As I write this, the world is going through a pandemic. It is the year 2020, and many children are being forced to stay at home, as many countries are going through a strict lockdown. Due to this, parents are going crazy trying to keep their children busy while they tend to work matters and general house duties like cooking and cleaning.
Children have abundant energy, and constantly like being stimulated. That’s why it’s important to have many different avenues of creative play to offer them, where they can be entertained, and focused, for hours on end. Here are some creative ways of keeping your child busy:
Now, I was a pre-school teacher for 12 years, and I can say with confidence, that nothing entertained and kept my children more engaged, focused and busy than Magna-Tiles. Magna-Tiles are exactly what they sound like – plastic tiles with magnets inside so that they can connect to one another.
They come in all different colors and shapes, so it is easy to build castles and dungeons, and whatever else your children’s imaginations take them to. They’re a really relaxing form of play, and the best part, is that many children can join forces, in teamwork, to build one big thing. If you have one child, one big box will do but if you have more, try getting as many boxes as possible; it will keep them busier for longer!
Speaking of magnets, the next 2 objects will keep your children busy for hours too!
2. Magnetic Boards
In my experience working with children I also noticed that they loved to draw. They would draw dinosaurs and monsters, butterflies and princesses, cars and trucks. They would draw the same objects over and over again, perfecting their artwork and making the webs of their hands, and their pincer grips grow stronger in the process.
There were those who also preferred writing and looking at words and copying them. They loved working on their alphabet! The only negative thing about this was all the paper that was wasted, every day. Paper, after paper, after paper got thrown in the trash. It really has a negative impact on the environment. That’s why dry erase magnetic boards are the perfect solution to keeping your children busy for hours!
Simply buy a white or black magnetic board! Place it at the bottom of your fridge – according to your children’s heights, and let them draw and write away! I found that the white and black magnetic boards from HMMagnets are particularly wonderful. Both boards are 17.5 x 13.5 inches, come with 8 markers (the whiteboard), and liquid neon chalk markers (the blackboard), erasers, and mini grocery list boards for Mom and Dad! They’re simply wonderful, and the kids will love them!
The next object for play has been a children’s classic since 1932.
A house with children is not complete without at least one big Lego set. Created in Denmark in 1932, almost 100 years ago, these building blocks have kept children entertained for almost a century! I remember as a child walking into the reception of my doctor’s office, and in front of me lay a table with a big bucket full of Lego, and green Lego boards to build upon. It always relaxed me before my appointment.
If you want to keep your children busy for hours in a creative way, nothing builds more upon their imaginations that playing with Lego. Lego works really well, because it is so structured. Every block is a specific color with little studs to build upon. There are special Lego expansion packs where your child can even pretend to be Darth Vader playing in a Star Wars game in their minds!
Lego is for both sexes, and will always be a hit among children, keeping them busy for hours while you work and prepare lunch and dinner!
The next activity really helps children focus and concentrate while using their pincer grip and helping them with directionality!
4. Sorting Objects by Color
In my studies as a Montessori pre-school teacher, many years ago, I learnt about the benefits that children receive from sorting objects, not only by size but by color as well. It helps children gain much focus and keeps them busy until the end goal is achieved.
For this exercise, simply get a whole range of objects that are all identical in size – such as buttons. Get a set of 12 buttons per set in all colors of the rainbow, and place them all in one really large translucent plastic bowl.
Next to the large bowl will be twelve smaller translucent plastic bowls sitting next to each other, each with one button stuck to the bottom with sticky tack. Grade the bowls by the color of the rainbow going left to right, starting with red and ending in cooler colors like dark violet or black. At first, you’ll need to show your children how to grab each button and start matching them to their corresponding bowl. Once they understand, leave them to it. They won’t stop matching until they complete the task. The more buttons you get, the longer it will keep them occupied!
The next activity will save you hours of housework!
5. Folding Clothes
You will be surprised how much children enjoy doing activities around the house – and this one is of great benefit to you as well. Start them off small with things like underwear and socks, then move them on to skirts, shorts, pants, tops and sweaters. They’ll really have fun “playing” Mom and Dad.
First show them how it’s done, and where to put the folded laundry once it’s complete. They will be really proud of their work, and will think twice before just pulling their clothes out of the cupboard, and throwing them onto the ground. The more responsibility you give them, the more occupied, and happier, they will be!
