By Kerrie McLoughlin
As plans are canceled daily due to the COVID-19 virus, we are all feeling a little disoriented. I genuinely believe that boredom can be a gift for our kids because it forces them to get creative (and get along!). It never hurts to put a few fun suggestions in front of them to get them started, so some of the following ideas kids can do on their own and some you will want to join in.
- Lego Masters. Break out the Legos because kids of all ages can get in on this one. Start by taking turns tossing out ideas for things to build (if you are stuck, there are some great ideas for printable cards online). For example, you might tell the kids to make a refrigerator; then, everyone tries their best to build that. Everyone’s creation will be different, so it’s not really a competition, but it’s fun seeing what everyone makes! Then pop some popcorn and turn on Lego Masters (Hulu).
- Art show. Kids love to draw and color! I have tons of artwork on my fridge, but how about REALLY showcasing their special artwork of the day? All you need is a long piece of thin rope or yarn hung from one end of a room to another. Then hang finished pictures using clothespins, pretend you are having a grand gala opening, serve some snacks, and you have an art show! (Bonus activity: get some canvases, paint, and a variety of paintbrushes, and you have art to hang on your wall that can be switched out with other pieces they’ve created.)
- Restaurant. I loooove when my kids play restaurant because I get to be the diner sitting at the table reading my book while they serve me different foods and drinks! They get to play waiters, hostesses, managers, and cooks (depending on age and what they are making, of course, but what an excellent opportunity to do some cooking and/or baking with them as well!).
- Play-dough. This one only takes a few minutes of your help, and then the kids are off on their own, creating for hours. You could always just buy the stuff, but here’s a simple recipe, as well. Pair with a rolling pin and cookies cutters for even more fun!
1 cup flour
½ cup of salt
1 cup of water
1 T. oil
2 t. cream of tartar
Mix all ingredients except food coloring on low heat in a pan. Once the consistency is of play-dough, take the pan off the heat, let cool, then add food coloring a few drops at a time. Knead until the color is all mixed. Grab some cookie cutters and other kitchen items and let the fun begin! Store in air-tight containers or baggies.
- Write and illustrate a story. Kids are full of stories, but some aren’t old enough to write them down. That’s where you come in! Have each kid tell you a story that’s been running around in their mind, and you can either write it out or type it. Then have your child illustrate it! If you’re creating the story on the computer, you can go to free photo sites like Pixabay to grab images for the story!
- Scavenger hunt. Take out a piece of paper and write down different items in the house on it (if you have two teams doing the scavenging, write the same things down on another piece of paper). Ideas include a winter glove, a cotton swab, a doll shoe, a pie pan, etc. Now send the teams off, and whoever gets back with the most items from the list first wins a prize.
- Board or other games. There are so many to choose from it’s insane! Depending on the ages of the kids and how much time you have, great games include Clue, Bananagrams, Tenzi, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Apples to Apples, Ticket to Ride, and so many more!
- Play with your food. Break out the mini marshmallows and spaghetti noodles and have the kids construct creations like houses, bridges, towers, and more! If you have rice around (and you should right now!), put a bag into a large baking pan and let the kids play around in it on the kitchen floor. Excess can be vacuumed up, and the rest can be put into a bag to play with later.
- Perler beads. You may know them as those things that go crunch when you vacuum, but kids recognize them as hours of fun! Using flat, plastic shapes with spikes, kids can create all sorts of things by placing Perler beads in different patterns. You can turn creations into necklaces, magnets, cool things to put inside school binders! Once the beads are in place, you’ll need to place parchment paper over them and iron on low until the beads melt together. Flip it over and do the other side, then they are stuck together and ready to go!
- Salon. This is another one of my favorites because I usually can get a 5-minute back or neck massage while playing this. It’s also a blast to have the kids do my makeup, wipe it all off and start again. Then I get to do their makeup or, for my boys, tattoos on their arms using washable markers. Then it’s time for a bubble bath for the kids to wash off makeup (and germs — for the parenting win!).
- Marco Polo. No, I’m not talking about the swimming pool game! I’m talking about the smartphone app that lets you leave video messages for friends and family. Depending on the age of your child, let them make all the video messages they want for their friends, and especially for grandparents! My dad and grandma love to see what we’re up to each day indoors and in our backyard.