Ideas for children probably get exhausted quickly during these corona virus times we are all facing! 

Corona virus times are trying times for us all. But having watched a video of a child completely covered in margarine and a video of another child absolutely covered in white paint having spread it through the house, i am guessing this might be trickier for parents.

i have already written a blog post looking at five things we can do while staying at home and another one exploring some fun and healthy disiciplines to consider working at during these Physical Distancing times… but now it’s time to think of the children.

As you may know, i am not a parent, but i know a lot of people who are and so i invited a number of them on Facebook to share some ideas of what they are trying out with their children. Please feel free to add to this list and build it up in the comments and let us know if you found an idea on here which worked for you… @KayliVee on the Twitterer has a pinned post of different suggestions of things to do during this time worth looking at and i will link some of the children ideas she uses here.

i would probably bot personally go with ‘Two kids unsupervised with a jar of peanut butter’ but hey, your kids:

super messy kids

Some thoughts about the ideas we are looking at

First up though what seems like a super helpful note from a teacher friend i have who lives in Cape Town:

“Let them be kids – play play play!!! They don’t need to be entertained all day. We are lucky we can still go for walks to burn off energy…

This is their school holiday! They’ve worked hard all term. If schools don’t go back on the 14th then look at “school” ideas but for now you can relax and let them play!! As it stands all these “holiday” days will be made up again by cutting other holidays shorter.”

[Little disclaimer: I am lucky my kids are a little older! Toddlers etc are harder work as they need more supervising! 

A good word to keep in mind in a time when a lot of parents probably feel the pressure to be operating as a kind of Super Parent.

Another counsellor parent friend added this:

“Remind parents that getting bored matters, free play matters… Days need decompress time else we put too much pressure on our kids and ourselves to entertain/educate etc.”

girl with binoculars

Crowd-sourced ideas for days

i asked and you responded [Thank you!]. From Facebook and the Twitterer, here are:

A whole bunch of ideas of things you can do with your children [or have them do by themselves] during these testing times:

My friend Alexa spoke about a friend of hers, Nicola Jordan, who sends out a daily art activity – if you send her your number she will add you to the Whatsapp group for the daily message: alexa@philamoya.co.za

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From my friend Debbie Hutton:

If you’re a parent of young children facing possible self-quarantine at home or social distancing i.e. school closure, here is a list of things to stock up on (besides hand sanitizer and toilet paper😉) as well as some ideas to keep the little ones busy.
😎(Primarily aimed at Pre-school age but can be adapted for older children, teens and even adults!)

Stock up on:
🔸 Drawing equipment: paper, koki pens, crayons, pencil crayons etc. 📋🖍
🔸Water colour paints. (Less messy and easy to clean up)🖌🎨
🔸Playdough -follow link for easy recipe (https://www.learning4kids.net/…/microwave-play-dough-recipe/)
🔸Shaving foam – great sensory activity on a flat table or counter top surface.
🔸 Scissors and glue.

Activities to do while you’re at home for an extended period of time:
🔸 Be creative – your child will be missing out on the creative activities they would normally do at school so provide a space for them to do it at home.🎨 that’s where the list above comes in Drawing, painting, playdough, cut and stick out of old magazines – choose a topic, colour, letter, theme and create collages.
🔸 Read books – stock up on books and read, read, read. 📚 Can’t emphasise this enough.
🔸 Puzzles: another activity that they will be missing out on while not at school.
🔸 Board games: games like snap and memory game for younger ones, traditional board and card games for older ones.
🔸 Build forts: use blankets and sheets over tables and chairs to create fantasy areas, inside or outside, add dress up clothes. 👑👒
🔸Play outside: you can still play outside in your own garden, fresh air is always a good thing. 🌤🌳
🔸 Bake: get them involved in baking and cooking. 🍪🍰🍡
🔸 Gardening: little ones love a watering can! Let them water your pot plants, plant seeds (tomato pips, sunflowers, beans) 🌻🍅
🔸 Construction games: bring out the Lego and any other construction games that may be lurking at the back of the cupboard.
🔸 Use masking tape to make roads on the floor around the house – endless hours of fun.🚕🚗🚐
🔸 Play ball games outside. 🏏🏐

Hopefully these ideas can help prevent the cabin fever from setting in too soon! 😉 Good luck🍀

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From Kari Cousins:

From previous experiences of quarantine – Audio rather than video as the listening can happen concurrently with meccano/ lego/ drawing/ pasting/ knitting/ sewing and make the activity last longer as well as stimulating imagination. Audible has free stuff!

