Running out of fun things to do? We’ve got you
Words: Sanri Pienaar | Images: Supplied
In these challenging times, most will agree that parents have it extra tough, what with juggling daily professional demands along with all-day homeschooling. Moms and dads have become their kids’ teachers, jungle gyms and best friends, as always, but now more than ever. If you find yourself running out of fun things to do with your little ones, we’re here to help. Consider including your kids in your daily routine, letting them help out with meals and watering the plants, as well as making fun, educational projects out of everyday household items. We chatted to three innovative moms about how they’re keeping their kids busy and entertained.
Natalie Hauman, Interior Designer (Liela, aged 3 + Zara, aged 6)
Nature scavenger hunt
You’ll need your own garden, an egg carton and a scavenger hunt reference. The girls loved this one, because it’s creative and gets them moving outside in nature (even if you have a small garden).
Using the findings from the scavenger hunt (leaves, flowers, etc.), you can make a beautiful nature mask. Just print a free template and decorate. If you don’t have a printer at home, simply trace the outline from a laptop screen.
Nothing beats playdough
Is there anything kids love more than playdough? You can easily make your own at home using flour, water, cream of tartar, natural colorants such as beet powder for colour and lavender essential oil for a calming scent.
Paper doll time
Mer Mag has some beautiful Creative Play activities, such as creating these paper ballerina dolls that the girls loved painting and dressing.
YouTube is filled with cute yoga or ballet videos for kids, such as Yoga For Kids with Alissa Kepas by Alo Yoga or the Joffrey Ballet School. They’re a fun way to move, even on rainy days.
Nangi Noruka, Social Media Creative (Luhle, aged 5)
Helping out in the kitchen
I include my little one in cooking and baking. This is something that we should have done a long time ago, because it’s so beneficial to her learning. We go over the ingredients and some include phonics. Including her also means she is much more excited to eat her food, because she made it.
An art project a day
We always do an interesting art project based on what she is learning while we are homeschooling her. This week, she is learning about autumn, so we went outside to collect some brown and orange leaves to include in her artwork for the day.
Make home videos
We do a lot of home videos while cooking, sometimes on various subjects she loves, and we especially love TikTok. Some of these videos make it onto my page and some don’t. Even if they don’t, the point is just to have fun.
I love gardening and because of this, my daughter also enjoys it. It’s one of the things we do together. She loves getting her hands dirty and, of course, playing with the water while watering, but she’s also the first person to point out a new leaf or flower growing, so she is pretty attentive.
We are reading one book a day, whether it’s during the day or before bedtime. We did not do this as much before lockdown, but because we have so much time and we are home, reading as a family is easier for us.
Sally Nel, Primary School Teacher (Stephan, aged 2 + Adriaan, aged 6)
Get creative in the kitchen
Inspire little chefs and instil a love for cooking early on by getting your kids involved with making treats for snack time and helping out with small tasks while you cook. Snack time tips: Slice an apple into disks and have them spread peanut butter on them. And for that one day a week when they are allowed sugar, cupcake decorating.
If you live in an apartment, making up sports that are safe enough to play inside is key for getting some exercise. We play a game I like to call Inside Tennis, where we use a balloon as a ball and paper plate as a tennis racket. It’s great for developing hand-eye coordination.
Cut up old cereal boxes and make simple 3-D structures such as a house. Then get painting or use this as an opportunity to collage. Another fun drawing activity is to let your kids trace and draw the shadows of their favourite toys.
Remember the game I Spy with My Little Eye? This has the same concept reworked into an activity. Come up with a theme and set the excursion for the day. Find 10 things throughout the house that are round, for example, and for the younger ones, five things that are red.
Teach them everyday household chores
Use this time to teach preschool children how to:
Make learning fun
We see a lot of children who struggle to understand measurement. As children, we learn how to measure with our hands and feet. Engage children with activities in which they first estimate distance in a scale of steps and then physically walk them out while counting. “How many steps do you think you need to take to cross the living room?”
Developing narratives through imagination is key for problem solving in the future. Tell stories or make up rhymes and let them predict the ending.
Get them moving
It is super important in your child's early childhood development to practise their fine motor skills. Give them washing pegs to pin onto a sheet of paper or button and unbutton a sweater.
Encourage the use of good tech
There are amazing audiobooks and podcasts out there for children. Here are some recommendations: Audiobooks – 365 Bedtime Stories by Disney, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J K Rowling (tweens and up) and Charlotte’s Web by E B White (a classic for the whole family). Podcasts – But Why (perfect for curious kids), Circle Round (beautiful tales set across the globe) and Short & Curly (topical and for the whole family).