For those moments when you have both the time and energy, here are some ideas to engage with your kids while at home. Some require your participation and supervision and some allow for independent play where you can be “with” your child but also getting work or housework done.
This is what has worked for us so far…
1. Indoor Obstacle Course. Requires only household items like pillows, step stools, a couch, etc. We have a mini indoor trampoline that we’ve incorporated as an obstacle. You can also use painters tape to put down lines kids have to walk across (like a balance beam) or jump over (like hurdles).
2. Baking. So cooking and baking obviously require your supervision if using the oven or stove – but kids usually love the prep and if you’re making cookies or cupcakes or brownies, of course the final product. They can actually help as your ‘assistant’ or ‘sous chef’ if they are old enough. If younger, you can give them empty bowls and a whisk and wooden spoon to follow along. We recently made drawings of different pancakes (blueberry, chocolate chip, etc) and cut them out so that after our son pretend cooked up a stack with us, he had the pancakes he “made” for breakfast to put on a plate.
3. Kinetic Sand. Bring the beach inside. No mess! Plus, something about this special sand is therapeutic for adults as well. You can put animals or figurines in it, or toy trucks like matchbox or hot wheels. Just requires a container. This is a new addition for us, and it has quickly become a quarantine essential.
4. Ari The Singalong Guy.
Every weekday at 11am ET, Ari rocks out
for the kids. For 45 minutes, he does a mix of kiddie classics, one adult song, and interactive originals. For example, he started a color series and he will ask viewers to let them know what they see that’s blue. He will then integrate that into the song along with the child. Like, “Javi sees a blue cookie monster!” If parents comment with their kids’ names, he tries to do special callouts to each of them. And if it’s a child’s birthday, he will try to fit in Happy Birthday with their name. There are a lot of virtual singalongs out there, but this one is special. We used to go to Ari’s singalong live in Williamsburg on Mondays and Fridays and he genuinely has a lot of heart.
5. Scavenger Hunt. When you’re able to get outside for a walk, or even right outside your home, you can do a nature scavenger hunt. Have your child or kids find a flower, a stick, a rock, something yellow… Have a list with checkboxes or make it up as you go. Bring little snacks as prizes.
6. Facetime Grandparents. This can be a whole family affair, or – as needed – virtual babysitting. When we need to get things done, we make sure our son is in a safe environment (sometimes even strapped into his high chair) and keep him in our periphery as his grandparents play with trucks and toys, read him books, make up stories and take him “outside” into their backyards or patios. He loves spending time with them and we love a little break. And we get to catch up with our parents too and make sure they’re doing alright, so it’s a win-win.
7. Construction Site. We turn up the Spotify to “Songs About Things That Go” by Cubbihouse or “Blippi Tunes, Vol 2: Machines” by Blippi and take our toy trucks down into the “construction site” which can be some dirt outside or a corner of our den. My almost 2 and a half year old spends tons of time lining up the trucks, scooping (real or imaginary) dirt with the excavator and pouring it into the dump truck, then dumping it and smoothing it with the road roller. We let him play independently or make up stories with the trucks. PS, for indoors, if you have kinetic sand you can use that for your construction site too.
8. Playdoh Accessories.
We love playdoh and colors and shapes and recently we bought a cheap bucket of cookie cutters
from Amazon and leveled up our playdoh game. You can also use other household items if you don’t have cookie cutters. But where playdoh was like a 20 minute activity for us in the past (meaning, child attention span), it’s now more like an hour and we all genuinely have fun creating with it. The set we bought has all the letters and numbers too so we can also spell out our names, spell words, count to 10 and more.
9. Indoor BBQ.
Have a play picnic or a pretend BBQ at home. We “cooked up” some hamburgers, steak, chicken, tacos, burritos, rice and beans… We also invited our friends Elmo, Cookie Monster, Grover and some other stuffed animals. The Melissa and Doug taco set
has velcro food items that can be “cut” with the included knife. This activity alone gives my son such a sense of purpose as he slices the tomato, the green bell pepper, the onions, the avocado, the chicken and the steak. He loves having his job to do and when the item splits in two he is so proud.
These remind me of when I lived in Spain, visiting the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. We use the tiles
to build castles, birthday cakes (we sing happy birthday and blow out the “candle”), car transporters (with the car expansion pack), double decker buses (with the car expansion pack), tall towers… Magna-tiles work for family play or independent play. When we play all together my son basically just wants to direct us anyway (NO TRIANGLES MOM!) so it’s great for the end of the day when energy is low.
Hope these ideas help. Stay safe and healthy!
NOTE: This post is not sponsored. All thoughts are unbiased and my own. All photos and content are property of Lauren Cosenza Beauty LLC.
Lauren Cosenza consults for top brands, websites, and magazines and serves as a trusted beauty/fashion/mom expert, a brand ambassador, an on-camera personality and spokesperson, a creative director, a published editorial contributor and writer, the creator and owner of DIVAlicious®, the creator and owner of BEAUTYfull®, a product junkie and an insatiable beauty and style seeker — with a former life at Cosmopolitan, Shape and Bustle/BDG brands. She currently runs Señor Lechuga Hot Sauce with her husband and baby boy as the Co-Founder + Head of Brand.
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