Twelve Ways to… keep your children busy at home
Motherly is a brilliant website for parents and explores all kinds of different ways to make the most of your child. It also offers advice, news and features on helping you cope with bringing up your family and parenthood in general. There are some great ideas on how to entertain your kids while we are in lockdown and we have chosen 12 of them for you to use.
If you want to cut down on screen time for your kids, but you also need to get stuff done – or just take a few minutes for yourself – it can be hard to think of fun ways to keep kids engaged and busy. This list of ways to entertain your preschooler or toddler may take a bit more energy or planning than just handing your child your phone, but encouraging your child to do something constructive is worth the extra effort.
1. Create a Game Box
Fill a box with things your child can play with alone – items like colouring books, playing cards or easy puzzles. Remember how engrossing jigsaw puzzles were when you were their age. Whenever you need to keep your kids busy, give them the box. While your child might resist a bit at first, the more you do it, the more they’ll accept “game-box time” as part of their routine.
2. Have Them Make Their Own Cartoon
Instead of watching cartoons, have your children make their own. Give them a few examples or put them in front of a superhero movie. Then ask them to draw you a hero, a bad guy and a few scenarios. When they’ve finished, let them tell you their hero’s story.
3. Let Them Help You
If you’re cooking or cleaning, give your little ones a job they can handle. For young kids, that might be stringing beans or setting the table. For older kids, that might be slicing vegetables, sweeping the house or taking out the recycling. If you’re going to clean the kitchen, have your children clean their rooms. Not only will you get time to do your job, but your kids will learn that they have a role in keeping the house clean too.
4. Give Them an Important Task
Give your child a task, but make it a huge deal! If they think it’s an important job, they won’t complain about working on it independently. A good starting point would be to create a scrapbook from old family photos – it’s always so fascinating to see other family members at different stages in their lives.
5. Create an Idea Box
Brainstorm ideas with your children about what they can do to overcome boredom. Write down their suggestions and put them in an empty box. The next time they’re bored, have them pick out one of their recommendations. Given that it was their idea, they’ll be more willing to do it.
6. Offer Creative Toys or Games
Any toy that lets a child create is sure to keep them distracted for a long time. Invest in Lego, puzzles or Play-Dough. Not only will your child be able to play with them for hours, but they’ll build up spatial reasoning, too. Also, don’t forget how much fun board and card games were! Remember Ludo, Snap!, Cluedo, Pictionary and Snakes and Ladders. They’re tried and trusted ways of getting your child engaged.
7. Design a Treasure Hunt
Hide something like a coin or a sticker somewhere in the house or garden. Give your kids a clue and let them run wild trying to find it. If you make it tricky to find, you’ll build up their resilience and ability to find things without begging for your help.
8. Build a Fort
Give your child a few pillows and a blanket and challenge them to turn the couch into a fort. No child will turn down the chance to make a secret base and they’ll be much more likely to play independently once they’re inside.
9. Make a Sculpture
Give your child a few pipe cleaners and a piece of polystyrene – or any child-friendly item you have on hand – and ask them to make a sculpture. Anything will do, but superheroes are a winning suggestion.
10. Use Multimedia
If your child’s too young to read independently, pick up audio versions of their favourite books. Let them sit down and turn the pages while listening to a friendly voice read to them. If you can’t find a recording, use your phone to make one yourself. There’s a whole host of exciting and educational material available on YouTube too: HiHo Kids, Brain Pop, Crash Course Kids, Science Channel and TED- Ed. Make the most of what the internet offers in terms of virtual tours – there’s a vast range available which we feature in another article in this month’s edition.
11. Play with Locks and Bolts
Hand your child a lock and a key or a nut and bolt. Young kids especially will be mesmerised by the act of unlocking something and they’ll develop their motor skills while they’re at it. Give them a mixed bag and see if they can figure out which lock goes with which key or which nut with which bolt. Some basic DIY might reveal an innate talent too – always supervised of course. Simple Origami is always a ‘wow!’ moment with kids as well!
12. Little Greenfingers!
Give your child a small plant or vegetable to grow and care for. Maybe they can keep a herb garden or a few flowers on the windowsill. Have them water the plant each day and when you need a few moments, ask them to check on it. If you have more than one child, give them a strip of earth each, a few seeds, a watering can and a trowel. They’ll be immersed in their work.
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