From stay at home mom to stuck at home mom - activities to get through self isolation with small children!
While being at home with my kids everyday is pretty normal for me, self isolation and practicing social distancing has taken it to a new level.
With my daughter’s preschool closed and our usual outing spots shut down as well, it’s been a new experience trying to pass the hours.
Our version of “home preschool” has been centered around a letter each day. While it is nothing groundbreaking and I can’t say it is imparting any real knowledge on their young minds, it has been a simple strategy for trying to come up with themed activities, books and projects.
I thought I would share some of the activities we have been doing that seem to keep my 2 and 4 year olds entertained - one for each letter of the alphabet.
-Sheet of paper
-Cup of almonds
Write out either 1-10 or 1-20 on the sheet of paper (you know your child best). Using tongs or just their fingers, have your child place an almond over each number. You can help them count aloud as they go. Do it as many times as they are interested, and then enjoy a healthy snack.
Black Bean Sorting:
-Dry black beans
-Other dry item (garbanzo beans, rice, popcorn kernels,etc.)
Mix together your black beans and other item(s) in one of the cups. Using tongs or their fingers, have your child pick out just the black beans and sort them into the other cup.
Fill 3 cups with water for each child and set out 3 empty cups per child. Put red food coloring in one water cup, yellow in one and blue in one. Let the kids experiment using the water droppers to create new colors in the empty cups. Repeat as much as desired. You can assist them in creating secondary colors or simply let them loose.
-Tub or container x2
-Dirt, sand or kinetic sand
-Spoon or small shovel
Put your dinosaurs in one of the tubs. Next, bury them with your material of choice. Give your child a spoon or small shovel and have them dig the dirt or sand, scooping it into the empty container until all of the dinosaurs have been found. If you have a sandbox you could also just bury them in there and have your child find them.
-Plastic Easter eggs
-Small toys or treats (we used coins, chocolate chips and macadamia nuts)
-1 basket per child
You can do this outside or in the house, or both! This is an activity that you can really do over and over again. Kids will happily repeat the hunt, especially if there are goodies inside the eggs.
Free the Animals:
-10+ plastic animal figurines
-Rubber bands or painters tape
If you are using rubber bands, wrap the bands around the animal until tight. Have your child take the rubber bands off.
To use painters tape, just tape the animals on to a hard surface and have your child peel the tape off to set them free.
To keep this activity going you can then give the animals a sink bath in bubbly water.
Gross Motor Dice:
-Cardboard or cube box
Find or create a large cube to use as your dice. Write directly onto it or tape paper to the sides for writing on. Add a gross motor movement on each side of the di such as, frog jumps, summersault, jumping jacks, etc. Take turns rolling and doing the movements.
Using a golf tee, poke holes in the side of the box. You can then place the tees in the holes so that your child can hammer them all the way in, or for an older child let them put the tee in place themselves.
Ice Cube Excavation:
-Freezer safe container
-Small plastic toys or figurines
-Blue food coloring (optional)
Put the small toys in the container and fill with water. MIx in food coloring if desired. Freeze overnight. Remove the ice block from the container and let your child hack at it with toy tools like wooden hammers or screwdrivers.
-Clear jar or bottle
-Biodegradable glitter (for the oceans!)
-Small plastic toys (optional)
Fill a jar with 2 parts water and 1 part glycerin. Add a few drops of dish soap. Add a spoonful (or 2 depending on how big of a container you’re using) of glitter. Add in any additional items and screw and glue the lid in place.
These are not just fun to make and play with, but also work great as a calming aid for kids dealing with big emotions!
Kinetic Sand Construction Site:
-Kinetic sand (or plain brown sugar works too)
-Toy trucks, trees, blocks, etc.
Fill your container with the play material. You can set up the construction site or simply place a basket with suggested items next to it for your child to get imaginative with.
You can have your child lineup alphabet cards in the correct order, or simply arrange a collection of items as you choose. It could be biggest to smallest, making a rainbow of colors, from hardest to softest, etc.
-Play pots and pans
-Bucket or mud pit
-Picked flowers, leaves, pinecones, etc.
Help your child create mud of a workable consistency. Make something alongside them or simply let them whip you up a tasty treat.
-Plastic lids (from milk jugs, kombucha bottles, etc,)
-Tub or large bowl
-Blue food coloring (optional)
Fill the container with water and add food coloring if you wish. Put your collection of bottle tops in the water and let your child fish them out one by one using the net.
Over and Under:
Tape two pieces of string to a table or other surface. Demonstrate overlapping the two strings so that one goes over while the other goes under and then swapping the string to the opposite hands. Have your child repeat this until the strings are completely entertwined.
-1 cup water
-¼ cup salt
-1 cup all purpose flour
-1 Tbsp vegetable oil
-2 teaspoons cream of tartar
-Food coloring or natural dyes
-Measuring cups + spoons
-Whisk and wooden spoon
Boil the walt and mix in the salt. Reduce to medium heat. Whisk in flour, oil and cream of tartar. Switch to mixing with the wooden spoon once it has thickened up. Stir for about 5 minutes until the dough is quite thick. Remove the dough and dump it onto a baking sheet. Use the spoon to flatten it out and allow it to cool for 20-30 minutes or until you can safely handle it. Knead the dough until smooth. Divide it out and knead in coloring.
Pretty simple, just use the q-tips as paintbrushes. You can do dot art or just paint freely.
-Measuring cups, funnels, bowls, etc.
Set up the sensory bin and let your child play freely. Do this outside or have the vacuum ready.
-Animal figurines, blocks, toys
-Crayons or pencils
Lay out a sheet of paper and place the item of your choice so that it casts a shadow on the page. Have your child choose a writing utensil and follow the line of the shadow. Do this for all of your selected items. You can then color them in later.
-String or yarn
-Collected leaves, flower petals, etc.
Help your child to attach the string to the needle. Let them create a nature necklace by threading different items onto the string.
Gather up all of the shoes in your house that have laces. Show your child how to tie them and let them try. Tie each pair of laces and then show your child how to pull the strings to untie them. Let them untie each pair.
Slice the vegetables, making as many different shapes as possible. Make an example face on a plate and invite your child to come up with their own. Make as many unique faces as you can come up with and then enjoy a healthy snack.
-Highlighter or yellow marker
-Grip tools if needed
Use the highlighter to write out letters, numbers, your child's name or whatever specific practice you wish for them to do. Have them go over your writing with the pencil.
X Marks the Spot:
-Paved space outdoors
-Special snack or prize
Mark your starting point and your X where the treasure hunt will end. In the space between, mark several stopping points along the way. You can use the gross motor di or come up with specific “obstacles” that kids must complete before moving on. Draw out dash marks connecting the entire path from start to finish. Be ready with some kind of reward when they finish.
-Screen with Youtube access
-Yoga mats (you can also just do it on a rug or carpet)
-Ambiance: light a candle or turn on a diffuser (optional)
Doing this with your child is the best and easiest way to build up their participation to a point where they will eventually do it on their own. Here are some great videos / channels to try out.
-Stuffed animals or animal figurines
-Boxes, baskets or tupperware containers
-Grass, leaves, sticks, rocks, etc.
Dub your child the zookeeper and task them with creating enclosures for all of their animals. Make sure each animal has its own habitat, complete with food and water. They may need to do a vet check and make sure each animal is healthy.
I hope you can find a few things to try that will help you get through self isolation with at least some of your sanity still intact.