We want our children to thrive during this time of staying home, but we need to work and keep them busy while helping them learn. Try these ideas for fun with your younger children and continue them afterwards for family bonding.
Send Hugs to Stay Connected
Children miss their friends and extended family while homebound, so let them make and send paper hugs. Youngsters can draw a person with outstretched arms, color in the face or print out a picture of their own face and paste that onto the head. Color clothes onto the body or glue on cutouts from gift wrap or scrapbook paper. Add stickers to decorate the clothes. Then make a tube from card stock and glue that onto the back of the arms. Slide fingers into the tubes and bend the arms to form hugs. If they are small enough, they can be mailed to friends. You can do more with this idea and your imagination. For example:
- Send a bear hug by cutting out a bear shape with the front paws stretched out.
- Cut out paper doll clothes to dress the paper figure. Draw tops, pants, dresses and hats. Draw the tabs to fold over to keep the paper clothes on the figure. Cut a slit to slide a hat on the head.
- Make a paper hug family to send hugs from the whole family, especially if a grandparent or other family member is alone.
Obstacle Course with Extra Elements
Kids always love to climb over and squeeze under objects. Build a course for your child or let siblings take turns building them for one another. Lie a wooden beam on the floor, like a balance beam, to walk across—maybe call it walking the plank. Include directions to go with objects as needed, such as bounce the ball four times, run around tree twice, or toss the object into the basket. Hang some inflated balloons to tap. There’s no limit to what can become part of the course.
- Encourage children to time one another in the course to see if they each get faster with practice. Can they figure out how much they improved?
- Add balance exercises with spoons and peanuts or eggs to carry a short distance.
- Show children some obstacle courses online to give them ideas.
- Talk about how we need to train ourselves for physical challenges and do our best.
Feathers and bubbles are light and fun. If you don’t have any feathers, help your child cut some out of paper or fabric. All kids love to blow and catch bubbles. Watch how they float until they pop. Let a child think of a challenge from their day and blow a bubble, encourage them to think of the problem just floating away and disappearing as it pops.
Discuss some bubble facts.
- In space there are no bubbles because there’s no outside (exterior pressure) to act against inside pressure.
- The colors you see in bubbles happen due to reflection; as light passes through the bubble, the soap in the bubble distorts the light.
- You can freeze bubbles if the temperature is below 32 degrees.
- You breathe out to blow a bubble and that helps relieve stress.
Blow a feather across a table or the floor and see how fast you can get it to move. Practice sword fighting with a feather. Hold onto feathers and wave arms up and down to pretend to be birds soaring in the sky. Drop a ball and feather from the same height and see what one touches the ground first. The feather is light, but it has more air resistance.
Dip a feather in oil. It makes the feather heavy and thick. When that happens to a bird, it becomes hard to fly or float. It also causes birds to lose the protection the feathers provide, and they can lose body heat and die. Try cleaning off the oil with water and then dish detergent. For older siblings, chat about how after oil spills people clean birds to help them survive.
Create a Dream Board or Collage to Build Hope
Let children build hope of returning to a more familiar life by creating a dream board of what he or she wants to do when we can go out again and hug people. They can cut out or draw pictures and add descriptions of their hopes and dreams for the future. Add names and photos of friends, favorite places to go, and activities away from home that they enjoy.
Find a backdrop to use such as a bulletin board, poster or large paper. If you are short on supplies, cut open several paper grocery bags and tape or glue them together. Section off areas to organize ideas, such as places to go, friends to see and activities to do. Add a top 10 list of most desired activities. Add a spot for ways to help people. Then post the lists so that your kids can keep adding to them.
Discuss how certain events leave a lasting impression that everyone their age will always remember and talk about. Encourage your child to write how this might make a difference for his or her life. Getting through those times strengthens us to trust we’ll get through other hard times.
Online Friend Play
Set up a play date for kids on Google hangouts, Zoom, or other options. Plan what to do ahead of time—maybe charades or checkers or another game they all own that they can play “together.” Other fun to try online:
- One person can put on music and everyone can dance. Take a few screen shots to capture the memories.
- Exercise together with stretches, running in place, jumping jacks, lifting weights (use water bottles as 1-pound weights) and other movements where you stay in front of the camera. Take turns leading an exercise.
- Have online family time with relatives. Catch up on how each family has coped with being at home and share fun activities you’ve been doing. Snap a photo. Play a game together.
- Discover more about each friend. Have each person answer the same questions: what is your favorite — color, flavor of ice cream, games, and books.
- Classmates can do schoolwork together, or older children can tutor younger kids.
Combining fun with activities that help children relax, connect them with friends and loved ones, build their resilience and also educate them makes the best type of edutainment!
This article was originally published in https://www.crosswalk.com/family/parenting/fun-activities-to-keep-kids-busy-during-quarantine.html