So you find yourself at home with your kids with several weeks or months ahead of you. Now what?! Don't panic, I'm here to help. From one homeschooling mama to a newfound homeschooling mom or dad, I've got you covered! There is lots to do to keep those little minds busy!
First of all, I see a lot of people asking for help with what to do with their littles and a lot of responses using websites, youtube, etc. We don't have any suggestions regarding anything online because we tend to keep the kids off the computer and TV. No judgement if you need it to keep your sanity though, by all means please keep your sanity. But here are some ideas which are technology free and corona virus free. I really hope this time together is enjoyable rather than stressful. Finding a balance of doing things together as a family and making opportunities for the kids to be kept busy so you can slip in a coffee break is essential. The kids need busy activities and you need a break!
The following list is best for any age but you may find it geared more to the early years to primary years as that's the ages we're with at home. I've divided the list into two parts. The first section is ideas to do together that you facilitate. And the second section is ideas where you get a hopefully you get a break and the kids are preoccupied. The list doesn't require you to rush out and go shopping for this toy or that gadget. It's simple, whatever you have on hand stuff and you can get creative using what you have already.
Together is Better:
-Baking- Learn to bake new and exciting things together. Try our gluten free vegan scones recipe :)
-Too hot to bake? Try making some raw vegan treats such as raw vegan truffles...just whizz up dried fruits and nuts you have in your cupboard. For example you could blend up dates (around 2 cups) and raw cacao or carob powder (around 3 TBSP) and let your kids roll these into balls into whatever you have on hand ie. dried coconut flakes, ground up nuts, chopped up raisins and goji berries, flower petals. That's it ! Then ENJOY!
-Have a spa day. Light candles, fill the tub and burn some essential oils to purify the air. Use epsom salts for a lovely detoxing bath to keep healthy and strong. Use just a drop or two of essential oil in the bath for littles, lavender is a nice calming choice. (If your children are old enough to be unsupervised in the bath then this is a nice opportunity to take a break, or at least sip your tea next to them while you soak your feet in a foot bath!)
-Crank some music and let your kids free style. You can take turns operating the pause button and play musical statues.
-Hide and Seek. This is classic but timeless.
-Go get fresh air away from other people if avoiding due to Corona...
-Go swimming in nature - the sea, a waterfall, a fresh water lake.
-Let your children practice their letter formation. Pour flour on a surface and let them use their fingers to write letters. You may need to guide them in how to make the letter.
-Plant some seeds! Becoming more self sufficient is so important in the times ahead. If you don't have any seed packets, don't worry. Use your seeds from your papaya or whatever fruits and veg you have on hand and experiment, see what grows.
-Teach your child how to expand on their drawing skills by working together to do self-portraits.
-Salt dough - 2 cups flour, 1 cup water, 1 cup salt. Knead and presto! We use cookie cutters to cut out shapes and press in tiny pieces of beach glass we have on hand to make pretty decorations for the house.
-Support your children to learn life skills. Yes you need to do the dishes, and the laundry and the sweeping, etc whilst you're off home and this is okay to include your child in these daily tasks- PLUS THEY LOVE being part of it all. Let them wash their own plates and cups. Let them sweep up while you sweep, or let them hold the dust pan and you sweep into the dust pan. Let them wash windows, wipe surfaces ( without cleaning products on them!). Let them sort the laundry. Teach them to fold laundry.
-Read to your child. This is the most important thing to do. Make dens to read in or lay in the hammock together reading.
-Teach your child some yoga poses and do them together. Try partner yoga. Role modelling self care through meditation or yoga or any activity you enjoy doing to maintain your health and overall well being is excellent, let them see you doing these things and they too will follow.
-Backyard bird watching. Teach children about the birds visiting their own backyard.
-Observe any mini beasts you find in the garden. Identify them and let the children draw pictures of them. We rescued a fallen gecko last week and the children loved drawing him over and over again with finer detail each time.
-Take your children where they can climb trees, and scramble around on small boulders.
-Get gloves on and go for a beach or forest clean, picking up garbage. It's a great way to teach your child about caring for our planet.
-Make shakers, just use recyclables such as plastic bottles or glass jars and fill with various items such as rocks, dried lentils, pasta etc and teach your children about going shaking in time with the music.
-Act out favourite scenes from stories or have your child retell a story to you.
-Play hot or cold and hide objects for each other to find, using the words hot, warm, cold, colder to let your child know if they're getting closer or not.
-Let your child use a safe non sharp knife to practice their kitchen skills, for example buttering toast, cutting banana slices.
-Practice counting, count steps, count stairs, count items, and use counting songs with your children.Instead of making them learn rote counting, teach them numbers through everyday life examples. You could ask “Can you give me 3 spoons from that jar?”
-Paper and scissors for scissor skills. Draw a straight line or zig zag lines to support your child's skills in cutting.
-Teach your child how to measure starting with using hands or feet.
-Sing songs together or if you just can't bring yourself to, use Raffi. He's the best.
-Give each other foot massages or head massages.
-Sit and play with fluffy toys...I know, it can be tough for some of us to play in this way. But whenever I ask my daughter what she wants to do, she loves simply this. Acting out various scenarios with the fluffy toys. This is still important play as it is a way to teach children about feelings, emotions, problem solving, and so much more.
