Top 5 Tips for Keeping Children Entertained During Covid-19 School Closures
By Allison Klein
1.) Get physical
If you’re stuck in your house (or NYC apartment in my case!) look for ways to get moving at home.
Build a fort with couch cushions. Put on music and have a dance party or play a game of freeze dance. Create an obstacle course around your house. Create a scavenger hunt for your kids that leads them from room to room. Make a doorway puppet theater.
2.) Turn to sensory play
Children, especially young children, learn about the world through their senses. Engaging in sensory play is one of the best ways to keep children engaged and learning at home. Here are a few ideas:
- Make frozen paint popsicles! Use an ice cube tray and popsicle sticks to freeze paint (child-safe paint, of course!).
- Have a colorful bubble bath. Combine 1 cup of children’s shampoo + 1.5 cups water + teeny, tiny amounts of food coloring. Essential oils are a bonus!
- Gather some household objects and head to the bathtub to play sink or float.
- Cover a baking tray in shaving cream. Invite your little one to write letters, explore with kitchen tools or simply feel and explore.
- Create a sensory bin by filling a large container with sensory materials like rice, pom poms, or found natural materials.
3.) Look at what you already have
Everything you need for a meaningful play experience is already in your house. Play with recycled, repurposed and household materials helps to foster innovative thinking, creativity, and togetherness.
Save toilet paper rolls and use them to create a life-sized marble run on the wall with painters tape. Use shoeboxes as giant building blocks. Make a collage using only recycled materials.
Our Everyday Play Deck, written by child development expert Lisa Zaretsky, shares 125 ways to play with repurposed and household materials. Here is one of my favorite tips from the deck that promotes connection through play with family photos in a time of social distancing: “Line up family photos on the floor to create a family photo walk: ask your child to jump near “someone who wears glasses” or stomp near “someone who has a dog.” This is engaging for the body as well as the mind!”
4.) Make playdough
Playdough is a sensory material that is not only fun (and easy!) to make, but also an ongoing catalyst for imaginative play. Involving kids in the whole process, from creation to playing, makes the experience even more valuable.
1 cup flour
1 cup water
1 teaspoon oil
2.5 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/4 cup salt
A few drops of food coloring
A few drops of essential oils (optional)
Mix all ingredients together
Cook on low/medium heat
Stir until the mixture solidifies
Remove from heat to cool
5.) Practice Mindfulness as a Family
In a time of uncertainty and anxiety, mindfulness is a powerful tool that we can teach our children and ourselves. When we practice mindfulness we are paying attention to what is going on inside and outside of our bodies right now. A great way to begin a mindful practice is with deep breathing. When you take a deep breath you tell your central nervous system that the body is safe, which turns off the “fight or flight” response and immediately connects the mind and the body, grounding us in the present moment.
With constant news, updates and changes we’re all left feeling a bit (or a lot) overwhelmed and children are no exception. When it feels like things are frenetic and unsettled, it’s important to teach children how to pause and recalibrate. Below is a simple breathing exercise to do with your little ones at home.
Lie down flat on your back and place a beanbag or stuffed animal on your belly. Let your arms rest by your sides
Take a slow breath in and watch the beanbag rise. Then let out your breath slowly and watch the beanbag lower as your belly deflates.
Pretend your belly is the ocean and the beanbag is floating on the surface. Your breath is making the waves!
Take several breaths in and out, bringing your beanbag for a gentle ride, up and down.
Link to Family Resources Which May Be Helpful: https://www.roseandrex.com/blogs/blog/covid-19-resources