Edit: Added a few more since publishing, and will as I get the chance to…
So I know you’re probably up to your eyeballs already in all the suggestions of how to keep your kids busy during this time of social distancing…so no pressure on my list. Take what you need from it, or leave it – all good. But what I do know is that everyone’s routines are going to be thrown out, and we may all need some help with extra ideas and tips to help us get through this time with all sanity in tact.
Personally, I know there are a couple of activities that not only keep my kids entertained and buy me some silence and sanity, but also keep their minds engaged and happy as well. There are some activities that also provide some applied thinking and maths. But most of all…I find with the reduced screen time ( they CHOOSE to do the activities over the tv), by the end of day, everyone’s moods were great, their focus was SO MUCH better…and they actually listened to us and went to bed with ease.
Now don’t worry, this is not going to be a post on why you need to cut screen time…cause Lawd knows this is not the time us parents are looking to cut screen time…In fact, I cant see us getting through the next four weeks without it, if I’m honest. And truthfully, I am no screen Nazi. In fact part of my activities are screen related …but Im going to keep those for when the weather goes south. And if youre going indulge in that screen a little more, that’s ok, screen time won’t kill them. This whole social distancing thang has us all currently in unchartered territory, so ditch the guilt and find your happy medium.
Keep in mind this is state of emergency and disaster that we as a country are in…its NOT a time to feel guilty about your screen time, or how organic your snacks are, or if they’re being stimulated enough mathematically. So do what you need to do in order to get through this time safely, healthily and with all your mental faculties in tact.
I’m just bringing this up in case you’re feeling guilty about screen time. BUT know that I’ve found my kids’ behaviour is always SO much better when I limit their exposure to that blue light, which ultimately helps me, them, and this home, operate much smoother…And personally, I’ll need more of that for the next four weeks.
But either way, this is hard time that we are going through as a collective, but it’s the right and responsible thing to do. Our kids were unsure as to how to react, so we’ve spun it to them that it’s just a week extra on their holidays. And whilst we’ll need to work out a new normal for us for the next few weeks, we can focus our lens on the silver linings, that we get to be with each other more now, and can make this a beautiful and cosy time if we choose to. So we drew up a bucket list over the weekend, and thought I’d share some of it with you here, in case you’re looking too.
Also, working moms…I see you. This is such a tough one. Im there with you. Either way this list is still helpful, if not for you then for whoever is your back for you in looking after your kids while you work.
Alrighty, lets get started:
Please note, I don’t have pix for everything, considering the fact that I wanted to get this list out to you ASAP. So this aint exactly a pretty post with all the lovely fluffy pix, but maybe I’ll add as we go on.
1. Puppet show
My girls love doing this and have been making hteir own puppets for the past few weeks now. Because of that I went and got some extra supplies at the store to support their efforts, especially since Im at work for most of day and cant always help them cut and paste and teach them all the nifty stuff my mom showed me when I was little. So the little wooden puppets I bought at Crazy store are perfect.
They can decorate their own puppets, create their storyline and put on a show for the family. This activity can not only keep them engaged creatively in story making and telling, as well as with their hands (think fine motor skills, etc) but also encourage team work, negotiations and leadership, as they (if there are more than one) have to coordinate, agree on storyline and characters and actual directing of how the show goes. Or some quick thinking if its adlib. All in all, a hugely fun activity for all.
Materials: khokis, felt (optional) or cardboard (different colours), wooden puppets (or use cardboard and cut out), scissors, glue/gluestick.
Ps. I’m upcycling the fruit boxes to use as the puppet stage. They each can decorate their own stage or scene.
2. Star gazing night.
Taken from my Summer and Autumn bucket list this is also fave on my kids to do list. Which also just goes to show you don’t need to think all day of things to do, sometimes just have them get ready or excited for an activity that evening helps, and they find things to do themselves. However, we usually do Starry night/Galaxy play dough or Alien Slime in the day to compliment the star gazing night activities. And bake star shaped cookies if there’s time and energy to go with the star gazing that eveing.
We take the matresses out, or we shove our two outdoor couches together, some blankets, put off all the lights, grab torches and snacks and spend about an hour outside after dinner spotting shooting stars, planets (venus) and satellites.
Ps. We do this only once the two babies are put to bed, as they cant hang past their bedtime.
3. Make key chains
We’ve been making polymer food-esque key chains for some years now….and the burgers were always my fave. These make great little gifts for friendies that they will see again after the school holidays – a nice way to keep “in touch”, and make your little ones feel like theyre still connected by doing something with their “Im miss my friends” energy. And gives them something to look forward to at the end of this – a little trinket to give to their friend to say I was thinking of you.
