Updated: Apr 25
Sometimes finding the right balance between having fun and encouraging the kids to learn can be difficult. Especially when you have to work from home, look after a baby, housework, cook, clean, the list is endless.
To add to all of that the school worksheets are rapidly coming to an end and if you are anything like me you might be wondering what you are going to do with the kids at home for God only knows how long...
I know there are lots of great educational programmes out there, but we all know that children learn better when they can get involved and even more when they are having fun.
We are all leading very busy lives and if you weren’t home-schooling your children before chances are that you are in need of some great ideas that will help you to keep the kids entertained for a little while but still teach them something, so here are my top 5 tried and tested games and activities that I’m sure will give you and your kids a great time together.
1. Paper Caterpillar Race
This Montessori activity is guaranteed to provide your children hours of fun and teach them about science and dexterity. It’s such a simple activity to setup and prepare and most importantly it can be played by all ages, both my daughter (age 5) and son (17 months) had fun playing it!
Here is what you need to do this fun indoors learning activity for kids:
Paper (I used a green coloured A4 paper)
Pen, Colourful pencils, Markers or crayons
A straw per person
How to make this DIY paper game:
First cut the paper in strips about 1.25 inches wide.
Then Fold the paper in half and proceed to fold accordion style (see video below)
Next Cut the corners off (we choose to round the edges, but you can cut it diagonally as well.)
Unfold the paper being careful not to stretch it
You can now draw a face on one end of the paper and decorate the caterpillar any way you want (we decided to keep it simple and just drawn a face – as everyone was too eager to race :-)
Give each player a straw
Choose a flat surface for the race and mark a starting and finishing line
Ready, set, go!
The purpose of the game is to make the paper craft caterpillar crawl by blowing through the straw gently from the back at the top of the caterpillar.
We found it quite hard to make it crawl (apart from my husband) so we mostly blew from behind to make it slide forward but it was still very fun and entertaining.
2. Teach Maths with this fun board game
I think Maths is a lot like Marmite, you either love it or hate it. I personally love Maths and what better way to teach it than to combine it into a fun board game.
The best thing about this game is that it can be played by everyone no matter their age or mathematical skills. it's competitive - everyone is challenged (including adults) and everyone has the same chance to win.
What will you need:
Game board (Any race to the finish game will do)
Dice (3-4 with one being a different colour)
Game pieces (I used Emoji erasers from our game bag)
I also added a few action cards from another game we have (Cadoo) which made it even more fun. The action cards are things like drawing, acting or making something from play dough for the other player to guess with a time limit.
But if time is limited you can just play a simple race to the finish line game - that’s the beauty of the game you can adapt it to what works for you and your child very easily.
How to play:
Choose which colour dice will be the Master Dice.
On your turn you can choose the number of dice and mathematical challenge (addition, subtraction, multiplication or division) you would like to answer. You can use as many dice as you like but you can only move your piece by the number on the Master Dice.
Here are a few examples:
Roll only the Master Dice and move forward the number shown on the dice
Roll and add together the 3 dice and move forward the number on the Master dice
Roll and multiply 4 dice and move the number on the Master Dice
Fix one dice on number 3 and roll the Master Dice to practice the 3 times table
Fix one dice, roll 3 dice, add the number on 2 of the dice then multiply by the 3rd dice and divide by the fixed dice.
On your turn if you answer correctly you can move forward the number shown on the master dice.
The winner is the player that crosses the finishing line first.
My daughter and I had lots of fun playing this game and, on my turns, I let her decide how many dice I should roll and what she wanted me to do. She loved challenging me.
We also added another challenge to the game by incorporating the points on the game board so we could keep a tally of how many points each other got throughout the game.
The best thing about learning while playing is that they don’t even realise that it’s a teaching game.
3. Foam Painting
What child doesn’t like foam? Combine it with creative play and you just bought yourself a few minutes or maybe hours of peace.
This easy 3 ingredients DIY Foam is quick to make, and it combines science and art. Learning couldn’t get any more fun.
All you need to make this DIY Foam paint is:
Food colorant or paint
Ziplock bag or piping bag
Mix the same amount of shaving cream and glue into a Ziplock bag or piping bag add your choice of food colorants or paint, close the bag and squeeze to mix all the ingredients together.
We experimented by making a few batches using food colorants and a few with paints and we also did some colour mixing experiments. We preferred the batches made with paint as the colours were more vibrant and they dried faster.
Once you have all your desired foam paint colours ready you can get your little artist to create a drawing on a piece of card paper or cardboard, cut off a corner at the bottom of the bag and get “painting “.
Once the artwork is completed set it aside to dry
overnight making sure they are on a flat surface to avoid the foam paint from running.
4. Straw Paper rocket
I found this fun STEM straw rocket activity on the Buggy and Buddy website and I couldn’t wait to try it (in fact they have a great array of fun activities that I am looking forward to trying out).
This activity is a great way to teach children about physics, it’s easy to set up (you only need things that you have around the house) and it’s a very open ended game that can instigate the little scientist in them as well as getting them thinking.
You will need:
Two different diameter Straws
Tape or glue
Coloured pencils, pens, markers or crayons
Free rocket template from Buggy and Buddy (or you can draw your own)
How to we set up this fun DIY paper rocket activity with the kids:
Print the rocket template or draw your own
Let the kids’ colour, decorate and cut them out.
Cut the wider straw to fit the length of the rocket and tape one end shut so it’s completely sealed (we experimented with the length of the straws attached to the rocket to see how it would impact the flight)
Attach it to the back of the paper rocket (ensuring the sealed side is at the top) with glue or tape.
Slip the thinner straw into the straw that you stuck to the back.
Blow through the thinner straw as hard as you can.
Your rocket is ready to take off 3,2,1 BLAST OFF!
We had lots of fun doing competitions of which rocket flew further and discussing our observations on why a rocket would fly further or higher than the other.
5. Spell it out!
This spelling game for kids is fantastic to teach spelling in an easy fun way and you can use the spelling words from school or your own list of words to complement the school learning.
I think by now you must have realised how much I love board games and I think they are a very effective way to teach as you can tweak and incorporate anything into them. The options are endless! With that in mind I designed a free printable game board for you to use and I believe the game is both educational and lots of fun!
Click here to download your free printable spelling game for kids and happy learning!
Let me know what you think of these activities or if you have any activity you would like to share for me to try at home with the kids!