These days will be a great challenge for family life but they can also be a great opportunity. We take the opportunity to make children co-responsible by promoting their participation in organizing schedules and family routines. It is important to keep them as much as possible, although you will have to be flexible and have a large dose of patience and empathy. A useful and participatory strategy can be to create a calendar with drawings and time slots to establish what time we will dedicate to household chores, school tasks, playing, working (in the case of adults who can telework), sleeping, the screens, etc. In this article, you will find more general tips to organize yourself.
In addition, we believe that it is essential to encourage free play for as long as possible since it is from this that children grow and develop more naturally and healthily. A good way to stimulate free play is to have the game spaces prepared, perhaps by different corners of activity, and put on relaxing ambient music to help the fluency of the game and the concentration of the children.
Apart from these general premises, here are our 21 creative ideas for activities, games, and experiments to make it a fun day with endless opportunities to learn, grow and live in a good mood
1: Make crafts
Moments to create can be very enriching for boys and girls so that they can develop their creativity, fine motor skills, patience, and calmness. Crafts have many benefits. Depending on the age of the children, some techniques or others will be more appropriate. It is important to keep in mind that they should be a little directed craft time, appealing to children’s creative freedom and expression and letting them experiment with the materials without fear. And, as mothers and fathers, trying not to restrict ourselves too much for fear of getting dirty… will we all have to clean up together when the activity is over?.
Different strategies can be proposed: either (1) we prepare a cabinet, drawer, or box with all the necessary materials for various crafts and for the children to explore all the possibilities, or (2) we start with an initial material and each day we provide a material new in the box. In this way, we are dosing the creative possibilities.
We can use materials or techniques such as mandalas, finger paints, tempera, watercolors, chalk, pastel colors, plasticine, moldable wax, clay, origami, deco patch, glitter, stickers, and washi tape, bracelets with embroidery threads, wool, recycled materials, puppets with socks, painting stones, making mobiles with wood… imagination and creativity to the power!
2: Photo albums
We can commission older children to prepare those photo albums that we have wanted to do for a long time and never found the moment,… to select the images, print them, paste them in a notebook, make comments… or else in digital format. This is how they also train their digital skills. With the smallest and smallest we can prepare memory board games at home with photos of family or close friends.
3: Read stories, books, and comics
We dust off in the home library and favor the reading of illustrated stories, comics, or books. If we have already read the ones we have at home many times, we try to do some sharing with friends or neighbors, always avoiding crowds, according to health recommendations. We can also search for the e-book in digital format, or buy one online.
We can also search for audiobooks in mp3 format, in Spanish or English on Spotify or other online audiobook platforms. Listening to stories without seeing the images helps to develop the imagination and inner richness of children.
4: Lots of music
We take advantage of these home days so that boys and girls enjoy music. We listen to all kinds of music, we sing together, we play improvised instruments, and we make room in the living room to dance. Children love to share moments of dancing and body expression with adults, and we must bear in mind that throughout the day we will have to combine moments of more active and physically intense activities with quieter moments. Dancing and music are good opportunities.
Have you played the game of chained songs? You can start practicing as a family, you’ll see how fun it is!
5: We share hobbies or hobbies
If you like sewing, crocheting, DIY, modeling, and giant puzzles or you have other hobbies that can be done at home, perhaps it is time to share them with your sons and daughters so that they can start practicing on their own. Take their age into account and assess whether they are adapted to activities that they can do with some autonomy and safety.
Maybe you can learn to sew a sandwich holder. On Pinterest or Youtube, you will find a lot of tutorials.
6: A while of video games or screens
During the day there will be moments for everything… We have to agree on some schedules or screen times depending on age (including video games, mobile phones, tablets, cartoons, and television). With younger children who still cannot read the time on a clock, we recommend using an hourglass to make the passage of time more visual and clear. We must take into account the recommendations of experts such as Serge Tisseron’s 3-6-9-12 rule.
The WHO 2019 makes some recommendations regarding the use of screens in childhood that say that children under 2-3 years of age should not use screens or watch TV and that from 2 years of age a maximum of one hour a day. But in addition to screen time, we will have to control the quality of what they see or play with so that there is no violent, sexist, or racist content and that it is appropriate for the age of the children.
7: Board games
Board games are very interesting to deepen various skills and abilities. We especially recommend cooperative board games because they offer a collective challenge and encourage play without violence or competition. Board games in general and especially cooperative ones are a great educational tool to promote teamwork and skills such as concentration, strategy, etc.
8: Cook as a family
Cooking as a family is so much fun and enriching. Stimulates learning and coexistence. If we can, we take advantage of these days to make all kinds of recipes with the boys and girls: salads, fruit salads, cookies, cakes, etc. And from 8-10 years old they can start cooking simple and safe recipes on their own. These days when boys and girls will spend many hours at home, they can be the chefs of the family, right?
From cooking and recipes, children can train creativity and many skills and abilities such as reading, writing, mathematics, volumes, weights, and fine motor skills,… we can train in home cooking techniques, al makes yogurt, kneading bread or sprout seeds for salads.
9: Movement or group games
These games are suitable for large families or for adults and children to play together. Every day we must stimulate movement games even inside the house. You can search our resource bank for ideas or follow these examples:
1. Hide through the rooms
2 .The dark room or the famous “dark room”?
3 .the movie game
4. Hide objects or toys for the house and play “hot or cold”
5. Worm racing, face down, down the hall
6. The game of cooperative chairs
7. wall sink
8 .the twister
10: Make cabins inside the house
Who has not dreamed of a cabin in the living room of their house as a child? Kids love cabins! We can help them build them and then let them play calmly and let their imagination run wild, or if they are quite autonomous we prepare the material for them and they can build it themselves.
