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Schools have been closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but how will you keep the kids entertained while they’re at home?
You love your kids, of course you do, but let’s face it, the idea of keeping them busy while they’re off school is point-blank terrifying. You need ideas to keep them entertained and you need them ASAP, which is why we’ve put together this handy guide. From jigsaw puzzles to den building and virtual museum tours, work your way through the list one activity at a time, then start all over again.
Your new to-do list
Jigsaw puzzles. Cheap, reusable and loads of fun, jigsaws are a great way to put those little minds to work. With regular play, your mini-mes can master shape recognition and problem-solving, but those teeny-tiny pieces are also great for fine-tuning their motor abilities.
Treasure hunts. Round up your intrepid explorers for a house-bound adventure that will keep them on their toes. They’ll have to use their brains and their legs as they run around the house, chasing clues and solving puzzles to find the ultimate treasure.
Den building. Your little ones will get bored of seeing the same four walls pretty fast, so change the scenery by building a den. Not only will they have to get creative planning it, but they’ll also have to get active building it – and all before they start playing in it.
Origami. Got paper? Then you’re all set for the origami challenge. The internet is full of ideas, with everything from cranes and planes to origami Yodas. If you have a printer at home, why not try this origami dinosaur from the Natural History Museum?
Schoolwork. School may be out but the kids aren’t coming home empty-handed. With homework packs and online resources to crack on with, they can continue their studies at home and you should support their development by creating a regular routine.
Bingo. Make your cards, grab your felt-tip dabbers and turn your living room into a bingo hall as you invite the kids to battle it out for a full house. Put your numbers in a hat, call them out and watch as the little ones light up over their latest numerical adventure.
Gardening. The kids may not be able to play with their friends, but they can certainly run riot in the garden. Get those green fingers started early with a new gardening project.
Hopscotch. You don’t need to visit a playground to play hopscotch because you can make your own. Use chalk on your patio or driveway and masking tape inside your living room to bring back an old school classic. It’s a great way for the kids to burn off energy.
Me time. When everyone’s cooped up together in one house, tempers tend to fray, so make a family pact to give each other space and make sure the little ones stick to it by creating a ‘safe place’ where they can escape to. It might help avoid those cabin-fever squabbles.
Cook. Whether you’re making cookies or getting everyone involved in dinner, cooking is a fun and productive way to keep the kids busy. As they measure and weigh ingredients, your little ones will learn the basics of maths and science, so it’s educational too.
I-spy. Being stuck at home is particularly hard on the kids, so encourage them to engage with the outside world with a game of I-spy. You’ll have loads more options if you look out of the window and the kids will get all the benefit of the outdoors without leaving the house.
Virtual tours. You may not be able to go to a museum, but you can still explore their collections thanks to their virtual tours. We’ve rounded up the 10 best, so you can move from dinosaurs to dynasties in the space of an afternoon. Learning really is fun.
Read. Escape to another world through the magic of the written word. You can get hundreds of eBooks through the Leeds Library and Information Service, and when you’ve finished reading, you can challenge the little ones to write their own story. They might be the next J.K Rowling.
Play shop. Your cupboards are full of essentials, so why not put them to good use? It’s time to set up shop. The kids can get creative with their displays, before they practice their mathematics by calculating how much you owe and how much change you should get.
Dance. The little ones need 60 minutes of activity every day, so you need to find new and exciting ways to keep them moving – and what better choice than dancing? Teach them the Macarena, the Cha-cha Slide and Whigfield’s Saturday Night. Or just challenge them to make their own routine.
Play cards. Card games are full of hidden learning opportunities. They can help create the mathematicians of the future, but they’re also jolly good fun, so make it your mission to teach them a new game every week. From pairs to cheat, this will keep you going.
Paper aeroplanes. What could be better than the kids making their own toys? Challenge the little ones to create their own paper aeroplane, then see how far they can fly. Afterwards, introduce them to your favourite design and explain why it works.
Video chat. It’s no fun staying in without talking to your friends, so make sure your little ones can keep in touch with their classmates. Set up virtual playdates, so they can catch up after a hard day at home and ask them to make a list of things they want to share before the call.
Hide and seek. A classic game that teaches kids problem-solving and social skills, hide and seek is a sure-fire winner. Being at home is a benefit because the kids know every nook and cranny of your house, but the longer you’re there, the more they’ll have to get creative.
Workout. Who says workouts are just for adults? You’ll find loads of kid-friendly exercise classes online. Try the 10-minute shake-ups from the NHS, check out the daily PE with Joe Wicks or work up a sweat with GoNóodle, a favourite with teachers around the world, it’s quick, it’s easy and it’s fun.
Have a picnic. Just because you can’t go out, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Spend the morning prepping healthy snacks then roll out a picnic blanket in your living room and enjoy a delicious feast with your little ones. Got a garden? You can always do it outside.