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Image / Editorial

At-home kids’ activities guaranteed to keep them busy for more than 5 minutes

by Lauren Heskin
06th Apr 2020

Sick of painting and constant screentime? Here are seven great at-home kids’ activities that’ll keep them busy (and give you a bit of peace and quiet)

So you decided that baking with your children would be a good idea. And then you realised you now have to bake. With your children. What were you thinking?

There’s butter packed into one child’s belly button, flour on every surface, an as-yet undisclosed amount of baking powder got dumped into the cake batter and your nose is telling you it can smell something that should be in a nappy, but maybe isn’t.

Hello and welcome to staying at home with your children.

You’ve raced through colouring books, painting classes, baking and now you’re here, on your very last option – screentime. But before you hand over your phone to a screaming toddler, here are a few more ideas to try out.

Build a Fort

I know the thought of your kids taking over your living room right now has its drawbacks but tidiness and busy children sadly don’t go hand-in-hand. Get things started by building a roof and maybe throw a bedsheet over it.

Don’t add too much though, only give them the bare bones of the idea, because the bulk of time spent on this game will be in the set-up. The game itself might only last 20 minutes but they’ll build and build for hours.

Make your own Playdough

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

This is actually quite simple and it is something you can get your little ones in on from the very beginning, as it doesn’t require the precise measurements of baking. In a bowl, add one part salt to two parts flour and mix. If your kids are old enough here, they can get their hands dirty mixing as they add a teaspoon at a time of water until they’ve got a nice firm dough.

At this point you can add food colouring if you want, but frankly it can stain your hands working it in and if you don’t give your kids the option they’ll never know the difference. Set them the task of creating whatever they like – all the fruit and vegetables they know, or what they think aliens look like.

Pop it back in a zip-sealed bag and it’ll keep for a few weeks, or, if you’re super proud of your youngsters’ sculpting skills, pop it in the oven at 180ºC until it’s hard.

Create a Sensory Board

If you have a toddler who just loves playing with things they shouldn’t, create a sensory board for them. On a piece of foam board, glue any spare light switches, locks of any kind, feathers, sequins, velcro, cotton wool, zips and felt.

Even the plastic flaps on wipe packs are great for your little one to open and close. Just make sure your backing board is strong enough to hold everything securely and wide enough that your little one can sit on it as they play.

Lego Charades

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

This is a good one if Lego has lost its fun factor, which can happen after a few days trapped indoors. Write a list of different objects and animals on bits of paper, with the help of your children of course, and put them all into a bowl.

Each child must pull one out and build it with Lego and you have to guess what it is. You don’t need to do the first part either, you can let your little ones think on their own, but it can be easier to guess when the time comes and you don’t have to get stuck on something that’s clearly a snake that’s eaten a gorilla. 

There’s also loads of Lego 30-Day-Challenges online if your little ones enjoy the process of building but just need encouragement to get stuck in.

Play the Sentence Story

An old drama school game, this requires you being involved but it’s also a great way to see how your child’s brain works. One person starts out with a line of a story and another person gives the next line. Things can jump to the wildly weird and often hilarious very quickly and these stories can be a great starting point for other creative endeavours, like the playdough or the fort.

Create a Chalk Garden

Photo by Raychan on Unsplash

If the weather is fine enough outside and you have a bit of concrete to draw on, give your children a bucket of chalk to create their own chalk garden. It can include flowers and trees and leaves, they can even use actual leaves to create outlines and then colour them in. Bugs and insects are a staple too and of course, it’s their garden so they should include themselves in it. Maybe they can stretch out and create their own outline?

Get yourself a carrot (that’ll double as a stick)

Being stuck indoors and unstimulated is as tough on children as it is on adults, if not more so. As well as creating routines for them, they need something to look forward to.

Sometimes you just need a little carrot, a nugget they can look forward to, to keep things from spiralling out of control. A friend on Instagram used a night camping in the living room as a way to keep her children in check all week and get them excited about something.

The weather is due to warm up this week, so if you have a tent and some outdoor space, you could upgrade this to actual camping, but bare in mind that you’ll have to camp with them so only go as far as you’re willing with it.

 Featured image by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

Read more: 8 of the best kids’ movies you’ve never seen (that children and adults will enjoy)

Read more: The tweenage years: a survival guide

Read more: In this smack-free society, has shouting become the next parenting no-no?

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