What an interesting few weeks it has been! Across the world we are all reacting to the news of this virus, now declared a pandemic in Melbourne, Australia. It has been a truly interesting observation of human nature, fear, shock and selfishness. For us in Australia, we flocked to supermarkets in our angst to stock up on… toilet paper… yes, toilet paper. Supermarket shelves are now naked, depleted of hygienic household products, rice and pasta in the event that we may be locked down in our houses with no possibility of escape. The uncomfortable feelings in social spaces is growing. The odd side glances individuals share with one another when one lets out so much as a sniff, a cough or is seen wearing a surgical mask. What have we become? What will we become?
And now we wait… we wait for the announcement that our schools will be closed, like in Italy and in France. We wait for the decision to be made where we will need to keep our children at home. And that… sends chills down my spine and down the spines of millions of Australian families. What on earth will I do for two weeks, at home with my children when an excursion to the cinema, swimming pool and museum will not be possible.
As a primary teacher and mum of four children, I am frequently think of ways to get my children off the screen and outside into nature. I get frustrated when my children use the word ‘bored’ and consequently have a small repertoire of creative, simple, no cost ideas which I can guide my children towards should the need arise. With the current on edge mood we all feel across the world at the present time, now is the perfect time to unleash these ideas.
For me, the challenge is the age difference in my children. Each has different interests and needs and whilst I can buy crafts online for the children to complete at home and invest in new apps for the ipad, I am on a tight budget due to my having to also stay at home and not work to look after the children during this pandemic. I will need to be creative. I have thought long and hard and have come up with a few simple ideas which I have used with my family and which you could also try whilst experiencing the home lock down. Each idea can be adapted to the ages of your child. Please message me if you want some other ideas or creative ways to adapt activities.
Take a walk
Within this fast paced world in which we live, I find it very difficult to wind down, to breath and to appreciate what is around me. Why not take this lock down as an opportunity to appreciate what is around us?
- Get to know your neighborhood. Take a walk, a scooter, a bike ride, a drive around your local area and take a moment to look at what makes it special. Rug up, rug down. Don’t rush. We have time. For us in Melbourne it’s an appreciation of Autumn and for Europeans, the smell of spring and the beauty of new life. We are so lucky.
- Go to the local botanical gardens, take a picnic. Picnics can be simple.
- Take time to look at the nature. Look at the trees, look at the buds, look at the insects. Children love drawing what they see and recounting what they have done during the day. Start a diary where they draw what they see.
Take the opportunity to talk to your children about our resources and our future. Help them understand the ways in which our bins work in your local area and ways in which they can recycle and assist with sustainability at home and beyond. Starting a small vegetable garden or building a small water bath for birds in your garden can be simple and easy.
- Pick up rubbish on your local beach or in your local area.
- Sort out the rubbish.
- Plant a garden (herbs/vegetables).
- Make laundry products at home.
- Reuse items for crafts (see our homemade pouches below)
- Make homemade art and crafts
- Play outside!
Contact local organizations to see ways in which you can give back.
Recently Victoria and parts of Australia were devastated by Bushfires. We felt quite helpless in our suburban Bayside house and I felt that the best way for my children to understand and support the devastation was to be able to physically assist in some way
Get out the Lego!
- Set challenges. Build something which floats and can carry three people (test it in the bath).
- Create new Lego characters for a new science fiction movie/ fairytale/book.
- Follow Lego booklets to rebuild the Lego that has for years being in pieces (you can find instructions for all Lego sets online for free if you have lost them). https://www.lego.com/en-us/service/buildinginstructions
- Create a city. Leave out the Lego every day and add to it when the children are in the mood to create.
- Color code your Lego. I know this sounds a tad anal but its great to do it as a family 😊
Propagate Plants and Terrariums
- Look at the plants inside and outside your house and propagate them with your children. The magic is watching the children see their plant grow over two weeks. They will need to water it and care for it.
- Plant some seeds and watch them grow. Record their heights each day.
- Make a homemade terrarium using succulents https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vu4wdHNo4Q
Cooking and Baking
Baking and cooking with children can be very frustrating. I have little patience and prefer doing things myself. However, here are a few simple ideas which are easy for children to be involved in. Parents may need to help a little, but your child will be occupied that’s for sure.
- Fruit salad
- Icy poles
Board games and puzzles
I recently moved all our puzzles and games into a central cupboard.
- Open the cupboard in the morning and take two games out. Children get excited when they see something ‘new’. Even if this puzzle or game has been in your cupboard for months it will seem like a new one to the children.
- Its wonderful o play together as a family. Block your ears when they play together alone as there will be arguments but let the, sort them out. They create their own rules which is a bit of fun.
Refresh a bedroom
Recently my twelve year old wanted to redo her room. Her decision was to redecorate using black and white photos and it looks so effective. This is a wonderful project if you have a few weeks up your sleeve. We didn’t invest in paint or new furniture, a room on a budget.
Movies and screen time
This is one that I struggle with but… let’s not get all blocked up about it.
- A movie in the afternoon is not a bad idea. It can relax a child and gives you a bit of time out also. There are some wonderful age appropriate films around and some great classics which all ages can appreciate. Often, we think that 12 year old cant watch a cartoon but there are some wonderful older animations and newer Pixar and Disney creations that are wonderful to watch together when your children are of different ages.
- There are several age appropriate apps for iPad and phones. A bit of screen time doesn’t do harm, especially when there are time boundaries and screen time occurs at specific times of the day. My children know that before dinner, after a shower/bath, they can have some screen time- this looks different for each of my children and is monitored by me.
Read a book
Nothing better than sitting outside on a rug, on a couch or in bed reading a book.
- Pile several books infront of your children and let your children take their time to get through them. Mix some fiction and non-fiction texts in the pile and encourage, after they have had some time to themselves, questions and conversations. It’s a great way of getting children to talk about their interests.
- Start a chapter book. Read aloud. Nothing is better for a child than to watch reading modelled to them. I recently started ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas’ with my two girls and they have loved it, asking questions and reflecting on their own lives and those of other children.
Make a decoration
- Collect wood and objects from around your home and neighborhood. Make a hole and add them one on top of the other on a strong wire or string. The children and I collected beach debris and pinecones from a recent trip to Barwon Heads and have created this decoration which hangs in our backyard. Another one hangs in our house and is made from bits and pieces we collected in and around the home.
- Younger children can use pasta and thread them to make hang decorations also.
Do it yourself kit
My daughters have loved these DIY kits. These miniature house kits are very detailed. Within the kit you are provided with a step by step guide to make a little house or room and all the materials you need. These are quite fiddly and require some adult assistance at various stages but if your child is between the ages of 10 and 15, they are a wonderful long term project which then looks wonderful in a bedroom.
Perhaps we need to look at this as an opportunity to reconnect with our family and children, appreciating what we have around us. Please message me should you need more ideas or ideas on how to adapt some of the ones I have posted about above.
#familytime #indooractivities #entertainchildren #craft #sustainabilityprojects #time