If you are staying home this weekend as a precautionary COVID-19 measure, we’ve got some suggestions on activities to keep your kids from being overly bored while staying indoors.
Read books to your children
One of the easiest activities to pass the time is to get your child’s favourite story books or new ones he/she hasn’t read before, and read together with him/her. Just beware, your baby might not have the patience to go through every single word with you, so let him decide the pace and do the page-turning.
Tell him a short succinct summary of what’s happening on the page. Otherwise, get him to list out all the colours he sees or the animals he can name. This helps build vocabulary and also gets him to focus on the page for a little longer. Of course, make sure to use different voices and really ham it up to pique his interest or turn the words into an improvised song.
Engage in some STEM-based activities
Train your child’s ability to think critically and creatively by trying out some easy, age-appropriate science activities. One example includes growing plants, where you put one or two seeds in a jar or clear paper cup, with cotton wool to absorb the moisture, and then spray water on it every few days. Duplicate this but put one near the light, and the other in the dark to show your child(ren) that light is not necessary for germination.
Other fun science experiments include creating a rain cloud jar or writing a secret message with lemon juice. Get more experiments here. Another way to help your child’s cognitive learning is via age-appropriate board games, such as those from Smart Games. While a lot of these games are for older children, the fairytale ones are great for children three to four years old. Help the knight reach Sleeping Beauty’s castle, or get to Grandma’s house faster than the big bad wolf.
Teach them how to bake
Be prepared that the baking process will take longer than the usual and will be very messy. However, there are several benefits in baking as it helps kids train their fine motor skills. Some examples include scooping, shaping cookies, or kneading bread. Toddlers can learn to count, while you can start your older children on the basics of fractions. It’s also a great way to bond and vary their palate.
Also, knowledge of baking comes in handy when you want to plan a home-based event like a picnic or high tea (see below). You get the homemade bakes going and kids will be psyched for a picnic or high tea the next day.
Solve puzzles with your kids
Help your children develop their counting, fine motor skills as well learn to recognise colours and animals. Try the Melissa & Doug Chunky Puzzles, which includes pets, vehicles, and shapes ($17.90 to $27.90). With these puzzles, kids can do each jigsaw one at a time. After they’ve become more confident, they can sort all 20 easy-to-grasp pieces to complete the full puzzle.
Other educational puzzles include the Self-Correcting Puzzle for Alphabets ($19.90). Little ones can match 52 letters to their respective pictures. The outlines of the puzzles ensure that children can easily realise when they’ve made a wrong match and try again.
Exercise With Your Kids
Create an obstacle course
Test your child(ren)’s motor skills with a ‘laser grid’ obstacle course that they will have to navigate around. Take a ream of ribbon and haphazardly stick it to the walls and then let your little one have a go at getting from one end to the other. If he/she steps on the ribbon and it falls or breaks, he/she has to start over.
If your baby is still relatively unstable on his feet, but an expert crawler, replace the string with mountains of sturdy cushions or pillows and make sure there are lots of blankets around to cushion any possible falls. You may have to get your child interested by throwing a ball in front of him to catch.
Arrange an indoor treasure hunt for your child(ren). Although the traditional game is usually played with written rules, for younger children who can’t quite read yet, you could give them verbal instructions instead. For example, you might ask them to collect a variety of things, like a red ball or a blue blanket. Once they’ve collected a certain amount of things, they win a prize.
Modify this as needed according to the age of your child. For older children who can read, you can print out a series of instructions and get them to find the slips of paper. Make the paper slips fairly large so that they’re easier to find. An example might be “Looking for more clues? Find them in the place you put your shoes”. You could also have a theme, for example, pirates looking for treasure, if you have a little more time and can DIY the props easily.
Have a dance party
A super easy way to get your child moving, even from a very young age is to just turn on some music from YouTube, Pandora or Spotify, and start moving to the beat. Your little one’s dancing skills might just amaze you (and make for a very hilarious video).
