Whether it’s the flu or rainy days, all parents know how hard it can be to keep kids occupied when they are stuck at home. The team from the parenting website Stay at Home Mum reveals some tips.
1. Build a cardboard cubby house
Since children are always looking for a place for a hideout or fort, why don’t you let them build their own? Gather some unused cardboard boxes or shoe boxes, paint, markers, tape and a cutter or a knife (remember – adult supervision if knives are around!) They’ll also enjoy deciding what colour their cubby house should be.
2. Tape a racetrack around the lounge room
Tell the kids that their toy cars should not go beyond the tape (you don’t want to encourage road rage!). Also try putting up a parking spot — outlined with tape of course — and your kids will love playing lounge room GTA for hours.
3. Make golf ball lady bugs for the garden
Children really love animating stuff and these lady bugs, made out of golf balls, will liven up their gardening time. All you need are some golf balls, old paint brushes and red, white and black paint. You could also use googly eyes to stick into the balls as the eyes. For more fun, get them to make a play or a show with their new “pets”!
4. Make cork boats and have a boat race in the bathtub
For this activity, you will need corks, elastics, toothpicks, a nail and coloured foam sheets (or you know, sparkly ones because the holidays are coming). Basically, you need to tie the corks together using the elastics with a toothpick to hold the “sail” of your sailboat. Let your cork sailboats sail in the tub during your kids’ bath time for more fun.
5. Make homemade candles for gifts out of crayons
We all know how kids love their crayons. Give them a fun time while they’re stuck at home by letting them transform their broken crayons into rainbow-coloured candles. The finished product could make excellent gifts for Christmas too! Since there will be need for a microwave in this project, make sure that the kids have adult supervision for this one.
6. Make an indoor garden with recycled plastic bottles
Kids can really be experimental at times. Tickle their green thumbs with this activity. Not only does it encourage a love of gardening but it also hones their recycling gene. Cut a plastic bottle, such as a soft drink bottle, into two parts. The one with the lid should be the one used as the main planting pot. The lower half of the bottle should then be the one that catches the excess water when you are watering the plants. Also, allow your kids to choose what to plant. Enjoy!
7. Make magic fairy bottles
These amazing and glittery magic bottles could please both kids and adults. They will need fancy shaped bottles, water, glycerin, glitter, glitter flakes, sequins, ribbons or twine or lace. Mix one part of water to one part glycerin, pour it into the bottle along with the glitter and sequins. Tightly place the cap of the bottle and secure it with a ribbon or a twine. You could also attach a label or card to the ribbon if you want to give these as a present. Enjoy shaking!
8. Squirt gun painting
For this, you will need an easel, watercolour paper (or canvas), a drop cloth (to protect walls), some Nerf water guns, tape, water and of course watercolour paint. Paint away!
9. Hold a nature scavenger hunt
This activity is also good during the summer so that the kids could unleash their inner Indiana Jones. Basically, you give them a list of things that they’d have to “scavenge”. Set a time limit. The one who has the most scavenged items from the list is the winner.
10. Create an epic marble run
Let your kids create a larger-than-life marble run using scraps from their school supplies and used cardboard boxes. You might also need paper cups for catching the marbles at the bottom of the obstacle. Strategically place popsicle sticks on the cardboard box to make an “obstacle” for the marbles.
11. Change the colour of garden flowers
This might take a few hours or a few days to take effect, but it would surely spike the curiosity of your kids. You will need some white flowers (carnations and gerberas should be fine), some mason jars, food colour and water. Mix the food colours with water and pour in the mason jars, then put the flowers with the food colour you have. Tell your kids to periodically record what they have observed with the flowers, and to take note which colour is easily absorbed by the flowers and which are not. This is a science experiment that improves the kids’ hypothetical skills and their creativity too!
12. Ice excavating
This activity is guaranteed to be a hit in the summer and is definitely one for the outdoors. All you need to do is freeze a heap of children’s toys in a large container of water, sealing them into the ice. Then have your kids excavate them using rocks, small tools, toothbrushes or spray bottles filled with water. Depending on how hot it is where you live, this one could keep kids occupied for hours! You can do it with any toy, and in containers of any size!
13. Water balloon baseball
This one is like playing baseball, using water balloons instead of a baseball. Make use of hula hoops as your bases and stack up on a lot of water balloons. This activity is great during the summer.
14. Create a marshmallow catapult
Set some shooting buckets, anyone who “shoots” the most marshmallows will be the winner.
15. Lounge room mini golf
Basically, you will be honing your kids motor skills with this activity. You will need some cereal boxes, or plastic cups to serve as holes, scissors, tape, a golf ball or any other balls with similar size, and toy golf clubs or putters. Set up a scoreboard and the kid who has the highest points wins!
16. Leaf rubbings
This activity is great because it uses things that you’ve probably got lying around in your garden: leaves! Most kids revel in anything arty or creative, and leaf rubbing is the best of the outdoors and the arts. You can even do this activity outside if you want, all you really need is a flat smooth surface of some kind. Stretch the value of this activity by taking kids for a walk first to collect the leaves, and then spending the next few hours rubbing them.
17. Make paper from scratch
This is another science experiment with a finished product. Although recycled paper may not be as smooth as factory-made ones, your kids could use it for their art projects. For this, you would need some scrap paper, a blender, some water, a storage tub or vat, a mould and deckle, some wood boards, a rolling pin, towels, wool cloths, or an old bed sheet. Yes, there are a lot of things needed for this activity but trust me, the kids will enjoy it and it keeps them focused.
This is an edited extract of a story originally published on stayathomemum.com.au