If you, like us, have found yourself parenting in a quarantine situation you might be running shy on new ways to keep little ones occupied. This is an unprecedented time, and for many, we understand there isn’t time to make cute projects and organize family games. While some of us are working from home others are still working outside the home. However, we also know that there are families looking for additional fun ideas while in close quarters, or something to occupy young minds while they try and work. We racked our brains as both teachers and parents for activities we’ve found our kids or students to love. Let us know if you or your kids give any a try and how it went!
Preschool & Toddler
Birds Nest Nature Hunt
Materials: Collect sticks and rocks, paint & brush
How to: This is fun because it’s an outdoor hunt and a craft! First, (if allowed outside) collect small twigs and egg-shaped rocks. Then paint the rocks to look like bird eggs (if you don’t have paint- skip this step). Then break up the twigs and glue into a nest shape, glue the rocks to the nest.
Materials: Old Sock, markers, optional: glue/needle & thread and fabric scraps
How to: Depending on the materials you have and the age of your kids you could stick to just a sock and markers, or you could really dress it up and glue on eyes, hair, accessories. Bonus: this craft leads to a puppet show!
A Treasure Hunt
Materials: Toilet Paper Rolls, String, a pre written or drawn treasure hunt
How to: Use a rubber band to put together two toilet paper rolls for the binoculars. Poke holes in the sides and add a string so it can be kept around their neck. Go outside (or inside) and start the hunt.
Materials: Flyers/newspaper/magazine & scissors
How to: Kids love to hunt! This is like an I-spy game that they can collect. Take an old magazine or flyer and have your child search for a list of things, or a theme. For example fruits, yellow things, animals. They can cut out what they find and make a collage or just keep them as a small collection. BONUS: the cutting is a great fine motor activity, and the hunt is a good sorting activity.
Dress Up Box
Materials: Old shoes, hats, scarves, gloves, sunglasses, etc
How to: Take a minute to gather old items from your closet and put them in a bin or basket. Let your little one enjoy playing “dress up” at their leisure. BONUS: endless, self-directed fun once you gather the items!
A Box Fort
Materials: Large Box, Exacto knife, markers, paints, stickers, old magazines, anything to decorate.
How to: Follow your child’s lead. You can cut holes for windows, doors or a roof “skylight”. Add old stickers, or use coloring book pages to decorate. More boxes can be added to make more dimensions.
Recycled Materials Instruments
Materials: Take away plastic containers, old boxes, pringles cans, empty medicine bottles, plastic bottles, beans/rice, rubber bands
How to: Kids LOVE music! Fill ANY container with beans or rice. Then, glue or tape them shut. Instead of using tape, consider using old labels or sticky paper (ie airline labels, airline tags, stickers from fruit). You don’t need a lot of beans or rice and vary the amounts to make different kinds of sounds. Use rubber bands as guitar strings around a plastic take away container or an old tissue box.
Materials: Shoe box or cardboard box, magazines/flyers, scissors & glue
How to: Sift through magazines, catalogues, newspapers & flyers to find people, furniture and accessories to glue into a shoe box doll house.
Materials: Paper & pen/pencil OR Google slides on a device
How to: Your child can create their very own themed book of their interest. They create a page for every letter of the alphabet that matches the theme. If doing it by hand they can illustrate, or on tech they can include images. Depending on their age it could be all pictures, just the word & a picture, or a paragraph to go with the word and picture. Some examples could be disney characters, or jungle animals or sports. (Ex. A- Alladin, B- Beauty & the Beast, C- Cinderella).
DIY Colouring Puzzle
Materials: Colouring Page or blank paper, crayons/markers/coloured pencils
How to: Depending on the age of your child they can colour a colouring page, or create their own drawing from scratch. Then cut the paper up into large-ish geometric shapes. Again, depending on their age they can make this more challenging by cutting smaller pieces. They can then reassemble their drawing as a puzzle. Any old envelope from a bill or card is the perfect storage. Bonus: you can decorate the envelope too!
