As parents, we’re always looking for opportunities to engage our children in a way that is educational or fosters creativity, but also is fun and helps makes memories. With schools closed, this is more important than ever. Here are five activities that I am making time to do with my kiddos while I’m working from home:
Get on your feet
As the weather gets increasingly pleasant, we’re seeking more and more outdoor activities in our neighborhood. An old standby from the kids’ early years, when I was a stay-at-home mom, is Geocaching — or as my now 10-year-old used to call it in his preschool days, “treasure box hunting.” Geocaching is the act of searching for cleverly hidden containers using global positioning satellite-enabled devices. These containers vary in size, shape, disguise, type, and difficulty. With more than 2.5 million of these treasure troves hidden around the world in more than 180 countries, chances are you are within a mile of a geocache at any given moment. Download the app by Groundspeak, Inc. for Apple or Android.
Grow a friend (or five)
During a recent walk, my son began questioning me about caterpillars and it got me thinking about some caterpillar/butterfly projects I’d seen friends do with their children. I hopped on Amazon, and sure enough, you can purchase and grow your own caterpillars for less than $30. We placed our order and soon five tiny, squiggly caterpillars arrived at our door along with the food and habitat we would need to sustain them through their short lifecycle. A quick search on Pinterest yielded a litany of printable lessons and worksheets to help the kids understand what is happening to their new little friends, and I encouraged my son to keep a daily journal of observations. How had they changed today? At the end, there’s nothing better than releasing the delicate butterflies and watching them flutter off into the world.
Get destructive together
When my son was 3 years old, I bought a Wreck This Journal as a fun activity to do together. Created by Canadian artist Keri Smith, Wreck This Journal is a book full of unique, artistic doodles and prompts that encourage readers to creatively destroy the book. Smith instructs users to tie a string around their journal and take it for a walk. They are encouraged to poke holes in pages, paint, draw, color, rip, stomp, freeze, throw, and so much more. These prompts encourage readers to embrace their own creative processes and reinforce a culture of finishing what is started — something we’ve had trouble with as we still resurrect the journal anytime we have downtime.
Travel without leaving your home
We’re big National Parks fans in our home. Whenever we travel, we’re always on the lookout for parks or historic sites where we can get a stamp in our passports and the kids can earn a Junior Ranger badge. We won’t be traveling to the Grand Canyon or Joshua Tree anytime soon with everything that’s going on, but we’re keeping their minds engaged with downloadable Junior Ranger packets that aren’t necessarily tied to one specific park. There are booklets for Junior Paleontologist, Junior Angler, Junior Archeologist, and more. Due to the current health crisis, the National Park Service can’t currently accept completed booklets via mail, but hold on to them and send them in when NPS gives the all-clear and they’ll mail you back your badge. While you’re visiting the NPS website, check out some of the other children’s content it is putting up while families are quarantined.
Ideas for creative play
A few years ago, I became a temporary brand tester for this awesome kids’ product called The Idea Box Kids and instantly fell in love with these little cardboard boxes filled with 60 fun, engaging, or creative activities to do with kiddos on two-sided wooden chips. There are boxes for backyard play, science, chores, sensory, masking tape, date night (with your child), life skills, and more. Our favorite is the chores box; the kids have so much fun dusting with socks on their hands or washing the inside of the window while we wash the outside. Honestly, the kids don’t much care what we’re doing, as long as we’re doing it together, and that’s fine by me. Plus, what better way to get some spring cleaning done than by getting assistance from your little helpers?