Entertaining 3-5 year olds during a winter lockdown when daylight hours are limited and the weather is either wet or cold, or a combination of both, requires some serious parental creativity.
So if you’re looking for things to do at home because you’ve run out of ways to entertain your pre-school children by 8.03am, myTamarin have compiled a list of great ideas to keep them (and you) occupied.
None of these 10 lockdown activities require much planning, nor do they need extra equipment you wouldn’t ordinarily find in your home. So, if you’re looking for things to do at home with kids, specifically activities for kids aged 3-5 years, try these ideas.
1. Teach life skills
A great thing to do with 3 years olds is teach them life skills. They can never start too young. How about learning how clothes get clean? Or how to tie their shoelaces? How to put their coat on by themselves? How to tidy up their toys*?
- Simply pick an age appropriate skill, we suggest starting small and set some time aside each day to practice it.
- Break down each skill into clear, easy to understand steps.
- As well as teaching them the life skill, make sure they understand what you’re expecting them to be able to do at the end of it. It may make sense to you, but you aren’t a 3 year old.
Taking the time now to teach them basic life skills will pay dividends in the future.
*Making a game out of learning it each skill might make it an easier sell. What 3 year old has ever viewed tidying up as fun? You could turn it into a race, or make it a competition - who can pick up the most toys, or use a sticker chart for motivation, whatever works for your kid.
2. Tell them about the world
When you’re 4 years old and you’ve been stuck at home for the best part of a year, the world can feel like a pretty small place. So why not take them on a virtual trip around the world? Dig out your old travel photo albums, hop onto Google Earth and go exploring with your kids.
You could take a nostalgic trip down memory lane and tell them about the places you’ve been. Maybe you could discover a new country or culture together, one neither of you knows about. You could recreate the cuisine or learn the national anthem without ever leaving home.
3. Teach them how to cook
If there’s one thing we learned from the first lockdown, and that is we’re a nation of home bakers. What better time, then, to begin to instill in your kids a love of cooking?
When you’re after things to do with 4 year olds, teach them the basics of cooking for a lockdown activity. Pick a recipe such as crumpet pizzas, dinosaur biscuits, or pancakes, and ask your child to locate all the ingredients in your kitchen, then have them help out with the measuring, the pouring and mixing.
They’ll love eating the food they’ve just made.
4. Make a family capsule
If you’re homeschooling 3-5 year olds and want to do something a little different, why not make a time capsule?
Dig out an old wicker hamper or a cardboard box, anywhere you can safely store personal belongings for a while will work.
Ask your kid to pick out some items that mean something special to them now. Whether it’s photos, a favourite toy, a picture they drew, have every family member put an item in the time capsule. Set a date for when you’ll open it again, then hide it away from curious hands.
5. Build a world around a book
From things to do with 3 year olds, to things to do with 5 year olds, books are for everyone. Reading is such a brilliant way to spend time with your kids, as well as helping build their vocabulary, and provide a bit of escapism.
Work ahead of time here and create some assignments for your kid to do based on their favourite story. It can be anything from drawing a picture of their favourite scene, to counting the number of people in the story, drawing a family tree to connect everyone together, cooking the character’s favourite meal, or going on an outdoor adventure (walk) to recreate the adventure the character went on.
6. Throw a tea party
Every child loves to host a tea party, so ask your child to gather together a select few toys and set them around a tea towel/tablecloth on the floor. If you have wooden food items in your house, draw these foods on each ‘guest’s’ paper plate, then have your child match the wooden food item to each drawing, filling the ‘guest’s’ plate.
If you don’t have wooden food, simply throw a make believe tea party, it’ll be just as fun.
7. Hunt the rainbow
Create a scavenger hunt for your child using the colours of the rainbow. Before the activity, ask your child to draw a rainbow, then for the scavenger hunt, ask your child to find items in your home that match each colour.
8. Send a letter
Have your child paint a picture, do a drawing of your family, or make some pasta art and send it to Granny or Grandpa. This is the perfect lockdown activity for any young child.
9. Have a movie afternoon
Let the TV be the babysitter for a few hours and don’t feel guilty about it. Build a fort in the living room out of pillows, blankets, chairs and sofa cushions first and play in it in the morning - draw pictures, have a tea party, bring in their toys as an activity.
Then when you’re ready for some time out, settle down together in the fort and watch a movie or their favourite TV show.
10. Paint rocks
Homeschooling pre-schoolers is tough, so get outside while you can. Go for a walk in the morning together and take a bag with you. Ask your child to find some suitable rocks to take home and paint. Suitable rocks are smooth and round, about the size of your palm.
Wash the mud and dirt off them before drying them, then paint them with acrylic paint or chalk crayons if you want to reuse the rocks. To preserve the art you’ll need to use a sealant to seal the paint, otherwise wash, rinse and repeat!
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