Goes without saying that these are testing times. There is barely a minute in the hour where Covid-19 does not dominate the globe’s collective mind with a tidal wave of concern and anxiety for the future. From domestic worries on the availability of groceries, to parents the world over taking crash-courses in e-learning while simultaneously working from home, fears for our elderly loved ones, growing ‘distance guilt’ for us expats overseas, pressures on health systems to financial and career uncertainty. In Singapore, coronavirus has been a concern for the best part of the year but the government’s response has kept us cushioned from draconian style lockdowns our European friends and family are enduring. Now as we enter this new ‘circuit-breaker’ phase, we must completely down tools, stay home, master homeschooling, fight cabin fever with Zoom and house party chats and pray to whoever or whatever you believe in that a vaccine is found and/or the virus dissipates quickly #SGUNITED
As a handbag designer with a small business, I’ve been at the helm of my home office for some time – it has made the juggle with young children easier than when I went to my London office (what feels like moons ago now). We’ve adjusted our set up to accommodate my husband working from home, moved desks and tables around so everyone can be studious without backaches when e-learning starts again in earnest next week. The school provides a comprehensive structure for learning but it is unrealistic to think the children’s days (and attention spans) will fully replicate their usual 8.30 – 3.30 pm school days. With this in mind and so many useful ideas ping-ponging around WhatsApp groups and social media, I put together a list of 25 activities to throw at my two when they chorus “I’m bored, there’s nothing to do.
✰ FEND OFF BOREDOM IDEAS ✰
1. PHYSICAL The amazing Joe Wicks, aka THE BODY COACH is streaming live (UK time 9am so that’s 4pm our time) half hour workouts for kids. If you miss that you can find a bunch of others on his YouTube channel over here. Especially great if you do not have access to an outdoors space.
2. MINDFULNESS Cosmic Kids – teaches mindfulness, yoga and situational advice on being kind. Try Go Noodle for energetic NTV dance routine workouts (I’m Still Standing routine is awesome!) or try one of their meditation style sessions.
3. OBSTACLE COURSE – if you have access to a garden (or push the living room furniture to one side?), why not create an obstacle course using household objects or cones. Ideas could be to hop x 10 spaces before throwing 3 balls into a bucket, sprint to another spot, 10 x jumping jacks before cartwheeling back to the start. Timing kids always gives a great sense of competition and nothing like a score chart to see what their PB is. With the Personal Best Chart, we record the total number of continuous skips, the number of kart-wheels done in one go, a number of consecutive basketballs make it through the hoop etc.
4. WHEEL SPIN – I’ve made the kids a spinning wheel to give them an idea of what to do if the inevitable line “I’m bored” or “I don’t know what to do” creeps in. It took 5 mins to make!
5. CREATIVE We’ve long been fans of Art for Kids Hub – Dad Rob gives quasi daily drawing tutorials drawing alongside one of his four children. He shows really good shading techniques and the family challenges are fun – see our family effort from Sunday evening below! Draw with Rob Biddulph is another popular one with the kids – you’ll find his channel here.
6. TRY NEW ART MEDIUMS – if you follow me on Instagram you might have seen that I love a bit of life-drawing. I’m not suggesting this for the kids but you could challenge them to do a self-portrait sitting in front of a mirror or draw a sibling.
I will be getting the children to try new materials like charcoal, pastels, watercolours and drawing in different scales like life-size (just use cheap brown paper and masking tape to a wall). Or why not try to mimic a famous artist like Jackson Pollock or Andy Warhol? You could get the scissors out and try some Matisse style cutouts.
My friend Amanda in New York recommended Carson Ellis and we are hooked. She is setting art assignments with the hashtag #quarantineartclub Follow her tutorials, upload your work and share with others stuck in quarantine around the world. Amanda’s sons have also made treasure maps and comic strips. Hugo’s ‘Doggie Dude’ comic is an inspiration:
7. FACEBOOK LIVE – WITH THE GAIAHOOD – You can find FB Live classes in orgayana’s own FB group, TheGaiaHood. TheGaiaHood ambassadors and parents host a variety of classes for kids: Try out Bootcamp with kids, veggie/fruit/leaf printing, cooking, nature crafts, yoga & meditation etc. Listen live or afterwards. Check it out here.
8. PINTEREST – Pinterest is your FRIEND. There are SO many wonderful, creative projects there it is easy for people of all artistic levels to get inspiration and ideas. Here are some butterflies I made with Elyse last week. Create a board of ideas to draw on in the coming weeks.
9. GARDENING – whether you have a garden or not you could try and sew some simple seeds. Last year we successfully grew FROM seed some baby carrots! Give the children the job of watering, weeding etc. Add it to their timetables so they take ownership and responsibility.
