What an unprecedented time we are in at the moment. A lot of us are adjusting to working from home whilst taking on full-time childcare responsibilities. (Who do we have to contact for our medal?!)
We’re sending you all lots of positive vibes for this period of self-isolation, social distancing, lockdown, or whatever you’re calling it. We’re all in this together.
Ideas for entertaining children has been a recent common theme of my WhatsApp message chats, social media posts and general brainstorming within my family.
There are lots of child-focussed businesses that have gone online with their services (both free and paid options) in recent weeks with the hope of entertaining and educating children at this time. A browse through your social media feed or local online search will help you to find many of these.
I’ve put together a few ideas that only require items that you can find in your home and one or more little participants. Some of these activities are working for me at the moment. I have also included activities I love the sound of and can’t wait to try.
Of course, I encourage you to use English as much as possible in the following activities. Studies show that using English while completing an activity promotes language retention and positive associations of learning it.
1. English Tea Party
Make lunch or snack time a bit more special. Spread a picnic blanket on the carpet (or grass if you are lucky enough to have a garden), and munch down on some sandwiches, crisps, biscuits, fruit or cakes. Make sure you invite some of your child’s favourite toys to join in.
2. Sticker Books
We always seem to have a wealth of stickers in our house. They appear in reading books, magazines, and come from helpful friends and family. I have started giving my son sheets of paper for him to transfer his stickers on to. You could even go one step further and give your child a notebook to transfer them in to create a little sticker storybook. Why not use the sticker collage as a basis for a bedtime story?
3. Kim’s Game
Set a tray or table with about 6-12 objects (depending on your child’s age) from around the house. Talk about everything on the tray. Take the tray away and remove 1 object. Return the tray and ask your child to spot what is missing. Repeat for as long as they are entertained.
4. Improvised Music Time
Take out all and any musical instruments you have at home. Extra points for improvised ones, rice in a water bottle, wooden spoons and a saucepan. Play along to your favourite tunes.
5. Home Snack Shop
I saw this on Facebook a few weeks ago and my little one loves it! Write up a list of available snacks and drinks and the cost for each. Give money (real or fake) to your child and get them to pay for their snacks during the day.
6. Build a Fort
Use any cushions, pillows and blankets you have to hand. Go on a rescuing adventure. Camp out in the wilderness. Use your imagination, or your child’s, and run with it. Bonus: Read your child’s favourite English storybook inside your newly built castle.
7. Write a Daily Diary and Post an entry on our Community Forum
If this seems too advanced for your child you could ask them to draw a picture of their day. We’d love to see what they have created, so I have set up a Community Forum where you can share your child’s daily diary or picture each day.
8. Non-Toy Toys
This could be a good learning opportunity to acquire some new life skills. Give them the water spray and a cloth to wipe down the windows. Give them the plastic/wooden/metal kitchen-wear to cook with. If you’re in the garden find a suitable sized trowel, spade (or maybe just a spoon from the kitchen) to dig a hole, ask them to put leaves from the lawn in a bucket. Speak to them in English while you are doing all of these jobs so that they can learn the English words for what they are doing.
9. Writing Letters or Postcards to Friends and Family
A bit more fun than an email, and you might get a reply.
10. Make some Paper Aeroplanes
And race them…of course!
11. Morning Activity One
Set this up the night before. Whether you just need an hour to check some emails in peace or you plan to be involved in your child’s activity, make the effort to get it ready the night before. You could just get some long-forgotten toys out, or dump a load of lego in the middle of a blanket, or pull out every animal toy you can find. This will give you and your child something to immediately get stuck into after breakfast. It’s a good positive start to the day.
12. ‘It’s Me!’ Colouring
Using rolls of old wallpaper, or taped together bits of paper. Draw around your child and then colour them in.
Most of all enjoy spending this unexpected time together…. and please share your stories in the comments below.
This blog was written and recorded by Intrepid English teacher, Jen.
Find out more about Jen by visiting her Intrepid English Teacher profile page.
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