PARENTS! Are you worried about what to do with your children when schools and daycares are closed? Maybe you’re afraid because you don’t know what to do with them? Maybe you’re afraid they’ll fight a lot?

Here are a few ideas to create fun centres in your home. I don’t recommend you send your child online for any of these ideas. Having everything ready for kids takes the stress out and is quicker.
Searching out these activities is for the parents to do when the kids are in bed or not around. Make sure you plan on teaching and helping your kids put everything away after play so it’s ready for the next time. Make it fun.

You may choose to only introduce one centre per day and play with them; giving them many ideas and asking them for their ideas to make the centre better. Kids are creative.

Using a timer helps kids understand time.
Give the kids a 10 min heads up when it’s time to wind down play. When the timer goes off, set it for another 10 minutes for clean up. You will need to help them and remind them where things go the first week and maybe the second too.
You will need to be consistent. Decide what works best for you.

Also, setting the same time for centres every day is going to make life easier. Depending on age, centre times can be 1 or 2 hours in the morning and another 1 or 2 hours after nap or rest time. The kids will eventually look forward to it.

Kids love routine. It makes them feel safe. The first week, you’ll have to teach them how to use the centres, and how to put things back where they took them since this is a new routine. Make it fun.

Now that the libraries are closed, check out their online programs for help. Many are fun and free. You can also ask neighbours to exchange books or if you can have Centre time at their house one time and another time at your house.
Remember these centres are ideas and beginnings. Go ahead and create your own or expand these.

Centre ideas:
Before you show kids each centre, make sure you explain the 2 important expectations you have of them. For example… I’ve created a craft centre for you. Please don’t use the word rules as it can take the fun away.
-Everything in this centre, has to stay in this space (you can mark off the space with masking tape if need be) If at a table, let them know that crafts stay at the table.
– The timer will go off twice: the first time when you only have 10 minutes left to play. The second time when it’s time to put everything away so it’s ready to play with next time.
I suggest you get in on the activities; especially the first week or two. Enjoy learning about your kids.

Also, please don’t use the centres as punishment. Most children can be redirected if something starts. The worse thing is saying NO, getting into a debate with a child. You will then just frustrate them.
Praise everything they do well and redirect unfavourable behaviour.
The idea is to live in solutions and get away from problems. Something hurts your child’s feelings, acknowledge it( It looks like you’re feeling sad or mad. What can I do to help you?) Offer a hug, rest or other activity.
Give your child time to feel and process their feelings. Let them talk about it without saying anything. Just listen. Teach your child that it’s good to let feelings pass through and to vent. Be safe for them (no judgment, accusations or opinions). Be kind and respectful to your child for what they feel. It doesn’t matter what you think or feel in that moment.

One with space they can mess up for crafts. You can use a vinyl table cloth to protect a table or floor.
You may have old clothing you can give them to decorate with paints or various supplies you can often find at second hand stores or the dollar store. Make sure they have glue, scissors, markers, pompons, eyes, only get glitter if you don’t mind it everywhere. You can get pipe cleaners, stickers, plastic flowers, beads… sometimes Value Village has bags of craft things for a few $. You can get craft ideas from books at the library. Origami is fun to learn together.

Another corner can be for drawing and colouring. Have lots of paper, maybe library books on how to draw cartoons, sceneries, faces…

Another Centre can be for reading. Make it cozy so they can lay on a mat or snuggle up in a blanket to read. Even provide flashlights to make it fun. Again, you can get great selections at the library. Ask the librarian for suggestions for your child’s reading capabilities. It’s ok if your child struggles with reading. Have them read the title, you read the paragraphs and have them read one line from each paragraph. Have them look at the pictures. Often the pictures help them understand what they read. Ask questions like; What’s happening? What do you think is going to happen? How did you know that? What did you like best about this book?…

Another Centre can be music if noise is ok.
Do not do this if you don’t like noise. Put pots and pans, tins, spoons of various sizes and materials. Add lids and anything else in your home that could make music. You can also put a bit of rice in a paper towel and tape the sides for a different sound. The kids may have other great ideas. Record your child signing and play it back to them.

You can have a theatre centre. Put some clothes, shoes.., men’s and ladies; things you don’t want anymore in a basket and let them make up stories and act them out. They can use decorated clothes from the craft centre to make costumes. Kids often like ties, necklaces, gloves, hats…

It’s also great to have an outside centre.
Every child eats and sleeps better with some outdoor time. It’s very healthy to play outdoors. Dress for the weather and enjoy playing in the snow making igloos, snow people, angels, sliding..,
If there’s no snow, check out the park, take a walk or bike ride.
You can play hide and seek, skipping rope, climb treats, have a picnic…

The last Centre I’ll mention is the cooking Centre. Select a few easy for kids recipes that are also healthy. Make sure you have all of the ingredients needed. The Bulk Barn is great for trying new spices or ingredients. Just buy the amount you need.
This is also a science centre. Always consider age appropriate tasks. Provide measuring cups and spoons.
Young kids can pour ingredients in the bowl or pot. They may also enjoy getting their hands sticky. Flour and water can be fun. Making cookies, muffins… They can put together cold things like putting fruit in yogourt, making trail mix or putting together salads, are possible with help.

For kids between 8 and up, providing an English muffin cut in half and letting them prepare it as a pizza is fun. You can print off a few (5 ingredients or less) healthy recipes online that you think they will like and offer a few each day. You can read the recipe to them if they want you to or help cut things… make it fun. They may make sandwiches for lunch. FUN IS POWER!!!

I’d appreciate you letting me know if these ideas are helpful.