With response from my sister-in-law Ro: 

Yes. We just started a free audible book with our girls (6 and 9) and was great cuz it is stimulating imagination, training them to listen well, and they can quietly (key point here!! Ha) continue with another activity as u mentioned. It really helped to have some quiet time and ease some of their pent up craziness.

More from Kari:

And cardboard boxes! Because the joys of designing, building and decorating your very own den are myriad. Paper glue, string, and a whole bunch of discards, loo-roll holders, magazines, newspaper etc. Draw art for/ on the walls.
Or connect boxes with cut out entrances or wriggle holes for a maze and have a race, then turn them into dens to retreat to with a pillow and a book. Smaller ones can become castles and houses to play with rather than in.

Which Nicola Jordan added this super helpful How-To link to:

https://hannahandlily.blogspot.com/2011/07/coolest-cardboard-house-ever.html

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From my friend Lisa Pieterse:

# Yesterday I mixed corn starch and water into oobleck (google it, it’s such fun) and stuck the kiddos (4 &6) into the empty bathtub with a bowl of that, some scoopers and plastic dinos to hide in it. It was so messy but contained to the tub. Bought me a half hour working at the batjroom counter and then just bathed them after and washed away the mess (water play bought me 20 more minutes)

# Take old wrapping paper and tape a long strip white side up to the floor. Provide markers. Repeat.

# Today we propped up a plank for a car ramp and i “let” the kids vacuum the stairs with the hose attachment.

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@Mindful_Beans on the Twitterer shared this resource which might be helpful in dealing with the emotions and mentaltate of your children:

‘mindfulschools.org are offering free online mindfulness classes for kids. Might be helpful for children to help them find some space around the different emotions they maybe experiencing during this time.’

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Bonay van der Schyff:

# Find fun ways to let them help with chores. It’s going to take 4 hours longer but, like, you’re there all day. Dishes took 2 hours with a towel on the floor.

# Wash toys. Time to clear out all those unused and unloved toys and SANITIZE them.

# Do a dress up concert (hours of entertainment)

# Go on an imaginary tour in a ‘bus’ on your couch. Ask them what they see.

# Today we are doing a joy Marie Kondo kid version with effton of toys they have and all toys are getting a bath😜

🐒Helping me with chores (pack away dishes etc)

💜Wash stinky dogs🐕

💜Making playdough

💜We are taking ALL our completed activity books and cutting out our favourite pics using them aa s collage/start making birthday /Christmas cards for the year, 😬

Last note:

With kids. It’s really really great to JUST LET THEM BE

  • Let Them screw around. 
  • Give a suggestion ‘mud’ or ‘paint’ and let them continue.
  • Unstructured play is so beneficial for their imaginations. School requires they cut this box in exactly this way and colour it in this exact colour. Let them explore their creativity.
  • If they say ‘I’m bored’ have a ‘I’m bored jar’ with hints on how to keep selves busy. 

My list looks dazzling above, but I can guarantee they will help with these tasks for about 20 minutes before discovering something else is more interesting

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My friend Heidi Hudson-Bennett added a link to a page called P.E with Joe which i guess is all about exercise…

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From Kate Obree:

We did face paints yesterday.. massive hit. I even got my face did.

Ideas for children face paint

Also. Egg box fairy lights. Get an old egg tray (must be made of card) and paint it in as many colours of whatever paint / glitter you can get hold of. Then, the grownup cuts the little egg holders into flower shapes, making a small hole in the center of each. Small person pushes the fairy light into each one.

Ideas for children lights

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From Michelle Edwards:

I follow @busytoddler on IG and she has upped her posts this week to include tons of ideas for parents with preschool children. Her ideas mainly use household items or basic stationery you would have around. One of the ones I’ve recently tried is a LEGO bath – kids in bath, dump in LEGO duplo. Mine built with them, then washed them with soap and facecloths, then dried them out. Any kind of bath works – ice lolly bath, paint bath (yogurt and food colouring).

My POA is also not to jump to activities too quickly. I let the morning routine happen slowly, try get kids to join in (cleaning , food prep) and only provide a structured activity if I really need to. Ration the ideas!

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From @KayliVee:

# Make a daily/weekly themed collage if you have old magazines etc, or make one on your computer. It’s something to keep ’em entertained and maybe learn something too if you make a theme around an educational subject.

# Kids can learn magic tricks at home! Just google. Hundreds of vids online.

# Have a “spa day” with the kids. Talk about the importance of hand washing, teach them how to hand massage (that they can do for you in the future ;)) and paint each others nails.

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From Alexa Matthews, this helpful ‘List of things that need to happen today’ – the idea of managing your children’s expectations is a great one.