All you need is polymer clay _ can order online from Clayology if you want- jump rings and key chains (both available from beads for Africa.)
Easiest activity ever!! Grab a big bucket/container with water in. Grab some small plastic cups, pourers, sifters, little plastic toys, whatever. Sit outside on the grass or where you need to and boom…Remy (1yrs old) and Coco (2yrs old) LOVE this …and even my 6 year old gets a kick out of this.
5. Smore Show down
We discovered this one years ago when the girls insisted on smoring it up, but it was raining, and we didn’t feel like making one big fire in the indoor braai. So I gave the girls individual little small fires (candles/ burners – PLEASE have adult supervision at ALL TIMES) and we had an indoor smore showdown. I shared that on insta YEARS ago.
Now, whilst I love making smores, I hate the taste of them. Until we started using different flavours of things. We used different cookies, different flavours of chocoloate, just same old marshmelllows…and the tastes were different…and so much better. And we tried each other’s combo’s and then had a bit of a comp for who had the best smore combo.
This is a fun one and yummy one indeed!
6. Milkshake Showdown
Very similar to smores.
Create a milkshake bar with all the different flavours, different decorations – think sprinkles, sweets, chocs (flakes/blocks, etc), flavour syprups, umbrellas, fruit (bananas, apple/orange/kiwi/pineapple slices), along with just a few different icecream flavours. (I’d say just 2 or 3 flavours else it can get excessive, but feel free to go wild if you want/can) Set it all up in separate containers. And give them instructions saying it’s a competition for who can make the best milkshake. It will b scored on presentation, flavour, originality, etc, what ever you want. Set the timer and go.
So much mess and so much fun. Can be a team or individual vibes.
7. Family games night
We have a few games that we really love, and always make for a good time. There’s one particular one that Im sorry we didn’t buy when I saw it first up back in October/November. Cause I cant find it anywhere in stores now. But here are a few of our faves:
• Toilet Trouble
• Pictionary (And here’s the latest tech version of it, which looks super fun)
• Fantastic Gymnastics
• Pick up stix – I just cant get over the price they’re charging for it though!
It’s flipping sticks, man! But it keeps my bigs enthralled for a solid block of time.
8. With reference to no 2. Slime
Our home wont be complete without it. We’ve been making slime long before SA even got hit with it’s popularity (like 5/6 years ago), so we had to import our borax. I have a few different recipes that we’ve been making:
Rechargable Glow in the dark slime
9. Also with reference to no. 2 Playdough
For the softest playdough recipe see this one. You don’t have to use same colours in there, choose your own. But the base recipe is great, its super soft and lasts if looked after well.
10. Last reference to no. 2…Bake cookies.
Cookies save lives. Right? Or am I confusing it with something else. Or is it cookies ARE life. Flip. Either way, only good things can come from baking cookies. Things like eating cookies.
And busy kids, who can also learn about measurements, and maths.
So bake on!
11. Make play jewellery
Polymer clay has become one fof my fave art mediums because of its versality. Any jewerly accessories you’ll need, like clip on earrings backings or pierced earings, chaines, jump rings, the works, can all be found at Beads for Africa.
12. Make cute clay pens.
Tell me you guys also did this when you were smallies? Decorate your boring pens and make them pretty and Clairres worthy with some simple clay? I found that using air drying clay is better than polymer, as polymer needs to be baked but our SA pens melt at that heat. So I found great air drying clay at PnA a few years ago – and it is super soft and so easy to work with. You can buy individual colour packs or you can buy the whole set of 5 colours for R149, with some key chains in the pack. Great deal!
To make the pens you simply roll out your dough, then twist the tow or three colours around the pen. Leave the nib area open. Leave to dry. Great activity to do out in nature or indoors if it’s raining.
13. Treasure dig/Find it
So back in 2016 when we flew with the girls (2 yrs and 5 yrs old) to USA, I made a portable treassure hunt game for them they could take on the plane. Much the US game I used to ogle, called Find it. Essentially I made coloured rice, poured into a container , addd a few tiny toy treasures, tossed it in, and sealed the container. Then I made a print out of all the items in the container ( I took photos before I put it in), and then you give the kids a timer to find everythikng that’s on their printed card.
Now instead of in a container, just pour rice and toys into big open bowl and have kids search for items printed on the card within the allotted time.
Super fun. And since its rice, its easy to sweep up again should you get any spill. If you prefer no spill, use the sealed container version then.
14. Home Olympics
Add any game you want to this, but you can have the kids choose to be a country. They can make their flag, or make up a country and its name and its new flag…do an Olympic march introducing your country, put a score board up and let the games begin.
