If you’re a parent of small children, then you may be finding the current situation harder than most. Wherever you are in the world, many of us are under lockdown and our movements restricted. Combine this with young kids and the end result is less than ideal.
Kids aren’t easy to keep entertained at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic lockdown. Boredom comes very quickly to small children — and without the added variety of seeing grandparents, having playdates with friends, or getting to explore and play in parks outside, keeping things fun for your toddler or preschooler can be challenging. So what can you do?
First of all, don’t worry. There are plenty of things you can do at home to entertain and educate your child during lockdown; providing fun, normality, and stimulation while the rest of the world slows down for a bit.
With that in mind, here are some exciting ways you can entertain and educate little people during this time.
Arts and crafts activities are the perfect way to entertain and educate your child during lockdown, and there are all sorts of fun things that you can do together to distract kids from boredom while sneaking in a bit of learning too.
Crafting can keep small children occupied for hours (with some parental guidance, of course). You can do some finger painting or drawing, make your own playdough or slime, or create beautiful beaded necklaces and bracelets (which are great for practicing fine motor skills as well).
If you’re stuck for ideas or need a bit of guidance, then subscription boxes for kids like Sago Mini Box are brilliant. Packed with make-and-play activities that teach useful skills like creative problem solving to preschoolers through play. Kids can take ownership of these activities, discovering what they enjoy, expressing creative ideas, and exploring their opinions and thoughts with confidence.
If you’ve got toddlers or preschoolers, then getting out in the backyard for some fresh air and fun is a great way to entertain and educate them at the same time. If you live in an apartment building, short walks are still permitted—and encouraged!
If the sun is shining and the weather is warm, all the better, but if the sky is looking grey or the temperature has dropped, you’ll just need to kit out your little one in wellies and a waterproof coat first.
Whatever the weather or the season, there are plenty of fun things to do in the backyard or on a walk. You can do some actual gardening together — going around the different flower beds and watering the plants that need it, or you can get messy and dig some holes for new plants, or even do some weeding.
You can also have a look for creepy crawlies. How many different bugs can you find together? Guide your little person to look in different places—under stones, in the grass, on plants and trees. Perhaps they can draw or color in some of the different minibeasts they find when you’re back inside.
And if your kids need to burn off some energy, then an exciting game of tag, hide and seek or a scavenger hunt ( you can get some inspiration from this Easter egg hunt post) can get them running around and blowing off steam. Just prepare for the excited screeching.
There are few things more exciting for small children than making a den. And the great thing about den-building is that it’s easy to do anywhere—inside or outside— and will keep kids occupied for ages!
It’s also a fantastic activity for you to get involved in as a parent too — helping out with creative ideas and your own top den-building tricks. Let them take the lead and make the den decisions though; this is a great opportunity for them to think creatively, explore their own ideas, and develop their ability to communicate them to you.
You can use all sorts of things for your little one’s den: blankets, sheets, and old towels held together with clothes pegs, cardboard boxes, and any of your existing furniture too (the best dens are often made underneath tables or round the back of the couch).
Once the den has been constructed, you can work together to kit it out; ask your little one what they would like to put inside. Do they want it to be comfy and cozy, with plenty of cushions and blankets? Or perhaps they’d like to decorate the “walls” with their own paintings and drawings?
Following on from our last idea—now the kids have got the perfect place to camp out and play independently.
Their den is their secret and special place; don’t be offended if they want to play in it solo or with siblings instead. They might want to treat it as their own private hideout and express their own desire for independence. You could suggest that they make their own sign to go on the front or “door” of the den, saying “Private property,” or “Ben’s den—keep out!”.
However, if they do choose to invite you into their den, there are all sorts of lovely, imaginative things you can do together: playing, story-telling, or acting out different situations (their den could be a “shop” or their own house). Again, let them lead in creative play; this is their chance to build up confidence, make decisions, and explore their own ideas.
If it’s approaching bedtime or naptime, then reading together in the den is a wonderful way to get your little ones to settle and wind down. It’s something they already love doing with you, so why not get cozy with some blankets and cushions in their hideout to read stories together?
Getting your child involved in the kitchen—whether it’s baking, cooking, or helping out with other tasks—is perfect for entertaining and educating them.
For a start, letting toddlers or preschoolers join in with what you’re doing will help them to feel included, valued, and closer to you, even if you’re simply ticking chores off your to-do list.
Activities around the kitchen like cooking can also help your child develop important skills, such as communication, coordination, and math as you count out ingredients together. Plus, it’s a really fun way to introduce kids to new ingredients and explore different food, encouraging more adventurous eating. Let them touch and hold ingredients — how do they feel? How do they smell?
There are some simple, child-friendly recipes that you can try out together, such as cupcakes, or making and decorating your own pizzas, which kids will love!
You can also involve them in family meal prep, by giving them tasks such as washing fruit or vegetables in the sink, picking herb leaves, or grating cheese.
Keeping small kids entertained and educated during this tricky time isn’t the easiest, especially when they’re looking to you for fun, guidance, and reassurance. The above ideas should set you off in the right direction — giving children the chance to learn through play, get creative, and have some fun.