Keeping the kids entertained is the unenviable task that every parent is faced with when the weather is unfavorable, or they have to work from home. Fortunately, with a bit of imagination and a few of the toys, props and materials lying around in nearly every home, you can come up with a range of activities that will ensure that children remain engaged and interested from early morning to evening.
Toys have captured the interest of children for generations, and are now arguably the best way to keep a youngster engaged without resorting to TV screens or smartphones. Kids can lose interest in toys quite quickly, so use a rotation policy throughout the year to keep things interesting. A few board games, playsets, puzzles and construction toys offer exciting and consuming experiences for toddlers and older kids alike. You can also mix toys with learning for a more rewarding use of their time.
Races and courses
Children love running round, so let them do just that at home with a range of unique races and obstacle courses. If the weather is nice, set up a backyard challenge course with boxes, traffic cones and ropes for them to navigate. If you would prefer for them to stay indoors, racing pom pom balls is a great activity. For this, set up two or three race tracks using blue masking tape and get kids to blow the balls along the track using straws. You could even offer up a sweet treat for the winner.
Art projects can spark your child’s imagination and keep them occupied for hours on end. For younger children below eight, make sure to complete any cutting of materials in advance so that they can scribble, draw and create independently. Having a dedicated art space is a great idea, so think about storing supplies in the basement or another small area in the house. Installing chalkboards in a kid’s room is also an excellent outlet for self-expression. You will also need a chalkboard eraser to properly erase a chalkboard to make it easier for children to come up with new creations every day.
A digital recording of a book can introduce children to the wonderful world of prose and creative writing before they are able to read independently. Both Android and Apple smartphones have free apps that will allow your child to listen to audiobooks, though you will have to pay for each title. Alternatively, visit your local library to pick up an audio CD, or download one of the many free podcasts that are available online.
From age eight upward, your child should have the proficiency to read on their own. Reading can play an important role in a child’s development, and those who read regularly generally have better analytical skills, memory retention and concentration. You are likely to have a host of books in the home already, but if not, start out with a few classics such as Matilda by Roald Dahl, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame or The Borrowers by Mary Norton. From here, you can advance to the Harry Potter series.
Tablets and smartphones can be incredibly useful at keeping kids engaged, but make sure to put a time limit on their gaming activities. Try to mix in a few educational apps and quizzes so that they can learn during a period of downtime. You could also move between offline and online activities throughout the day for a more interesting itinerary.
Treasure hunts and camping
Treasure or scavenger hunts are always exciting for young children, so hide a few objects, toys or treats around the house for them to find. Keep them motivated with a few clues or by using colorful signs, which is better if a child is still struggling to read. When it’s finished, you could move on to pretend camp activities. Here, a child is urged to create their own adventures by building a small tent and using items such as a flashlight.
Best of the rest
There are so many activities that can occupy even the fussiest of children for an hour or more at a time. The video game Fortnite is currently very popular with kids, so why not get them to recreate their favorite dances in a dance-off? This is a great way to expend some energy and maybe lead into an afternoon nap. Paper airplane contests can also introduce children to the wonderful world of craft materials and working with their hands. Try to think outside the box and mix and match activities to ensure that everyone from preschool kids to young teens has a great time.