Add ring toss in there, and balloon tennis, laps around the yard (or lounge if its raining), bean bag toss (shot put), etc.
Have them make medals from things in the craft or upcycle some plastic things you were going either toss or recycle anyway. Then let everyone get a medal, complete with a ceremony and everything at the end. Be creative and just have fun.
15. Water balloons
Now that the water restrictions have lifted somewhat (please still be responsible folks!), Im more open to this game …we’ve had to watch our beloved water balloons just sit there for so many summers that its nice to have them out again.
If the weather allows some outdoor wet play, waterballoons is always fun.
16. Create mini cardboard box doll houses
Grab a box, some paint, scissors and khokis and let your kids run wild with their creations.
17. Dino dig/ Explorer/adventurer play kit
Put together an adventurer kit with explorer helmets and walkie talkies, dino egg excavation kits ( i bought mine at Crazy store, binoculars and magnifying glasses.
Create a scavenger hunt for them if you want.
18. In that note, create a scavenger hunt.
You can make it for indoor or outdoor. My kids ALWAYS love scavenger hunts!
19. Cosmic Kids Yoga
This is a super fun youtube channel that my kids are getting into.
20. Copy Dance
Those you’ve warched my stories for some time now, know we are dance lovers over here, with many a dance party breaking out in our lounge every single day. And many have asked what we use to do the copy dnaces on tv. Simple: type in “Copy dance” and boom youtube will return a plethora of choices to you. Our first fave was Daft punk’s . So all you ned to type is “Robot copy dance daft punk”
21. Have a movie night, complete with popcorn, tickets, drinks everything.
22. Outdoor Movie night
Or as part of our Summer bucket list, and something I shared on IG before, have an outdoor movie night! My kids went nuts with the whole idea of a projector and being outside with the night air on their skin while they watched their fave movie.
23. Side walk master pieces
Another staple of ours when the weather is fine, is creating little doodles and masterpieves on our outdoor stoep with sidewalk chalk.
By the way, I get way better definition and detail if I used pastels ; )
24. Barbie Salon / Fix Barbie’s hair
I once watched a youtube video one night after falling deep into the black hole of the interwebs. It was all about how to fix Barbies’ hair. I watched till the end. So I’ve basically been preparing for a time I didn’t even know I’ll need to be prepared for! 🙂
So have a Barbie Salon day! Now is a good time to fix it, if ever there was such a time. Watch the you tube vid. Use fabric softener.
25. Free Stop Motion Animation workshop
GUys, an amazing mom over on Instragram is giving one of her super fun and interesting workshops away for FREE. It teaches kids how to create stop motion videos, and I think thats bloody awesome. So different, and such a fun creative skill to develop. All you have to do is share @TrishaZemp ‘s post on your instagram stories to tell others about her and this free workshop, so all can benefit, tag her and she will hit you up with the free login details. Doesn’t matter where in the world you are. She’s dope!
Then of course, the easiest thing out there:paint! whether thats acrylic or water colour painting this keeps my kids so busy for lonnnnnnng. Give them free reign or let them paint something specific. Or get a huge roll of paper from Busy Beans, tape paper to the floor and let them paint life size drawings on there. My kids love it. Ps. Acrylic paint comes off tiles super easy, but not fabric!
27. Go for a walk
To stave off the cabin fever, get as much fresh air as possible, and go for a quick walk, if you can. Don’t go to areas that’s dense with public obviously. But up your road, or a quiet spot where you can still practice social distancing. Trust me, four weeks of this, everyone is going to need to get out! And now that the Cape town weather is sweet, capitalize on it and get some fresh air. Otherwise, use your yard as much as you can.
28. Watch Frozen II thirty-billion times
Frozen II was funny…I particularly loved Olaf’s story recap..THE BEST!! So embrace it, if it does happen…we all need a break from doing stuff too. (This has happened already – Day 1, if you wanted to know!) 😉
29. Learn to draw
My kids have doodle books, as in books that teaches them how to draw. But in a busy home like ours, they almost never get the chance to just sit and focus on it. But now they seem to, and have taken a liking to it. But if you don’t have books, its cool, I saw on stories of Leigh of The Mom Diaries, some time back that you can also Youtube some tutorials for kids.
Okayyyy, and Im spent! I have plenty more, but Im so done typing. Also, I should probably stop there, unless I want to change my title! 🙂
Hope this helped light some creative fires within you to go out there and make the most of this time together, and add fun things with your kids during this time.
Any ideas that you’d like to add, please lemme know below.