So the schools are closed for the forseeable future, and for the next two weeks at least, some of us are finding that we are to be parents, home-workers and home-educators. Schools will be sending work home for the children to do, and there are websites where they can also continue their education. But the days can be very long when you’re cooped up at home without company. These ideas from The Motherload® Facebook Group might just help:
1. Make a junk mail collage!
Cut up the junk mail, and give it to your child with a glue stick and some paper. Make something beautiful. Or something for the recycling – it’s okay, either way.
2. Set up a toy hair salon.
Gather up any dolls or My Little Ponies and give them a bath in the washing up bowl. Treat them to a new hair style! If you don’t have dolls or MLPs your washing up bowl could be a car wash instead – grab an old toothbrush and you’re sorted.
3. Bake some bread.
Let’s face it, the shops are not exactly filled to the rafters at the moment. This easy recipe for soda bread from Jack Monroe is quick and fun to make (my kids like giving the dough a therapeutic slap), you can talk about the mathematics involved as you weigh ingredients and the science of them coming together to make dough, then bread. Plus it tastes amazing with a bowl of soup or beans.
4. Take a nature explorers walk in the garden.
As long as you and your family are symptom-free and not taken to hugging random passers-by you can go for a walk outdoors. When you’re out and about, see who can spot different things like flowers, berries, trees; it’s a great way to notice nature and connect to the world around you.
5. Get out all the playdough.
Get the whole lot out. Sod it if they mix up the colours. Every cutter, shape, plate and mould you have. Make a playdough banquet! Make crazy playdough scenes! Scatter it all over the floor! It’ll sweep up. Promise.
6. Author of the day!
Group your children’s favourite books by author or illustrator, or you could have a theme such as animals, and try to read as many of them as possible that day. New day, new author.
7. Build a den.
Indoors or outdoors, get your clothes airer or a table, some blankets and cushions, and make the best den you can. Then hibernate in it.
8. Grow a plant!
Take a clipping, or plant some seeds in empty yoghurt pots or toilet roll tubes. Pop it on a windowsill, water, and watch it grow.
You can do this through the window, in the garden or in the park (if you’re safe to go out) . Take a notebook and a pencil, work out which kind of bird it is, look it up in a book or online, draw a picture of what you saw!
10. Make bird food.
If you don’t have many birds in the garden, attract them with some food. Use leftover fat from cooking and add seeds to make a fat ball, put a loop of string in it so you can hang it from a branch when it’s set. Lucy suggests threading raisins and Cheerios onto a pipe cleaner too.
11. Make a picture for someone you miss
Lots of children will be missing their grandparents while we are all social distancing and self-isolating. Make a picture or write a note and pop it in the post, or send a photo of it via WhatsApp.
12. Do a scientific experiment
There are so many dead easy, no prep science experiments you can do. Pop raisins in lemonade and watch them go up and down. Add water to cornflour and watch how it runs like liquid from a spoon but is hard to the touch when you poke it! Or you can even make your own volcano.
13. Junk modelling
The recycling bin is your friend. Lids, boxes, tubes can become robots, dolls houses, rockets.
14. Colour collecting.
Each child picks a colour and finds everything in the house which is their colour. Then they have to put it all back again!
15. Switch the telly on.
Yes. The kids will probably be watching quite a lot of telly. Don’t feel guilty about it. But you can off-set some of the guilt by encouraging them to watch CBBC or CBeebies which are both packed with educational programmes which are still entertaining. Also try watching the channels rather than streaming favourite programmes on iPlayer seeing the presenters in between the programmes can help them feel more connected. Both channels also have great games and apps which you can access via the links above. It’s also worth thinking about factual programmes; a David Attenborough documentary is as good as a geography lesson, or find some videos about the moon landings.
16. Do some yoga
Cosmic Kids on YouTube is amazing. Whether you child is a fan of Trolls or Minecraft, there is a story-based yoga adventure to suit. I challenge you to join in!
17. Make your own board game!
My son invented one called Swamp Dodger, which he won. And another called Treasure Map Bingo, which he didn’t. He also likes drawing out his own snakes and ladders. If your children don’t have the inclination to make your own, dust off any board games you have already and play them all.
18. Have a pamper day.
Take a bath, lie down with cucumber slices on your eyes, paint your nails (note: boys like this too) And relaaaaaaax. Sort of.
19. Have a kitchen disco!
Music and dancing get us moving and make us feel good. We have a couple of cheap plug in disco lights from Amazon and a playlist on Spotify. The kids LOVE busting their moves and you can play dancing games like musical statues or follow the leader. Get some more ideas here.
20. Make cakes
You could do something easy which doesn’t require cooking, such as rocky road (recipe here – you can improvise on ingredients) or good old rice krispie cakes. Or there are some super straight forward recipes for biscuits and cakes here.
21. Messy play in the bath.
Put shaving foam in the bath and hide toys in it. It doesn’t matter if the kids get messy, just shower it off.
22. Get ALL the jigsaw puzzles out.
Be honest, when was the last time you did a jigsaw puzzle? Get out that tricky one you’ve been putting off and do it together, then let them do the easy ones themselves while you crack on with other stuff.
23. Give the kids some household jobs
Life skills. Important stuff. Whether it’s making their own bed, putting a bit of laundry away, cleaning the windows, or doing the hoovering, even young children can help. You might even be able to persuade them it’s fun. My two LOVE cleaning windows. Weirdos.
24. Painting stones
Get some nice smooth stones from outside, big enough to paint but small enough for little hands to manage. Give them a clean and paint your design on.
25. Play garden games
Even if you only have a small space get out there, kick a ball, chalk on the pavement, “paint” the fence with water, dig in the dirt. We all need a bit of fresh air!
We really hope these ideas help, we’ve tried to make suggestions for activities which don’t cost much and don’t put any pressure on you to be super-mum. More than ever, we are all winging it. These are activities which you can do around the free-play, the movie time, iPad time which all our kids are going to have. Because, let’s be honest, in these turbulent times, they need some down-time, some escapism and some relaxation just as much as we do. If your child is struggling emotionally, there are lots of resources out there to help you help them, but you might find our emoji mood board helps open conversations about feelings and give your child some practical ways to cope with their emotions.
If you’re not a member of The Motherload®, come and join us here!