Cabin Fever with Innovative, Indoor Ideas
By Jane Kostelc, Parents as Teachers National Center
as Teachers National Centers provide some much-needed activity ideas
for families who find themselves with the opportunity to spend time
indoors with their young children. Nothing is more important to
your child than spending quality time together playing, talking
and listening to each other. The best advice is to use what is available
in your home to provide entertainment and learning opportunities
for your child.
Teach your child basic skills through projects that make learning
seem like play.
" Spend time teaching your preschool child to scribble or write
letters. Experiment with writing tools by scribbling left to right.
Encourage your child to make letter-like forms or letters and write
them all over the page. Have your child copy a letter by looking
at a model or tracing.
" Have your older child create an invitation to a tea party
or picnic for their dolls or animals. This helps them learn to hold
a writing tool and write or draw. Once the invitations are made
and passed out, then decorate the table together or provide a healthy
snack for the guests.
" Teach your child through music. Turn on some lively music
and hold your infant or toddler as you move to the beat. You will
be teaching her to respond to what she hears. Have a living room
concert with your toddler or preschool child with home-made instruments.
You can bang pots and pans or use a container with a plastic lid
and fill it with dry beans or rice. Your child learns about beat
and pitch while playing music with you.
" Host a pretend petting zoo. Collect your toddler's favorite
stuffed animals and arrange them together or place them in different
rooms of the house. Visit each animal with your child. Pet it and
talk about its unique features and the noises it makes. Read a book
about animals or a trip to the zoo.
to Promote Self-Regulation and Focus
Teach your child the importance of focusing on a particular task.
" Model language for your young child. Playtime is a great
opportunity to describe what she is doing which helps her to connect
actions to words. Pronounce words like an adult does, to model the
correct way to say them.
" Be a consultant to your child as he plays. Encourage your
preschool child to play pretend by suggesting new roles or new uses
for play materials. Self-regulation is promoted when your child
follows the rules of a make-believe scenario or plays a board game
to completion. These are skills that preschoolers are just learning,
so be patient and encouraging. Keep structured play time short until
your preschooler can tolerate longer periods of focused activity.
Children enjoy looking at pictures of family, friends and themselves.
" Create a simple album that captures happy memories. Talk
to your toddler about each picture. Tell him who is in the picture
and what is happening. Let the child pick out the pictures he likes.
" Babies like to look at pictures too. Prop a photo album next
to your baby as she lays on her tummy on the floor. Attach a larger
photo on the outside of the bars of her crib. Holding your baby
on your lap while you look at photos of family and friends together
can help her feel secure and loved.
" Visit with family and friends through pictures. Show your
child pictures when he was a baby or of relatives that live away,
such as a grandparent.
To get some physical activity indoors, try these ideas with your
" Get out a blanket and give your baby some time on the floor
to stretch and move.
" Place boxes or baskets around the room and have your 2- to
5-year-old try to toss or roll balls or beanbags into the 'targets'.
" Practice tossing and catching foam balls or beanbags to each
other, or have your preschool child bat a balloon into the air with
his hand. Be sure to immediately dispose of any burst balloon fragments
as they can be a choking hazard.
" Find surfaces of various widths and heights on which your
child can practice balancing, such as a pillow, phone book and a
stepping stool. You can also make lines on the floor with masking
tape and have your preschool child try to walk on the tape without
" Have your preschooler practice stretches like sitting on
the floor with her legs outstretched and try to touch her fingers
to her toes. She can also stand and make circles with her hips like
playing with an invisible hula hoop.
" Make use of community resources such as indoor swimming pools,
recreation centers or walks through the shopping mall.
" Organize a play group in a church multi-purpose room or the
basement of your home or apartment building.
Spend quality time and promote literacy by reading with your child.
Children of all ages, even babies, love to be read to.
" Make a book for your baby. Take pictures of familiar objects
or cut some out of magazines. Put them in a small photograph album.
Name the pictures as you hold your baby and look at them together.
" By reading to your child, you help build vocabulary, develop
background knowledge for more complicated learning, expose them
to rich language patterns and learn the structure of a story.
" Use funny voices when reading a story to interest your child,
and ask your child to make predictions about the story.
" Reading helps children learn how to handle books and becomes
familiar with elements of books such as words, pictures and pages.
" Time spent reading helps your child identify reading as a
more child development and parenting information, parents are encouraged
to visit the Parents as Teachers National Center web site, at www.ParentsAsTeachers.org.