Stuck indoors these school hols and run out of ideas to entertain the kids? It’s time to turn to boredom-buster Neva Elliott. The Gold Coast mum-of-two has just published Busy Little Kids, an innovative little book featuring 123 ways to get kids off their screens and back to old-school play.
“Technology has its place in our homes and lives today,” Neva says. "However to learn about the world, children need to look, listen, touch, feel and taste things.”
Listen to Neva's interview with Kinderling Conversation:
Busy Little Kids is full of easy and inexpensive ideas which encourage children to use their imagination. Here are seven of our favourites:
1. Ziplock painting
“This is also known as 'painting without the mess'. Get all your paints and squeeze a few blobs of different coloured paint into a Ziplock bag. Then put the bag on a white piece of paper and sticky tape it to a flat surface like a table, a kitchen bench or a window’s also a really nice idea. Kids can use their fingers to push down on the bag and make all kinds of shapes, or even play noughts and crosses!”
2. Organise a lucky dip
“Grab a jar, some pieces of paper and some pens and then ask your kids, 'What are your favourite things to do indoors?' Even though they’ll probably come up with things they’ve done a million times before like play dough, building a cubbyhouse or reading their favourite book, there’s something very appealing to children about a lucky dip. Write all their ideas down, pop them in the jar and put it up on a shelf. Then when you’re stuck for ideas on a rainy day, take the lid off the 'activity jar' and get the kids to pick out something at random.”
3. Set up an 'icecream' shop
“Using some old ice-cream containers and play dough, you can open your very own ice cream store. Try white for vanilla, pink for strawberry and brown for chocolate, or get your kids to make up their own weird and wonderful gelato flavours. Make a sign for your stand, then all you need are some scoops and bowls. Cotton balls also make great pretend ice cream.”
4. Make your own movie
(okay, this one involves a screen but in a good, creative way!)
“Tap into the budding Tarantinos in your home and make your own mini-movie because, let’s face it, most kids love watching themselves on a screen. Get your kids to find their favourite book, dress up as characters from it and act out the storyline. Once you’ve wrapped up the shoot, you and the cast get to sit back and watch your homemade film together on your phone or TV.”
5. Go on a pretend holiday
“Today we’re off to Fiji, Disneyland, London or the snow! Make a 'passport' with your child’s name and a little sketch of them. You could even make some pretend plane tickets. Then it’s time to pack your bags and off you go! At the 'airport', you’ll need to check in and get your bags x-rayed (use an empty cardboard box with the ends open as a scanner.) Don’t forget to make some snacks for the inflight meal. Bon voyage!”
6. Make your own magic sand
“You only need three ingredients for this. (And, the ultimate bonus – you can play with homemade magic sand indoors and it doesn’t make a huge mess!) Take two cups of brown sugar, two cups of cornflour and ten tablespoons of vegetable oil. Mix it all together – and you have a few hours’ entertainment ahead.”
7. Make your own puzzle
“Choose a picture from a magazine or one of your kids’ own drawings. Stick it onto some cardboard and then cut the picture into several pieces of various sizes. (You can make your homemade jigsaw easier or harder depending on the shapes and sizes.) Then let the children piece the puzzle back together again.”
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