Other examples of ways to get your child to workout include doing some kids yoga (get these from YouTube), doing jumping jacks, playing tag or “catching” and jumping rope. Just ensure they have enough space to do this. Another way is to simply start working out yourself and your child is likely to mimic you!
Teach your kids hopscotch
With some masking tape, draw out the hopscotch grid on the floor. Be sure to test that the tape doesn’t remove the finish of the floor first. Then, give each of your children a small object to indicate where their last position was and then start them off. Younger children can use both feet instead of one foot.
Relive Your Childhood While Creating Amazing New Memories
Host an actual tea party
Have an actual tea party with your children, and get some of their favourite snacks and drinks. Plan beforehand and get them involved with baking cookies, muffins and cupcakes. (Recipe ideas for whole wheat sugar cookies, ice pops and whole wheat banana cupcakes here). Add additional finger food like sandwiches and fresh fruit to round up the spread.
Drink options include hot cocoa, where you mix one cup of milk, one tablespoon of honey, and two tablespoons of 100 per cent cocoa together in a pot on a stove until dissolved. It’s also possible to do this using a microwave. Other options include infusing water with some fruits, no-added sugar Milo, or toddler-friendly smoothies (with hidden vegetables).
Once everything has been prepared, lay them out on your coffee table, decorate with a pretty tablecloth, and spend a glorious afternoon having a tea party.
Pillow fort, indoor picnic, and camping
Other super fun activities include creating a cosy pillow fort with lots of pillows and cushions. Set the atmosphere with your child’s favourite stuffed toys, blankets, and some torches or electric candles. Spend the time reading books, playing simple card games (depending on your kids’ age), or just making up activities to embark on.
With the same foundation of pillows, cushions, and blankets, transform the pillow fort into a nice indoor picnic setting or a cosy tent for sleeping under. You could even bring your mattress into the living room so everyone can camp under the tent in comfort. Otherwise, get a real teepee ($199) for your children to hide in.
Get Creative, Paint, And Make Crafts
Colouring and painting kits
Keep your toddler busy with loads of colouring pages from Crayola. Pair this with a range of crayons and let your child go to town colouring in all the pages in myriad colours. Another option is to let him paint on the Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow travel activity books ($8.90 and up). Simply fill up the water pen and let your children fill the pages with colour. Once the page dries, they can start all over again.
Otherwise, let your kids use your walls as your canvas. Of course, we suggest using washable markers like these from BusyMat, which can easily be wiped off. Sidenote: BusyMat also makes reusable silicone activity mats to keep your child endlessly occupied. Otherwise, get your child a large whiteboard and let her draw all over it. Better than your walls, right?
With the Melissa & Doug Design Your Own kits, your girls can spend a lovely afternoon creating bangles, bracelets, and headbands ($8.90 each). Bedazzle these accessories with sparkly gems and glitter stickers to make these uniquely theirs. Great for girls four and up.
Another great activity is the Tiger Tribe Transfer Magic series ($12.80), where kids can decorate robots, a dance concert, car and unicorn. Kids three and up just need to take the transfer sheet, and after removing the backing sheet, transfer it to the background card. Do this by positioning the image on the card and rub it with the pencil. After your kids are done, you can stack them back in the storage box. Otherwise, kids can turn themselves into princesses – or princes – by creating their very own crowns with the Tiger Tribe Paper Crowns – Princess Gem ($23.80) kit.
Create Shapes With Dough
For some sensory exploration, make play dough (recipe here) and let your children create different shapes or just feel the texture of the dough. Show them how to play and knead the dough to make other items. If you have shape cutters, let your kids create “cookie” shapes with this dough, decorate with buttons and let them get creative!
Another alternative is Green Toys’ Dough ($19.90 and up) made in a food safe facility in the USA with organic flour.
Create musical instruments using basic items around the house like rubber bands over a tissue box for a “guitar” and an empty container for a drum. This site has more ideas on how to make musical instruments. Armed with these new musical instruments, let your little ones showcase their musical talents and have them perform a song and dance number.