Stay home activities to entertain and educate young minds
The saving grace of social distancing may lie in the activities that keep the family busy and learning in these unusual times. Enlist your children to the frontline of food preparation, let them battle it out with a parsley branch or the toughest of orange skins. Create a window into another world through literary escapism or build cardboard forts that launch a new mind-bending layer of isolation inception at home.
No one expected this, but now we need to prepare for it. Establishing a schedule will make sure the days don’t waste away. Keep a routine through makeshift recess to break away from the teaching, crafts, and books. Huckle that frisbee locked away in the cupboard. Introduce them to the music of your childhood or transport the family on a digital tour of a museum, you can immerse yourself in the Louvre’s ‘Mona Lisa.’
If you can, turn the balcony or garden into the playground. Overdue garden maintenance may be a great excuse to get out of the house. But resistance may be your biggest enemy! If you can’t persuade the young ones into doing something else, then join in on what keeps their imaginations ticking. Pick up a Lego block or get stuck into a video game. It’s okay to have a movie night but don’t let the sofa become a blockbuster experience every evening.
And perhaps the most rewarding thing of all, start a book club that encourages activities and adventures. To give a little something back to our community on International Children's Book Day, we’ve prepared three activities from a Little Gestalten gardening favorite. Kirsten Bradley guides the activities of Easy Peasy while illustrator Aitch brings them alive in a quirky folkloric style. Stock up on seeds and soil, these projects will add a little entertainment to the week.
Make a Terrarium
Bring the garden inside with a terrarium!
A terrarium works a bit like an ecosystem. Inside the jar is a small world. The relationship between your plants and the warmth and moisture they create inside the jar keeps them healthy. You can even keep the terrarium next to your bed so that nature is the first thing you see when you wake up in the morning!
You will need:
A jar, small plants that like shade-ferns and succulents work well, fresh moss, activated charcoal, soil, sand
What to do:
1. Place charcoal in the bottom of your jar, enough to cover the base.
2. Mix equal parts soil and sand in a bucket. Add to the jar until the jar is 1/3 full.
3. Carefully remove your plants from their pots and shake the soil off their roots. Place them into the jar with their roots spread out.
4. Carefully place moss all around the plants until the entire surface is covered with moss. Press down firmly and then water your plants.
5. Place your terrarium wherever you like in your room, as long as it’s out of direct sunlight. Water your terrarium sparingly, just a little at a time.
Tip: talk to your terrarium! When you breathe out, you are expelling the carbon dioxide that plants need to grow. Talking to your terrarium will help keep it healthy.
Make a Wind Whirler
Where does the wind where you live come from? Does it come from the east in spring and the west in autumn? Explore the weather in your garden and learn more about your ecosystem. This wind whirler is made out of a round plastic soda bottle. If you like, paint it in bright colors!
You will need:
A plastic bottle, sharp scissors, a marker pen, a paper clip, string
What to do:
1. Draw vertical lines down the body of your bottle, leaving space at the top and bottom. Leave a few fingers gap between each line.
2. Take your scissors and carefully cut down each line.
3. At the top and bottom of each slit, make little horizontal cuts, always in the same direction.
4. Gently push each flap into the bottle a little. Repeat until each flap is pushed into the bottle.
5. Now make a hole in your bottle lid and insert one end of your paper clip—bend it over so it can’t come back through but can still turn freely.
6. Decorate your wind whirler.
With some string, hang your whirler up from a tree or balcony, somewhere it can twirl freely. Watch it whirl! You will soon learn where the wind comes from in your garden.
Grow Veggies Indoors
Did you know that some vegetables will regrow from kitchen scraps? And once they’re grown, you can eat them all over again! All they need is a glass of water or a little soil.
What you need:
Toothpicks, half a sweet potato, a glass of water, spring onions, soil
What to do:
1. Halfway up the sweet potato, stick a few toothpicks through. This will allow it to balance on the rim of the glass.
2. Fill the glass with fresh water, leaving a few inches of space at the top.
3. Place the sweet potato in the glass, with the cut part underwater and the uncut part above the water.
4. Put your sweet potato person somewhere with lots of light but no direct sun. It should start sprouting shoots with little leaves within a week. Make sure the bottom stays underwater at all times.
5. As the sweet potato grows, its vines will scramble up a window frame if you let them. The leaves are edible and can be used in salads or stews.