Guest post by Sandra Magsamen, author of I Love You, Honey Bunny.
As we slowly adjust to our “new normal” of working and learning from home, this time with our little ones is truly the silver lining (it’s also exhausting and gives us a totally new sense of respect for our teachers!). While the circumstances that brought us to this new reality are challenging, we are rising to the occasion by growing, creating, exploring, and connecting in ways we never have before. Who knew there could be so much adventure without ever leaving your front door. Here are a few simple and fun things you and your little ones can do while hanging out at home together!
1. Create a family journal!
We often think of people creating a journal or diary of their day’s events, thoughts, and ideas, but this meaningful activity is great for families, too! Bring everyone closer by discussing and writing down family events, activities, and ideas. This project will help create and preserve lasting memories of the moments and days you share together.
- If you don’t have an extra blank journal lying around, you can create your own by folding sheets of paper in half and sewing or stapling a piece of fabric to the exterior.
- Arrange for a quiet time to begin your journal project. It is helpful if you can schedule a time each day or week so the kids know this is an ongoing event.
- Ask questions like:
- What did we do today that you loved?
- Did anything wonderful happen?
- Were there any surprises?
- What was accomplished today?
- What do you feel proud of?
- How are you feeling today?
- Cherish the time spent with your family. This journal will become a family keepsake documenting the growing and changing life of your family!
2. Build the ultimate reading nook!
Whether you’re one year old or 101 years old, we all long for a little place that we can call our own. Help your child create a nook or other space where your little one can feel safe, comfortable, and cozy while you read stories together.
- Gather items such as old sheets, cardboard boxes, pillows, or tents and let your child get busy making a small space to play in.
- Encourage your child to use the space for reading together, writing, dreaming, tea parties, storytelling, or anything they can imagine!
- Remember there is no end to where the imagination can take your child in their little home within your home!
3. Create your own matching game!
This game is creative, exercises little ones’ memory and critical thinking skills, and can be used as a fun family game over and over again!
- Using the printouts here, help your little one by cutting the game cards provided.
- Have your little one color in the matching cards, remember, this is a matching game, so they should try to make each matching card look as similar as possible.
- To play, flip all cards face side down and turn each over two at a time to try to make a match.
- Challenge each other by seeing who can match all their cards the fastest!
4. Create a treasure hunt!
Encourage curiosity and critical thinking while celebrating a sense of adventure with a treasure hunt.
- Hide little treasures in your backyard and around the house while your child is sleeping – healthy snacks, IOUs for a movie night, costume jewelry, toys, etc.
- Draw a simple map with directions or clues and tell your child that you heard there were hidden treasures around the house.
- Hide the map under your child’s pillows or dinner plate to discover and then let the fun begin!
5. Treat the birds to a delicious and artful snack!
Make pine cone feeders to hang on trees, shrubs or outside your window. These beautiful ornaments are not only fun to make and look great, but you can teach your child about caring for our precious environment and the animals that live here. You and your child will be rewarded by a daily show of multi-colored birds and their delightful behavior.
- Go on a little walk* with your child to collect pine cones – you’ll want to collect a handful or two. If you can’t find a pinecone, a stick will do!
- Tie a piece of yarn or string from the large end, turning an upside-down pinecone into an ornament to be hung from a tree branch.
- Using a popsicle stick or dull knife, have the kids smear peanut butter all over the nooks and crannies of the pinecone.
- Once smeared with lots of peanut butter, roll the pinecone in birdseed. If you don’t have birdseed, you can use breadcrumbs!
- Hang the pine cone feeders on a tree branch near a window so your family can watch as a family of birds feast on your delicious treat.
*We encourage that you please follow federal, state, and local guidelines on social distancing if you go outside. Click here for more information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
6. Play dress up!
Ask your little one, “Who will you be today?” and watch their imagination take flight. Playing dress up encourages children to “try on” all sorts of characters, professions, people and ideas. Dressing up is fun for everyone; be sure to get in on the act yourself!
- Clean your closets and fill a box full of clothes that are no longer worn. Don’t forget about old sunglasses, hats, gloves and any other fun pieces.
- Enjoy changing up outfits and don’t forget to have a camera ready – there will be some great photo opportunities on dress up day!
- Send dress-up photos to family and friends with fun captions to give them a good laugh!