DIY Board Game
Materials: Cereal box or cardboard, markers/pens, objects for playing pieces
How to: This fun project lets kids be creative. They could take their favourite game (ex. Monopoly) and make it into a theme they love, or they could get creative and make their very own game with its own rules. Recycled paper works great for any “cards” needed, and they can DIY playing pieces or use small objects from around the house (paper clips, buttons, ect). Bonus: Play the game as a family once it’s complete!
Book Character Sculptures
Materials: Cereal box or cardboard, markers/pens, toilet paper rolls, scissors, tape, a favorite book
How to: This project allows children to practice their engineering skills as well as use their imagination. Kids can use the materials to replicate a building in the story as well as replicating the characters. Challenge your children to continue the story, make up their own or retell the current story.
We have met an amazing mama, teacher and scientist, Jess, on our Earth Mama journey who shares fantastic experiments to do with kids. Check out the linktree on her instagram for steps and materials: Thoughtfully Sustainable.
Another great link by the Telus World of Science in Edmonton, AB.
Materials: Bowl, paper scraps & pencil
How to: There are several variations of this game depending how challenging you want to make it. Players generate ideas (can be people, places, things, phrases, etc) to go with a theme, for example “movie stars” or “books”. They write each individual idea on its own paper, fold it and toss into the bowl. (For the book theme ideas could be: “best-seller”, “Ron Weasley”, “Non-fiction”, etc). Once there are about 20 ideas in the bowl the rounds start.
Split into two teams. Each team sends up a player to act out the ideas and the remainder of the team guesses. The player gets 1 min to act and have their team guess as many as possible. Then the other team gets 1 min, this continues until all of the ideas are guessed. Then the next round starts.
Round 1: Speaking & actions allowed (you just can’t say any of the words on the paper)
Round 2: One word only & actions allowed (you still can’t say any of the words on the paper)
Round 3: Actions only
The idea is that with each round the items in the bowl become familiar and are easier to identify with less clues.
Recreate the Photo
Materials: Camera, original images from internet or photo album, items around house
How to: This can be done with childhood family photos, parents old photos or photos from the internet. You gather items from your home as costumes, props to make a similar photo scene and snap the pic!
Materials: Empty plastic bottles or cans, decorating materials optional (paper, markers, scissors, glue, stickers, paint, etc).
How to: Collect similar sized plastic bottles or cans from your recycling and decorate them. Depending on your kid’s age and interest you could have them decorate paper sleeves to tape around the cylinder or paint or put stickers directly on the bottles. (Keep in mind if you are able to recycle in your area that a removable sleeve is best. Paint and stickers directly on the material will make it harder to recycle). Find a ball and get bowling!
Materials: Any root end of celery, carrots, onions, leeks, potatoes, pineapple or herbs
How to: Place the end of your vegetable in water near a well lit area to allow for it to begin regrowth. Eventually transfer to a soil pot. Check out these fantastic tips catered to the specific vegetable or fruit: https://about.spud.com/blog-regrowing-vegetables-from-scrap/. Our friend Jess at Thoughtfully Sustainable has some great resources for parents on this as well, check out the link tree in her instagram bio.
Hide the Button
Materials: Button or another small object (paperclip, bottle cap, etc)
How to: Take turns hiding the item in a designated area of the house while the other person closes their eyes and counts. The counter then gets to look for the button. The hider can give clues of hotter/colder depending if they are getting closer to finding it. Then switch!
Materials: Soil & seeds
How to: Depending on where you are this may be an indoor or an outdoor activity. For those of us in cooler climates it’s likely too soon to plant outside (check your local frost dates via google). It is however, the perfect time to start seeds that can be later moved outside. If you are in a warmer climate you might already be able to plant outdoors. Depending on your situation, you may be able to purchase seeds from the store. Some of us may need to get more creative, and try using seeds from fruits and veggies in our home.
Using what you have is one of the most significant ways you can reduce your carbon footprint. Times of COVID-19 have in many ways forced us to do this, automatically making us waste less! What are some low-waste ways you have been keeping the kids busy during this time? Let us know, we would love to hear from you!
For more low waste ideas check out our other blog post for indoor summer activities.