Cabin fever? Here are some great ideas for things to do indoors to keep your kids happy and busy.
Any parent will agree that one of the most frustrating sentences a child can say is: “Mommy / Daddy, I am bored…” They usually have a tendency for saying that exact phrase when you are at your wits end and especially on a cold or rainy day when all you want to do is stay in bed and read. Fear not, there are loads of fun activities to do indoors. Whether you’re in the mood to get creative with your kids or if they have siblings and friends to keep one another entertained, here are some fun play ideas you can propose.
According to Julie van Niekerk, an occupational therapist and mom to Steven (9) and Loren (6), the best indoor games are usually those that involve building and creative play. She recommends:
- Lego – In terms of stimulation and creative play, Lego™ is wonderful for boys and girls of all ages and provides hours of entertainment. “It also promotes the development of fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination,” says Julie.
- Making house – Get a couple of duvet covers and sheets and spread them over your dining room table so that you create the effect of a fort/ secret hideout underneath. Your kids will love the idea of a private space for them to play and it will keep them out of mischief allowing you to have a bit of time out too!
- Baking – Besides being something fun that you can do together with your kids, baking teaches kids important concepts such as measuring skills, time management and accuracy. It’s also a good opportunity for you to have discussions with your kids on nutrition, kitchen safety and hygiene.
For younger kids and especially boys, there’s nothing better than getting sticky in the kitchen. Here’s a fun and easy recipe that you can try out.
White chocolate crackles
1 cup (35g/1.24oz) Rice Crispies
1 cup (35g/1.24oz) Coco Pops
2 boxes Mini Astros
1 cup (200g/7.1oz) white chocolate Melts, melted
Line 2 mini muffin pans that have 12 holes (1 Tbsp/20ml) with patty-pan cases.
Combine ingredients in medium bowl. Divide the mixture amongst prepared holes, cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
If you’re planning an afternoon tea and have girls who are willing to help you in the kitchen, this is one recipe for cupcakes that are not only delicious, but pretty too!
125g (4.4oz) butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
⅓ cup (150g) castor sugar
1½ cups (225g) self-raising flour
¼ cup (60ml) milk
½ cup (160g) strawberry jam
1⅓ cups (300ml) thickened cream, whipped
4 strawberries, sliced thinly
1 Tbsp icing sugar
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 deep 12-hole patty pans with paper cases.
Combine butter, extract, castor sugar, eggs, flour and milk in a small bowl and mix with an electric beater on low until ingredients are just combined. Increase speed to medium, beat for about 3 minutes or until mixture is smooth and changed to a paler colour.
Drop slightly rounded tablespoons of mixture into paper cases. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes, then turn cakes, top-side up onto a flat surface or wired tray to cool.
Using a sharp pointed vegetable knife, cut out a small circle from the top of each cake and then cut the circle in half and make 2 “wings”. Fill the cavities with jam and whipped cream. Place wings in position on top of the cakes; top with strawberry slices and dust with a little sifted icing sugar.
Whether it’s playing mommy-mommy, doctor patient, circus clowns or witches, kids love dressing up and having a few props and accessories can make it all the more fun and exciting.
Several large mixing bowls, buckets or flower pots (the bowl is used as the mould that shapes the hat), so any interesting container that fits a child’s head works great.
You will also need a large pan; liquid starch; glue; scissors; small bits and pieces of ribbon, flowers or any other decor and 2 large pieces of cardboard cut into circles (any colour) for each hat.
What to do
Pour the starch into the large pan. Hold the paper circles together and dip them in the liquid starch until they are dripping.
Turn the mixing bowl upside down and place the wet paper over it.
When the hat is dry, decorate it with flowers, stars, ribbons or whatever else you have lying around that can fit in with the theme.
If, however, you don’t have the time or energy to get involved, remember that often the simplest of games can keep your kids entertained for hours on end. These game suggestions are not only useful for when you’re home, but can be played anywhere and are easy to bring along in your handbag for when boredom strikes up and you’re out at a restaurant or at the doctor’s waiting rooms.
Crazy Card Games
- Animals Card Game: This card game is a loud version of war – simple enough for little kids, yet rowdy enough to entertain the oldest.
How to play:
Each player chooses an animal name to play under. The longer the name, the better, e.g. hippopotamus, rhinoceros and so on. The cards are all dealt and placed facedown in equal piles in front of each player.
Players go around the table turning over their top card and placing it face-up in their own discard pile. When a player turns up a card that matches one on another pile, the 2 pile owners race to say each other’s animal name 3 times. The first to do so gets the other’s discard pile. Play continues until someone has won all the cards. (A variation is for players to make the animal’s sound instead of calling its name).
Pencil and Paper Games
- Heads and bodies: Each player draws the head and neck of a person, animal or bird at the top of a piece of paper and then folds the paper over so that only the end of the neck they have drawn is visible, before handing their paper onto someone else. The next person then draws the arms, torso/body and start of the legs of a person, animal or bird and again folds the paper over before handing onto the next person, who now draws the legs and feet. Once the drawing is complete players can unfold what they have created and will see their oddest creatures revealed.
- Number pictures: Players write the numbers 1-10 on a piece of paper and must then draw pictures in the most imaginative way possible using the outline of each number as part of each picture. The winner is the one who can come up with the most imaginative and/or most amusing picture.
Being ‘trapped’ indoors can be difficult for kids and it doesn’t help to ignore their frustrations or allow them to watch TV all day long. While you don’t have to be involved in every activity that they do, there are lots of exciting options you can suggest not only for entertainment purposes, but for the benefit of their creative and learning skills too.
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