Over the last couple of months, I have read a number of articles on activities for kids at home. Some have been helpful (considering my kids are 18 months old and 33 years old (just kidding – thats my husband 😉 )), and some not so helpful. I thought perhaps I might compile my own list of suggestions for children from 18 months old to 33 years old. If you have any suggestions of activities for what has worked well for you, please do let me know so that I can update this list 🙂
Baking / Cooking
Baking and cooking with your children really has two important skills they are picking up. Firstly, when they eventually move out (sigh 🙁 ) they will be able to fend for themselves, and secondly because there are some great maths skills hidden in baking.
For older children you can ask them to double or halve the recipes, or to make one and a half of the recipe. Younger children can help with measuring out the ingredients. You can also have them convert recipes from ounces to grams (try American recipes they usually use ounces.) If you have trouble with the conversions and want to check your answers you can use our Sharp EL-W506 simulator).
The woolworths Taste page has broken down the various recipes you can do with each age group so if you are stuck, click this link to get started.
Puzzles are a great activity for any age-group. I have recently completed a tough 1500 piece picture of an elephant. While discussing my “process” with the wonderful lady who cleans our house, I realised how critical puzzles are for learning. They teach us to be methodical, to sort through all the information (finding all the edges and separating colours) and to follow a guide. But, they also show us that there are many ways to solve a problem, and that perseverence is important. It may be the maths nerd in me, but I really love the challange that puzzles represent and that there are so many different options to choose from.
*My tough elephant puzzle is currently living on my dining room table underneath my laptop as a reminder that anything is possible 😉 *
While it is rather difficult to play soccer without a full team, my little brother and I used to spend a lot of time on the patio at home, kicking the soccer ball around and driving my mom crazy. The good news is that we only broke two windows over the span of our soccer careers (about 3 or 4 years). There were many lively family challenges with the 5 of us chasing the ball around, and it really was a lot of fun.
My point is, it is a really good idea to make sure you are active (yes even the maths nerds) because its good for your brain and your health. Sometimes taking a break from something intense like geometry or fractions, can help you to come back and see them in a different way. If you are feeling frustrated by something you dont understand, it might help to give yourself a break and come back to it later feeling more relaxed. And then perhaps something will pop. (This is called the Eureka method – you can read the story here).
Dont worry, soccer is not my only suggestion, you can try cricket, or foot cricket (if you dont have a cricket bat) I think this version is more fun and only requires a tennis ball / beach ball. Foot/ leg cricket involves using your leg as the “cricket bat”. You can still score 4’s and 6’s by deciding what your boundaries are, and children still need to score runs. Apparently, it is quite popular in India!
You can also try vollyball or basketball or netball or football. Try running (but only if absolutely necessary 😉 – just kidding). The important thing is that you are moving outside and having fun while doing it!
Read, read, read! Find something they want to read (comics, books, sci-fi, detective, ballerina, true life autobiagraphies) and make sure you get them some more. Reading is so critical to many of the subjects children study. It helps with vocabulary. It helps with comprehension. And it helps with predicting and summarising. Ask your kids what they are reading, and what’s happening in their book. This is a great skill to teach them: how to translate the information they have read into a summary for you. It helps with spelling too. Worksheet Cloud shares more reasons reading is good here.
Personally, my mom really struggled to get me to read when I was younger. I wasn’t interested in anything she suggested until I started reading the Nancy Drew series in grade 3. Then they couldnt get me to stop reading, and I wound up getting into trouble for reading in class when I should have been listening to the teacher… The right book goes a long way 😉
Learn a new skill
Two or three years ago a friend taught me how to crochet. I am so grateful that I learnt this skill as my daughter will never run out of beanies, and baby blankets are easy to make (although time consuming) and a great baby shower gift. The beanie pattern requires that you start to drop a stitch every multiple first of 7, then 6 and so on, until the beanie is complete. Crochet can be a great way to practice some maths while counting stitches. It also teaches you how to follow a pattern or instructions and there are many awesome patterns out there to follow and make.
Some other things to learn could include yoga, baking, learning to draw and the art of making mommy or daddy the perfect cup of coffee. I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough for this one 😉
Lego, duplo, blocks of any form
Building (alone or together) is a great way for children to acquire other maths skills, particularly those of the geometry variety. It helps them to see 3D shapes, angles and can even teach area, perimeter, surface area and volume! Lego can also help with those pesky fraction questions and can be used to introduce algebra! Whatever you do, make sure that they have something to build with!
Play dough is also another great way to get creative and explore shapes. (I find playing with play dough extremely relaxing and there are some recipes that are really easy to make that smell good too.) We got my daughter some Teddy play dough through Takealot that she really enjoys playing with and it smells yummy. Dala produces the Teddy products and are a proudly South African brand!
Not everything about technology is bad. There are some great podcasts that you can listen to. You can watch youtube videos about anything that interests you (although you should probably make sure its from a legitimate source first).
Education.com has some great Maths and English games that you can play online. They even have coding games 😉 (which is also an amazing new skill to learn).
Download our EL-W535SA simulator (on any windows based platform) and play on the drill function. The drill function allows you to practice your mental maths – the calculator asks a question, you type in the answer. The calculator marks the question. If you are correct you get a new question, but if you are incorrect the question repeats itself. Or, get 2 EL-S25s from Takealot and have mental maths races. *The EL-W535SA and the EL-S25 both have the drill function*
If in doubt – watch a movie. There are a lot of great movies and educational series available. Sometimes when the weather is bad, only popcorn and a movie day will do!
While boredom is good for creativity (it says so right here), channeling that creativity into something positive is important. I do think that we need to be aware of what our kids are up to and to help them to be constructive.
But, here some other ideas for when boredom becomes whining (or that important phone call/ meeting is on):
These are some of the ideas that I loved from indys.child.com:
- indoor or outdoor scavenger or treasure hunt
- This requires about as much effort as you are willing to put in. From creating a list of things like wierd rock, yellow leaf, pink flower, finger shaped stick; to creating an elaborate hunt with clues. The time spent and effort required will very much depend on the age group and how you want to keep them occupied for.
- throw a family party
- make decorations, invitations, dress up and bake something! Play music and dance together. Not only will this relieve some tension but you will also get some exercise.
- make some homemade ice cream in a bag
- yes, at the time of writing this, winter is still going strong, but, well, ice-cream. Enough said.
- learn origami
- here are some origami basic ideas. (ps – origami is another great way to practice maths skills 🙂 )
**There are many more suggestions available from Indys.child.com **
More please sir
There are so many creative and interesting ways to spend your days as a child, but if you are worried about catching up with missed schooling and would like to include some worksheets or school activities visit e-classroom.co.za for free content or sign up for their full range of worksheets and videos. E-classroom is a South African based resource website with an amazing array of subjects and grades.
For your maths worksheets for high school kids register with us for free (click here), and download anything under the teachers section from grade 8 – 12 for maths, math literacy and technical maths. If you cant find what you are looking for please get in touch with your request for a worksheet or if you have a new suggestion for our list here.
Remember that we are going through quite a strange time in history, and not every day is going to be a super productive one. We’ve been given an opportunity to spend more time with our loved ones and what your children will remember from this time is that they got to hang out with mom and dad and had a lot of fun doing it. If they learn something while they did, then that’s a bonus 😉
Stay safe, stay careful and remember to always wash your hands