The next activity was first created way back in 1767 and even entertains adults!
Children love puzzles because they know they can’t stop until every piece is put in its perfect place! Get a puzzle that your children will love – whether it has images of dinosaurs, Barbies, unicorns, lions, spaceships, soccer players, cars, or anything else that takes their fancy.
You can get a puzzle corresponding to their age. If they’re really young, get 4-piece puzzles that you can place on trays – but get many of them to keep them busy. If you have children over the age of 6, you can get puzzles that have over 100 pieces. It all depends on their skills and mental abilities, as all children are different.
Some children find puzzles really easy, while some find them a little harder – but it is a challenge that most children enjoy. Puzzles also build valuable logic skills within your children’s minds that can only be built upon!
So many children around the world play with the next object, which brings them joy for hours on end!
Playdough is amazing because it keeps children busy for hours, and strengthens their little hands! First off, you need a great playdough recipe and here it is:
- 2 Cups plain all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ Cup salt
- 2 Tablespoons cream of tartar (important)
- 1 to 1.5 cups boiling water (poured in little by little – as much as needed
- Few drops of food color
- Glitter (Optional)
- Few drops of glycerin (for stretch and shine)
You must involve your kids in the making of this, as they will be proud of their creation! Give them playdough tools and they’ll literally sit for hours playing. Just be aware that children under four generally tend to try to eat playdough and stick it up their noses at times – so keep their tables close by while they are busy working with it. This is not necessary if they’re 8 years and older.
Playing with playdough is a necessary exercise, as it helps strengthen children’s hands, widen their imagination, and get ready for the next creative play!
For this activity, you have to constantly be on standby, unless your children are over 12 years old, and know their way around the kitchen. Baking is so much fun because often, in children’s eyes, baking reminds them fondly of working with playdough. Often very similar ingredients go into their muffin mix (or whatever else they choose to bake) that go into their playdough mix.
The best thing to do is start them off with instant mixes that are easy to make! Just get them to pour the mix in a bowl, and add the necessary milk, water, oil, or eggs that need to be mixed in. Simply put it in the oven, and voila, your children will see the magic of “edible” playdough.
As time goes on your children can experiment with different things like cookies and cakes – even pizza, which is always a big hit. It’s always a great idea to get them interested in cooking at a young age, you never quite know what it’ll bring out in them!
As part of cooking, it’s very important to teach them to clean up after themselves. They need to learn to wipe dirty counters and wash them too. They need to wash the bowls and baking spoons. It’s part of the whole experience, and you may not know this, but when taught at a young enough age, children actually love cleaning up as it is part of their sense of order!
The next activity is highly educational, and will open your children to worlds they didn’t know existed!
9. Animal Shows
TV is a part of every day life, however not every thing on television should necessarily be shown to children. In fact, the more they engage in life away from the TV, the better. However, certain TV shows are beneficial and very educational.
These days, many people are against taking their children to zoos. It’s never nice watching a poor animal being locked up for the rest of its life for people to look at every day. That’s why shows like National Geographic, often narrated by David Attenborough, are perfect for them. There are many shows on Netflix, like Our Planet and If I Were An Animal, that showcase beautiful animals of the world.
This way, they learn all about the animals of the sea, the sky, and the land, as well as animals that are indigenous to certain countries and continents.
The next creative exercise will make your kids sweat!
10. Obstacle Course
Since many kids are stuck inside the house, unable to be at school and run around and play with their friends, they’re not getting enough exercise. Their bodies really need to move, and their muscles need to develop.
A good idea is creating an obstacle course at home. If you don’t have a garden and live in an apartment or small home, create one in the lounge using hula hoops , traffic cones and lightweight objects for them to carry from one place to the other, to build their strength.
You can ask them to help with the design and creation. Yes, the lounge will be in a slight disarray while they are busy, but it really is a creative way for them to have lots of fun for hours on end. The great thing is that everyday the obstacle course can change, ever so slightly, with the use of different and/or heavier objects, and additions of more hula hoops and traffic cones.
Children love keeping busy, that’s why the current situation the world is in, is so hard on them and their parents. Therefore, it’s really important to keep them busy, and have activities that change for them each and every day. Incorporate the above creative activities in their lives, and you and them will be happier for it!