Though quarantine lock-downs are expiring, many schools are still online, and some childcare facilities are reopening or attempting to get back to a regular schedule.
In the meantime, parents are home with their children for more hours a day than before. To help them keep the little ones busy and learning, offer them some ideas for fun family activities to do at home. You can help their children stay focused on learning while giving everyone a break.
Here are some ideas you can pass along to parents or build on to provide a customized list for your clientele.
Who doesn’t love to play a game? Choose from games for every age and ability. Here are a few for your consideration.
Mad Libs or Charades
Mad Libs is a game of fill-in-the-blanks. Playing it reinforces parts of speech and exercises creativity with language as well. Children and parents wait on tenterhooks to find out the story because you don’t know it until the game is done..
Mad Libs is widely available at stores and online..
For an old-fashioned take on a similar guessing game, teach the kids how to play charades. The game employs movement, critical thinking, and imagination. It’s also a barrel of laughs once everyone gets into the spirit of things. Here are the rules.
For the uninitiated, Tangrams are plastic geometric shapes found in many classrooms and playrooms. The set should have at least seven isosceles triangles, one square, and one parallelogram. Have the children combine various shapes to form pictures and other shapes.
Find Tangram templates online, and reinforce some of those math skills that may be languishing in lock-down.
Heads, Bodies, Tails (aka The Exquisite Corpse)
Despite the macabre name, this classic parlor game is a fun way to spend a rainy day. It requires two or more players, a piece of paper, and at least one pencil.
The first player draws a hat, then folds the paper over to reveal only the brim. The next player draws a head under the brim (without looking at the first part of the picture) and folds the paper to show only the neck.
We’re sure you know where we’re going with this. Once the shoes are drawn, unfold the paper to discover the Exquisite Corpse everyone drew together. More versions of this game are out there.
Almost everyone has at least one board game hanging around the house. Also, you may have a computer-based version of one. Board games are excellent for learning how to take turns, work as a team, share, make decisions, solve problems, and be a good sport.
Board games are available for all ages. Some of these games can be played with individuals as young as five and as old as 95, making them the perfect family activity.
Forts - Blanket and Box
Everyone needs a fort to which they can retreat to read and eat graham crackers, right?
Blanket forts are easily constructed using blankets (of course) and chairs or tables. Drape the blankets then let the kids move in with their favorite books, tablet, and toys. Mom and Dad might want to use them, too, when adulting gets too demanding.
You can build a fort, playhouse, or even a car if you have access to large cardboard boxes. Find a pattern online, make your structure, and let the children paint it, color it, or just move in. Alternatively, you can build a mini-fort, house, or town in a shoebox for the kids to furnish and play with.
Jigsaw puzzles are another newly popular pastime. Find puzzles that match the children's abilities, but also get puzzles that are slightly more difficult to stretch their fine motor skills and visual perception.
If grandma and grandpa are the primary caregivers, jigsaw puzzles are a fun thing to share with the grandchildren while decreasing their risk of dementia and memory loss.
Parents can support their budding entrepreneurs by helping them put together a lemonade stand. It can be a folding table, crates, or anything else that can hold cold drinks. Kids learn about money, how to make change, and price products (for older business-minded children).
Exercise and Fresh Air
Go for a Color Walk or Treasure Hunt
Take everyone for a walk around the yard or neighborhood (observing social distancing and mask guidelines). Send the children on a hunt for all things red. Then have them collect blue items or say where they see them.
Work through all the colors. If the children are older, you can start teaching them basic botanical skills like recognizing different parts of a tree or plant.
Another idea - Mom or Dad hides a desirable "treasure" in the house or yard. Then they plant clues or provide a map for the children to follow to find the treasure. It’s a great way to learn elementary map-reading and problem-solving skills.
Plant a Garden
Whether you dig up the yard or use containers, planting a garden gets kids outside every day as they watch the plants grow. Container gardens work well if the soil in the yard is poor or the yard is tiny. If the child lives in an apartment, he or she can still plant a few things in a sunny room.
Host a Star Party
Let everyone stay up late on the next clear night. Then sit outside and look at the stars and moon. For better stargazing, go out at the new moon, but any night without clouds is appropriate.
Parents generally know a few constellations, but you can help them by sending a worksheet explaining how to find others.
Crafts can be messy, but that’s what makes them fun. Parents can make slime for the kids to play with, everyone can color or finger paint, or the children can use paper to make various items from parachutes to origami.
Here’s an idea - have the kids paint some hand-sized rocks, then set them out on their next walk for others to enjoy.
Let parents know they don’t have to fill every minute with activity. Tell them to read a book with their children, or pop some popcorn and have a movie night. They don’t have to play the same movie over and over. Ask them to help their kids experience other films as well.
These Should Get Everyone Started
There are so many ideas out there that it would be hard to put them all in one place. Use these as a jumping-off place for other ideas, or create games and activities based on the items and space available in your region.
When the kids get back to daycare, you should have plenty of stories to share. If you need help organizing enrollment, student records, or other business problems, call EZChildTrack to talk about business automation software.