The nasty Covid-19 virus has grounded the family and the kids are starting to get bored at home. And while it’s easy to turn on Netflix/Disney+/YouTube and let them watch as shows as they want to while the hours away, it’s also important to balance out screen time with productive activities that offer up healthy benefits.
The idea of bonding with your child is one that’s thrown about often, but it’s something that’s genuinely advantageous, as it allows them to develop trust in you, promotes self-confidence, and helps them grow a strong sense of self. If you’re looking for activities that are fun and not too tedious to execute, then consider these activities to get the ball rolling over the Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) period and the upcoming June holidays.
Reading is a fundamental skill that children need in order to be successful. It comes with plenty of benefits such as vocabulary development, increased attention span and stronger analytical thinking. It also keeps your little ones out of your hair for a few hours each day.
If your child has already completed his or her assigned reading list, consider restocking the bookshelf with quality picks without leaving home from online sites like Book Depository or, better yet, Amazon’s Kindle e-books. Encourage healthy reading habits by setting aside an hour each day to read with your child or have your eldest read aloud to his or her siblings. Provide a variety of reading materials where possible, and be sure to create a cosy corner at home where your child can read without distractions, too.
With home-based learning (HBL) in full swing, you may question the effectiveness of virtual classrooms for your children and worry that they might fall behind when it’s time to return to school. Fortunately, you can support your children’s education at home with free online educational websites. These websites not only promote continued learning, but also can keep your kids entertained.
For example, Geniebook provides free online live stream lessons, suitable for children aged 9 and up, in English, Math and Science. You might also want to consider Khan Academy, which offers free personalised learning content for students aged 4 to 16. Subjects include Math, Science, Technology, Arts & Humanities and more.
Educational Resources for Entertaining Your Kid
|Khan Academy Kids||Activities covering Math, Reading and Social-Emotional Learning||2-7||Free|
|Duolingo||Vocabulary language app with levels from basic to advanced||4+||Free|
|Cut the Rope||Physics-based puzzle challenges||5+||Free|
|Tinkercad||Kid-friendly computer-aided design (CAD) app for making 3D designs||8+||Free|
|Monkey Math School Sunshine||Interactive games focused on shapes, number recognition, counting, patterns, addition, subtraction, comparisons, writing numbers and recognising sets||3+||S$2.49|
|Minecraft||World-creation game that encourages creative exploration, building and problem solving||9+||S$10.98+|
Alternatively, you can download popular games and education apps for your child to play with. Some are free, while others cost about S$3+, and they’re specifically designed to keep fun in mind–and are therefore likely to hold your child’s attention for a longer time.
Such apps still expose kids to subject matter knowledge (like Khan Academy Kids) and promote cognitive skills development (like Minecraft), so you won’t have to worry about them spending too much time on “mindless” entertainment even as they’re having fun.
Remember those baking soda and vinegar or Coca-Cola and Mentoes ‘volcanoes’ you used to make in school?
That’s a Science lesson classic, but along the same vein, the little ones could enjoy the wonders of science right from home. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube or sites like ScienceBob and Instructables, from crystallising your own rock candy to teach them about rock formation, to using a potato as a battery.
Singapore has a rich tradition of cultural games and entertainment, but these are also fast-disappearing art forms. Take the opportunity to teach your child long-forgotten games like congkak (Southeast Asian mancala), batu seremban (five stones) or gasing (spinning tops).
Not only will these help you bond with your little one while preserving a little slice of Singapore’s heritage, many of these games are believed to promote quick thinking and reflexes, too.
Set the scene with rugs or a blanket to sprawl out on, cushions on the floor and to even give it an extra festive twist, string lights. Food-wise, think easy-to-eat bites, fresh salads and snacks – just like you would bring on a real outdoors trip.
Or to save you the hassle, order a ready-to-eat picnic set. French bakery chain Paul, for instance, has launched a Pique-Nique set that comes with a jute bag, waterproof picnic mat and loads of savoury & sweet bakes – from mini croissant sandwiches to mini sweet viennoiseries, and a small craquant cake.
Available from May 22 to June 30, 2021, with pre-orders available now.
As a result of the pandemic, you may be cooking at home more than you’re used to. So, why not take the opportunity to recruit the help of your children? In addition to serving as a form of entertainment, cooking provides a great learning opportunity for your kids. Not only can you pass down traditional recipes (thus celebrating your cultural heritage), you can also take the time to explain various math and science concepts involved in cooking. Try our 15-min ice cream recipe for starters, or even whip up a great brunch with our three fun pancake recipes.
