You’re shut in your home with your kids. In normal times, that might sound like a dream come true. After weeks of it though, with nowhere else for you or them to go, it can get old. And when you’re responsible for providing your children with the learning, socialization, and everything else their developing brains and bodies need, no one would blame you if a feeling of desperation starts to creep in.
Fortunately, there is a cornucopia of resources online that can inspire and motivate you when your creative well has run dry. One of the best we have found comes from the New York City Department of Education. Its Learn at Home list of activities you can do with your children is comprehensive. The activities document for preschoolers alone runs 11 pages. It offers similar resources for older kids as well.
Here are a few of our favorites for preschool kids. But be sure to check out the complete resource online.
- Faces and Feelings. Look at pictures of people in magazines or books together. Invite your child to look carefully at the expressions on the people’s faces. Ask your child to share why they think the person might feel that way, if they ever feel that way themselves, and when. After discussing the expressions, you and your child may want to make the same expressions yourselves. Consider doing this activity near a mirror so children can see the expressions they create.
- Create a Mural. Consider taking apart a large cardboard box, several smaller boxes, or using pieces of paper and attaching them together. You could use tape, glue, staples, or other materials you have on hand to secure the pieces together. Use any writing or drawing tools you have available such as pens, pencils, markers, crayons, or paint to create a picture. Invite family members to join in the fun.
- Then and Now. Compare and contrast a baby picture of your child with how the child looks now, highlighting how the child has changed since they were a baby. Use the baby picture to create a drawing of your child as a baby or use materials you have available to create a representation of your child when they were a baby. If you do not have a baby picture of your child, discuss how your child has changed in the past few years and create an image together without referencing an actual photograph.
- How Many Steps to the Door? Invite your child to guess how many steps they will need to take to get to a specific place such as a door. After they have made a prediction, invite them to walk to the specified place. Help count the steps as needed. Substitute another location such as a window or bathroom for the door.
- What Happens? Investigate what happens when objects are placed in water. Collect several objects, discuss what might happen when you place each one in water, and test your ideas by placing the objects in water one at a time and discussing what occurred.
- Clouds. Look out the window with your child and discuss the clouds. Take turns telling stories about the shapes of clouds to help your child use their imagination and express ideas in words. “That cloud looks like a cat! What do you see?”
- Listen. Invite your child to be very quiet and use their ears for listening. What sounds are in the room? What sounds do we hear outside if we open the window? Can we stay totally quiet for 10 seconds and listen? For 20 seconds? For 60?! Describe the sounds you hear – like beeping cars, vrooming buses, and barking dogs – to help your child learn new words to describe the world.
- Keep a Journal. Talk with your child about the activities they did each day. At the end of the day take a few minutes to reflect using open-ended questions such as, “What did you like best? Why? Was anything difficult or challenging? Why?” Jot down your child’s thoughts about these activities and invite them to add pictures to the journal as well.
- Water Xylophone. Fill a few drinking glasses with differing amounts of water. Use a spoon to gently tap them. What do you and your child notice about the sounds? Try to play a little tune together.
- Kitchen Band. Use pots and pans, containers, or another surface to create kitchen drums. Tap on them with your hands or an object. Invite your child to suggest songs to sing, or to create new songs with you.
- Freeze Dance. Play a favorite song and play freeze dance together. When the music is on, dance or move together. When you stop the music, everyone must freeze! Take turns being the one to turn the music on and off.
The site also offers some useful self-care tips for parents and caregivers. Here’s what it suggests:
When you take time to care for yourself, you are better able to care for your child. Even a few minutes of “you time” can help you to recharge so that you can be your best.
- Listen to music as you’re doing chores around the house.
- Set an alarm to remind yourself to pause, take a deep breath, or use a calming
- meditation app. Even 2 minutes of relaxation can make a difference in how you feel.
- Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. When your little one lays down to rest, try to do the same. If they’re having trouble settling down, sing a quiet song that you loved when you were small, one that calms you down, too.
- Take a ten-minute vacation. As you’re bathing your child, soak your hands in thewarm
- Keep a favorite family photo with you. If you’re having a challenging day with your little one, you can look at it to remind you of happy times you’ve spent together.
- Reach out to others. Feeling alone is common for families and caregivers during stressful times. But you don’t have to handle them on your own. Connect with trusted family members and friends, share your feelings with them, and enlist their help.
Find more activities here.