As promised here is a blog post sign-posting you to as many resources as I have seen so far to support you with children at home during this unprecedented time in our lives. New things are popping up every day though so I will keep adding where I can, and sharing on my social media pages too.
Firstly though let me say this, I feel like if my biggest issue during this tricky and confusing time is how to keep the kids occupied at home, and continue some form of education going over the weeks or months that are to come, then I am very lucky. For others the issues are FAR greater, far reaching and life impacting. My heart goes out to the people for whom this is an awful, and terrifying situation. For the position we are in I am grateful and have decided that instead of panicking I am going to see it as a once in a lifetime opportunity to be at home with my children. How often do we say we wish we had more time? Well, here it is. The gift of time together. Let’s use it to bond, to reconnect, to play, to make memories of an unusual time in all our lives, to pull together, support our communities and show our children what that all really looks like. If in any way I can see the positives in this bizarre and difficult situation I am going to try to focus on those.
That doesn’t mean its going to be easy or that I am going to treasure every single moment and not sometimes think “oh good lord the kids are driving me crackers today” …of course it doesn’t. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be long at times. Yes of course, but there are things we can do to help, and there is always bedtime and the thought of chocolate and wine! When it all gets too much, we will do what we always do and turn up the music and shake it off with a kitchen disco.
So with this in mind, what am I going to do?
Firstly I have written a rough schedule here. If you aren’t a schedule type of person don’t force yourself to follow one! I have written this to help out those who want some structure but don’t know where to start. If you want a schedule but mine seems crap to you, then write up your own! If you have kids younger than 2 you can still roughly follow that schedule but you just change up the activities with some from this blog post or from the wonderful folk listed below two are the experts on baby play.
I also wouldn’t fully do every activity with my kids. Some we might sit and do together, but for some I might do what a teacher does. This is ten minutes ‘input’ at the start of any session where they explain, and demonstrate to the pupils and the rest of the time the children either have a go at the activity independently or with some support if required. I would follow this same idea for the activities I would do at home. If they choose to have a go at the activity I’ve put out (as per the golden rule) I would explain it and then let them have a go at it.
So firstly there are loads of blog posts on this very website fiveminutemum.com under all the menus with different games and tips for children aged 1-5 – most have some educational element often hidden within the fun of a game. They are saved under the things they focus on (writing recognising letters etc) but my advice would be to scroll in general and screen shot and try them out, vary them any way you can and want to. They are five minute set ups, so you’ve got nothing to lose by having a go. Don’t forget about the guest blogs which have massively useful games and ideas on them too from people who enjoy messy play, baking, water play, occupational therapy games, and more.
Here is the link to my You Tube channel. Also You Tube has things like kids keep fit videos by the body coach, baby ballet, Cosmic Kids Yoga (storytelling through Yoga) and loads more. Just type in your Child’s interests.
I also started a hashtag on Instagram a while ago called #shallweplaytoday which is FULL of activity ideas.
My instagram profile page has little circles under the description of me. These are story highlights and lots of activity ideas can be found in these little videos clips.
My book should be back in stock this week (fingers crossed) but in the meantime you can still pre-order it for when it is in, or download it on kindle or to an iPad.
Below are a list of excellent websites or people on social media who have endless games and ideas. I follow all of these fab accounts on instagram and use them regularly myself. Lots of them are educators and all of them are wonderful people sharing their ideas and expertise for free. There is no need to worry or panic with this lot on your side. The online play community world has existed for a long time, with content being shared and built up for years. It is all there for you to mine away at over these next few weeks or months so please don’t ever feel stuck for ideas. It’s all here right at your fingertips…
Where to go for baby play ideas (I don’t do babies, click here for why!)
@resolvetoplay – Susie is a teacher with a beautiful baby at home (and two older ones too), she has LOADS of brilliant ideas saved on her Instagram page for tiny ones. She is also brilliant for science activities and more besides. She also shares loads of other fabulous accounts regularly.
@beckys_treausure_baskets – Becky is the queen of making super simple but amazing treasure baskets she also has TONS of other easy and amazing ideas on her instagram page. A beautiful human all round.
@mothercould – Myriam is my go to for lots of things but she also has recipes for taste safe messy play stuff – like play dough. An absolute treasure with a beautiful playroom. www.mothercould.com and she’s also on Instagram, where everything is in wonderful easy video format. Basically I wish I was as slick as her!!! 😉
@play.hooray – Claire has play prompts you can buy from her website which are specifically for babies. I think she also does a weekly live on baby play too. Her website and instagram are a mine of ideas.
