As we embark on this new year, we still face months indoors with the kids. My new book “Kidfun: 401 Easy Ideas for Play” comes to the rescue with tips to occupy their time creatively—no electronics allowed. After all, the kids have enough time on computers for virtual education.
“Play is so important to children,” says Dr. Jill Clark, CEO of Philadelphia Charter School for Arts & Sciences. “Kids need to play as they learn … it’s the fun they remember!”
Here are fun-filled suggestions for play when kids are stuck indoors. Using stuff you already have in your home, these activities run the gamut from indoor physical play, to snowy and rainy-day fun to more quiet activities that will fill their minds with imaginative escape.
Balloon Volleyball or Badminton
Need a little indoor exercise? Balloons are the answer. They are small and light and practically damage-proof and perfect as the ball in a game of volleyball or as the birdie in badminton. Here’s how you can do it: tie a string or rope to the top of two chairs. Pull the chairs apart wide enough to designate the playing area with the string as the net. Then, if playing badminton, give each player a paper plate. The Balloon is the birdie or the ball (if playing volleyball.) It’s fun … active … and damage-proof!
Keep a bag of balloons handy. They are good for all sorts of diversions: a game of catch or rolling races along a path on the floor. They can cheer up a sick room or make a dining table feel festive!
Here’s an activity, ideal for all animal lovers! Ask your child to think of an animal and imitate its actions. He can’t tell you what it is. You have to guess. His job is to help you guess as quickly as possible. Once you guess, you take a turn. After each of you has guessed successfully, you might want to make a list of all the animals you imitated and look for their images in the computer. They can be printed out and pasted into an animal book, perhaps in groups like wild animals, farm animals, and pets.
If your kids love toy cars, organize races against the clock. Set up a long track with tape or string on the floor. Make sure there is a start and a finish line. Using a kitchen timer or a stopwatch, let your children organize car races along the track and see who gets the best time. If the cars are in danger of veering into a wall or furniture, use pillows for protection.
Find empty boxes that would be good sizes to store books, toy cars, scarves, dolls, etc. Have the kids select the box that would be best for a specific toy or play object. They then decide how to decorate the box. They can use paint or crayon, but maybe for this purpose, the box could be decorated with a picture he makes or a photo he prints out from the internet that describes the object inside. Let the box dry and then find the best place in his room (or elsewhere) to store these boxes. I bet he’ll take great pride in these creations!
Our Favorite Things: Photo Memories
This one will surely brighten up dreary day, and it’s fun for kids and adults. Make a still life of your favorite things. First, gather these things in one place, on a table. Then look on the internet for images of Still Life paintings. Talk about how a vase is placed in one spot, a glass in another, etc. Now, you and your child design your still life, any style you like.
Then photograph them. What a great photo memory of your favorite things you’ll have. Let your child take pictures, too, shooting from different angles to see what he likes best. You could even print out these pictures and make a book of My Favorite Things! (Remember to date it and sign it.)
A neighbor once told me that he blew up the kids plastic wading pool and it made a great sleigh for the snow. He was willing to pull the kids along to shouts of delight from them.
Another neighbor, who didn’t have a wading pool, broke up a carton to make it flat. It slid fabulously along the snow as he pulled them on that. Of course, if there’s a hill nearby, that would be the best!
Connect the Raindrops
If it isn’t raining too hard, open the window and let your child hold a piece of construction paper or gray cardboard out the window. Tell her she must pull it back in by the time you count to five. When she pulls it back in, you’ll see dark spots from the water. Let your child connect the dots quickly in any sequence she wishes. After they dry, she can experiment with filling in sections of her rain design.
Sharla Feldscher has always been a “kid believer.” She has written about children and families for magazines and newspapers and is the author of eight books including two KIDFUN Activity Books published by HarperCollins and translated into Russian and German. She’s been called, “A teacher’s teacher” and “The best friend a kid could have.” She currently writes for www.womanaroundtown.com. You can find out more about Sharla's books at her website www.kidfunandmore.com or purchase them on Amazon or wherever fine books are sold.