As families across South Africa settle into the new reality of lockdown, here are some creative activities – along with teaching opportunities – to keep children of all ages engaged and happy.
Bust that boredom
British garden designer and author Dawn Isaac knows that anything out of the ordinary means a lot of fun for restless kids. To keep sane during these long days together, Isaac and her family suggest creating a boredom buster. Use a large jar and fill it with squares of paper, each detailing a specific activity. These should be things everyone can do, such as playing a board game, making a snack and – to add some suspense – chores like cleaning your room. Each time someone says they’re bored, pick an activity from the jar to do together.
Extra, extra! Read all about it
The current crisis has made us more aware of how important it is to keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the world. If you regularly read the news, have magazines or old newspapers in your home, or have a printer to print out online news, use this time to teach your kids about world events, spelling and grammar, and so much more. Have the little ones search for different letters or words in an article, while the older kids can identify words from word classes like adjectives and nouns. Cutting out large letters from headlines and creating an alphabet chart, or finding stories from different parts of the world and marking them up on a map, will also teach invaluable English and geography skills. Your kids can also create their own newspapers about their day and what they’ve seen or read.
Explore the world (virtually)
We may be stuck indoors but technology has rendered all excuses for learning about the world null and void. Appreciate the art of more than 1 200 museums and galleries across the globe with Google Arts & Culture, which also features SA’s Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), and has a free app for Android and Apple. YouTube Kids also offers a plethora of entertaining, educational and age-appropriate videos so kids can learn about everything from science to nature and beyond.
Bring the outdoors in
Even without access to the internet, your kids can still play and learn. All you need is some household junk and lots of creativity. Create a terrarium using a clean two-litre cold drink bottle by cutting it near the bottom, filling the base with soil and plants from your garden then wedging the upper half of the bottle on to the base. Or have your kids grow their own herbs using the bottom of empty eggshells (hardboiled eggs work best for this), spooning in some potting soil and seeds from vegetables then watering regularly. Give the kids some khokis to draw faces on the front of the shells so when the herbs start to sprout, it looks like hair. Not only will this give them something to do but will also teach them the importance of the environment and perhaps encourage them – and you – to take part in a Greenpop urban greening and forest restoration project once the lockdown is over.
Make some memories
Long gone are the days when we took photographs with our point-and-shoot cameras and waited in anticipation for the images to be developed so we could add them to our already bulging photo albums. These days, all our most cherished memories are stored inside our phones alongside hundreds of memes and pictures of old till slips. Use the extra time you have to sort these memories into digital albums using the free ForKeeps app. You can create Forever Albums, send personalised messages or even create a time capsule using the Digital Legacy feature.
Back to school
Although schools are closed during the lockdown, many have provided support tools, such as online classes. However, if that’s not the case or you’re looking for additional resources to keep them occupied and learning, there are plenty of educational tools you can turn to – and some won’t cost you a cent! IDEA Digital Education provides innovative and interactive programs that help learners of all ages and levels engage with the subject matter – find out more here. WorksheetCloud, an online platform that provides online and printable worksheets aligned with the National Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS), is offering free live online lessons for all grade 3 to 7 learners in South Africa. All you have to do is register your child here and, if you’re a MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet cardholder, you can get R100 off a regular WorksheetCloud subscription, too. To sign up for a free MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet card, visit myschool.co.za or download the app. In addition to incredible offers, its partners will make a contribution to schools, charities and conservation beneficiaries of your choice – at no cost to you!