Beat the Indoor Blues With These Fun Activities for Kids
Spring may be right around the corner according to the calendar, but cold, rainy weather could still be in the forecast for weeks to come. If you find yourself stuck inside with kids who have a severe case of spring fever mixed with cabin fever, try some of these activities to keep their bodies and brains busy.
Encourage your kids to help you prepare and cook healthy meals. Not only will you be instilling an important skill in your children, but you’ll also be teaching them how to maintain healthy eating habits. Have your kids read nutrition labels to help them understand what makes food healthy. Then, give them age-appropriate tasks to complete while cooking so that they don’t feel overwhelmed. You can start small by having them prepare popcorn in a popper, which is a healthier alternative to bagged popcorn. Online guides can help you choose one that’s easy for your kids to use.
Not many kids want to do math drills when they are away from school, but there are plenty of opportunities to hone number sense in the real world and some even blend practice and play.
Indeed, simply playing with blocks can help even young kids master many basic math concepts including counting, addition, subtraction and more. For school-age children, there are lesson plans that include activities that teach and reinforce a variety of math concepts through architecture. But you don’t have to be a master craftsman or mathematician to use the materials to help children build a strong foundation of math skills.
For example, the activities aimed at kindergarteners include a handout of basic shapes and variations such as a semi-circle. Pull up the page online, print it out, and have your child name the shapes and cut them out. You can then practice the identification process by having them find objects around your home that feature each shape.
Shapes also factor heavily in an activity for older children that has them use different-colored squares and rectangles of construction paper to create a floor-plan diagram of their house. If you do this at home on a rainy day, challenge children to stay in one spot while they create the floor plan, encouraging them to think about concepts such as spatial relationships and scale. After they’ve completed their project, tour your home and compare their diagram to the actual space.
You can practice more sophisticated math concepts with older children by having them use tape measures to measure the length of walls in different rooms of your home, then create a scaled-down floor plan of the property using graph paper, with one square on the paper representing one square foot of space. If children are up for another challenge, consider asking them to convert their measurements to metric units like meters.
Arts and Crafts
Art activities are another hands-on option to occupy both kids and caregivers when they are stuck inside. There are plenty of projects available online that give kids instructions and ideas for creating crafts. The internet also offers many free and inexpensive online drawing classes that help kids master techniques including cartooning and shape drawing. Even art lessons sometimes include math concepts such as scale and using fractions.
Similarly, kids of all ages can enjoy creating patterns with blocks that come in different shapes and colors. Kids can practice art and math concepts such as symmetry or create completely abstract designs. Older children might even want to cut fabric into various shapes and sizes and sew the pieces together to create a patchwork pillow with a one-of-a-kind pattern.
There are also free online videos that can help kids and adults burn off a little energy, even if they are trapped inside. To keep kids interested and engaged, one of these online workouts incorporates games like Red Light, Green Light with simple activities like jumping jacks. The routine, created by Fitness Blender, also encourages exercisers of all ages to progress at their own pace.
Not only will these activities help keep kids entertained during bad weather, it will also give them an opportunity to practice skills other than dramatically reciting their favorite movie scenes while watching the same DVD for the thousandth time, which will be good for their minds -- and your sanity.
Jenny Wise is a homeschooling mom to four children, one of whom is autistic. She and her husband made the decision to home-educate when their oldest was four years old.