We can use sofas, chairs, tables, blankets, beds, sheets, cardboard boxes… the possibilities are endless and so is play and fun!
11: Propose a challenge every day
We can propose a daily challenge, and even propose it as a calendar of surprises in which we discover the challenge every morning. Some of the challenges could be (according to age):
Do any of the activities mentioned above.
Prepare a homemade gift for grandparents and grandmothers or other relatives.
Make a very tall tower with all the construction pieces that we have around the house until it touches the roof.
Make a row on the floor of chained socks, how many meters long will it be?
Write a letter or draw a picture for a school friend (and send it by post!).
Make up a song with fun lyrics that talk about our family.
Sort the toys and choose the ones we don’t use to give away or sell second-hand.
Count how many blue objects are in the whole house.
12: Do yoga, meditation, and relaxation
The practice of yoga has many benefits for children: it improves concentration, learning, attention, self-awareness, breathing control, relaxation, balance, etc. During these days there may be times when boys and girls can practice yoga or meditation. Just a mat and some useful guide. Do you know the Eduioga game? A good combination of yoga and card games. Here you can see a yoga demonstration for children.
13: Communicate with friends
We must keep in mind that for our sons and daughters friendships are very important. The fact that the school is closed and that collective activities are limited for a few days can make children feel more alone or insecure, and their social interactions are weakened.
We can take advantage of WhatsApp contacts with the other families to exchange videos, audio, and images of the activities we do. Surely we can share ideas and promote friendship ties. From 10 years old we can practice video conferences through different platforms and 3 or 4 bands to favor digital and communication skills.
These days at home can also be a good opportunity to consolidate habits or involve children in aspects of daily life and household chores. Apart from cooking, many other tasks can make them feel very useful and responsible. In the same way that in the colonies we dedicate time to what we call “services”, at home we can also establish criteria for who is responsible for each task. Depending on how old they are, they can be responsible for setting and clearing the table, setting the dishwasher, washing the dishes manually, putting on the washing machine, hanging clothes, sweeping, scrubbing, cleaning the windows, dusting, putting away the clothes wardrobes …
15: The costume trunk
We can organize a box, trunk, or closet with costumes of all types and sizes so that they can experiment. We can add adult clothing and accessories: children love that their clothes fit big! Hats, caps, scarves, belts, necklaces, shoes, fabrics of different sizes and colors… anything goes! Imagination to the power!
If we put the costume trunk near a mirror and also provide them with face paints, it will be even more fun!
16: Marble courses
The circuits of marbles or balls stimulate the development of creativity and imagination, in addition to favoring concentration, patience, spatial organization, and the development of mathematical and physical thinking. In addition, they help train fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Currently, there are many commercial brands of toys that have ball circuits. We recommend only those that are made of wood or recycled materials.
But we encourage you to help your sons and daughters create homemade marble circuits and have a good time creating them and then using them.
17: Other creations with recycled material
We can use all kinds of recycled materials; cardboard boxes of all sizes, newspapers, well-cleaned tetra bricks, bottles, plastic caps, etc. to build objects, toys, or inventions. For example; make a ship, a castle, a farm, a cabin, a tower, a tadpole, a mask, a car, a rocket, juggling balls,… We use our imagination and from recycled materials and a little paint and glue we can create to infinity
18: Science experiments
Children can practice scientific inventions at home under the supervision of adults. From more or less simple experiences, adapted to the age of the children, they can discover and practice basic principles of chemistry, physics, biology, geology, mathematics, Have you tried making a volcano with vinegar and bland? Or experiment with sound by making a phone out of yogurt pots? Or plant legumes in damp cotton so that they germinate?
19: Games in the bathtub
Up to 8-9 years old, playing and experimenting in the bathtub can be very stimulating and fun. In the case of young children, we must be extremely vigilant at bath time. But these days we can appeal to our creativity and invent original baths with bubbles, colored water with food coloring, or with background music, or with dolls and boats to play symbolic games… Attention, but watch your water consumption, and do not overfill the bathtubs too often.
20: Do theater
In some corners of the house, we can set up an improvised stage, hang a curtain and encourage children to do plays and develop their stage skills. We can also set up a puppet theater and make finger puppets and let them make up the stories. Older boys and girls can prepare a good script, the material for decoration, costumes, makeup, music, etc …
Another option is to do theater with Chinese shadows, first, we will have to cut out the shapes on the cardboard, prepare the sheet and go ahead with creativity to invent a good play.
21: Practice creative writing
These days give us a lot to write… the stories that are emerging and that we can imagine as a result of the exceptional situation we are experiencing. We can take advantage of it to awaken our creativity and start writing. We will have to take into account the age of the children and combine drawing with writing. Writing or making up stories is a good way to channel emotions; stress, anguish… and also awaken humor and a critical spirit.
What can we write?
A diary of each day of the confinement: we can paste photos or draw pictures of everything we are doing and (depending on age) of the news on the day of monitoring the pandemic.
Letters to the people we love, especially grandparents and grandmothers who are home alone or confined to residences,… later we can take a photo of them to send by WhatsApp?.
Fictional stories that we make up; With children under 6 years of age we can create illustrated albums with little or no lyrics.
The game of chained stories: one person writes a sentence, folds the paper, and leaves only one or two words in sight, from which the other person has to continue the story. Then the second person folds again, leaving only one word visible, and so on. It will be a very crazy story!
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