With COVID-19 spreading like wildfire around the Philippines, I’ve been getting a lot of requests from fellow parents to share how we’re keeping the kids busy now that school’s out (sooner than we expected).
Before I share with you some ideas, please don’t pressure yourself too much about giving your kids activities, ha? I noticed that parents these days go extra when it comes to finding activities for their kids to do. Folks, let’s not overbook them (and stress ourselves out just to keep up). Sometimes, boredom is good because it forces your kids to use their creativity. Allow them to use their imagination; let them explore and discover things on their own (in a safe environment, of course).
Now that’s said, let’s move on to my list of activities that kids will surely enjoy. This is how we’re making the community quarantine (without gadgets) bearable for the whole family.
Mind-stimulating Activities For Kids: Mind Games
- Puzzle-solving and puzzle making. You can use puzzle games that you already have, or you can make your own interesting puzzles by printing your child’s favorite pictures, gluing them onto some spare cardboard and cutting them. The more complex the puzzle, the longer they’ll be engaged with them. TIP: Make things even more challenging by timing your child to see how fast they can solve it.
- Engineering and Building Challenges. If you have some popsicle sticks, clothespins and binder clips lying around the house, then you have the perfect materials to have your child build all sorts of structures. They’re inexpensive and easy to find and have just as many fun possibilities as playing with blocks and Lego bricks.
- Board Games and Board Game Making. Being cooped up in the house all day is the perfect time to bring out your family-favorite board games. If you don’t have any, you can always recreate them using cardboard, colored paper, bottle caps, coins, and dice. TIP: Try coming up with a whole new board game with your child. You can come up with your own twist to your personalized game.
- Card Games. You can play basic card games with your children like “Go Fish” to help them with number identification or use a whole deck and stack it up into a pyramid to test their fine motor skills and patience.
- Marble Maze. Take a cardboard box and glue some cut-up straws to the bottom to create a maze for a small ball or marble to roll through. You can make more of these easily and increase the difficulty level every time one maze is completed.
- Mystery Box. Find an empty shoebox and cut a hole in the lid just big enough for your child’s hand to fit through but not enough to see what’s inside. You can be creative with what you put inside the box for them to guess what it is.
Creative Activities For Kids: Arts And Crafts
- Collage Making. Give your child some old magazines, newspapers and a pair of safe scissors and have them cut out pictures to glue them together into a collage. It helps them practice their fine motor skills and lets them create interesting artwork using everyday materials.
- Fruit/Vegetable Stamping. If you have fruits and vegetables that you’re about to throw out or are not likely to eat, cut them up in halves to be dipped in paint and used as stamps.
- Portrait Painting. Let your child create a self-portrait or a portrait of anyone in the family. Hang their masterpieces on a wall or stick them to the refrigerator door!
- Finger and/or foot painting. No paintbrush? No problem! Children young and old can make all sorts of images using their hands and feet. It’s more fun when things get a little messy.
- Coloring books. For those who would like to avoid the mess, you can always bring out the coloring books and crayons. Even adults use it to relax and pass the time! TIP: You can print coloring sheets and coloring-by-numbers sheets from the internet.
- Origami. Look for simple origami figures that you can easily teach your child. You can make origami flowers, animals, boxes, accessories and more – and make them part of your playtime.
- Instrument Making. Take your empty cans and place some seeds, beads or grains of rice inside. Cover them with the lid and you have shakers! You can also make drums by adding chopsticks for them to play with.
- Clay Sculpting. Have your child sculpt their favorite cartoon characters or something from their imagination. You can use Play-Doh or any clay you may find in bookstores. TIP: If your child is keen on preserving their work, why not invest in air-dry clay? Your child can keep their works of art and display them at home.
- Leaf Art. If you have a garden, collect some fallen leaves and place them underneath a sheet of paper. Let your child shade the top of the paper gently with crayons to reveal the patterns of the leaves. You can also lightly dip the leaves in paint to create leaf stamps.
