50 interesting ideas and activities for children and parents
Let’s have fun at home
In the last few months, many families have been spending more time at home than usual. In this article, we bring you some interesting suggestions and ideas for fun activities, or for you to learn something new. But, first of all, here is some general advice and some reminders:
Put some of the toys away. This is in any case a good strategy because many children have trouble deciding what to play with precisely because they have too many toys. Since no one knows how long this situation will last, it would be a good idea to be able to pull out a “new” toy at a particular moment.
Try to keep to a routine. This routine should be like the one the children are used to, with a schedule of waking up, eating meals, and doing activities more or less at the same time every day. Children like things to be predictable, because this makes them feel safe, and makes the day easier for parents, too, since days full of work, housework and caring for children can seem long. If you divide the day into smaller parts, this will make life simpler.
Don’t forget that children usually make a mess when playing. This is OK, but just encourage and remind them that they must tidy up and put the toys back in their proper place when they finish.
Toys can be used in a number of ways and sometimes differently from the one originally foreseen. For example, you can play with toy cars by “driving” them, but you can also categorise them by colour, wash them in a bowl or washbasin full of water, arrange them in rows, play “complete the sequence” or “odd one out” with toy cars of different colours, etc.
And now, here are some more suggestions for activities!
Everything is better outside
It is very important to spend some time in the fresh air, even in these unusual and stressful times. So, try to go out every day, if possible. Stay in your back yard, or on a terrace, or go for a walk outside. It is important to do this in places where there are not many people. Explore your neighbourhood or town, and try to find such places, but definitely respect the ban on going to a playground or sports facility.
- Collect pebbles. At home, you can paint them with felt tip pens, watercolours or tempera.
- Learn to recognise different types of trees by their leaves. Teach your child to recognise different types of flowers and other plants.
- Pick the leaves and flowers of different plants, such as dandelions and daisies. Paint them with tempera or watercolours and press their imprint on paper.
- Play ball! Play football or basketball. If you don’t have a basket, make it out of a spare bucket.
- Make some drawings with chalk.
- Play tag or hide and seek.
- Take a blanket. You can use it to have a picnic outside.
- Go cycling/rollerblading/scootering.
- Make bowling pins out of water bottles and try to knock them down with a ball.
- Run for part of your walk. Climb trees. Walk on low walls.
Sing and make instruments
- Turn on the music and sing as loud as you can. You can also make a microphone out of empty toilet paper rolls or building bricks. Karaoke? Why not?
- Use some musical instruments if you have them, or “make” them by using pots, pot covers, plastic bottles filled with rice, etc.
- Imitate the sounds of different animals.
- Listen to relaxing classical music while doing something else and learn to recognise some important pieces of classical music.
Quiet time is important
Children (and you) will need some quiet time during the day. This is the time when we can recharge our batteries and rest.
- Read together, or separately. Small children who cannot read by themselves can leaf through picture books.
- Before you read a book together, you can look only at the illustrations with your child and try to make up your own story.
- Draw with crayons, felt tip pens, pastels, watercolours or tempera.
- Do some colouring in, do puzzles, or build with building bricks.
- Make a row of toy cars – randomly, or according to the colour or type of car.
- Place wooden bricks from the Jenga game or dominos in a row, and then knock them down. You can also build a tower with them.
- Make a tower by using absolutely all the bricks you have. Make it as tall as possible!
- Use building bricks to make a “complete the sequence” or “odd one out” game for your child.
- Print out or make worksheets, depending on the child’s age. You can find ideas on many websites. Just write “worksheets for children” in the search box.
Move around as much as you can
Children spend most of their time running, jumping and moving in general. That is why it can be difficult if they cannot do this at home. Here are some suggestions to help them release some energy and have fun!
- Place cushions, folded blankets and similar objects around the apartment. Pretend that the rest of the apartment is a river or hot lava, and the only safe place to walk is over the placed objects.
- Use some blankets and sheets to make a little house or a tent. Children can have a picnic inside, or read books, or rest.