-Teach your children to water the plants/garden.
-Take the time to teach your child proper self care. With the corona virus it is especially important to show your child proper hand washing ( washing hands with soapy water for 20 seconds - you can sing happy birthday for the equal amount of time). You can also teach proper tooth brushing, hair brushing, dressing etc.
-Have your children help with meal preparation. Let them look through cook books and choose meals which appeal to them based on pictures and find ways they can be part of preparing the meal.
-Once the child is familiar with understanding large and small, you can progress to serialization, where he can order objects from smallest to largest or vice versa. You can do this with specific puzzles or by using his regular toys like cars or teddy bears.
-Help your children assemble a fort and presto - let the fun begin. Give them some battery run candles and show them how to make shadow puppets or give them a few puzzles OR books to use in the fort.
-Obstacle course race...throw cushions and blankets on the floor and let your kids create an obstacle course.
-Old pots, spoons, bowls, and ladles can be used along with rocks, shells, seeds, leaves etc for imaginary cooking. This can also be done with water play if you have an area which is okay to get wet.
-Home made play dough ~ Flour, water, salt and oil. Simple. 1-cup salt 4 cups flour 1 ½ cups water 4tbs. oil Mix flour and salt. Add water and oil slowly to the dry ingredients, stirring with a spoon until well blended. Knead dough until soft and pliable.You can add colour from household things like boiled beet root water or boiled spinach water.
-Sensory bins-sand boxes, and mud boxes are a lot of fun for little ones. You can add mini cars you have for a mud car race.
-You can use smaller tubs to fill with things like sea shells, leaves, herbs, grasses, pebbles, rice etc and let children be stimulated by their 5 senses with these objects. Adding in measuring ware, bowls and mixing spoons is useful too. You can also add in their mini dinosaurs or any mini toys for them to uncover.
-Taste sensory bins, for example using whipped cream is a taste safe version of the above idea.
-Recyclables - cardboard boxes, cans, plastic tubs, anything recyclable can be used to build forts with, to imagine "cooking" to paint and re-use. Allow your kids to get creative.
-Role play, imaginary play using old clothes or accessories you have laying around. Maybe you have an old work uniform, or big heavy boots that your child can use to create a role play.
-Painting, collaging, drawing. Just get all your art supplies out and let your children choose what they want to make.
-Finger painting (Make sure you have a bowl of water ready with a towel to let them wash off their hands ).
-Make pet rocks. Googley eyes are always extra cute on these.
-Paint with frozen paint cubes - This can be fun for those of you in hot climates!
-Chalk drawing either on paper or outside if weather allows.
-We always have coconuts on hand as we are based in the Seychelles...Get a large sheet of paper and dip coconuts in paint. Let the kids roll the coconuts across the paper for a unique big art work!
-Put out puzzles, building blocks, children's construction materials out for some quiet work.
-Gather leaves and flowers to make leaf faces. You can have them use glue to glue down the leaves on paper.
-Have them collect items when out walking ( leaves, flowers, rocks, seeds, shells etc) and have them match the items that belong together.
-OR have a list of things you want the children to find for example, 3 orange flowers, two gray rocks, 1 pine cone ...and have them go on a scavenger hunt while you're out for a walk.
-Put on different genres of music and let your child move to the music.
-Pasta necklaces...let your child paint penne and then string it on a string.
-Stamping cut out veggies (potatoes work very well) in paint
-Paint leaves and press the leaves on paper for a beautiful nature print.
-Make safe paints for your kids using a flour paste...Take around 1TBSP of flour, 2 TBSP of Tapioca flour, and enough water to make a thick paint consistency...then add colours to separate amounts of the paste from boiled beetroot, turmeric powder, activated charcoal, brewed coffee etc so you have different colours and let your kids paint their bodies. We did this at home to celebrate Holi, which is a Hindu festival which is celebrated here.
-Salad spinner art. Use a salad spinner, put the paint in salad spinner with a piece of paper and let them create.
-Let children paint using q-tips, or toothpicks to use their fine motor skills.
-Encourage sorting using tweezers of picking up and sorting small beads, pasta, pebbles etc.
-Use shaving foam to let your child practice writing their letters or numbers in it.
-Make cards for people you love and mail them.
-Fill empty glass or plastic bottles with liquid of various heights from nearly full, to nearly empty ~ thus creating a water xylophone.
-Opening and closing different containers (matching and fitting the lids to their respective / correct containers). My two year old loves this!
-Fill up a plastic tub with water and soap. Let the kids clean their own belongings, like their treasured shell collection or action figures. It gives them a sense of ownership and is also a valuable lesson on taking care of your things.
-Give your child a bowl of water and paintbrush and let them "paint" their doll's house.
-A colander is a great tool for practicing fine motor skills! Give kids pipe cleaners to bend and twist into the colander’s holes.
-DO NOTHING. Sometimes it is important to just allow your children to free style and do their own thing. My 4 year old now craves this time and says she wants to be alone to just play! You want this, as this allows for you each to have space and time to connect with your own self. It's healthy.
I hope you can use these practical activities and joy in your shared time together. You've got this moms and dads!