17 välikausi activities to keep your kiddos busy inside… and add in a little English learning too!
As the weather changes and we soon say hello to fall, there will be more windy and rainy days. When you don’t feel like dressing your kids up and taking them outside, or if they are sick and can’t go outside, you may find yourself wondering what to do with them inside.
If your kids are like mine, after they have played with their toys a few times, they start to get restless inside and are ready to try something new.
Here is a list of 17 indoor activities to try.
(There is also an opportunity to slip in some English learning, if you’d like.)
1. I spy.
This is a classic game where one person chooses an object of a certain color and the other person tries to guess what the other person is looking at.
First you say, “I spy with my little eyes, something red.” (For example if you are in the kitchen, looking at an apple.)
Then your child guesses, and you answer:
- “Is it a red plate?” “No.”
- “A red flower in a vase?” “No”
- “Is it a tomato?” “No”
- “Is it an apple?” “Yes!”
Then you switch and your child gets to choose an object.
For little kids, first try saying a color in English and pointing out objects that are that color so they can practice.
Older kids can play the game and try to guess the object.
2. Newspaper search
Look through newspapers or magazines and identify objects, letters or words, depending on the child’s age. Are there any words in a English, or in another language?
3. Build a tent.
Take a sheet and some clothespins and build a tent. Fill the space with cozy pillows and blankets. Or curl up with a book. Stuffed animals can join and have a picnic. Or a Lego tower can reach as high as the tent’s ceiling. The possibilities are endless. The tent adds a new dimension to any familiar activity.
4. Toy swap.
Gather up some toys that your child has not been playing with lately, call up a friend and ask them if they would like to exchange toys. (Maybe for a week, or maybe permanently!) Then choose a day to trade boxes and receive a “new” set of toys. Older kids may enjoy showing their friends which toys they picked out to trade. Be prepared that younger kids may not want to share or trade their toys with their friends, but they may be excited about a new toy they get to play with, so it’s worth a try.
5. English books from the library
The next time you’re at the library, pick up a few books in a new language. Most libraries carry kids’ books in multiple languages. For example, Järvenpää has a separate Swedish and English section within the kids section of the library.
Kids will enjoy looking at the pictures and might learn a new word or two.
If you notice any words that are pronounced similarly in Finnish and the foreign language, point these out to your child. They may remember them easier.
6. T-shirt translation.
If you were to guess, how many of your t-shirts do you think have English words on them? Look through your clothes to find a few and take turns identifying letters and words, or translating the words into Finnish. Do a quick Google search if you don’t know what they mean.
7. Map adventures.
If you have old maps lying around (or ask mummo), wipe off the dust, open them up and take a look at them with your kids. You can choose to find locations on the map that you have been to, or talk about places you would like to go. Or find a small car and “drive” along the roads, or use your finger. Local or international, maps can be a great conversation catalyst.
8. Photo album reminiscing. Do you have any photo albums in your home? I just realised that my children, born in 2013 and 2015, have never seen a photo album. They have only seen photos of our family on the wall, or usually on an electronic device. Show your children parts of your life, pre-electronics.
9. Quality programs.
While some studies show that TV can be detrimental to a young child’s development, because it inhibits their ability to focus, (click here for the full TED TALK), TV in small doses, and with educational programming can be extremely helpful in learning a language.
Shows in English, like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, can both introduce a language and be educational for a child without overstimulating the senses.
Nature and animal shows are another low action, but engaging programming for children.
10. Random radio.
Pick a station that plays foreign songs, or pick an iTunes playlist. See if you can identify any words or phrases on the songs.
Don’t forget to clap, wiggle or dance around!
11. The wonderful box.
Give your child an empty box that you don’t mind never using again.
You can add age appropriate craft items into the mix (stickers, crayons, glue, scissors, etc.) and see what your kids come up with.
Big boxes can be trains to ride in, medium boxes can be a treasure chest, small boxes can be race cars. You might be surprised how creative little minds can be.
Bonus points for writing words on the box! Start with your child’s name so they can feel proud of their box.
12. Just whistle while you work.
Is there a chore you wish your kids would help you with?
Can’t they just ________. (fill in the blank)
- put their toys away
- put their shoes away
- hang up their jackets
- get dressed because we have to go now or we will be late!
Make up a rhyme or song about it. Let your kids choose some words, pick a new melody or one you know already, and make the chore a fun game.
(This is how our GoKilppari clothing song, “Let’s get dressed” was inspired.)
Put your shirt (shirt shirt shirt shirt)
Over your head (head head head head)
And an arm through each sleeve.
Let’s get dressed
Lets get dressed
Let’s get dreeeeeeeeessed!
13. Fancy meal at home.
Pretend you are going out to eat at a fancy restaurant.
Let your kids dress up in dresses and ties. (If they are old enough, you may find it fun to let them choose their own “fancy” clothes.)
Lay out a tablecloth and cloth napkins, if you have any.
Set the table together with extra spoons and forks.
Practice good manners, quiet voices and enjoy the elegance at home. Plus, it’s good practice for when you really are at a fancy restaurant.
14. Make your own puzzles
Choose a fun page out of a magazine, or a drawing your child has made. Cut it into a few random pieces and put the pieces back together. Older kids can help with the cutting too!
15. Paint with water.
Grab some ear swabs (like Topz or Q-tips), cardboard and a small container of water and let your child “paint”.
They will marvel at their designs and wonder why they disappear, and you will love to see their creativity without a big mess to clean up!
16. Memorable Meal Time
Add some new enthusiasm to meal time.
- Which carrot stick is the longest?
- How many peas are left on your plate?
- How about if you eat 2 more?
Make meal time memorable.
You might even dare to make pancakes in letter shapes?
17. Puppet show
Take out a few toys, and make an easy stage to perform a show.
- You can crouch behind a chair or a table.
- Maybe your couch is far enough from a wall that you can fit behind it.
- Or you can set up a sheet or box to hide behind.
Use the toys to act out a story. Come up with a new story, or reinact your child’s favorite story.
Ok, that wraps up the list for today! Hopefully we still get some warm sunny days, but now you are ready for those chilly fall days when they arrive.
Please let me know if you enjoyed doing any of these activities with your kids. Or if you have other suggestions to add to the list?