I’ve decided to drop the Eco feature this month in favour of a rundown of some (hopefully new to you) ideas on how to stay sane at home with little ones [dons teacher and mum hats both together] since staying sane is becoming ever more difficult the longer we stay at home and I know that lots of people have exhausted all their own ideas by this point in the lockdown/homeschool journey! The good news is that summer is here, and the even better news is that outdoor learning is proven to improve children’s academic performance in reading, writing, maths and social studies (Kings College, London) so let’s get outside and connect with nature as often as we can (while maintaining social distance, obviously). Lots of these ideas will work for a suitably distanced small gathering, too.
wild and free
Hopscotch: An old classic which can be easily recreated using chalk on a patio.
Traffic lights: Children move around the space and adult/lead child shouts out instructions – green (jog), amber (walk), red (freeze), roadworks (jump), diversion (change direction).
Beans: Children move around in the space following instructions – jumping beans (jump), runner beans (run), broad beans (stretch arms and legs out and move around using big strides), jelly beans (wobble like jelly).
Circuits: Allocate different areas to different activities and children spend two minutes at each station and then move on to the next. Ideas for stations: star jumps, hopping, bunny hops, skipping, squats, plank, tuck jumps.
taming the wild
Flower perfume: Do you have fragrant flowers or herbs in your garden? Collect some up, mix with water and make your own perfume. Discuss different scents, colours and even design a label for a bottle to keep it in.
Plant some seeds: Cress, herbs or salad leaves are easy to grow and compact enough to keep on a windowsill. Children can get involved in the planting and tending, and hopefully the eating too!
Nature collage: Use any nature bits you can find in the garden to create a picture. Try googling Andy Goldsworthy if you are in need of inspiration!
Nature ice: Collect different nature objects from around the garden, add to water in a Tupperware tub and freeze. Once frozen, children can attempt to remove the objects from the ice. If you want to turn it into a full-blown science lesson you can discuss how to melt the ice, talk about the different states of water, and make predictions for how long it will take to melt.
Nature paintbrushes: Collect some sticks and use elastic bands to secure some leaves, twigs or dried flowers to them. Then use them as paintbrushes and discuss the lines and shapes they create.
Make a bug hotel: Use leaves, sticks, stones and anything else you can find to make an inviting new home for bugs. Check out Brodie’s creation to see what can be achieved!
Shadow play: On sunny days, children can make their own stick shadow puppets and then put on a puppet show in the garden – or try making shadows with just their hands.
Cloud spotting: Grab a blanket, lie down on the ground and watch the clouds. Older children can try to use the correct names for the clouds but everyone knows the most fun thing to do is just use your imagination to create pictures!
wet and wild
Tea party: Take some toys outside with a tea set and watch your children play for hours. Obviously you can do this without water, but where’s the fun in that?
Lego boats: Use some Lego to build a boat, then use a paddling pool to see if it floats. You could even have a boat race!
Water painting: Grab a paintbrush and a bucket of water and get painting on the patio, fence or wall. There’s no cleaning up, and once it’s dried you can start all over again.
Sock bubble snakes: Grab an old plastic bottle and cut it in half, cover the top half with an old sock and dip into soapy water, then blow (take care not to accidentally suck) into the bottle and and watch a bubble snake appear.
These are just some of the activities you and your younger children could do this Summer. If you have any fantastic garden or indoor activity ideas then please share them on our Facebook page so we can support each other and keep the kids occupied.
Lucy Whittington has lived in Fairfield Park since June 2019 with her husband and two sons. She is a teacher at Fairfield Park Lower School.