I’ve been interrupted by my family members so many times while writing this column, that I’ve completely lost my train of thought. Oh yeah, I think it was something about activities to keep your kids busy while working from home.
The top two things would be academics and chores, but those don’t keep kids entertained long enough for a hard working adult to string a complete sentence together, let alone go to the bathroom in peace without someone loudly calling through the closed door.
So here are five high-interest activities for kids that will give you 20 minutes of quiet time. Even better; they don’t cost money or require unnecessary trips to the store.
Paint rocks. Got some old crayons laying around? Turn them into masterpieces! Heat rocks in the oven at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. Smooth rocks work best. The rocks will be hot to the touch, but not dangerously so. Use hot pads just in case, to protect your kitchen table. While the rocks are still warm, color them with old crayons. The wax will melt on contact, producing a beautiful paint-like effect.
Give your child their own office. This activity is especially fun for preschoolers. Set up a child-sized table, or a card table, with a wide assortment of office supplies — paper, pencils, a stapler, tape, envelopes, a hole punch, a cup of pretend coffee — whatever you can spare. If they’re working over white carpet, I would advise not to include a pencil sharpener. (I learned that lesson the hard way.) Give them tasks to complete like stapling junk mail or using up old address labels.
Play with cookie cutters. Take out a baking sheet and fill it halfway full with flour. Then let kids of all ages play with cookie cutters. Young children will enjoy it on a sensory level, but older kids can explore the geometric principle of rotational symmetry. What is rotational symmetry? That means a shape that can be rotated less than 360 degrees and still look the same. Not all shapes have rotational symmetry, but many do. The question is, which cookie cutters in your cupboard have rotational symmetry and which don’t?
Walk a labyrinth. You don’t need a castle in England and a full staff of gardeners to have your own maze; use masking tape to create one on the carpet of your living room. When children (or adults) feel like they need to calm down, they can slowly walk the labyrinth and take deep breaths. Another idea is to begin the labyrinth thinking about a problem you need to solve, and to explore possible solutions while you journey toward the end.
Dance it out. Do you have an Amazon Prime membership? Some of my favorite Zumba classes are available for free on Prime Video. This is a great option for teens to achieve the cardio high that comes from exercise. Don’t stop with Zumba, there are lots of free fitness videos available via Prime.
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at email@example.com.