WiFi with no issue for the 3 hours we were powerless.

Not only does it have some AC outlets, it also has a few USB ports, some DC plugs, and a powerful flashlight. It is also surprisingly small – about the size of a rectangular tissue box and only 3lbs!

When it got added to the box (well, it sits on top of the box), we decided that it would only power the WiFi during work hours or if there is something we just can’t miss on television. Either way, with hope, we won’t need it very often. But if we do, it’s nice to know it is there.

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