As we embark on this new year, we still face months indoors with the kids. KIDFUN is here … to the rescue … with tips to occupy their time creatively and filled with fun, excluding electronics. After all, the kids have enough use of computers and electronics for virtual education.
Below are fun-filled suggestions for play at home, when kids are stuck indoors. They’re from my newest book, KIDFUN: 401 EASY IDEAS FOR PLAY, but, honestly, any idea that you create is just as good. I like to “throw the switch” on creativity and encourage everyone too look at stuff in your house and turn it into a toy. From string and paper plates, to kitchen utensils and food color, from cartons and paint, to the all-time best, balloons, you can create hours of fun with the kids. I had paper plates around and a couple balloons and in the photo above, my 13 year old granddaughter, Ryan, combined them and created a great challenge for all of us to follow! Even though I wrote KIDFUN for young children, it works with all ages.
The ideas below 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.
INDOOR 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, 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. Her 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.
You can play pool—right on the kitchen table. And don’t be surprised if older siblings, parents and grandparents get in the act!
First, set up the pool table, meaning the kitchen table, with pockets on the edge by hanging them off the sides and on the corners. It’s easy. The pockets are small paper cups that are taped along of the kitchen. Tape each cup so that it is flush with the edge of the table or just a smidge lower.
Next, make the cue stick with a plastic drinking straw and a strand of raw spaghetti. Place the spaghetti inside the straw and slide it back and forth. You’ll see it has action to it.
Make the ball with something from the kitchen that is small and round like Cheerios, sunflower seeds in the shell or M & M’s.
Now have your child practice a bit pushing the “ball” along the table with the “cue stick” so that it lands in the “pocket.” Children can do this alone or you can challenge each other. Devise a scoring system based on the number of times the “ball” lands in the “pocket.” It’s fun — try it yourself!
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
Good cheer for a dreary day that’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.)
COOKING IN THE SNOW
Added to typical fun in the snow, is COOKING IN THE SNOW – give the kids varying sizes of plastic bowls, a large spoon and spatula and a measuring cup. That’s all they need for their imagination to fly as they prepare imaginary meals outdoors. Once they tire of that – give them food color and clear plastic drinking cups to make colorful collections of various colors of snow. They can mix the colors, too. My kids once took droplets of food color and painted with the snow as their canvas. They can even make droplets of dots leading to a path.
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.
KIDFUN: 401 Easy Ideas for Play is $9.95 in paperback and $5.99 for eBook. It is available on www.wordeee.com and wherever books are sold. Learn more about KIDFUN by visiting www.kidfunandmore.com and facebook.com/kidfunandmore.