Like many caretakers around the world, I’ve been in isolation with children for weeks. While I’m grateful for our safety and health, it hasn’t been easy to keep two kids under 10 occupied without leaving the house. So, what do you do when you’re at home with children indefinitely? Here are ten activities to try out with your kids:
Baking is one of my favorite activities to do with kids— it’s fun, educational, and rewarding! Since baking is hands-on, you can teach kids about measurements and how ingredients react with one another, and you get a delicious reward at the end! We’ve recently gotten into the habit of making madeleines and crêpes (tip: add cinnamon) for dessert, which often results in leftovers for breakfast.
The possibilities are endless: you can paint, make collages with old magazines, draw, decorate eggs, etc. The girl I nanny loves to have drawing competitions, which can be used as an opportunity to teach children the names of animals and plants. After confinement ends, you can follow up with a real-life treasure hunt at a park or the zoo.
With things you probably have lying around the house, you can also make potato prints; all you need is a potato, paint, paper, and assorted office equipment. Making art is a fun, creative activity, and you can help younger children learn colors and objects through art. If you’re not artistically inclined yourself, there are plenty of free tutorials and online classes available on YouTube.
A simple tip, but easy and entertaining nonetheless. You can make a scavenger hunt for kids in your house: write out clues leading to the end, where you can leave a reward for your child. Another idea is to create an obstacle or laser course by setting up items and activities around the house, like pillows, strings, then balancing a book on their head while they try to make it through. There are also simple and educational games, like the alphabet game: Start with the first letter of the alphabet, say a word that starts with that letter, and then move on to the next letter. To make it more difficult for older children, you can say as many words as you can think of, then start with the following letter when you run out.
Herbs like basil, rosemary, and thyme are easy to grow and keep, even if all you have to work with is a windowsill. Children can plant seeds, then water them daily and keep a chart of the changes the plants make each day as you watch them grow.
If you have an iPad or laptop at home, you can download educational apps for children. Fortunately, the children I watch are still taking classes online, but we found ourselves wondering what to do when one of their teachers became sick for a few days and turned to academic apps. There are numerous lessons for virtually any level, and it’s a good way to ensure screen time is still educational. Here’s a list of iOS apps you can download:
- Adventure Academy
- Kid’s Academy Talented & Gifted
- Khan Academy
- NASA (recommended for older students)
- iTunes U
And French apps:
Make a Short Film
If you have access to a smartphone or iPad and iMovie or editing software, making short films is a fun way to let children tap into their creativity! Kids can write scripts, dress up in costumes, and even create props; I’m always amazed with the stories my kids are able to produce!
As adults in lockdown, video calling makes it easier to feel closer to friends and family we can’t see in person, and it’s a great idea for kids too! Both of my kids have enjoyed doing Zoom calls with their friends, and they can spend hours playing games and catching up.
If your child is computer-savvy or interested in technology, this time at home could be the perfect moment to sign them up for a children’s online coding class! Code.org is a nonprofit organization that offers free beginner tutorials for children, and here’s a list of other free and affordable online classes for kids.
Learn a Language
You can use this time in confinement to help your children learn a new language, or improve their second language. Rosetta Stone is offering free lessons for students and children, so kids can practice learning a language while social distancing. You can also find storytelling videos online, which are an easy way for children to get accustomed to hearing and learning a new language. The boy I nanny loves these videos, which are currently available for free on YouTube!
If you don’t have access to outdoor space or don’t want to risk taking your kids outside, at-home PE and dance classes are a great way to keep kids active! They seem to have an endless supply of energy, and it can be hard to keep up with them. Online classes are fun and entertaining, and there are many available for free. Both my kids love doing yoga, dance, and even children’s CrossFit classes!
- Read our ideas for how you can lend a hand during COVID-19– whether by giving time, money, or other forms of support.
- Still in confinement? Here are 3 books about Paris you can read to take a mental vacation from the comfort of your home.
- Stuck in a rut cooking the same recipes? Mix it up with French Michelin-star chef Éric Fréchon’s delicious ham and cheese croque-monsieur
Written by Jamie Rolston for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates.