The unholy union of the weather and the Easter holidays means that I am largely housebound with three small kids in tow. I have been largely stuck in the house for months anyway due to the cessation of preschool, ill children and weather. I am beginning to go a little loopy and for someone with a higher than average level of eccentricity, a little loopy looks like moderately insane for those of a somewhat more sociotypical persuasion. Cabin fever has hit and hit hard.
So in sympathy for my fellow parents besieged by small cold bored children clamouring to be placed in front of televisual spectaculars and left until their eyes go square, some resources that may save your sanity and win you the undying admiration of your offspring. Well, I say undying. Ten minutes worth at least.
I won’t lie. There is adult involvement and supervision required for most of these but it’s fairly minimal so you can probably manage a sneaky five minute nap on the sofa once you’ve got them started. Apart from tasks with scissors. On your own head be it if you decide to abandon ship leaving your progeny in command of sharp objects. Possibly literally if your kids are anything like as inventive as mine when it comes to scissors and hair. I would personally fear awakening to find myself scalped.
So, I present you with Stuff My Kids Like To Do:
1. Playdough. Grab a rolling pin and some biscuit cutters. Stick them at the kitchen table. Let them go nuts. There’s a pretty good recipe for playdough here. You may want to add a little more oil/water to the recipe than is called for in the instructions.
2. Drawing. The surface of my lounge room floor is pretty much ankle deep in discarded pictures. I’ve largely given up against the avalanche of art. I just walk around gingerly and at the end of the day I scoop up everything that hasn’t been verboten to me and it goes in the recycling. Anything they tell me is too precious goes on the wall in what Esme calls her art gallery but the rest of us call her bedroom. You can find some excellent resources to help your kids get excited about drawing over at the Phoenix website.
3. Junk modelling. Go to your recycling bin and yank out anything made of cardboard, especially breakfast cereal boxes and toilet roll tubes. If you have yoghurt pots or cleanish plastic food trays like fruit punnets grab them too. Also milk and juice containers. Rinse everything out. Stick them on your kitchen table with tape, scissors, glue and paint and glitter.
(The glitter and paint are definitely optional extras for if you trust your kids or don’t mind having every visible surface in your kitchen transformed into a paint covered glitzy wonderland.)
You can set them challenge or give them a theme or just point them in the general direction of the stuff and ask them what they think they could build using it. You will be totally amazed with what you can make with junk. Last year when we did this up in the park the kids were building carnival masks out of all sorts of crap and they made the most incredible things. There were tigers and elephants and all sorts. It was ace.
If you’re a complete newbie at this kind of thing, may I suggest that a boat or a car makes an excellent starting point. And toilet roll tubes stuffed with tissue paper make amazing trees.
4. Sewing. I know, I know, I sound insane. Why would I arm my children with sharp pointy objects and string? But this is quite good, especially for older kids. Orlaith will sit quite happily for ages ‘sewing’ with fabric scraps and needle and thread. Great for hand eye coordination. They could make doll’s clothes or even sew themselves a scarf or a little blanket. Or just thread bits of fabric on a string to make a kind of kite. Both of mine quite enjoy rummaging through my fabric scraps to find appealing bits of fabric and then just hacking them to bits to make ponchos for their toys. Slightly destructive but then you can always recycle the scraps for making collages or something.
5. Paper cutting. This has kept them occupied all afternoon today and the only downside is that I will have to go over my lounge room floors like the wrath of God to get rid of all the tiny scraps of paper they’ve left behind.
Some bits they’ve been enjoying: They are quite fond of Tilly and Friends so discovering the folding paper dolls of Hector and Tilly was quite a good find. Extra bonus fun of colouring in. There’s heaps of other printables on the CBeebies website too as well as online games and so on. I must issue the disclaimer that using that site with the kids will mean you will forever be inundated with requests to play CBeebies games forevermore. You must decide for yourself whether that’s a price you’re prepared to pay for colouring fun.
A random find that has been quite handy for ideas is the Martha Stewart website. (Click only if you can handle a healthy dollop of twee and the general vague sense of shame that your house does not and never has and never will be as tidy or as Homely as the backgrounds of the photographs on the website. ) We tried doing paper snowflakes this afternoon and it was reasonably successful. It also matched the ridiculous weather outside really well. Bonus? Not so much.
I quite liked some of the resources I found here and Esme’s happily snipping out clothes for paper dollies while I’m typing this so I guess the kids were rather pleased with them too. There are also some totally AWESOME things to be found here.
I think I’ve linked to this one before but I’ve made this with the kids before and it is intricate and time consuming but really worth having a go at.
6.If you don’t fancy making stuff, or you’ve already made ALL THE THINGS because OMG SNOOOOOOOOOOW for months, then maybe you could make a blanket fort with some kitchen chairs and a duvet. Or you can spread the duvet on the floor to be a tropical lagoon and use sofa pillows as islands and pretend you’re somewhere warm and hot and Not Here.
Feel free to add your own suggestions and inspirations via the comments.
Meanwhile I am off to go snuggle Elias whose birthday is today. He hates and fears the snow so he’s not having the most marvellous of days although he is having great fun learning how to combine scissors and playdough to make the stickiest and yet sharpest of craft traps for catching mothers in. Perhaps I shall simply make him a paper cutout cake…