- Marble and Straw Painting. Place a sheet of paper into a shallow box or a shoebox lid and squeeze out different colored paint in random spaces. Place a marble on the paper and let your child hold the box to tilt the marble in different directions to create colorful streaks. You can also have your child blow the paint through a straw to create sprays of color.
Indoor Activities For Kids: Competitive Games
- Plane Toss. Take a large piece of cardboard and cut out holes in them big enough for a paper plane to go through. For each hole, label them with any particular number of points. The goal is to see whose paper plane gets the most points in each round.
- Balloon Ping Pong. All you need is a balloon and a pair of makeshift paddles using popsicle sticks and paper plates and you’re all set to play Balloon Ping Pong!
- Bowling using recycled materials. Take your empty and clean plastic bottles and paint them to create imitation bowling pins. Set up your bowling alley in a spacious room and your child can play until they get a strike. TIP: Fill the bottles with beads, rice grains or seeds to add some weight to them and give a bit more of a challenge.
- Bottle Cap Relay. All you need is a clear long table or floor space and two bottle caps to play this game. Whoever flicks their bottle cap farthest without sending it flying wins!
- Charades. Nothing beats classic charades because it’s one of those games that the whole family can enjoy. All you need are small sheets of paper with almost anything written down on them to be acted out.
- “Pinoy Henyo” Style Guessing Game. Separate the family into teams. Stick words on the front of a cap for one person to wear. The person wearing the cap has to guess what the word is by asking their partner ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions.
Exploratory Learning Opportunities: Simulation Games
- Treasure Hunt. If you’re feeling extra, create a treasure map or a set of clues for your child to follow throughout the house. Depending on the age, you can create riddles for them to solve so that it’s more challenging.
- Bring stories to life (act it out). If your children are into role-playing, have them act out their favorite stories. You can even help them look the part by making some costumes out of clothes that you already have around the house.
- Bring stories to life (simulation). This is almost the same as the activity above but it focuses more on recreating tasks and activities found in storybooks like cooking or baking a specific meal or pastry, hunting and potion-making. It is up to you and your creativity to help make it feel real.
- Gardening. Teach your child the joy and responsibility of gardening. You can have them start with something as simple as Monggo seeds and tomato seeds, or you can start them out with some seedlings that are already established. Teach them how to water them regularly and let them have enough sunlight until they see flowers and new growth!
- Movie Time. Create a movie schedule with your children throughout the week and make it more enjoyable by bringing out snacks and watching with the lights turned off.
Activities That Help Strengthen Life Skills: Baking and Cooking
Let your child help around the house by “assigning” them dishes to help out with throughout the week. This might spark a love for baking and cooking – and children tend to eat the food they help make, too!
Fun Activities For Kids: Hide And Seek
Play a classic game of hide and seek with your little one. Nothing beats the thrill of waiting to be found.
Floor Time Activities: Toys, Toys, Toys!
With school out, it’s the best time to let your child play with their toys. Certain toys unlock some real imaginative play that will keep your child engaged. In our case, we have LEGO blocks, wooden blocks, and cars readily available for our kids to play with.
Activities That Develop Reading Skills: D.E.A.R. Time
DEAR stands for ‘Drop Everything And Read’. Have your child read at least an hour a day to keep their brain active. Help make reading enjoyable for them by getting them the books with topics and stories that interest them the most. You can even set up a cozy reading corner for them to get into the mood.
In addition to D.E.A.R. time, we also have a spelling bee after where the kids get to spell out words they’ve seen in the books they read. I don’t know why but they just love it when we take the whiteboard out and have them spell out words.
Bonus: Chore Chart
Another great way to get your child busy is to have them do their own set of chores. With them at home, they also have to help keep the fort neat and organized. You can find a list of age-appropriate chores here.
How are you keeping your little ones busy?
Share your ideas in the comments section below!
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