At no other time was my creativity (and patience) as a parent tested more than during the 2020 lockdown.
Containing a high energy child within an apartment for two whole months was not easy for anyone. There were days when we over-extended screen time to give all of us a break. But by and large, we were in a position to engage our then four-year-old in multiple activities that did not involve a screen.
Fun activities for kids at home
Activities for kids at home during lockdown wouldn’t be complete without some amount of screen time every day. Even if it was educational, it still added up. Thankfully, our 4-year-old only had an hour of class time, and he barely kept still during that time.
His screentime for the day included activities as well as TV shows or movies. Activities for kids online gave us parents some respite.
Some of the online activities for kids that we tried and loved are listed below.
1. Online Storytime
One of the most heartwarming things to come out of the pandemic lockdown was how so many people stepped up to make it easier for others. From helping with daily routines to making their craft available online for free, be it fitness videos, music and dance videos, and our favourite – storytimes.
Although we have limited screen time every day, these short videos are great to reign in the chaos once in a while. After all, we are in the middle of a pandemic. Since there’s hardly any playtime with other kids, a little extra screen time is all right.
2. Online Yoga for kids
In the initial days of the lockdown, since we didn’t leave the house at all, we had to find ways for all of us to keep moving. We tried a few exercise videos and then came across Cosmic Kids Yoga.
He loves his yoga aunty. They do yoga by letting kids participate in the story and go on adventures. They also have mindfulness videos. Kids of all ages will find something interesting to do and adults can also join in. It’s not as easy as it looks if you’re not used to jumping around all day.
3. Educational shows that are fun
There were times when our son wanted to watch shows that didn’t make sense to us but was fun for him, and we let him. Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol were the usual culprits. But he would tire of them soon and get back to more exciting shows like the Wild Kratts (a show on wildlife and nature), Word World, Super Readers, Magic School Bus and many such good shows available online.
Offline activities for kids
There are so many non-screen activities for kids of all ages. The catch is that they need someone to give them company to keep it interesting for them. I’ve listed below some of the activities we did together.
A point to note is that no matter how much effort you might have put in planning a particular activity, they might not do it more than once. There’s no point in forcing it. If it’s not fun, they’re going to let you know. A lot of the games we played, we only played once or twice. Or he was reminded of it after a few weeks and wanted to do a particular thing again.
We kept shuffling between activities, so he didn’t get bored. If he got bored while doing any of the activities, I set a goal to finish or just end the game. Otherwise, he wouldn’t want to return to it again. Have patience and try to make it fun.
1. Free play
Unstructured play is crucial for kids. Role-playing, taking out their frustrations by banging or throwing things, and making full use of their imagination are essential aspects of learning. We made sure he had some uninterrupted time on his own every day.
2. Educational games
We’ve been trying to make learning fun so it doesn’t become a chore. Some of the ways we try to familiarise him with numbers are number cards, playing Uno or Monopoly, and handing him a calculator to use as he wants (like adding up the money he has in his piggy bank).
We also learned to read by playing word games with his alphabet truck. The Melissa and Doug Alphabet Blocks Truck was awesome. He’d pretend to be a delivery truck, and I’d ask him to get me certain letters to make a word. We also made a treasure hunt list of things he had to read and find around the house, like the bed, table, etc.
Our son loves to use tools, so we gave him a screwdriver and a broken lamp to open and see what’s inside. He loved exploring the parts. Letting kids use basic tools under supervision is a great way to develop motor skills and life skills simultaneously. We used some of his broken toys that we hadn’t thrown them away. We didn’t want him to think that things become useless just because they’re broken.
3. Energy expenders
The trick to having some peace is to get them tired. We’ve used everything from a bouncy ball (in the house), skateboard, cleaning tasks, cycling, dancing, and general jumping around. A lot of it gets very annoying very quick for the adults in the house, but how else are the kids supposed to expend their energies?
Because my husband is working from home and is mostly on calls, we’ve had to ask our son to limit his loud games to his room. We need to keep reminding him about it a few times every hour. Because some of these props can be dangerous lying around the house…the skateboard, for example, there’s a strict rule to park it correctly or have it towed away.
I had also made a small obstacle course for him to complete around the house…hop, skip, and jump. I also added some light weights he needed to lift. He did the course a few times and was then done with it. I tried to get him to finish the trail faster as a challenge, but he wasn’t interested at all.
4. DIY, Arts and Crafts
I always have a list of craft projects I’d like to try, and those that involve kids is a bonus. We tried the paper mache bowl together. We’ve also done other DIY projects around the house. He’s not one to sit in one place, so there were not many of these activities on my list.
This is a great way to teach nutrition, life cycle, and the importance of plants and trees in our lives. Even if you don’t have a big garden or even a balcony, you could do this with a small paper cup and some soil or dirt. We planted some whole spices from our kitchen, like fenugreek and coriander seeds. We harvested the leaves and he helped cook them into his meal for the day.
6. Lego building
Open-ended toys are the best way to let kids use their imagination and develop reasoning skills. We started with the Lego Duplo, bigger bricks for smaller kids, then graduated to regular Lego sets. He still loves playing with Lego blocks and making new things every day. Don’t forget to get an organising box to manage the mess that these bricks make. We tried a layered box, but our son couldn’t manage to keep them sorted for long. So we finally got lunch boxes in different sizes.
7. Cooking for kids
This one you need to do when you have enough patience because it takes time and can get messy. Our son has always been interested in doing everything we do. He sees both his parents in the kitchen on a daily basis so he learns from both of us. He has learned to make my morning coffee (with his dad keeping an eye and helping) and delivers it to my bed with a kiss. Imagine waking up to that cuteness!
Take a break just to cuddle
These are difficult days for kids and adults. It’s OK to take a break for a long as you need it. We’ve gone for days where the only activity he’s done is crash cars and watch tv. He’s eaten junk food for a meal or just some fruits. His room resembled a disaster site, and the laundry bags overflowed. Feeling guilty about it is not going to help. Embrace the mess and chaos. Eat chips and chocolate. Make time for lots of cuddles in between. Whenever you are ready, get back up and start over.
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