Activities to Beat the Stir-Crazies During Smokey Skies

Does the poor air quality due to fires have you feeling down and cooped up?  Here are three simple activities to infuse playfulness into your home:

1. What’s Missing? Memory Game (2 or more players)

  • Find things in your house that are easy to carry. (Ie slotted spoon, toy car, key chain, crayon, small stuffed animal)
  • Put them on a table or floor space.
  • Look at each item and agree on what to call it.
  • Cover items with a piece of large fabric.
  • One player reaches under the fabric and sneakily removes one item without revealing what they moved.
  • Uncover the remaining items and guess which item is missing.
  • If the guesser has no idea what is missing, offer hints.

*Variation: Gather items of the same color or items that all start with the same letter.

2. Mystery Message Scavenger Hunt (2 or more players)

  • Write a single sentence message on a piece of paper.
  • Cut the paper so that each word is on a a separate piece.
  • Hide those pieces of paper around a room or your entire living space.
  • Find the papers and assemble the message.

3. Hideout

  • Get out some sheets and pillows.
  • Take apart your couch.
  • Hang sheets over the arms of the couch or nearby chairs/tables.

It’s amazing how simply having a cozy/underneath hideaway space delights young ones.
Familiar activities suddenly take on a new thrill: books, puzzles,  and drawing can be more fun when inside the mysterious nook.

Here’s to finding playful ways to connect regardless of the air quality.

Photo credit

Bottom photo: David B. Gleason, license info here

Day 51 of Quarantine: Glamping in the Living Room

Nichole Aldaheff, HFP Parent

Staying home with a young child has proven challenging during this time of quarantine but the warmer, dry weather has provided us with much more opportunity to stay busy. Not on Day 51. The sky was dark grey and solidly pouring with no end in sight. At this point, it was hard to think of anything new to do, especially inside for the next ten hours.

As I cooked breakfast, I watched T and her dad bring out a sleeping bag and pad and put them on the living room floor. Camping? I wondered if our summer plans would actually happen. I remembered when I bought my first tent as a teenager and set it up in my parents living room. I slept in it for days.

 

After a two minute ponder, we moved the furniture and the tent went up. I instructed that it would just be up for the day as it was taking up most of the living room. More mattresses and blankets came out and filled the tent. We colored, read books, played games, watched a movie, and ate popcorn within the walls. That night, T and I slept in it. The following day, she and her dad slept in it. We went back to our regular beds, but after a few days, we were back to sleeping in the tent.  It is day 7 and the tent is still in the living room.

When we look back on our quarantine experience, there will likely be many memories and feelings that pop up. Our week of “glamping” will surely be a highlight!

Valuing Relationships: Real, Virtual, at School and Online

With schools closed, we’re offering “preschool in place.” This includes daily virtual connections with small groups of children using Zoom. When we first started, K’s mom said he was hesitant to participate. I encouraged her to help him give it a try. K quickly became invested in seeing his friends and engaging in all the activities. He’s become an enthusiastic contributor to the group–animatedly greeting each person by name at the beginning of our group, zestfully joining every activity, and lovingly saying goodbye to each participant before we log off.  

At the beginning of class, children often share what they’ve been doing since our last online classroom. This is an opportunity to reconnect, affirm each child’s experience, notice common themes, and share ideas that families might opt to do at their own houses. When it is K’s turn, his face lights up. He boasts, “We got sand. LOTS and lots of it! We took our wagon and walked all the way there. Then we loaded it up with our shovels. And then I pulled the wagon all the way home.”

K’s describes an adventure beyond what I fully understand. Then it clicks. From our home visit a year and a half ago, I know K lives close to Mount Scott Fuel. I ask, “Oh, did you get it at Mt Scott Fuel?”

“Yes! And there were giant trucks there too! It was a lot of work and really fun.” K’s pride and joy is intoxicating. I want to jump right through the computer screen to be next to him. I want to hang out and play and joke and dig in his sand box together. 

Here’s a glimpse of everyday outdoor play before this extended pause of retreating to our homes became the new norm.

 

K dashes across the play yard to match the red/rojo strip for our collaborative rainbow scavenger hunt.

K and his buddies hole up under the climber during hide and seek.

 

K & S punching holes in leaves to make necklaces.

   

K and J fill a digging machine.

And here’s HFP’s bustling sandbox.

 

“Preschool in Place” is clearly a far second to the rich and varied offerings of preschool together. And while I grieve the ways I cannot offer the fullness of what I’d like to offer these young friends, I find great comfort in noticing that K has already internalized the fundamental values of HFP –thanks to his loving family and our nearly two years together. We witness this success in K’s heartfelt fervor as he greets each of his classmates and teachers by name– at the beginning of each and every Zoom group, and then again as he says goodbye at the end of group.  K clearly values human connections and invests in relationships. And while we’re apart, K and his brother get to dig in their home sandbox –a rich sensory experience reminiscent of HFP’s glorious sandbox.

Literacy at Home: Pictorial Treasure Hunt

After weeks away from school, Cindy and J were ready for a new way to play together. Cindy knows J likes solving mysteries as well as hiding and finding things. So she invented a treasure hunt. First, Cindy drew pictures of household items on individual sticky notes. She hid each note with a drawing of an object behind that actual object in their home.  Each time J discovered a note, he’d decipher the clue to determine where to look for the next clue. Each time J found a note, he was rewarded with the thrill of another clue. He loved it.

Later, when Cindy had trouble enticing J to play outdoors, she created another treasure hunt drawing clues of items in their yard. J eagerly ventured outside to solve the mystery and find the treasure.

  

Photo: J finds the final treasure inside a rain boot!

This decoding of symbols, pictures and letters is literacy development at it’s finest– fun, relevant and integrated into meaningful interaction. Thanks for sharing your rewarding experience, Cindy!

Variations:

A) Invite child to draw/write some of the clues and/or set-up a treasure hunt for an adult.

B) Number each clue and add a word to each of the notes that will make a message. At the end of the hunt, read the words in order to decode a message.

C) Hide clues a bit farther out venturing into the neighborhood/walking around the block.