Occasionally, in life, we have an opportunity to momentarily pause, take in our immediate surroundings, and think to ourselves: “Well, now this is a scenario I never saw coming.” Likely, anyone living with children for the past nine months knows this feeling well.
Without warning, parents around the country have taken on entirely new roles in their homes from elementary teachers to sous chef, but no role has been more paramount than that of “Family Cruise Director.”
Some have turned to technology for help, which is understandable. However, many people feel uncomfortable about outsourcing the television or the iPad as their artificial intelligence daycare worker. Besides, there are growing concerns that the overindulgence of digital entertainment, regardless of how educational it might be, not only reduces children’s attention spans but also their physical activity.
No worries! Just as the cold weather arrives, here are some creative in-home activities you can do with your kids that will ignite their innate curiosity and, hopefully, exhaust their energy.
Conduct a Recipe Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts have always been an excellent variation on hide-and-seek. Now, imagine a scavenger hunt that ends with baking a delicious treat! What a great way to teach your children about different spices and ingredients, various cooking utensils, and the importance of following directions.
Ignite your children’s imagination by having them tell a story in brief segments—just a few sentences at a time in a shared format. Sitting in a circle and leaving the next person to clean up your scene can be hilarious and inspiring. Try a “Fortunately…Unfortunately” pattern for extra laughs.
Ice Cube Art
Whether it’s unique juice flavors, inserting unusual (um, of course…edible) items into the middle of them, or a combination of these strategies, kids love the challenge of making something as bland as an ice cube into a scrumptious work of art.
Construct a Fortress
Here’s an activity that can be done either inside or outside regardless of the weather. Snow forts made outside in parts of the country where people regularly measure snowfall by the foot are just as fun as forts that kids can build in their rooms or in the family room using blankets, pillows, furniture, and the intermittent vacuum hose, bonsai, or broomstick.
Plant a Garden (or…something)
In climates where new plants can flourish, why not return to our agricultural roots? Yep, sorry…pun intended. Beyond the history and nature lessons inherent in planting everything from vegetables to spices or flowers, teaching children how to cultivate and care for something has long lasting benefits.
Take a Yoga Class
Not everything on video dulls the brain and softens the body. There are plenty of exercise or meditation options available online that will not only help your kids improve their cardiovascular health but also introduce mindfulness for kids. What better time to familiarize our youngsters with valuable mental health practices than during a pandemic?
Granted, for this activity you may have to be creative depending on the space available. Avoid corners and stairs! Still, feats of goofy athleticism that involve creative events such as sliding on hardwood floors and carrying objects over obstacles can be a lot of fun. Fashioning the medals or awards as an art project beforehand is also a great way to spend time.
Masking tape, water bottles, and an orange or a cantaloupe (or, if you’re boring, a ball) are all you need to create a bowling alley in your home. For those who want to add an educational element to the contest, teaching kids how to score the game is an excellent math exercise.
Touch and Feel Box
A recurring component in “homemade” haunted houses during Halloween has been to engage each of a child’s senses in an effort to frighten them a wee bit. Beyond noises and sight gags, touch is always an entertaining way to garner a child’s attention. Find an old box, cut a hole in it, and insert weird, uncommon, or strange items for your children to blindly explore by contact. Usually, the gooier and slimier the item the better.
Grocery Bag Theater
Take a large grocery bag and insert random items into it from around the house. The more diverse and disconnected the items, the more challenging and fun the activity will become. Give the children their bag(s) and ask them to script and perform a sketch using all of the objects. Much like the improv comedies that you’ve seen on TV and on the stage, your children will induce plenty of laughter and memories.
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