An extended break over the summer is something we all look forward to. Kids are ready to play outside, and everyone loves the long, warm days; endless activities lie ahead! But, a long break during March, when we’re all in the middle of the school routine is a little less shiny. Adding the stress of worrying about COVID-19, and being at home without play-dates, camps, grandparents, and less than ideal weather can get pretty overwhelming.
Right now at my house, it’s pouring down rain. My usual plan of heading outside to play when the kids are too rowdy isn’t feasible. Sitting in front of a screen only makes things worse in the long run for my three boys. So, what to do…
~Build a fort. Use pillows, couch cushions, sheets, blankets, etc. A card table with a blanket on top can make a perfect fort. Add a flashlight, stuffed animal and a book for even more fun! Spread a clean towel on the floor and have a simple picnic or tea party!
~Read stories to your children (in the fort, or snuggle up on the couch!), or have them “read” to pets or stuffed animals. My boys memorized many of our favorite board books and they loved to “read” to our family dog.
~Pick an animal to research, and look online or in books at home for pictures and facts about that animal. See if you can all pretend to be that animal. An example: kangaroos. Where to they live, what do they eat, what are their babies called, how big are they, how high can they jump, what type of animal are they? Pin a towel onto your shirts to make a pouch to carry a stuffed animal, and see how long you and your children can hop around.
~Put on some music and have a dance party! It’s nearly impossible to be down when you’re dancing, and it is great exercise!
~Play a board game, build a puzzle, or color a picture together. Write your child’s name in huge block letters, and let them color the letters in.
~Make home made play-doh. Kids can help measure, before heating.
Here is our favorite recipe:
1 ½ c. flour
¾ c. salt
1 ½ c. water
1 T vegetable oil
½ T cream of tartar
(food coloring optional)
Mix all ingredients in a saucepan. Add food coloring if you like. Heat on med-low heat, stirring occasionally. When the batter look is gone and ingredients start staying together when you stir (5-8 min), remove pan from heat. Lay out some wax paper and scoop play-doh onto it. Start kneading it as soon as it’s not too hot—check to make sure it’s OK before letting children knead it! Once play-doh has been kneaded into a nice texture, play! Store in an airtight plastic bag or container.
~Fill the sink with dish soap and toys. Let your kids play with the toys in the soapy water, and they’ll have fun, and get those toys sanitized!
~Play catch with a soft (indoor appropriate) ball, and count how many times you can catch the ball without dropping. This builds hand-eye coordination and numeracy! With very young children, you can sit on the floor and roll it to each other, counting as each person rolls the ball.
Have fun, and remember that it will be warm and sunny eventually!
Author: Hallie Evans, NE Iowa Food & Fitness F2ECE Associate