The coronavirus lockdown has changed our lives and daily habits literally overnight. All of our usual hangouts - from cafés to soft play areas, the cinema, museums and attractions parks - are off-limits and, as parents, we're all trying to come up with new and exciting ways to keep the kids entertained indoors. With a little creativity, there are great ways to turn your home into a whole new world for your kids to explore! Give your house a full make-over overnight or transform a different room, nook or hey, even a closet, every day. Once you get the trend going, your kids might even come up with their own set-ups. Just use your imagination and show your kids that their home can be whatever they want it to be - it's whatever you make it! Here are five ideas to get you going.
Create an Escape Room
You won't be having any friends over, let alone hosting sleepovers during the coronavirus lockdown, so why not put the empty guestroom to good use? You may not be able to take the kids out to an actual escape room, but you can just as well make one out of any room in the house. This is a great task to do as a family, one parents and older kids will enjoy setting up for their younger siblings or vice versa.
To get started, scan the room in question and think about how you can put all its furniture and other bits and bobs you have laying around the home to good use. Does a theme come to mind? If not, can you create one around the things you have access to? For example, a desk and an antique-looking lamp could make for a great detective storyline setting; remove the mattress from the bed and you could use the frame to make a prison cell. Think about what you can do with things available to you and create a story around the vibe and setting you're creating.
Next, put together puzzles and riddles that lead to clues that will lead your kids closer to escaping the room. Send them on little hunts around the house to collect the tools and equipment they'll need to lead them to the next clue. These puzzles can be math questions appropriate to your child's age, or little rhymes like. This is a fantastic activity for the whole family and will get everyone to work their brain creatively.
Lockdown Museum & Art Experience
There are plenty of virtual museum tours online at the moment - why not elaborate on them by creating your own museum experience in the living room or any room in the house with plenty of wall space? Establish your own lockdown museum! Print out the works of famous artists and create a gallery for the kids to admire. Take them on a tour of it and then follow up with a pop quiz.
Prepare an art station for them to get to work at after their indoor museum tour. Set up paper, watercolours, crayons or acrylics or any other craft supplies you have at home. Now it's time for the kids to recreate one of the paintings they have just seen. Fun and creative paintings to replicate include Munch's "The Scream", Van Gogh's "Starry Night" and any one of Frieda Kahlo's or Picasso's colourful self-portraits. If you need a little guidance, The Art Sherpa on YouTube has some great videos and she also hosts regular paint-parties for "little brushes".
Coffee Table Puppet Theatre
Transform the coffee-table into a fun puppet theatre from which the children can put on little performances. A puppet theatre is simple to make and a project the whole family can get involved in. You can go all out in its creation using nothing more than a cardboard box and paint, and turn old socks into whimsical hand or finger puppets that are guaranteed to please the living-room crowd. It's time to swap Netflix for live lockdown theatre performances!
Find a big cardboard box and start preparing the actual theatre. Get the family to decorate the theatre together using paint, create backdrops with collage techniques - using magazine cutouts or printed images - and maybe even put up a curtain for genuine, dramatic effects. The possibilities are endless, you can keep it as simple or extravagant as you want. You can use all types of things to create the puppets: socks, cardboard cutouts on a stick, etc. You can even print out the faces of your teens' favourite TV characters and come up with your own fan fiction for The Twilight Saga, Doctor Who, Friends or whatever else they're currently into. Set the pop-up theatre up on your coffee table and enjoy the show.
Put Together a Jungle Gym: The Living-Room Edition for Toddlers
The most important thing to pay attention to during lockdown is that the kiddos are still getting plenty of exercise. Try to fit in allocated fitness time every day by putting together a fun jungle-theme gym for toddlers and kids of up to ten years old. Use small stepping stools, big pots and solid boxes as obstacles to hop on or crawl over to create an exercise trail. This trail could lead to a mountain of dirty clothes the kids will have to sort into whites and colours as quickly as possible whilst being timed.
Cut out blue or orange cardboard paper and place them around the floor to represent lakes or lava. Loop a sturdy string or rope through either pot handle, so your kids can use them as reigns and move around the lava or through the lakes whilst remaining with their feet on the pots. Whenever someone "falls" in a lake or into lava, they must get off the pots and do ten jumping jacks. To round off the jungle gym session, remove everything from the floor area. Blindfold king or queen of the jungle gym and place the pot somewhere in the room, hiding a little treat underneath it. Hand them a wooden spoon and encourage them to crawl around the floor using the spoon to find the pot. You can guide them by saying "hot" or "cold".
A Cosy Book Nook
While we're spending so much time at home, it's important to make sure that we all have a special place to retreat to from time to time - a place where we can wind down from the day, somewhere that offers a little change in scenery. We all need it, even the kids. A good way to ensure your child always has their own space to hide out in is by building them a cosy book nook. Get them to help build it or surprise them with it at the end of a particularly trying day - you can put one together in little to no time, and it will make for a wonderful escape, even for you.
Collect any sheets, scarves, tapestries and light blankets and build a simple fort using existing structures for support: the back of two dining room chairs, a table, the frame of a bunk bed etc. Cover the floor with blankets and pillows and, if there's space, carve out a little area for a small surface to put drinks or plates down. Find a way to add fairy lights or other LED lights safely and it'll be the perfect, calming haven that will make your little bookworm feel right at home.