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Top indoor activities for kids

Beat the smog with these fun activities suggested by kindergarten teachers

Image: Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Smog keeping your toddler inside? Try these fun activities that use things you can find around the house


Watercolour ice

Rashidah Aziz, teacher, Ivy Bilingual School, Orchid Garden Campus


What you need

Ice in a mould, such as a heart

Paintbrushes, small spoons, an ice cube tray and a shallow baking dish

Bowl of warm water

Watercolours or food colouring

Table salt and rock salt

Paper


How to play

Turn out the ice into a bigger container. Sprinkle salt and you will hear the ice start to pop and crackle. Use spoons to drop colours on to the ice. Your child can start painting the ice with the colours, and swirling the salt about. Use the spoons or paintbrushes to pick up warm water to speed up melting. You can experiment with the rock salt to see if the melting will speed up further. Press paper on to the ice and water colour to make a transfer print.



Family photo bingo

Teachers at Young Starters Academy


What you need

Nine playing cards

Nine family photos


How to play

Arrange the photos into rows of three, then give your child nine playing cards to serve as bingo chips. Call out ‘daddy’ or ‘grandma’, and your child can cover the correct photo with a card. If you’re playing with multiple people, whoever gets three in a row wins.




Crayon sandpaper shirt

Bober Bisson, Grade 2 teacher, Beijing Collegiate Academy


What you need

Crayons and fine sandpaper

A T-shirt

An iron


How to play

Colour a fun picture on the sandpaper, remembering the image will be reversed. Go over the design with an extra thick layer of crayon. Put a piece of cardboard inside the t-shirt to keep the design from going through to the back. Put the sandpaper right side down on the T-shirt. Place a piece of wax paper or paper towel on top of the sandpaper to protect the iron. Iron the sandpaper for about 30 seconds. Lift one corner to check the print, and iron a little more if you need to. Remove the sand paper. To set the colour, place a couple of paper towels on top of the design and iron. This will remove some of the extra wax. Wash the T-shirt by itself the first time.



Homemade bubbles

Kade Mascarella, tutor, The Learning Center


What you need

For basic bubbles:

One cup of water

One tablespoon of dish-washing liquid

For beautiful bubbles:

A third of a cup of dish-washing liquid

One and a quarter cup of water

Two teaspoons of sugar

Two drops of food colouring

For strong bubbles:

One cup of warm water

Two tablespoons of liquid dish or laundry detergent

One tablespoon of glycerin

One teaspoon of white sugar


How to play

There are several recipes that you can use to make homemade bubbles. The basic idea is to mix liquid dish-washing soap or laundry detergent with water, but adding sugar, corn syrup or glycerin will make the bubble firmer and last longer. keep the finished product in an airtight container and it will actually make better bubbles after a couple of weeks. Use an old wire coat hanger and bend into a circle to make huge bubbles. Remember, don’t stir too much! Too frothy is bad for making bubbles. If you don’t have glycerin, you can use Jell-O or gelatin dessert mix.



Sticky spider web

Rashidah Aziz, teacher, Ivy Bilingual School, Orchid Garden Campus


What you need

Coloured contact paper or painter’s tape

Newspaper


How to play

Make a web using tape in a doorway with the sticky side facing inwards. Ball up wads of newspaper. Introduce the game by singing spider-related songs like Incy-wincy Spider. Throw the newspaper towards the web – it will either stick on the tape or go through the gaps. Afterwards, they can help clear up by picking up the paper and peeling off the tape. For an extra activity, relax by reading the picture book The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle.



Draw myself

Wendy Wang, Ivy Academy, Central Park Campus


What you need

Large drawing paper

Markers

Paints

Paint brushes

Glue sticks


How to play

Prepare a large sheet of paper, taping several together if necessary. Get your child to lie on top of the paper, and trace their body. Let your child draw on their hair and clothing; they can use more paper to cut and stick. Cut out the body tracing and put it on the wall.



Story in a bucket

Teachers at Young Starters Academy


What you need

Buckets

Objects around the room


How to play

Invite your child’s friends over to play this game. Give each child a bucket and send them on a hunt for objects that are amusing, mysterious, curious, or even mundane, such as a spoon, handkerchief, watch, or teacup. When the buckets are full, each person should select one item to bring to the circle. The first person, perhaps an older child or adult, begins inventing a story by setting the scene that involves their chosen subject. The next person continues the story, incorporating their item as smoothly and imaginatively as possible. The game goes around the circle until the last player ends the story.



Supermarket shopping

Teachers at Young Starters Academy


What you need

Home items that would be sold at a supermarket, such as fruit and vegetables, snacks, drinks, toiletries, books. You could also use toys that represent these items.


How to play

Decide who will be the cashier, customer and shop attendant. Set up tables for each position. For the cashier, prepare a cashier-like machine – if you don’t have a toy version, you could make one from a box and print numbers on it. Next, display the shopping items around the room. Make money using paper notes, and the shopper should also have a bag or cart. You can take turns in playing each role, helping kids to build their self-confidence and problem-solving skills.


Homemade playdough

Kade Mascarella, tutor, The Learning Center


What you need


For cooked playdough:

One to three cups of flour

One-and-a-half cups of salt

Six teaspoons of cream of tarter

Three tablespoons of oil

Three cups of water

For uncooked playdough:

A quarter cup of salt

One cup of flour

A quarter cup of water


How to play

Cooking the playdough yourself will make it last longer and is more elastic. But if your child wants to help, uncooked is the way to go. To make it colourful, you can add food colouring. You could even try using the ink inside a highlighter pen, but in this case, don’t let them eat it!


For cooked playdough, pour all ingredients into a large pot. Stir constantly over medium heat until a dough ball forms. knead dough for one or two minutes. store in an airtight container. It should last for at least three months.


