By Janice Russell of parentingdisasters.com
Entertaining kids outdoors is easy. You need little more than open space and perhaps a ball to create a fun and lively afternoon. Bringing the same stimulation and enjoyment to an indoor setting is markedly more challenging. There’s less room to expend energy, more electronic distractions, and greater potential for chaos to ensue.
Learn to embrace snow days, rainy days, sick days, and any other occasion to stay indoors by building an arsenal of engaging and educational activities. Here are seven ideas, one for each day of the week, to get you started.
1. Indoor Gardening
Gardening activities provide many opportunities to learn science and math concepts. Children can identify plant parts and explore plant life cycles. They can measure and track the heights of their growing seedlings and weigh and compare wet and dry soil.
Using garden tools to perform specific actions such as planting seeds, watering the soil, and pruning leaves help children strengthen motor skills. The pincer grasp, a prerequisite writing skill, is utilized to pick up seeds.
Child development experts note that cultivating a green thumb also yields important health benefits including:
- Healthier lifestyle choices
- Improved mood
- Increased focus and concentration
- Greater self-esteem
2. Egg in a Bottle
Kids tend to learn better when they can engage their senses. This is why hands-on science experiments are so appealing. The Egg in a Bottle activity is one that wows even high school students. The purpose is to demonstrate air pressure, but kids are most fascinated by the illusion of the egg getting sucked into the bottle.
3. Sensory Bins
Most commonly used with toddlers and preschoolers, sensory bins are great for any age. These handy containers can be filled with household materials such as:
- Shredded paper
Sensory play develops cognitive, language, social and fine motor skills. The tactile experience also provides a calming effect which can be particularly useful when inside for extended periods.
4. Raised Salt Paintings
All you need for this beloved art activity is paper or cardboard, glue, salt, watercolors, and paintbrushes. Your kids can go to town using glue to create designs. They then sprinkle salt to cover the glue and tinge it with watercolors. Add an educational element by practicing letters (print or cursive), numbers, and shapes.
5. Budding Entrepreneurs
Kids thrive during pretend play. Encourage them to create their own imaginary small business. Guide them through the process, from “applying” for a business loan to designing branded labels for their company. Let them tinker with templates on this label maker, choosing fonts and graphics to customize the labels.
6. The Game of Life
While the classic board game is certainly fun, teaching your kids how to operate in the real world will set them up for a successful future. Kids who learn life skills like cooking, cleaning, and budgeting develop strong executive function and are well-equipped to handle everyday situations and challenges.
7. Movie Night With a Spin
Make movie night more interactive by transforming your space into a movie theater. Your kids can create tickets, prepare snacks and even act out previews. Pretending to sell tickets and concessions lets children practice counting money and making change. A bonus is that this activity is much cheaper than going to the theater but just as much fun!
Go beyond just filling the time when you’re indoors. Make it a fulfilling time by introducing games and activities that captivate children of all ages… and maybe teach them a thing or two.