Staying home and fearing your sanity will cave in under the pressure of boredom and few weeks without sunlight.
Bored kids add a whole new level of anxiety to the fragile-as-is nerves.
Not that it’s their fault. They are experiencing the same gloomy mood. Only…. Only they share it with you…
I wondered few times what would happen to fighter pilots had they had to go through such mental challenges, day in and day out for few weeks.
Here are some ideas to help reduce the stress.
Cookies! Make cookies with the kids. You don’t have to make it with them from scratch. You can make the dough (faster and with less mess) by yourself, alone, and just give them a piece.
A piece of dough will keep the kid excited for a while, and if you add to it the baking time, cooling time, and eating the cookie, you’ll get at least 30 minutes of excitement. As a bonus, the kid will be very likely to be satisfied for a while after that. So that’s at least an hour of happiness and good spirits.
*You can color the dough with food coloring, add cocoa, cinnamon, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, tiny candies, sprinkles, pieces of chocolate bar, etc. You can also let the kids add those to the dough.
Make a double batch, divide into portions, and put in the freezer. This way you’ll have cookie dough ready when you’d like to use it, with less work and mess. I’d use a no-egg recipe for a dough I intend to freeze and thaw, if given to kids.
Make a fruit salad. You can either let them cut (under close supervision, needless to say), or cut yourself and let them assemble the salad. If you think it’ll be safe- you can give skewers to make a fruit salad on a skewer.
Practice making a pattern with grapes in different colors, having the kid alternate colors on a skewer. The same could work with different pieces of different fruits.
Make ‘hairy’ hot dogs. Let the kid stick pieces of spaghetti in a hot dog, and boil the hot dog until the spaghetti is done.
Make instant pudding in different colors, and pour into cups, layering the different colors and flavors.
Make Pizza on a bagel/pita/slice of bread. Have the kids arrange toppings to make faces on the pizza.
No Cost Games
Make Faces with your kids. Announce which face to make, or let the kid decide. I try to make the faces very dramatic and theatrical. Some of the faces we made: Happy, Smiling, Sad, Crying, Laughing, Surprised, Praying, Thinking, Sleepy, Tired, Waking Up, Bored, Hungry, Thirsty, Eating, Drinking, Reading, Kissing… Later on you can ask your kid if he/she is still playing the game, because you see he/she is making a cute face…
Finger and hand games. Bring your hands together and slowly open them to show a balloon inflating. Bring them closer together to show how it’s deflating. You can ask the kid to do the same, ask him to make the ‘balloon’ in different sizes or tell you how big the ‘balloon’ you’re making is. You can also add inhaling and exhaling when you deflate or inflate the balloon.
Tell a story with the aid of finger puppets. Drawing faces on the finger can also work out.
Fingers for Legs. Draw on a piece of cardboard something with legs (a person, chicken, monster, whatever you’d like), cut holes at the top of the legs, and put your fingers through the holes, to make the legs. You can do the same but instead of legs, use your fingers in place of hands.
Walk on a Ribbon. Put a piece of ribbon on the floor and have the kid walk on it. You can also make a ‘maze’ on the floor using ribbon or yarn.
Island in the Sea. Make a circle on the floor with yarn or tape, or use a hoop. Tell the kid that’s his island, and have him jump in or out of the circle upon hearing Island!/Ocean!, or In!/Out! etc.
Step on Colors. Similarly, you can put circles in different colors on the floor. Name a color, and have the kids step on the right color. Try the same but with different shapes.
Musical Chairs. For younger kids you can use the same number of chairs and don’t take away any chairs during the game. The kids can enjoy running around the chair, listening to the music and learning when to stop and sit down, without having to ‘worry’ about winning or losing. It’ll also keep *all* the kids playing.
Repeat Beats. Clap your hands or use a musical instrument to create a rhythm, and have the kids repeat. Clap ones, and have the kids repeat. Clap twice, and have the kids do the same, and so on. The kids are to repeat the same numbers of claps and in the same speed.
Low Cost Games
Felt board. Cut different shapes in different sizes and colors. Let the kid use his imagination to create a picture.
An idea similar to the above is using pictures cut from magazines and junk mail, and creating different pictures. For example: different rooms in the house, a table with food, a park, shelves in a grocery store, etc., depending on the cutouts you have.
I Spy. Glue on a piece of cardboard different pictures of items, and play ‘I Spy’. Cards from a memory game can work wonderfully. If you have 2 of each card you can glue one of each and ask to match the other. If not, just glue all of them. You can also find pictures on boxes, in catalogs or newspapers. Just cut and glue as you find them. Trust me- it’s much wiser than waiting to have a big enough collection of pictures before gluing any…
Shaving cream. Put some shaving cream on a table. Have the kids smear it and ‘draw’ in the mess with fingers or tools (toothpick, chopsticks, a fork, paintbrush, etc.). You can also provide an item to be covered with shaving cream- a balloon, plastic containers, and whatever you can find in the recycling bin.
Cornstarch Goo. Add a tiny bit of water to a cup of cornstarch, and mix well. Adjust amount of liquid to desired consistency. Add food coloring, or cocoa, paprika, tumeric, beet juice (instead of water), etc.
Milk Bubbles. Pour milk to fill 1/3 of a big, tall glass. Put a straw in the glass and let the kids blow air into the straw. Make sure not to pour too much milk into the glass so the foam doesn’t go overboard. It’s edible fun, but with a great potential to become messy, so it’s in this section.