Ideas for Children

As is giving them things to look forward to and this can be changed daily. If you have a whiteboard or chalkboard even better.

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blanket fort

More Exciting Ideas for Children who are at home during Corona times:

Sho. So you really responded [Thank you, again!] and that is where that list of activities came from and then i put out a final call this morning on Facebook and the Twitterer and some more ideas came forward so here is a bit of a Part II:

From Nicky Vigeland:

Arts and crafts which are home made- car ramps, letters to overseas friends, puppet-making. Making home made play dough together. Bible stories and pick a bible song to sing out of the box. create a schedule of things to do each day with meals/snacks- nothing too hectic. old school games- hide and seek etc.dance it out to funky music etc…

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This is a fun one. My  friend Lisa van-Zyl Jones said this:

My old Improv friend and chef extraordinaire Lisa van Zyl-Jones: I will be sending out recipes for kids to cook. Will send to you too. I usually do actual cooking classes with kids. Just told their parents and other school moms that I would just send the recipes for now. Drop her a mail at meerkatkitchen@gmail.com if you are interested. i am sure they will be super yummy and great for children! 

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My friend Yvette Swanepoel:

Building your own vertical garden is fun and practical for kids. It requires daily watering, so is an on-going project. Requirements: husk lining for trays, plastic veggie rack (or other substitute), soil, seedlings.

Ideas for children plants

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Really love this one from Sheralee Dickerson:

I’m teaching my son skills. Last night i taught him to bake a self saucing pudding, my mom is teaching him to knit. I hope to be able to plant a veggie garden.

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From my friend Ian Walton:

I wanted to add this one that Shélagh came up with and we’ve been doing the past few days before the ‘real work’ begins… We all take little paper cutout leaves and then with some background music we all write/draw either something to be grateful for/ ask God for. ..then afterwards the kids (and us ) each describe what’s on their leaf and why. Then and we pray it through together. We are going to stick up a ‘tree trunk’ on the wall with branches, and add leaves each day as we go….

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From Katarina@KataKata86:

Mee and my daughter been doing indoor aerobics, her interest in art and drawing has just grown and quiet time where we all in diff rooms minding our own business has been great.

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My friend Cristi Little:

Give each family member a plastic bottle (same brand/size for fairness) and give them a week to fill it with as much plastic as they can find and make an eco-brick. Weigh the bottles at the end of the week and the person with the heaviest eco-brick wins.

I probably would include a few other challenges and have a grand prize for the person who scores the most points over all challenges. Eco-Olympics?

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From my friend Alice Stegmann:

Lots of unstructured free play!!! In between a few games (too many monkeys 🐒, Uno) and some walks! They can help with food prep / baking if they want.

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This idea from Mary-Louise Masterson was mentioned above but i am including hers because it comes with specific suggestions as well:

We have created an ‘I’m bored’ jar. This is a jar we all created together with folded bits of paper with activities in. If any of them come to me and say ‘I’m bored’, they have to take a paper from the jar and they HAVE to do what is written. There are wacky fun things like
make ice cream Sundays or build a fort, have marble Olympics and film it. There are arty things like pavement chalk art or create a collage.

Outdoorsy things like have a scavenger hunt, jump on the trampoline, climb a tree, go for a run. Indoorsy things such as make popcorn and watch a movie, read a book, build a lego city, play a boardgame. There are also housework ones, clean your room, wash the dishes. Then bonus ones such as an extra half hour of screen time. I add new ideas as they come to me. The kids are loving it. You would obviously adjust it for the age of our kids.

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Activities for children

A few more links before i end, many from @KayliVee on the Twitterer’s feed:

An Entire List of Education Companies offering free subscriptions due to school closings.

Three Weeks Free usage of the Resources on the page Fluency and Fitness.

Gal Shir is offering a colouring book called Crazy Space for free.

The site GeoGuessr is offering a FREE game with maps on their site so you can get to know the world a little.

Links to over 30 Virtual field trips from Zoos to National Parks to Space! These are worth checking out!

There is a Facebook Group called I’m Stuck at Home with my Kids but we still want to have Fun which you can join for connection and ideas within an online community.

Chatterpack has an amazing list of activities that include many for adults as well but a whole host of exciting things to keep children busy and learning so take a look over here.

i hope you found this to be a super helpful resource – huge THANK YOU to all my parenting friends and some new parenting people who opened their idea closets and shared them all with us. Please do the same as you hit SHARE on this post on all your social media platforms so that more people can be exposed to and enjoy these ideas. Let’s fight the Cabin Fever together! Stay safe out there!

[For a post on some more general vibes concerning corona virus and how we can take it seriously and be creative, click here]