- Play with a torch or a smartphone flashlight. Ask the child whether he or she can jump into the circle made by the light. Can he or she reach the light if you point it higher up on the wall, etc?
- Discover what you can do with your own body. For example, ask the child whether they can stand on one leg, how many times they can jump on one leg, can they touch their chin with their knee, hold a plank position, do push ups, or sit ups. Younger children will be interested to find out what they can do, and older children will want to improve their performance.
- Play hunt the colours! Ask children whether they can find three blue objects, which they must then put back in their place, then something green, or some other colours.
- Find an online dance school on YouTube and learn a few steps of salsa or tango together.
Keep them busy
- Children like plasticine. You can make it according to a recipe used in kindergartens (2 cups of flour, 2 cups of water, 1 cup of salt, 1 tablespoon of oil, 2 tablespoons of citric acid, a few drops of essential oil, and preferred food colouring. Mix all the dry ingredients. Place the water, oil and essential oil in a pan and warm it over a low heat. Then add the dry ingredients and mix. The mass will become very sticky but continue to stir. When it turns homogeneous, turn off the heat. Plasticine can remain white, but if you want different colours, tear off pieces of the mass, add food colouring, and knead it until the colour distributes evenly. Keep the plasticine in an airtight plastic container.
- If you have more children, organise thematic project days. The topic of the day may be, for example, Italy, dinosaurs, ice-cream, or anything else they might find interesting. Let them explore the assigned topic by using encyclopaedias and online sources, and then they can produce a poster. Younger children can be given easier tasks. For example, to colour the flag of a country, or draw something. Prepare a meal together which is related to the theme or make a dessert!
- Organise a Day of Children's Rights in your home. Learn more about children's rights, talk with the children about the difference between wishes and needs. Watch together our cartoon “Child Rights with Ruby and Jack” and study the Convention on the Rights of the Child written in child-friendly language.
- Teach your child how to make bracelets out of wool or thread.
- Tell the children to produce a play using their favourite soft toys, and then let them put on a performance for the parents in a theatre made of blankets or sheets. They should also make a poster for their performance, and invitations for the parents.
- If you have an old, small picture frame, remove the glass and the back, so that only the frame remains. Fix a piece of old sheet or pillowcase on the frame and draw a flower, a house, or some other motif on the canvas. Take coloured thread or wool, and a large needle and let the child do some embroidery
- Fill the washbasin with warm water and soap and let the children wash their toys. Children usually like to play with water.
- Play “Uno”! This simple card game can be played by children who are familiar with colours and numbers up to nine.
- “Ludo” is a fun game for the entire family.
- Make your own spelling cards. Cut squares out of thick cardboard. You can write the letters, and the child can draw the things related to a particular letter. You can use the cards to play “Memory”, or the child can try to make words with the letters, for example, spell his or her name, mum, dad, gran, and other simple words to start with.
- Learn how to properly wash your hands. You can find everything about this on UNICEF website.
- These days, many people prepare home-made bread in order to avoid going out of their homes too much. Involve the children. Explain what the yeast is for and give them a piece of dough to make their own small loaf.
- Help your children make muffins or cookies that can be cut out in different shapes, or another simple dessert for the entire family. Besides learning something new and occupying themselves with something interesting, this will also help them build self-esteem.
Involve the children in housework
Children usually like to help doing housework. This makes them feel important and grown-up!
- Involve the children in the preparation of meals and setting the table for the whole family.
- Let them fold up clean clothes. They could be especially interested in wrapping socks into balls.
- Vacuum the apartment together.
- Wash the bike together, or let the children wash a large plastic toy, such as a push car, by themselves.
- Let them help you dust or wash the windows with their own duster or cloth.
- Children can water the plants in the apartment or in the garden.
- Use the time together to teach the children about the importance of recycling. Let them help you sort the waste. While doing this, you can explain to them which waste is collected separately. Find information on the internet about what can later be made out of recycled material.
Adapt the activities to your children’s age, and don’t forget that you do not have to be involved in everything your child is doing, but that it is also important to encourage them to play by themselves depending on the child’s stage of development.