During the summer months, I talk to a lot of child care center owners and directors who live in warmer climates and tell me that some days are so hot they have to keep the children inside to avoid dehydration. I can’t imagine how hard that would be for kids when the sun is shining but it’s just not safe to play outside. In Oregon, our kids don’t go out when it rains but then again, who wants to anyway.
Keeping kids indoors at their child care or daycare can drive both adults and children stir crazy. The reprieve of running around and blowing off steam helps keep children better focused while in the classroom and not having that outlet can be difficult.
As a mother, I run into this with my own 6-year-old. Too many hours without exercise or projects can be a source of frustration for both her and I. Here’s a list of 6 child care activities that have fared well for our family in keeping our daughter happy and well occupied.
6 Creative Indoor Child Care Activities to Beat the Heat
1. Build Your Own Shrinky Dinks
This retro-art project from my childhood is back and all three of our children loved it. Shrinky Dinks not only give kids a fun finished project but it works on motorskills and creativity. Tracing artwork, making their own, coloring and cutting are all part of creating a Shrinky Dink and if you have an oven at school, then the children can watch as their project shrinks down to size. If not, send the project home with the child and give parents instructions.
When the project is complete, children have a charm to hang on a necklace or bracelet or give as a gift. This is a great activity for any child care provider who runs a daycare that is dealing with hot summers.
2. Chef de Jour
A decade ago, a friend of ours owned a spice and herb shop that she eventually closed. As the spices had gone stale and expired, she gave us a case of spices and we went to work setting up a kitchen for our daughter and her friends.
- A variety of expired spices, herbs and baking supplies
- Old pasta, rice or quinoa
- Various sized bowls
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Colored water (unsweetened Kool-Aid is great)
- A mortar and pestle for grinding
- Mixing spoons and whisks
Unique spices like basil, star anise, coriander, cumin, lemon pepper, various colored peppercorns, cinnamon stick, lavender and cake sparkles all can make for hours of fun, creative play.
Caution! Be careful not to use fresh rosemary as it has an oil that can make skin itch or burn.
As a learning tool, this activity gives children exposure to cooking, different scents and consistencies. You can also make up fake “recipes” for older children so they can be exposed to cooking measurements. As a boon for parents and caregivers, children will become more open and willing to try different foods you prepare as they will come to understand spices and herbs beyond basic salt and pepper. Finally, when the children are done with their projects, an adult can pour the concoction down the garbage disposal. It will make your kitchen smell wonderful.
Tip! Have parents clean out their spice cupboards and bring in any expired spices. Dollar Stores also have inexpensive ingredients and connecting with online or local spice companies to see if they will sell them at a discounted rate or donate are all good places to start.
3. Play Office or Post Office
Put old office supplies and junkmail to work for you! Bring in unopened envelopes, magazines and postcards, old calculators, receipt booklets, unused check registers, hand stamps, pens, manila folders and watch them go to town organizing, stapling and stamping. When the children are done, everything can just be thrown into a recycle bin.
4. Active Stretching and Yoga
When my daughter was three and four, yoga was part of her curriculum and she loved it. Yoga not only allows a lot of children to stretch and move in a very small space but teaches children proper breathing techniques to calm down and be present in the moment. Techniques that becomes even more valuable as they grow older.
5. The Line Game
Our family loves the line game. Pair children up with blank pieces of paper, a pencil and colored crayons. Each child draws one line on their piece of paper… squiggly, straight, wavy, curly… whatever they want. Then they trade paper with their partner. The children will then use their partner’s line for a starting point to build a picture. I am always amazed what comes out of a single line. When they are done, they can color their picture.
The “Line Game” is great for long car trips or anytime there is a bored child and a long wait.
6. Use Ad Libs For Telling Stories
We typically play this in the car but great to play in groups:
An adult starts off with, “Once upon a time there was an animal. What kind of animal?” Choose a child to answer.
Child 1: “Baboon!”
Adult: “Once upon a time there was a baboon. The baboon’s name was ____________.”
Child 2: “Travis!”
Adult: “Great. The baboon’s name was Travis. Travis lived ______________.”
Child 3: “In a treehouse.”
The story gets built upon by each child. You can insert names, countries, places, colors, textures. This gives children the ability to build a tale with your help and you end up with a pretty wacky story at the end.
There are more ways to have fun, even when the temperatures spike. Other child care activities ideas include:
- Hosting a scavenger hunt for colors or letters (find something red, or something that starts with the letter L, etc.)
- Creating an “all about me” book or collage with each child about their life and favorite things
- Making bookmarks out of flowers, leaves and waxed paper
Whatever you choose, keeping cool in the hot summer months is the name of the game and choosing the right activity makes for a more fun-filled child care experience, indoors or out!