It's a bad day at your house. Whether it's rainy, cold or your kids are feeling sick and run down, you should be prepared.
So, what should you have on hand or think about doing with your kids that is easy and non strenuous? Too often we default to TV, Ipads and computers, but there are plenty of things to do with preschoolers and elementary age kids so get creative! You have so much in your house; you just need to know where to start. Here are just a few ideas to turn a BAD day into a FUN (LEARNING) Day.
Please note that I have provided sample supplies and then ideas you can try with your kids.
What You Need: Always have on hand 11x18 construction paper, buttons, popsicle sticks, markers, spaghetti, water color paint and glue. And don't forget scotch tape, stapler, ruler, hole punch, yarn, string and stickers.
Potential Projects: Create a book about your family or make books of all kinds using the hole punch, thread, string or yarn. Staple the pages together. Improvise your own art exhibit by making art explosions of different mediums. Then string them up in the kitchen. Make puppets from popsicle sticks or paper bags and make up a puppet show. Or finally glue foods onto paper and make food books or food people.
What You Need: Foods in your pantry like cereal, noodles, jello, goldfish, raisins, packages of slice and bake cookies, icing and sprinkles. Have ice trays, spoons, cookie sheets, pots and pans and even food coloring available.
Potential Projects: Cookies are easy and fun, but make them into people, animals or even a ball and bat, pile them with sprinkles and have a cookie party. Let the children take the foods they want from the pantry and mix them together in a bowl with a big spoon. Then they can name their new food that they have created. Let the kids plan menus for different meals and make menus for the family or make a menu giving each child a certain letter. The kids can also make handmade placemats for each person in the family. You can always laminate later. Make ice trays with jello or food coloring and stick in your popsicle sticks. Just create!
What You Need: Anything will work from shoes to scarves to purses or hats, coats, ties and even handkerchiefs for dressing the dog to dressing you. Even get out harmless medical supplies like band aids and tissues to be a doctor and play dress up.
Potential Projects: Put on a fashion show, role play different professions from a cowboy to a teacher to a pirate with using your clothes. Make a pretend microphone or karaoke microphone and build a runway with a rug. Make this even into a guessing game. You can even play beauty shop and give a manicure if you get desperate. If you don't have nail polish, use stickers or washable markers. If it's so rainy, put on bathing suits, put up an umbrella and get a beach ball and play going to the beach!
What You Need: Pans, spoons, instruments, recorder, harmonica. Use anything for a band and march to the music.
Potential Projects: Record their own video with music and singing. Make a sing-along. Guess the tune. Also put on music and just make up creative dances. Get out the pans, spoons and bowls for drums. Let the music begin.
What You Need: Books, magazines, catalogues
Potential Projects: Pretend you are at the library. Take turns being the teacher at story time, reading a book to all and showing the pictures. You can vary it so when it's your turn, take a familiar book and leave out a section. See if your child can tell you what part is missing. Or read the book and change the name of the character to a family member's name. Can you figure out the book you are reading? Act out parts of the story and make it into a play. Make up stories with the same letter of the alphabet and then take turns. With a magazine or a catalogue, cut out pictures that can tell a story or pick a letter and find all the words or pictures that begins with that letter. You can even cut out pictures of themes: boats, cars, hats... Just have fun!
Exercise and Running Around
What You Need: Trash cans, furniture, soft balls, boxes, rope, string or yarn
Potential Projects: This is an important part of a bad day unless confined to bed. Make an obstacle course with trash baskets, chairs and boxes, even tables. Set the timer and set the course. Also play trashcan basketball with a soft ball. Make up exercises to music and even play it like freeze tag. Hide and seek with specific rules is always fun. Practice hopping, skipping to a finish line set with yarn or string. Make a guessing game of acting out animals. Be active!
Just Be Creative With Home Junk
What You Need: Your foods in the pantry... your storage containers, your pads and pens, your clothes, your sink and utensils... It's just amazing to let your brain work!
Potential Projects: Make your own store with items from your pantry. Organize in kinds, colors, sizes or alphabetize. Set prices and make signs. Make a water table by filling the sink or tub with soap bubbles. Take measuring cups and spoons and have fun.
Finally, school time is always a fallback but sometimes is just what is needed. Make your own dot to dot; even the kids can do one for you. Make mazes or write a story together. You write the first line, they write the second and you will be amazed how fun this is. Become an author or an illustrator and just create. Use your phone to go around the house and take close up pictures of objects and then write about each one. Use your kitchen timer as a school bell.
Change activities frequently for its best to stop when the children are enjoying the activity. Avoid the "I am bored" routine. The takeaway: Get creative and think out of the box!