Be it foul weather or pandemic, there are times when we are home bound for days or even weeks on end. Being stuck at home as a single person or couple is one thing, but when you are sharing the space with kids, siblings, or relatives, that introduces a slew of new challenges.
Now, I could tell you to cherish the opportunity to spend time with your loved ones, which you totally should, but I bet you’ve already heard that before.
Instead, I’d like to share a few creative, cross-generational ways to pass the time that will get you laughing and smiling, no matter your age.
And since the youngest of us tend to have the hardest time being cooped up, I’m going to focus on what you can do with them, going from toddlers up to teens.
We're going to explore creative things to do with the young ones when your family is stuck in the house.
Now, these may not be your own children. They could be nieces and nephews, young siblings, or the children of friends. Point is, you’re all at home, and you’re tired of twiddling your thumbs.
Before we get into it, I just wanted to give you a quick hint, coming from someone who has taught kids of all ages: the key to engaging kids is to tap into your own inner child. We all have one in us, and when we learn to embrace that fact, you’d be amazed at how easy it is to connect with the little ones.
So reach into yourself, kindle that flame of youth flickering inside you, and let’s get started!
1) Babies and toddlers
For babies and toddlers, you can show them a picture with an object on it. Tell them what it is. This is a quick game where you flash a card in front of their face for a few seconds and move on to the next card.
For the baby, this is an exciting way to learn about the world around them. For you, it’s a fun opportunity to describe things you’ve probably forgotten how to describe, or never realized needed describing.
This can be as DIY as you’d like.
You can print out your own pictures from the internet or clip out images from magazines. Then stick them onto some notecards with a short description or explanation on the back.
This works really well for art as well. Show the Mona Lisa to the toddler. Or make your own piece of art. Let them know who made it and how it makes you feel. If they are old enough to talk, ask them to interpret it and you might be surprised with what they come up with.
2) Young Children
With young children of five years or above, a delightful activity to do with them is creative writing.
You can give them a prompt, like a word, a sentence, a question, or even a picture. Have them write freely, completely ignoring spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Encourage them to write phonetically. Just allow them to get their ideas on paper.
For kids that are a bit older, you can have them change the end of one of their favorite fairytales, books, or even movies. They can make a modern adaptation of the story.
Encourage them to imitate the style of their chosen author, such as Dr. Seuss’ melodic, whimsical and sometimes nonsensical prose. He mostly uses a poetic style called anapestic tetrameter. An anapest is a group of three syllables that follows the pattern: unstressed-unstressed-STRESSED.
Check out this example from “If I Ran the Circus”:
All ready to put up the tents for my circus.
I think I will call it the Circus McGurkus.
And NOW comes an act of Enormous Enormance!
No former performer's performed this performance!
With this age group, in addition to creative writing, you can also teach them a new song you both enjoy. Bonus points if it’s in a different language! There are plenty of great resources on YouTube that give you the song and lyrics to sing along with. This is particularly helpful with second language acquisition because of the comprehensible input – you can see and hear the sounds simultaneously.
3) Older children (tweens and teens)
As you get into the tweens and teens, the hurdle for keeping them engaged gets a bit higher, let’s be honest.
One effective approach to achieving this is through physical activity. And while we are restricted to the house, that doesn’t mean we can’t get our blood and limbs going a bit!
And what better way to do this than a dance party!
Dancing, like singing, has so many therapeutic benefits because it releases a cocktail of chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. Older generations, parents, grandparents, older siblings, can show the styles of dance that were popular in their youth in exchange to learn what’s popular in today’s youth… flossing, anyone?
And if anyone plays an instrument, their participation as a musician is strongly encouraged.
No one but family is around, so this is a safe place for everyone to get goofy and let off some steam. Schedule it ahead of time so people can dress up, makes props, and get excited for it.
Speaking of dressing up, another great way to engage a diverse group is with a short drama production, complete with set props and homemade costumes. Decide on your favorite classic or work together to script your own. Once everything is organized, rehearse it a few times, and finally, when you’re feeling confident enough, present it to some friends over video chat! Or you can even film it for the family archives!
One final activity that everyone can get into is cooking. We all need to eat, after all. Learning how to cook is an important life skill that children and adults alike benefit from. And cooking makes the eating part so much more rewarding.
The internet is overflowing with recipes and cooking guides, so let the kids decide on one that looks exciting, and perhaps challenges them a little bit, and get to it!
So there you have it, a few creative activities to do with the young folks who are cooped up. Let’s quickly recap:
- Picture and art flash cards for the babies
- Creative writing for the pre-teens
- Dance parties, dramas, and cooking for all ages
Like I said at the beginning, the key to succeeding with all of these is tapping into the inner child that lives in all of us. The more creative and goofy you can be, the more fun everyone will have, including you!
Now you might get some weird looks to start, particularly if you guys aren’t used to doing these kinds of things together, but once you get the momentum going, you will be amazed at how these activities take on a life of their own.
So don’t hold back. Get inspired and make the best of the precious time you have with each other!
So now that I've shared our thoughts, I’d love to hear your own ideas for fun activities to do at home. Who did you do it with and what made it fun?
Share that with me and the Explearning community in the comments below.
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With that, have an awesome week, Explearners.
Thank you so much for joining me and I’ll see you next time for your next Explearning lesson.
Happy Explearning ⚡