By Karen Whiting, Crosswalk.com
We want our children to thrive during this time of staying home. To do so, we need to be creative, intentional, and keep them busy while helping them learn.
Try these 5 fun, creative ideas that also impart a little faith component.
Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Chevanon Photography
1. Send Hugs to Stay Connected
Children miss their friends and extended family while homebound so let them reach out to make and send paper “hugs”.
Children can draw a person with arms stretched out wide using circle and rectangle shapes. They can color in the face or cut out a picture of their own faces from a printout and past that onto the head. Color clothes onto the body or glue on cutouts from pretty gift wrap or scrapbook paper.
Add stickers to decorate the clothes. Then make a tube from heavy paper (card stock) and glue that onto the back of the arms. Slide fingers into the tubes and bend the arms to form hugs. These can be mailed to friends.
Make them small enough to fit inside the envelopes you have on hand. Arms stretched out wide can be 7 inches wide and the body can be 6 inches long. Fold the paper figure in half before sliding into an envelope.
You can do more with this idea and your imagination. For example:
- As a variation, send a bear hug by cutting out a bear shape with the front paws stretched out to give a hug.
- Add fun by cutting out paper doll clothes to dress the paper figure. Draw tops, pants, 2. dresses, and hats that will go over the body. Draw the tabs to fold over that keep the paper clothes on the figure. Cut a slit to slide a hat on the head.
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-4 and talk about loving people. Discuss how sending a hug help your friend know you care and miss him or her. Chat about how hugs make you feel.
- Make a paper hug family to send hugs from the whole family, especially if a grandparent is alone and has to stay safe due to their health.
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2. Obstacle Course with Extra Elements
Climbing and squeezing over, under, and around objects makes great fun.
Build a course for your child or let siblings build take turns building them for one another. Have a spot within the course with a basin of water and soap or waterless soap as a reminder that we need to wash our hands often.
Add a simple jigsaw puzzle or riddle to solve in the course too to illustrate that life can be puzzling. Use chairs on their side, a wooden beam to walk across (or call it walking the plank),
Include directions to go with objects as needed, such as like bounce the ball 4 times, run around tree twice, or toss the object into the basket. Create a lattice with rope for children to climb through without touching the rope.
Push sticks into the ground a few feet apart to have to go back and forth through the line of sticks. Hang some inflated balloons to tap. There’s no limit to what can become part of the course. Use the course for some teachable moments.
- Read James 1:2-4 and about how we have challenges in life that may seem like big obstacles but we can overcome them. Add a Bible or cross in the course for a child to put a hand on it and yell out, “I trust in God who helps me,”
- Encourage children to time one another in the course to see if they each get faster with practice. Can they figure out how much they improved?
- Add in balance exercises with spoons and peanuts or eggs to carry a short distance.
- Let children view some obstacle courses online and see what they can create from the ideas viewed.
- Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 and chat about how we need to train ourselves for physical challenges and do our best.
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3. Relieve Stress with Feathers and Bubbles
Feathers and bubbles are so light and easy to use for fun and entertainment. If you don’t have any feathers let children cut paper ones. Let children blow and catch bubbles.
Watch how they float until they pop. Let a child think of one problem and blow a bubble and think of the problem just floating away and disappearing as it pops. Read 1 Peter 5:7 about letting go of worries.
Discuss some bubble facts.
- In space there are no bubbles because there’s no outside (exterior pressure) to act against inside pressure.
- Color you see in bubbles happens due to reflection of light. As light passes through the bubble and the soap in the bubble distorts the light.
- You can freeze bubbles if the temperature is below 32 degrees.
- You breathe out to blow a bubble and that helps relieve stress.
Blow a feather across a table or the floor and see how fast you can get it to move. Practice sword fighting with a feather. Hold onto feathers and wave arms up and down to pretend to be birds soaring in the sky.
Drop a ball and feather from the same height and see what one touches the ground first. The feather is light, but it has more air resistance.
Dip a feather in oil. It makes the feather heavy and click. When that happens to a bird it make it hard to fly or float.
It also causes birds to lose the protection the feathers provide, and they can lose body heat and die. Try cleaning off the oil with water and then dish detergent. Chat about how after oil spills people clean birds to help them survive.
Read Matthew 6:26 about how God cares for the birds and how much more valuable we are so we can trust He will care for us.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Braedon Mcleod
4. Dream Board or Collage to Build Hope
We know this time of staying home will end and life will resume. Let children have hope with creating a dream board of what he or she wants to do when we can be free to go out again and hug people.
They can cut pictures or draw them and add words to describe their hopes and dreams for the future. Print out pictures from online sites too. Add names and photos of friends, favorite places to go, and activities away from home they enjoy.
Find a backdrop to use such as a bulletin board, poster or large paper. If you are short on supplies, cut open several paper grocery bags and tape or glue them together.
Section off areas to organize ideas, such as places to go, friends to see, and activities to do. Add a top ten list of most desired activities. Add a spot for ways to help people now and after this ends.
Post it on a wall to keep adding to it. When bored, it can be a great time to add something that would be fun to do.
Discuss how certain events leave a lasting impression that everyone their age will always remember and talk about. Encourage your child to write how this might make a difference for his or her life.
Getting through those times strengthens us to trust we’ll get through other hard times.
When we look forward to the future, we feel hope. Hope is the expectation of future good. Faith that things will get better lifts our spirits. Read and add a few scriptures on hope such as Hebrews 6:19, Hebrews 11:1, and Jeremiah 29:11. Looking at it can help a child feel hope and smile.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/NiseriN
5. Online Play Dates
Set up a play date for kids on Google Hangouts, Zoom, or other options. They can all see one another and play games like charades together.
Girls can play with their dolls or other toys and boys might like to play with their cars. If they like a game like Candyland or checkers and everyone has the same game, they can set that up to play and move the piece for each player together.
You can record it to save as a quarantine memory. Other fun to try online:
- Or one person can put on music and everyone can dance. Take a few screenshots to capture the memories.
- Exercise together with stretches, running in place, jumping jacks, lifting weights (use water bottles as one pound weights) and other movements where you stay in front of the camera. Take turns leading an exercise. Stretches keep you limber, running and jumping keeps your heart healthy (called aerobic exercise), and lifting weights strengthens muscles.
- Share a little faith with praying together, singing Christian songs, and talking about each person’s favorite Bible story or verse.
- Have a family online time with relatives. Catch up on how each family has coped with being at home and share fun activities you’ve been doing. Snap a photo. Play a game together.
- Discover more about each friend. Ask a question for each person to ask such as favorite colors, flavors, games, and books. Let each one give a short review of a book and why it’s so good.
- Do schoolwork together if you’re classmates and use the same book. Or let an older child tutor a younger one.
- Try to make everyone laugh by making faces or telling silly jokes. See who gets the biggest laughs.
Combining fun with activities that help children relax, connect them with friends and loved ones, build their faith, and also educate them makes the best type of "edutainment"!
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