For uncooked playdough, mix the flour and salt in a bowl, then add water. knead and squeeze the dough to make a clay consistency. You may need to add more water. For some extra fun, you can add Glitter, colour, rice or even kook-aid.

Balloon tennis

Kade Mascarella, tutor, The Learning Center


What you need

Three balloons

A large rug or masking tape

A broom or towel


How to play

You need three balloons to play this game: one for the ball and two for the rackets. Use a rug as the court or mark off a ‘tennis court’ with masking tape. Next, mark the net with a rolled-up towel or a broom across the How to play centre of your court. You can then take turns serving the ball. If the balloon hits the ground on your side, it’s a point to your opponent.



Apple stamp

Bober Bisson, Grade 2 teacher, Beijing Collegiate Academy


What you need

Apples

Water-based paint

A large piece of poster board


How to play

Cut the apple into halves or quarters, and pour some paint on to plastic or regular plates. The good news is, water-based paint won’t stain any of them because it’s non-toxic! Your child can have fun using the apples as stamps and making designs on the poster board.



Fort building

Kellee Melendy, Grade 1 teacher, Beijing Collegiate Academy


What you need

Various furniture

A large blanket or sheet


How to play

Use the blanket to drape over a few kitchen chairs, tables or other pieces of furniture, then play inside as if it’s a fort or tent. Let your child use their creativity to decide how to build this structure and learn from trial and error.



Pasta art

 

Kellee Melendy, BCA Grade 1 Lead Teacher, Beijing Collegiate Academy

 

What you need

Different types and shapes of raw pasta, rice or bean

Glue

Paper

 

How to play

Draw a simple picture on the paper. Glue pasta on the outline of the picture to create an image or create patterns with the different shapes of pasta. The pasta, rice or bean can also represent different objects. For example, rice can be used to illustrate sand and spaghetti can be used to make grass. 


Pasta art

 

Kellee Melendy, BCA Grade 1 Lead Teacher, Beijing Collegiate Academy

 

What you need

Different types and shapes of raw pasta, rice or bean

Glue

Paper

 

How to play

Draw a simple picture on the paper. Glue pasta on the outline of the picture to create an image or create patterns with the different shapes of pasta. The pasta, rice or bean can also represent different objects. For example, rice can be used to illustrate sand and spaghetti can be used to make grass. 

 

 

 

Making leaf prints

Rebecca Zhang, Ivy Academy, Central Park Campus


What you need

An assortment of leaves

Paint

Paint brushes

Drawing paper

 

How to play

Collect leaves and press them in magazines with heavy objects. The next day, invite your child to observe the leaves and choose some. Brush the leaves with paint and print them on the paper. Have real-life conversations about the activity so you can gain an understanding of what they already know and what they might want to know more about.


 

 

Heuristic play

Sipola Kaifa, Ivy Academy, Central Park Campus

 

 What you need

Baskets

Bowls

Boxes

Different coloured bead necklaces

Small and big buttons

Wine corks

Different coloured shower rings

Wooden spoons

Spatulas

Kitchenware such as pots

Natural/sea materials

 

How to play

Place the different materials in the baskets, and let your child gather, fill, dump, stack, knock down, select and manipulate the objects. Children have a natural curiosity to explore and experiment with the different ways that objects interact with each other. By letting them explore freely in this way, they make discoveries about how the world works, such as gravity, spatial awareness, density, and simple physics. This builds their cognitive development, hand-eye co-ordination and fine and gross motor skills.


 Pirate Treasure

Kade Mascarella, tutor, The Learning Center       

 


What you need

Paper

Crayon, markers or paint

Some small toys        

 

How to play

This is a variation on Hide and Seek. Let your child hide some small toys around the house then draw maps for you to find them. You can play up the pirate aspects of the game and even dress up as pirates!

 


 

Hot Potato

Kade Mascarella, tutor, The Learning Center       

 

What you need

A small ball or toy

 

How to play

Get a group of children to sit in a circle or across from each other. The first person says ‘hot potato’ then names a category. Categories might be things like: colours, foods, animals or vehicles. The person catching the hot potato has to name something in that category and quickly pass on the hot potato to the next person. No one can repeat something that has already been said. If a player gives up, the category can be changed. The last person who was able to name something gets to decide the new category.

 

 


 

Picnic at home

Teachers at Young Starters Academy

What you need
Any picnic food

A picnic mat

Picnic utensils

A basket

How to play
Change things up by serving lunch outside the dining area. First, grab your basket and gather some picnicky foods that your child can ‘pack’ themselves, such as juice boxes, water bottles, packets of raisins, string cheese, paper plates, napkins. Spread a blanket in the living room and put together some sandwiches. Then unpack your picnic and enjoy the lunch.



Creating Greeting cards

Teachers at Young Starters Academy

 

What you need
Craft supplies

Crayons

Stickers

How to play

Gather all the craft supplies and set up a home Hallmark business. First your child creates the card with stickers, glitter, cut-out magazine photos and other items. Let your child stamp the envelope and you can help mail the greeting card to your loved ones.


Puffy snowflake paintings

Rashidah Aziz, teacher, Ivy Bilingual School, Orchid Garden Campus

 

What you need

Self-raising Flour

Salt

Water

Food colouring

Squeeze bottles

Mixing bowls

Piping bags

Spatula

Microwave

Microwaveable tray

Paper

 

How to play

Mix equal parts self-raising flour and salt. Add enough water to make the consistency like pancake batter. Add blue food colouring in different intensities. Pour into piping bag and pipe into squeeze bottles. Use white, grey and varying shades of blue paper and put them on tray. Squeeze the bottles and draw snowflakes. Microwave for 30 seconds or more at high setting.

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