Well, friends, we’re back. Goober is a year older (so am I, but that’s irrelevant) and he’s even more on the move than he’s ever been. Last year, I had the opportunity to take a job as a teacher in a local daycare center. I seized that opportunity and hit the ground running so fast, I kind of forgot to look back at this blog. Now, with the dreaded Covid-19 quarantine looming over us, I feel a lot more prepared than I would had I not started teaching. (I primarily teach in the 4-5 age group, but I frequently visit the younger age groups as well). So straying from our original “Books First” focus, I have prepared a list of some fun things to do if you’re spending a LOT of time home with your kids!
No backstory, right to the list.
- Dance Party! Now, it’s important to remember, when having a dance party, that in order to optimize attention spans, you gotta use different song styles. Choose some songs that tell you what to do, and some that are upbeat, but allow for some freestyle. If you have a mix of older and younger children in your care, you can give older kids special challenges, to minimize boredom (Ex- During “Freeze Dance” see if your older children can freeze “on one leg” or “like a superhero”) Here’s my personal dance party playlist, It’s broken up for optimal participation, but you know your kids. Skip songs they may not like, or add in some songs you know they love to dance to. If you have ribbons or instruments at home, be sure to add them into the mix every so often to keep the activity fresh!
- Puzzles- the great thing about puzzles is that they are readily available. Even Dollar stores have puzzles from 24 pieces to 1000 and so many in between. When you’re working WITH your kids, you can pick a more advanced puzzle, as long as you’re talking while you work. Explain how to separate pieces (how do you find an “edge” piece? Looking for clues in the pictures and separating the pieces by where they might be in the picture, etc)
- Movie Time- Between Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime, On Demand/TV, and DVD collections, there are plenty of options to sit down with your kids and watch a movie. Pop some popcorn, or have a different snack available, snuggle up, and relax. Worried about how to choose a movie with multiple kids? Go with the 3-2-1 method: In order of Oldest-Youngest (or least picky to most picky) have one person choose 3 movie options, the next person eliminate one choice, and the last person make a decision between the two available movies. (You can always add options based off of how many kids you have, or have someone choose the snack).
- Classic Playground Games- Go outside and teach your kids how to play your favorite recess games. Classics like Mother May I, Red Rover, Red Light; Green Light, What Time Is It, Mr. Wolf, and others will transport you back to your youth, and keep your kids moving and occupied!
- Cooking/Meal Prep- Youngsters can use cookie cutters to cut bread for sandwiches, make “Ants on a Log”, and stir pancake mix. Older kids can participate to your and their comfort level, including chopping fruits and veggies, and measuring ingredients. Teach your kids how to wash their hands well, and make some memories.
- Play Dough- Sure, your kids CAN do play dough by themselves, but if you want to set them up for success when you need them to be independent, you’re going to want to play WITH them first. Show them how to make “worms” and “balls” and how to use cutters and other tools. Teach your kids how to make letters, numbers, and shapes with those worms, and you get a bonus education from it. Check out Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers for play dough mats, and explore how to use them with your children. Older kids can use modeling clay or eraser clay to make more complicated items.
- Go On A Nature Walk- Older and Younger children can be entertained by a walk around the block, especially if you pitch it right. Take pictures, explore snapchat and instagram filters, challenge kids to find specific things on your walk.
- Start a Family Instagram/Tik Tok- It’s ok to embrace social media with your family! Don’t think every aspect of your life has to be tech free. Having a family social media opens the door for a non-confrontational lesson about web presence, privacy, and online accountability. Make sure to talk to your kids about their comfort level before posting them on the internet. Show them you can still participate online without laying it all out there. You can post artsy pictures without their face showing, or learn how to stage photos with props.
- Read a Book- I would be remiss NOT to put reading on this list at all. Start a longer book, and read a chapter a day together. Talk book club style about what you read. Make a craft or a recipe that goes along with the book you read.
- Play Board Games- Candyland, Memory, Snakes and Ladders for younger kids. Ticket to Ride, Life, Apples to Apples, and more for older ones. You can even follow the Candyland model and make your own board game!
There you have it, 10 things you can do WITH your kids when you’re all bored. Don’t worry, though, soon I’ll have a solid list of independent activities for your kids to do so you can have some time for yourself!