Enjoy this helpful guest post by Hyattsville’s Mandy Sheffer.
As we face down weeks in social isolation at home (absolutely necessary due to COVID-19, but nonetheless challenging), I have been so inspired by all the wonderful people sharing ways to make this time easier for families and I thought I would share some ideas of my own.
In my past life I was an early childhood teacher/director. I also homeschooled my oldest child for a year. In my current business, I help families create/revamp play spaces for their small humans – inside and out.
Read on for fun ideas you can do with your kids, taken from things I have done or plan to do with my boys (aged three and seven).
Shadow Tracing, Drawing
Grab a white piece of paper, a pencil/marker, and a favorite toy. Set up outside in the sunshine or using a lamp/flashlight, set your toy on the edge of your paper and shine the light directly onto it to create a shadow on your paper. Trace around the shadow and once you have your outline, go crazy with colors and decorating (if desired).
Challenge your other family members to see if they can guess what it is you traced. You can expand on this outside and trace each other’s shadow with chalk, or use a clipboard with paper and trace shadows created by fence palings, plants, and other urban/natural objects.
Urban Scavenger Hunt
Next time you’re out walking with your kids (around the block or even around your house/yard), snap pictures of interesting angles and details of the things you see around you.
Add these to a table and create a scavenger hunt for your kids. Their job is to find all the objects. I created a local Hyatsville urban one for my kids which you can try your luck at here.
Create a Soundtrack to Match Your Child’s Play
This is one of my favorite ways to compliment my kids’ play, without necessary jumping in and trying to scaffold things. A couple of examples – when there are rescue scenes in my oldest’s LEGO play, I’ll turn on the Mission Impossible theme to help make things more exciting. My youngest loves to pretend our play loft is a rocketship, and he now requests I turn on ‘Night Flight to Venus’ by Boney M so he can blast off. 🙂
Organize those toys!
Quarantine is kind of the perfect time to get your play space in order. Tap into your inner Marie Mandy Kondo 😉 and get organizing!. If you want your kids to play independently, you need to set them up for success. Here is a recent blog post with some simple ways to get started.
Spread kindness to those around you
This one is easy, when you’re out for a walk or bike ride, encourage your kids to say hello and wave to the people you pass (keeping a solid 6ft distance of course). Make sure you set an example and do the same. It really brings so many smiles.
Poem of the week
Picking a poem of the week is a simple thing to do as a family to create routine, and a favorite from our homeschool days. I would pick a poem every week, print it out, and then we would say it together in the morning when we started our school day. It was a lovely way for everyone in our family to expand our literary knowledge.
Learn the daily moon phase
There are great websites for this. If you talk about the weather everyday, also add in the moonphase (and if you happen to be up late, make sure to go outside to try to see it). We have this poster up at home and love it. You can also print out or draw your own and just point to the phase you’re in each day. It’s so easy to feel disconnected from the natural world when you live in a city, this is one easy way to reconnect with it.
Set the scene! Create play invitations for your kids to wake up to inspired by their favorite books. For example, if your little one is a fan of the story Goldilocks, create a small world play scene in their play area with blocks, people and animal figurines, play food, and any other toy/accessory that might compliment the story. Leave the book next to the set-up as a visual clue for what the scene is, and see what magic happens…or if your kids are early-risers like mine, just hear about it after buying yourself a little extra sleep-in. 😉
Mandy Sheffer, Curated Play Spaces
If you haven’t had the delight of meeting Mandy yet, know that she’s one helluva creative lady and beloved mamma. She does such amazing, playful things with everyday knick knacks that you never dreamed of doing; or at least, that I never thought to do with my kids.
So check out her Curated Play Spaces website and Instagram page for some more inspiration and to see how she can help you get your kid’s space and toys under control. And also know that she and her hubs are creating and selling those mud tables featured in the top photo. There’s a waitlist, but know that these things are certainly worth that wait.
Stay tuned for even more fun posts from Mandy!
More COVID-19 Resources
Thought it was too late to get a library card? No worries! You can get a PGCMLS Virtual Library card today! Audiobooks, music, movies galore!
Here’s a way you can help our local baristas, bartenders, servers who are out of work right now: SoHy Co-op Virtual Tip Jar.
Also, please know that these stores provide seniors-only and immunocompromised-only shopping hours. (Just updated to include the Greenbelt Co-op Supermarket and Pharmacy.)
Also, here’s a list of local businesses providing alcohol-delivery and curbside pickup near the Route 1 corridor.