Are you running out of activities? Are you and your kids going stir-crazy? I thought I would share what my family and I have been doing during the past few weeks. I hope it helps you with some ideas to fight the boredom and engage your kids. To clarify, we have not officially begun any distance learning with the schools yet. The schools did send over packets of things for my kids to do that include: Color by Number Math, Weekly Readers, and Sentence Practice sheets etc. Since our schools will be closed for the duration of the school year, we are expecting more structured learning to begin soon. Last week I did not stress about school work, because technically it was supposed to be their spring break. So, in no particular order, here are some things we have done so far:
1) Reading. My kids both love to read, so they usually read books every day without prompting. My almost 8-year-old daughter loves me to read her Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books out loud. I finished a real quick-read chapter book, Bunnicula right before the stay-at-home order. She loved it. My 5-year-old son has really come along on his reading. We alternate reading from a stack of books. The library here is closed, and we had books checked out. The library won’t hold us to any fees, so the kids are excited to keep the books for longer than 3 weeks.
Chalk-Your-Walk: We took a walk around our neighborhood and drew random hop-scotch boards, scriptures, and messages to spread positivity.
Cooking: I taught my kids how to measure out the ingredients to make Jell-O and pudding. It was quick and easy and it helped them learn about exact measurements and to practice stirring ingredients at a reasonable pace. We also made chocolate chip cookies. They have helped me before, but I gave them more freedom to follow each step. The kids enjoyed having more responsibility and the cookies turned out delicious!
Science: Together as a family, we made a paper-maché volcano together that really erupted and a very easy DIY lava lamp. The links for the volcano and the lava lamp are below. My daughter is really interested in the stars and the planets, so she started asking about the solar system. I was surprised that she, along with my husband and other family members never heard the acronym that I learned in school. Mercury (My) Venus (Very) Earth (Educated) Mars (Mother) Jupiter (Just) Saturn (Served) Uranus (Us) Neptune (Nine) Pluto (Pizza Pies). We sang it to the tune of Swany River. When we have a clear night sky, we will teach her more about constellations. If you are able to, pitch a tent in your backyard and have a campout under the stars.
Card Games & Board Games: I taught my kids how to play Crazy 8’s and 7’s. They also enjoy “Go Fish”. Some of our family favorite games are Apples to Apples, Yahtzee, and Candyland. We have the Disney version of Apples to Apples also, which makes it easier for younger kiddos to play along. Play charades. Play playground games like, “Red Light, Green Light” “Hokey-Pokey” or “Mother, May I?” Have you played all of the games you have? Have the kids make a new one.
The Ha Ha Game: the first person says, “Ha.” Next person says “Ha ha” Next person says “Ha ha ha”. Go back and forth adding a “Ha” each time until someone cannot control their laughter.
Going on a Picnic Game: Everyone takes a turn choosing something to bring on a picnic, but it has to be in alphabetical order. For example, the first person could say “Apples”, the next person can say “bananas”, etc. And try to make it through the whole alphabet.
“What are you Doing?” Game: I learned this game in my high school theatre class and it is a hit with young ones. One person starts by acting out something, almost like charades. It doesn’t have to be anything specific, just some kind of movement. The next person comes up and asks. “What are you doing?” The actor then tells them something they are NOT doing. The more creative and silly they get the more fun the game is. For example, they can say, “I’m sizzling like bacon,” or “I am dancing the Can-Can.” Then the person who asked, has to act out what the person says they are doing.
Zoo Virtual Tours and Live Cameras: We watched live streams from the Cincinnati Zoo and Georgia Zoo and even discovered some educational videos where we got to see animals up close.
Geography: States and Capitals. We have a United States puzzle at home that includes all of the capitals underneath the pieces, and if your kids are the same age as mine, it is not too early. It was even a good refresher for me, so it could really be a great activity for any age. I quizzed my kids afterward and awarded them with Skittles to motivate them.
Bear Hunt: This is a popular trend going on in the US right now. Neighborhoods are placing teddy bears in their house windows, so families who are walking will find them on a “bear hunt”. I had each of my kids put as many stuffed bears as they wanted in their window. They got a kick out of it.
Car Scavenger Hunt: Go for a drive and make a checklist of things for your kids to look for. Items like traffic cones, people walking a dog, a motorcycle, etc.
Chores: If you’re like me, you may have a bad habit of having an “I’ll do it myself” attitude, or “fixing” what your kids already cleaned. It is a good idea to resist this, because the kids need to have the skills to do basic chores. I’ll admit I am not the kind of mom that makes sure beds are made with perfectly creased sheets, heck, I don’t even own an ironing board. If I did, it would probably be used as a motorway for my son’s Hot Wheels. So, yeah, chores are not a big priority, but I admit it is time to get my kids to start helping around the house more.
Letters: Let’s not let snail mail go extinct. Most mailboxes this month are filled with ads, tax information, and bills. Add some sparkle to someone’s trip to the mailbox and surprise them with a letter from you or your kids.
Virtual Social Calls: Do you have family or friends that you only see during the holidays? Don’t let the social distancing take over completely. Initiate video calls with old friends, cousins, whomever!
Nature Walk: There are fields of poppies at the base of our mountains. We drove out there and walked along a trail. It was good to have some fresh air and the kids and I thought it was just beautiful.
Get to Know Your Kids: If you don’t know all of your kids favorites, take the time to find out now. If you want to go a few steps further, turn questions into journal prompts to help with writing. For example, “What would you do with $100?” “If you could have a wild animal for a pet, what would it be?” The “Would You Rather Game” is a good way to get to know your kids also.
Music Education: I have mentioned in the past that my music taste is incredibly random, but being a mom I always end up turning on Disney songs and Baby Shark type songs to entertain my kids. If you are sick of those repetitive kids songs that stick in your head long after the kids are in bed, see if there is some different songs that your kids would like. See how they react to classical music. One particular day, I just needed something different. I realized there were so many music genres that my kids are not familiar with. I put on a playlist I made of 40s music. The kids enjoyed it and it even made up little dances to the swinging, big band sound. And, of course, have dance parties!
Art Etc: My mother was a First Grade teacher for many years. One of the favorite activities were “Squiggles”. You start by drawing a random squiggle or shape on a piece of drawing paper. Have the kids transform the shapes into a picture all their own and/or write a sentence/story about it.
Find rocks and paint them. There are a lots of free print-out coloring pages online also.
Self-Care: Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Take a bubble bath or paint your nails. Let your daughter paint them, no matter if she is 3 or 13. It is a wonderful bonding activity.
Finally, it is okay to let your kids get bored. Do NOT! I repeat, DO NOT try to entertain your kids 24/7. You’re going to exhaust yourself. Let them play on their own and their creativity will grow. Playtime has benefits, even if you don’t necessarily see any evidence of it. Don’t be afraid to initiate quiet time, even if you have a wide age range of kiddos. Quiet time is always a good idea. I don’t know about you all, but I am hoping to have at least another week left in me, before I go cuckoo. I know this is hard, and I am not pretending that I have all the answers. We will get through this. Praying you all have a wonderful April.