The current situation looks like it could last for many days and parents may start to run out of ideas as to what you can do at home with the children. It is undoubtedly a challenging and stressful time for everyone. In Australia, children are now at home for 3 weeks at least.
You are not alone, many around the globe are in this situation!
Preparing for a Garage Sale – Declutter and reorganise a few things in the house, ask the kids to help give away unwanted items and put these away for a garage sale. Although the event would not be able to take place now, at least all the preparation would be done when you can do got to a donation shop or organise a garage sale. There can be lots of learning in budgeting, pricing and preparing marketing materials. You can also set the children some tasks such as researching a recipe for cookies or lemonade to sell on the day.
Making a Treasure Box – You can use an old container or a recycled boxed decorate it, and then ask the children to put their precious items in the box. It could be photos of loved ones, a stone they painted, a ribbon from on old dress, some jewellery or their favourite car or train, etc.
Creating a Photo-Memory Book or a Calendar – Lots of photos are now being kept online. Doing a photo album can be a great way to keep children busy and interested in their developmental and family history. Story telling can also take place as a result which promotes language development, a sense of belonging and connections. In a similar line, designing a calendar online can be a great way to keep children busy. My daughter and I designed counselling cards using Canva and she really enjoyed being creative and spending time with me.
Gardening/Growing Plants and Vegetables – It is an interesting time where children may ask lots of questions about shops and food. My children have asked questions about how we will get our food in the future if supermarkets’ shelves become all empty. My first reaction was, we will grow some, like what our grandparents did. They were quite satisfied with the answer and this is definitely on the cards for a family project. There are lots of videos online with tips about growing fruits and vegetables from their seeds so you can avoid the shops. You can also use lots of old or recycled containers to pot your plants. Children love to see the fruit of their labour and see plants grow.
Preparing a Picnic in the Garden or a Room in the House – Children love preparing picnic. On rainy or snowy days, we used to put a blanket on the floor in the living and prepare a picnic. It changes the routine of sitting at the table and makes it fun. Ask the children to prepare food with you. When you finish your meal, you can tell stories, read a book, play a game or watch something together. You can even set up a tent in the garden if you feel a little more brave and the weather permits.
Preparing a Talent Show – Children love performing. They have the full attention of their parents. The preparation stage is the most important as they can spend a while in researching their act, learning a song, a dance, a sketch, a joke, a science experiment. You can even connect with other families and have a live performance on FaceTime, Skype or Zoom.
Rocking, Swinging and Sensory Activities – I found myself sitting on my rocking chair this week with my son (7) on my lap. It reminded me how the rocking motion can be very relaxing as it repetitive and calming. My son also commented on this and we had a lovely moment together. Activities that are relating to our senses are also important to ground us and calm us, such as swinging, rocking, deep pressure, taste, touch, smell. Playdough, slime, sleeping bags, heavy blankets or even hanging a hammock in the house or garden can all help with sensory activities. You can set up different activities during the day to help the children be in touch with their senses. For example, setting up a treasure basket with nature objects, different fabrics, household objects can also encourage discovery, language and connection. Another activity could be going around the garden blindfolded touching the different trees and describing how it feels. Here are some ideas for messy play. https://www.playatthemessyshed.com.au/?fbclid=IwAR0ZdLUxpTh2ZuDUT_pdHqqV6m3GLvwplgnh9PSePNFuhHX3FKEF79Y_qoY
Building a Box Fort – Making box fort is also a great activity helping to ground children as they can feel safe and enclosed in their box fort. It also promotes construction, visual-spatial skills when doing the design and the construction. At the end, you can also let the children decorate the box fort with stickers or drawings, and put cushions, lights, blankets in it, etc. Lots of fun to be had in a box fort.
Music, Dancing, Singing and Playing an Instrument – Lots of fun to be had with a family disco, push the table and chairs aside, or the sofas and just dance, listen to music, have fun together. Spend time together making a family playlist ready for your disco. Learn he lyrics of a song together or individually and then present to the family. Learn to play an instrument, develop your skills playing your instrument. If you don’t have instruments at home, why not think about making some instruments with recycled containers or cardboard.
Lots of activities to do…and whilst I am writing this, I came up with a few more. Watch this space, more to come.
Pascale is an educational and child psychologist (UK)/educational and developmental psychologist (AU) working in private practice, a university clinic and supporting professionals online via individual, group, webinars and training.
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