As reality sets in and we all begin to adjust to our new ‘normal’ of being and working from home with young children in tow, we thought we would offer some virtual support and advice on ways in which to keep the Under 5’s occupied at home.
We will be posting an age group per week; offering snippets of advice and activity ideas, using items you may already have at home to buy you a few minutes peace, and maybe even the opportunity for a hot cup of tea!
This week we are focusing on activity ideas for children aged 3-5 years.
Children in this age group are beginning to display significant amounts of independence and concentration and are keen to develop and extend their own play and learning. For many children within this age group, sometimes they would prefer you to set-up/provide the resources needed for an activity and prefer to explore and investigate these experiences independently, you may also notice that children can focus on an activity for longer periods and if their interest is captured enough you may find they are able to focus on an activity or experience for extended periods of time, and may even re-visit and activity numerous times throughout the day.
An all-time favourite activity at our setting is ‘Sensory Soup’ or ‘Making Perfume’ (this (can be done indoor or outdoors dependent on what you have available.) We found a large bowl or underbed storage box is just the right size to add water, chop some citrus fruits (oranges, limes, lemons work the best!) and also add some flower petals and leaves alongside spoons and containers and voila! Sensory Soup or a Perfume Creation Station!
Children at this age are really beginning to develop their independence and demonstrating what they can do by themselves! And so, encouraging the children to serve/make their own breakfast or lunch or even help make snacks and treats for the family or younger siblings really enhances their sense of responsibility and is the best time to really focus on and develop those skills that children will need to develop in later life, but allowing them the independence and freedom to chop fruit, be independent in the cake making process, follow instructions and be hands on and involved in meal time routines will be so beneficial for them and allow them to showcase to you exactly what they are capable of!
At this age, children are beginning to develop their critical thinking and problem solving so a great game to play together, and then encourage the children to set up and play independently, is a marble run – this will really challenge children to construct with purpose and problem solve how to make the marble run seamlessly through the course. If you don’t have a marble run at home, you could use cardboard tubes to build and create your own!
Similarly, puzzles are a great, simple way to keep children busy but also support their problem solving and improve their concentration skills – puzzles featuring their favourite characters will also encourage them to stay focused and complete the puzzle independently too.
As self-care becomes more prevalent in this age group, any activities that support fine motor skills will enhance and develop the skills needed to master zips and buttons in no time! Activities such as threading cards, nuts and bolts, using tools to construct and de-construct items, hanging items on a mug tree. All of these activities not only require persistence and concentration but intricate fine motor skills which will support children in dressing and self-care routines.
At this age, children begin to understand that information can be relayed in print and begin to write for a purpose and so encouraging children to write for different purposes will not only support their early writing skills and phonetic knowledge but also their understanding of writing and print; so writing shopping lists, letters to family and friends, labelling photos and pictures or writing stories or messages.
Children of this age begin to understand the concept of different artistic concepts, particularly, watercolour painting, children enjoy the change of perspective and using colour and materials in a different way to ascribe meanings to marks and create artwork.
Shadow drawings are another fascinating concept to explore with children of this age group; placing a piece of paper outdoors with dinosaur or animal figures on and encouraging children to draw around the shadow; discussing the similarities and differences, the sizes, and allows them to explore and think about the concept of shadows and how they are created.
In testing times such as these; children may be picking up on stress and worries and so it is important for them to have somewhere to channel any difficult or big emotions they may be feeling and so accessing simple Yoga and Mindfulness exercises can be a really positive experience for the whole family and allow children to explore and channel emotions they perhaps struggle to talk about or express adequately; factoring in a small mindfulness or yoga exercise each day will have a positive impact on children’s mental health and well-being during these confusing times.
We hope you have found this little activity guide useful and can find some inspiration from some of the activities we’ve mentioned to keep the children entertained during these uncertain times, join us next week where we will be looking at activity ideas for school-aged children 5 years+.