A fun-filled activity guide to keep your kids busy
What do you do when children are at home and stuck inside? This is most likely one of the biggest questions parents and other caregivers are asking themselves right now.
- How do we keep the kids entertained for days or weeks?
- How do we prepare for it?
- Where do we get the best resources from?
Jana from @playroomstories together with her son dancing with playsilks
As a scientist working in Medical Research and Mum of two active boys, I’ve been thinking a lot about these questions since I heard about the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, starting to spread rapidly around Wuhan, the capital city of the Hubei province, in China. It was only a matter of time until the illness Covid-19 spread around the globe and the coronavirus infected more and more people.
With this blogpost I hope to give you a few ideas and some inspiration how you can easily entertain your children at home over the next few weeks. I’ve been sharing my play ideas and activities on my Instagram account “Playroom Stories” for more than a year now. Lots of our play and learn activities can be easily adapted for children of different age groups. Most of the toys that we use for these activities at home are available at Oskar’s Wooden Ark. I’ll be sharing a few of our go-to activities for rainy days as well as some fun activities from other Mums in this blogpost. If you have any more ideas, I welcome you to leave those in the comment section below. The more, the merrier!
Toy rotations, busy boxes and play ideas
Keeping kids entertained for a longer period of time can be hard. However, creating new play and learn opportunities doesn’t have to be complicated. Toy rotations are a great way to change it up and let children discover an old toy that they have forgotten about. While toy rotations work really well for younger children, older children know their toys and can easily get bored. Being bored is not necessarily a bad thing and children need to learn how to entertain themselves but a busy or a craft box with a few new toys or craft items can lift the mood and spirit. Who doesn’t like a surprise? Here are some general activity and toy ideas as well as a few ideas what to put into busy or craft boxes, how you can use these items for play and learn activities and why they are beneficial for your children. I will include different products and product ranges for different ages and different price categories that Oskar’s Wooden Ark has on offer. Oskar's Wooden Ark created a collection for this blogpost that contains all of the available items.
1. Keep your children occupied with art and craft projects
Art supplies are always a favourite and drawing, painting and other craft activities keep children engaged for quite a while. Crafting is beneficial for children because it requires using your hands and your brain. Children automatically practise their fine motor skills but also use their imagination, creativity and forward thinking. Composing, planing and preparing are also involved depending on the activity and desired end result. Oskar’s Wooden Ark has curated a huge Art & Craft section with lots of quality products. Crayons, water colours, new brushes, coloured paper or cardboard, stickers, glue, scissors, pom poms or even clay and bees wax for modelling are excellent for a fun craft session and something that every child gets excited about.
Here are a few craft ideas that you can easily do at home with your children:
- Copy a famous painting (using Stockmar Aquarelle Watercolours or Stockmar Watercolour Paint Set)
- Create your own magic scratch art sheets (using Stockmar Wax Block Crayons and Stockmar Wax Stick Crayons)
- Model your own miniature food for your animal figurines or decorate candles (using Stockmar Modeling Beeswax)
- Customise your DIY CLiCQUES dolls (using (DAS Modelling Clay)
- Fold window stars (using Kite wax paper)
- Turn a drawing into a work of art by (using Lyra Rembrandt Aquarelle Watercolor pencils)
- Customise Flockmen with stickers or paint. Cina from @grow.and.play.together wrote a great blogpost about this topic: Getting creative with Flockmen.
2. Enter the world of imaginative play
Playsilks are one of the most versatile and open-ended toys. We use them every day and for lots of different activities. They are great for fostering imagination and creativity as well as being active inside and outside. Dancing with playsilks has to be our favourite. The way the silks move through the air makes dancing and swirling around a lot more fun and your children will instantly feel like they are able to fly. More often than not we end up pretending to be fairies, birds or butterflies. At Oskar’s Wooden Ark you will find the whole range of Playsilks in different sizes and colours.
Here are some more ideas how you can use playsilks for different play and learn activities:
- Spread your Mini Playsilks on the floor and start a colour hunt by getting your children to find toys that match the colour of the playsilk.
- Dressing up with playsilks is easy, you can create wings, capes, bonnets, dresses or skirts with them or pretend to be ghosts by putting them over your heads. Role play provides a lot of learning opportunities.
- Use playsilks for small world or dramatic play set ups using single-coloured Playsilks or the new multi-coloured Earth Playsilks. They are perfect for replicating sand, water, grass, mud, ice, snow, fire, lava, etc.
- Create cubby houses or forts using a few regular sized playsilks or Sarah’s Silks Giant Playsilks or you can create a tent by covering a Pikler Triangle with them.
