Parenting Matters: Keep ‘em busy

There are exciting activities for your children to do in these months of staying at home. But this is a time where the creative thinking of Mom and Dad make a difference. This isn’t a time you want to rely on television or videos to keep your child or children busy during these long virus days.

While it takes Mom and Dad being creative it mostly necessitates them using their imagination to figure out the supplies that would really be handy any week or month of the year.

Art supplies

This is a time to stock up on the supplies that your child is likely to want to try to use. Those supplies would include glue, glitter, construction paper, colored pipe cleaners, markers, colored pencils, scissors and crayons and any other ideas you may have.


This is a time to come up with any kind of blocks you can imagine. There are many different kinds for sale but don’t forget the ones you can make. Then let your child paint the blocks and use them for his next building project. By the time your child is 3 or 4, he should know about 8 colors (red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple, brown, black, or white). Help him learn these by having color hunts where he goes around the house or the yard looking for anything orange. Like all learning, make it fun.


There is a great deal a child can do with water. It begins with learning how to wash the car or the dog. It can also be used with squirt guns to have water fights. Just remember all the paints that use water to keep them usable.

Cooking ingredients

This is a great time to try to learn how to make certain recipes. Make sure you have the ingredients to bake cookies, cupcakes, or even bread.

Old family photographs

You might be surprised how much fun your child can have putting old photographs on paper and writing stories about what is happening. This might be a great time for you to sort through those huge stacks of photos and pick out ones you do not need or want. Your child might come up with some creative ways to use them.

Deck of cards

This is a great time to teach your child how to play solitaire or to play games with two people with cards. See if your child can even build with the cards. If you play fish, she learns about grouping and sorting. At the same time, she is developing strength and coordination of her small muscles. These are all skills she needs to succeed in school. If it will help her do better when school begins, it seems well worth a regular game of cards.

Outdoor activities

Be sure to take your child outside to enjoy the many lessons to be learned. Look at the flowers, the bugs, the leaves and the clouds. There are outdoor science lessons galore. Enjoy them together.

Learn chores

Chores are another skill it is important for children to have. They teach a child about the importance of contributing to the success of the family. They also teach about give and take. When dad makes dinner, you and your daughter can clean up the kitchen. Chores should be expected and verbally appreciated. Let her know you appreciate her help. Give some creative thought to chores for your child.

Read together

Reading together is something you both can enjoy. Ask questions of your child. Really involve your child as part of your reading time. Let your child learn to read the words “A” and “the” each time you come to them in your book. Be excited about your child’s progress as a reader.

All of these activities are ways to help your child be ready when school begins. They are also ways to have fun and enjoy your time together.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. To reach interim First Teacher Executive Director Patty Waite, email or call 360-681-2250.