With lockdown has been extended, I will continue blogging about easy activities that you can do with what you have. For these activities, I literally look at what I have available around my house and make an activity out of it without spending time looking for what to do on any platform. The main idea is that you start getting confident with your own ideas and tinkering with what you have... Again, materials that you can recycle are always a good source of inspiration. This week we used a cardboard box, play dough and did a classic Treasure Hunt…
Activity 1: Cardboard Box Puppet Theatre
For this activity I took inspiration from the shape of the cardboard box that our six pack of long-life milk cartons are packed in. It was just made for it! I just saw what this box could become… the perfect puppet theatre. The only alteration I did was to cut a hole in the bottom (for hand-puppet access) and that’s it – you are ready for the fun part… decorating!
To decorate I gathered old magazines and let my kids cut images of whatever they liked (in itself this is a great hand-dexterity exercise). Quite unplanned, my little girl decided on a theme… she started looking for images of eyes - so she literally spend the whole morning going through the magazines and cutting different eye-shapes, colors, etc..
The great thing about doing activities directed at an outcome is that you don’t have to finish that day (e.g., because your ‘art class’ time allocation is coming to an end). You can just resume the activity whenever it suits you. And this is exactly what we did - two days later we glued the cut-out magazine pictures on the box and we attached a little curtain to the front. For this I just marked the dimensions of the piece of fabric we needed, and kids cut it to shape. We passed a string along the top of the curtains (so we can slide it open and close as the show starts or finishes) and we attached it each side of the box (just punch two holds on each side of the box and make a knot at each end).
And like that the theatre was finished and ready to be used! We have fabric finger puppets but if you don’t have them, then make characters on fingers! Paint them, use wool for the hair, etc. We are going to do this at some point this week too. The Puppet Show was the highlight of our Sunday afternoon. Make a fuss of it! We bring snacks and we all sit together and cheer and applaud for every show. We all had a go and it was wonderful to see how kids create their own stories and build their confidence on the way.
Activity 2: Building with Playdough
This is just another application of the already versatile playdough. I cut few straws in smallest pieces so the kids can use them as supports. They can either create 2D structures (like a flat house shape on a board) or 3D structures (a great way to practice chemical bonding with older kids!). Just help them to grasp the concept at the beginning, and then let them go wild! 😊 If you don’t have playdough, do your own! A super easy and cost-effective recipe can be found here.
Activity 3: A Treasure Hunt!
A great way to get them to work for their sweets! And super easy. For this, I just wrote clues on bits of paper that will lead them to the next step, and so on. The idea was to keep them moving so I hid a clue on a tree, made them collect a certain number of stones (working their math and their patience too), dig a hole and solve a riddle to get to the final destination where the treasure will be hidden.
It was a very easy activity to prepare and super exciting for the kids. Once they found the treasure, we put music on, got out the picnic blanket, and carried on with the party while enjoying their treats and reading books!
So there you go. These simple activities are fun and easy to do, give it a go and enjoy the time you have with your kids. Remember that you don’t have to start and finish the activities in one go. Do them when you feel like it! There is no rush! Rather enjoy the process than obsess with the end-result.