10. SEWING – Easter is nearly here and one project I plan to do is making Egg cosies with my two. SEE NEW BLOG POST HERE WITH EASTER BUNNY EGG COSY TUTORIAL! I found the one that I made when I was about my daughter’s age of a baby chick. Sewing is a great way to strengthen fine motor skills and the sense of satisfaction after they’ve made the egg cosy will be delightful. You can also find cheap Sewing Kits in places like Spotlight , Daiso or Mr DIY in Singapore.
11. KNITTING – my daughter, Elyse, got a starter knitting kit for Christmas. I am hopeless but luckily we had some relatives staying who were amazing at it. She has already knitted a scarf for her bear and a bobble hat for barbie.
12. READING The children will read independently, to me and also to each other. Other ways to enjoy books is through audio books – Audible has a wide range of books for all ages and now they are FREE to listen to! Elyse has just started listening to Alice in Wonderland read by Scarlet Johansson.
13. WRITE LETTERS The art of letter writing has been replaced by whatsapp and facetime. My son, as part of his Cubs’ activities recently had to make and write a letter to Singapore healthcare workers. It was beautiful (see below). Why not get your children to write to possibly lonely Grandparents or friends in quarantine or even to thank health-workers like Rufus did. It is a good moment to reflect and who does not love receiving a letter, especially if it has a colourful, foreign stamp on?
14. e-LEARNING TIPS Friends in Hong Kong have been home-schooling and largely in lockdown since January. Sheryl has these helpful tips on how to keep e-learning fun!
- Get the children to make their own timetables so they take ownership of them, can personalise with drawings.
- Use reward stickers as incentives.
- Use fun things like swimming goggles and lab coats to make science projects fun. Try using smarties as counters for maths tasks.
- Let the kids work from wherever they are happiest to, does not always need to be at a desk.
15. COOKING Cooking is a life skill that is often overlooked. I still remember my Dad teaching me how to make spaghetti bolognese, we were always involved in French toast on the weekend and of course cakes too (my Mum’s Express Chocolate Cake recipe is the BEST – should I share the recipe?). Learning is learning so why not let them help with making their supper or lunch – it has the added benefit of helping fussy eaters be encouraged to try new things too.
My children enjoy making the following kinds of foods: apple crumble, vegetable kebabs, cupcakes, fruit salad, dumplings and sushi. Jamie Oliver is a great resource for ideas and recipes. Heck, I might even get the seldom-used pasta maker out.
16. #Togetherathome – Chris Martin from Coldplay started an instagram Live last week playing requests and being his adorable self, John Legend took the baton next and the incredible Charlie Puth, Niall Horan thereafter – worth looking up on instagram and enjoying a free gig from home. It’s also encouraging for kids who are learning an instrument!
17. VIDEOS – we are all enjoying the funny videos that are circulating even the children. My son is into film making and is thinking on what short films he might make. Apps like GREEN SCREEN are really easy to use and Rufus makes all of his videos on his iPad – why not make a funny movie or there is always tik-tok…
18. TYPING CLUB – it has long been a bug bear of mine that the children use all these devices and apps for learning but they do not know how to touch type! We are doing 15 mins a day with typingclub.com – it’s free and I’ve created different accounts for each child so that they can dive back into it each time. Even my 83 year Dad is giving it a go!
19. BOARD (not bored!) GAMES – jigsaws, board games (favourites are DOBBLE, Pictionary, Articulate), dominoes, snakes and ladders, jenga, snap and teaching your children old fashion card games. Rufus my son has a couple of magic tricks kits too so think these will be revisited!
20. 30 DAY LEGO CHALLENGE – set the children a daily building challenge. Here are some ideas to get you started.
21. FLORA/FAUNA PROJECT – we are lucky to live on a tropical island with regular visitors to our gardens like golden orioles and hornbills. One idea is for us to keep a tally on birds spotted in the garden or on a walk as well as researching, drawing and finding out more about our Singapore bird life.
22. VIRTUALLY TOUR MUSEUMS – holidays been cancelled? Take a tour of some of the best museum and galleries in the world.
23. PROJECT EXPLORER – aimed at different school age groups, watch documentary style videos from around the world. Why not follow this up by getting out the Atlas or globe and finding where in the world you have just learnt about? Work out the distance from that country to your own.
24. CAPITAL CITIES QUIZ – fair to say that the boredom threshold for my two when on a walk is low (or maybe because its 32 degrees plus, 85% humidity, who knows) so one thing we do to keep them from moaning is the Capital Cities Quiz. What is the capital of Australia? In which South American country is Lima? It sounds simple but keeps their attention and they are learning too.
25. BEDTIME STORY WITH DAVID WALLIAMS – listen to best-selling author David Walliams reading some of his stories or others by Roald Dahl for FREE over here. Or head to the super cool World of David Walliams and print out activity sheets on Gangsta Granny or resource packs about his book Bad Dad for FREE too!