3. Stacking and building for all ages
We are big fans of creating, stacking and building with open-ended toys and there are so many fabulous brands and sets to build and have fun with. Stacking and building activities are wonderful for fostering and practising fine motor skills, imagination, creativity, STEM skills like spatial awareness, construction, problem solving and planning. Stacking and building activities can be adapted to different age groups and skill levels. Oskar’s Wooden Ark’s stocks a wide range of building blocks and stacking and sorting toys and has recently added a few new brands to their range.
Here are some ideas that your children can do by themselves or that you can do together as a family:
- Give your Grimm’s Rainbow a workout and try to recreate some fun stacks. Check out my Instagram @playroomstories or the booklet in “The Wooden Ark Family” Facebook group for some ideas.
- Line up your Flockmen and create a domino run.
- Kapla planks provide hours of fun and endless building possibilities. These wooden planks allow each person to build at his or her own skill level.
- Take your Grimm’s Wooden Toys Building Sets and create castles, towers, flatlays or let your kids enjoy some undirected free play. You will be surprised what they come up with.
- Create a ball run using different Grimm’s parts or even in combination with Kaden Marble runs.
- Creating small words is one of our favourite activities. They are great for role play and encouraging communication. Ostheimer figurines, animals and trees, Waytoplay roads, train tracks, cars and trucks, CLiCQUES dolls, playsilks are just a few things you can use to create fun small worlds with.
4. Where learning meets play
If you like, you can integrate some fun learning opportunities into your play activities - colour and shape sorting, number and literacy skills, STEM concepts, gross and fine motor skills, etc. Most of the time children don’t even realise that they are learning essential skills while they are having fun playing. If you are crafty, you can even create some DIY toys (alone and together with your children) that you can use in combination with other toys or other bits and pieces that you have at home. Oskar’s Wooden Ark offers a huge range of “Play and Learn” resources.
Here are some ideas for making learning fun:
- Take your Grapat mandala pieces and create some beautiful flatlays. These small pieces are great for practising fine motor skills.
- Time how long you can spin your Mader spinning tops - a fun challenge that includes taking time, writing skills, taking turns and fine motor skills.
- Do some gardening and teach your children how to look after plants using these beautiful gardening tools from Glueckskaefer.
- Check the planting calendar for your climate zone in Australia and plant seeds for different fruit and vegetables. The Erzi Outdoor Play and Planting Table (available soon) is a great helper.
- Talk about healthy food options and recreate real-life breakfasts, lunches and dinners using Erzi play food. Create your own menu cards and practise chopping by using velcro play food.
- Talk abut colours, shapes, the weather, planets, time, your daily routine or help your children learn numbers and letters using tracing boards. Sumblox and Treasures from Jennifer offer beautiful wooden learning resources that are fun to work with.
- Create your own DIY toys, eg. posting boxes, learning boards, and use them in combination with various loose parts.
5. Get active and have fun burning energy inside
Being active and moving your body is important for everyone. Children have an innate desire to move and explore what their bodies are able to do. Learning about and identifying risks are also essential skills. It might be tricky to provide your children with opportunities to move around when you’re stuck inside but I hope some of the following ideas inspire you.
Here are some ideas of how you and your kids can get active inside:
- Turn your playsilks into a soft balls and use them for fun indoor activities, eg. throwing, juggling. You can find all the details how to make them in my Instagram post.
- Blow up some balloons and practise catching or add a string and stick the string to the ceiling, can you hit the balloons hard enough so they touch the ceiling?
- Create a hopscotch layout on your floor using masking tape.
- Set up your own bowling alley using old water bottles filled with a bit of water as pins.
- Set up an obstacle course and integrate ropes, your Wobbel Board, Playsilks, Grimm’s building boards or pebbles. You can find lots of different obstacle course ideas (using many different items) in my highlights on Instagram.
- If you have an old mattress, put it on the floor and use it as a trampoline.
- If you like the idea of yoga, look up some yoga for children videos on YouTube. Yoga is great for calming down before nap or meal times.
- Create your own indoor playground using Pikler triangles or cubes, ramps, slides or ladders. If you have enough space, you could add the Super Shape Sorter Collection or Play all day collection to your home. An investment that your children will use every day.
I hope this blogpost gave you some ideas and inspiration how to keep busy when you are stuck inside or at home. We would love you to leave some feedback and also share other play ideas in the comment section below. That way we can all benefit from each other.
Together with Oskar's Wooden Ark we have thoughtfully curated a collection of 100 toys that will keep your kids occupied and engaged throughout this difficult time that we are facing together.
If you like what I shared here with you and you are looking for more play and learn activities, follow us @playroomstories on Instagram.