Other good accounts for various things that might be useful…
@peachy_speech – Lisa (an SLT) has LOADS of good ideas as well as tips and advice for Speech and Language which means her games and ideas are PERFECT for toddlers just learning to speak as well as beyond.
@OTplayfortoday – Vicky is an occupational therapist with loads of brilliant play and educational ideas.
@the_play_at_home_mummas- Rosie and Emilie are wonderful and both EYFS teachers. If you’re looking for educational games they have a bucket full.
@mr_early_years1 – another Early Year’s specialist with lovely loose part and tray play set ups on his instagram page
@miniwritersclub – at home hoping to encourage reluctant little ones to write? Anna has ALL the ideas for this. Plus phonics cards you can buy to help you out if the whole thing baffles you. She’s a Phonics guru!
@bakefulplay – Laura wrote me a blog post under guest blogs. She also has a fab website and a mail delivery baking set service. Your go to for ANY kind of baking at home with kids.
@informed.choice.parenting – Cheryl is awesome at explaining child behaviour which might come in useful when you’re finding things tough at home with the kids and want to understand more about why they might be behaving the way they are.
@the315teacher – Ruth is brilliant for older children. her website is here and her instagram is fabulous for secondary school aged kids.
Also @thechildcareguru_ has a forest school book out for ideas to do in the garden or woodland and parks – click HERE!
@thecraftymumma – Emma wrote a fabulous five minute crafts post for me HERE and has LOADS of ideas on her instagram page.
@craftybearclub – also crafting wonders who are now posting ideas for kids on their grid daily.
Things to ask Alexa for (someone sent me this b)
- Play ‘would you rather’
- Ask spelling assistance to spell
- Ask the maths coach to start the test
- I’m bored (facts)
- Open Kid Guru (yoga)
- Open daily word (literacy)
- Open hotel Transylvania (songs)
- Open choose your own adventure (story)
- Play kids quiz
- Open music bop adventures
- Open Amazon story time
- Ask question fo the day (facts)
- Play fun kids (radio)
- Open times table quiz
- I want to listen to Harry Potter
- Play the Animal Game
- Make fart noises (a particular favourite of my kids’!)
Educational Websites with free resources (thanks to the wonderful Mrs. Carr)
Times Tables Rock Stars (school might be able to give you your child’s login details for this)
Hit the Button (Ewan’s Favourite)
If you’re looking for apps I have a list of some which I collated after the whole MOMO thing (seems a long time ago now doesn’t it?) on my instagram page here!
Next I have plans to …
- Write a blog post on Skype / FaceTime games
- If we also have to self isolate at home I will do a daily live and share our schedule as often as I can
- Do a Live Q&A on Instagram very soon for any questions you may have, plus a live kitchen dance and drink along!
- I am also saving things like cardboard, cartons, bottles, and picking up a few activity books or things I see in shops that I am putting out of reach for now until needed. I do this anyway but am doubling my usual efforts just to be prepared.
- Continue to share all of my content across my social media pages on a daily basis to ignite your imagination and encourage you to set up some easy five minute games.
Despite being asked repeatedly about this I’m not a magician. I can’t tell you how to occupy your kids for hours if you have work to do. That’s a massive challenge and balancing act for us all. TV and iPads are often my answer too. The trick is trying to switch it up as often as you can. Playing games, outdoor time, activities and downtime with screens mixed up with you slotting in work wherever possible. It will no doubt be difficult but if there was an easy answer we would all be doing it wouldn’t we? We wouldn’t need nurseries or schools at all! We are just going to have to try our best, as that’s all we can do. Forget parent guilt for now. We have enough on our plate! As I mentioned on the schedule blog post if you have a partner you can swap with throughout the day I would do half each wherever possible, but that’s the best I’ve got. No five minute game is going to keep your kid occupied for hours on end I’m afraid. Accept, plan, play. That’s all we can do.
So that’s it for now folks. I hope that’s enough to get you going if you are now isolated at home with little ones. I am sending you all love, luck and strength. This too shall pass. Loads up the creme eggs. See the positives where you can – often the best place to look to is our little ones. They are usually my shining light through any darkness. Let’s play our way through it…!