Activities: Writing, Auto Repair, Crafts

Activities to Stimulate Children When Schools Close

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Photo by Yogesh Rahamatkar on Unsplash

Writing letters is a perfect skill to communicate with others, practice writing skills, and spread joy. It is a lost art for the younger generation that can still have immense value. Educational: Teach letter format and proper etiquette of written communication.

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  • Encourage children to write letters to grandparents or other individuals who may not have access to the internet. Elderly people are feeling isolated because of the requirements of social distancing.
  • Write a letter to a penpal to make a new friend, learn about other customs, and practice writing skills. PenPal World offers free and easy access to find a penpal. Other website sponsor penpals and can be discovered with a simple search.
  • Write a letter to your teacher and share what you are doing will on break from school. They can be mailed to the schools and teachers will get the letters when they return.

Provide paper, writing utensils and a little support and teenagers will be lost for hours in the process of creating. It is a false statement that kids do not like writing. Yes, some do but over the years, as a writing teacher, I’ve discovered they enjoy developing and telling stories. Depending on the age, the adults expectations should vary. Each day add a chapter or another short story. Some kids might even enjoy exploring publication opportunities. S.E. Hinton was 16 when she wrote The Outsiders.

  • Young children will write words the way they sound. Do not pressure them to use correct writing, simply allow them to explore language. Most love to add pictures and when their masterpiece is done they can read it aloud, call (Skype) a friend and read it to them, or mail it in a letter. Stamps can be ordered through the mail carrier and delivered to mailboxes.
  • As kids get older, they can develop their stories with details. At this point, let the words flow and don’t worry about form, grammar or punctuation. In a later post, I will share some parent friendly strategies for revision and editing.
  • About 5th grade, maybe earlier if the child is ready, increase the expectation by providing guidance. Explain the parts of a story and have the young author add all the different components. See attached document, How to Add a Plot Line to a Story.
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https://www.pinterest.com/pin/563583340844103532/

Using a shoe box, cereal box, or anything similar, create a setting; a flat piece of cardboard will even work. Decorate it with whatever is available. Since a trip to the store may not be possible, look around for scraps of paper, cut pictures out of magazines, be inventive. If you ask children for input, it is amazing what they can contribute. After the setting is complete, add homemade characters by cutting out pictures from coloring books, magazines, newspapers . . . Then tape them to a straw, Popsicle stick, or plastic utensil. This new toy will serves as entertainment well into the future.

Remember, as I will say 1,000 more times, be creative. Children’s art supplies may run low but there are many available resources hiding in your home. For paper, use old envelopes, the mail is delivered daily. Look in the pantry for boxes, recycle, recycle, recycle!

Yep, homemade. A simple recipe I found seem doable.

Combine in a saucepan:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Cook on medium heat, string constantly. Once the mixture thickens, divide into containers and add food coloring.

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16 NATURAL FOOD DYE ALTERNATIVES

  • Red
    Raspberries, Beet root, pomegranate juice, cranberry juice
  • Orange
    Pumpkin, Carrot Juice
  • Yellow
    Turmeric powder, saffron flowers, egg yolks, butternut squash
  • Green
    Spinach or Kale Juice, matcha powder
  • Blue
    Blueberries
  • Purple
    Purple Potatoes, Blackberries

Teach teenagers how to check the air presser in the tires, change a tire and oil. These are tasks that must be performed and not time like the present for a little training. For adults who need a refresher course on these topics, YouTube provides instructional video.

With Easter just around the corner, many homes may already have purchased plastic Easter eggs or have some stored in the attic. Fill the eggs with clues and then hide them. Kids love the hunt. I usually put a treat in the last egg.

Example:

  • Under the bed Don’t tell them which bed, let the explore.
  • In the dishwasher
  • Near the dog food
  • Beside the toy box

Educational: Teach that anything you can do with a box is a preposition. (in, on, by, near, beside, with, above, to, under, on, below . . . ) This is an easy way to infuse learning into fun.

Educational: After the hunt sit with kids and write the longest sentence possible using prepositions. Do not worry about grammar or punctuation. The focus is on learning prepositions.

Example: The boy went to the pond by the green tree with apples on the corner when his mom told him to go play on Sunday in the afternoon at 3 o’clock.

All you need is one bean, a wet paper towel, and a sealable plastic bag. Place the wet paper towel and the bean in the bag, place it in the sun and wait. Within 6–12 days it should sprout. Kids are fascinated by this process.

Most activities attempt to steer youth away from screens but there are some valuable resources that parents might find beneficial. I will start to share a couple each with the focus of them being interactive and educational.

  • Go Noodle is a site that teachers use on cold, wet days when recess is cancelled. YOU WILL LOVE IT! — and kids will too. The activities get the kids off the couch and moving. It will provide exercise, laughter, and practice motor skills. This is in my top 10 and a must for managing energetic young children.
  • The Metropolitan Opera is offering free nightly streams

Resources

This is my favorite recipe; I’ve used it for years.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup salt
  • 4 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil (coconut oil works too)
  • Food coloring, optional
  • Plastic bags

Stir together flour, salt and cream of tartar in a large pot. Add the water and oil and food coloring. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the dough has thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly and then knead until smooth. If you desire more colors, add the colors after cooling slightly by kneading the dough while inside plastic bags so it doesn’t stain your hands.

Store the play dough inside the bags once done to keep soft. Keeps for up to 3 months.

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup flour plus additional flour
  • Saucepan

Directions

  1. Mix salt, water, and flour in saucepan and cook over medium heat.
  2. Remove from heat when mixture is thick and rubbery.
  3. As the mixture cools, knead in enough flour to make the dough workable.

Flour and water is a simple formula to make glue. That’s all you need. However, to refine the process, once these ingredients are mixed until smooth, place on medium heat until it reaches a slow boil. Let it cool before use.

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