That being said, it’s important of course to keep a close eye on your child, due to the number of hazards (e.g. open flames and sharp knives) in the kitchen. Nonetheless, the responsibilities that come with cooking offer slightly older children a great way to build confidence and a sense of independence.
Additionally, you can teach your children about the safe handling of kitchen tools, which will help them now as well as in the future.
(Read also “10 Tips to Make Cooking With Your Kids Fun and Pleasant“)
Flour, sugar and children often result in a big mess in your kitchen, but if you’re okay with a little extra cleaning, then baking can be fun for two. But it isn’t just about letting your child lick the spoons once the dessert trays have gone into the oven, baking can also be an educational tool.
(Here are “Easy-Bake Recipes Even Beginners Can Pull Off“)
For starters, it helps them develop fine motor skills, listening and concentration. Furthermore, it’s an essential life skill that requires them to practise reading, following directions and using mathematical skills to get the measurements right. Baking together is also a wonderful opportunity to teach your child about sustainability and food waste.
To make things even easier, you can order a baking kit for delivery. While they may seem a bit expensive, these kits often include all the ingredients necessary for the included recipe, so you won’t need to worry about grocery shopping.
Popular Baking Kits Available For Home Delivery in Singapore
|Bake Kit Service||What’s Included||Pricing|
|The Little Things||• Recipe with child-friendly pictorial instructions
• Ingredients, measured out to exact proportion
• Kid equipment like mini whisks and spatulas (select kits)
• Ingredient fun facts and ‘learning tiles’ (select kits)
|S$25 to $80|
|Bakeri||• Recipe card for Kitty Cheese Tart
• Ingredients, measured out to exact proportion
• Piping Bag
While cooking and educational games are great options for entertaining your child, you may also want to consider setting up an arts and crafts station so they can explore their creativity. In addition to fine-tuning their motor skills and their grasp of math concepts (like geometry and measurements), arts and crafts can also cultivate your child’s imagination.
You can shop for arts and crafts supplies at stores or purchase materials safely online. While some online stores charge shipping fees of up to S$20+, you can save money by buying from platforms like Lazada (in fact, with certain credit cards, you can also access special Lazada savings and shipping rebates).
Regardless, if you’re concerned about cost, there are plenty of easy crafts ideas (from YouTube and Pinterest) that rely on household items like toilet paper rolls and cereal boxes.
Or have their arts and crafts projects come to life with a stop-motion video, which involves taking still shots of inanimate objects, changing their positions in each shot, and stringing them together to create movement. You can also use figurines, Lego blocks, playdough or just about anything really. Who knows, you could have an aspiring movie-maker on your hands!
This useful video covers the basics, and you can create your stop-motion video using various mobile apps like Stop Motion Studio and Life Lapse Stop MotionMaker.
Forget buying your children the latest designer threads; instead, supply them with crayons and colour pencils and ask them to design their own. Not only will this encourage your child to be creative, you can also turn their doodles into wearable pieces with a little help from Picture This Clothing.
First, visit the website and download as many free clothing style templates as you like – think tees, shirts, blouses, and dresses. Then, pass these to your child so they can get to designing. After that, take a photo of their artwork and upload it to the website to place your order.
Healthcare professionals often recommend at least an hour of physical activity each day for children, but this can be tough if they’re unable to go to playgrounds or enjoy outdoor sports activities. However, kid-friendly exercise videos can be found in abundance on YouTube or even on Instagram, and there are plenty of safe and fun options for kids of different ages.
For smaller ones, yoga can be a relaxing and enjoyable choice. In fact, it’s something super mum Laura Kasperzak swears by, and both she and her young daughter are ardent practitioners.
If your child is in the double digits, then put together a circuit training session that comprises easy-to-do exercises like push-ups, stomach crunches, jumping jacks and planks.
Not only will these strengthen bones and muscles, and improve their stamina and agility, regular exercises can also help them sleep better and improve concentration in school. Alternatively, build an obstacle course with their existing toys for a fun afternoon.
The current stricter measures are bound to take some adjusting to, especially as the little ones are no longer able to run around freely at the playground. Nonetheless, if we all play our parts and stay home, eventually we’ll be able to return to our daily schedules.
In the meantime, stay fit, healthy, and make use of the opportunity to spend quality time with your children–they grow up in the blink of an eye.
This article was first published in Women’s Weekly.