Dispel cabin fever with these boredom-busting pursuits that’ll make staying home cool rather than a chore!

Yep, the school holiday can be a bummer when not only is travelling a no-no, you need to stay home with the family, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Certainly, most international flights have been suspended and many countries under lockdown. The extended Circuit-Breaker measures in Singapore has led to the usual June school break being moved up to May, even as most non-essential workplaces are closed till 1 June.

With the ban on international travel and staycations, and outdoor activities frowned upon, you’re probably wondering how on earth to keep your mini-action terrors kids entertained for four long weeks.

Well, besides Lego, mini-Nerf gun battles, launching indoor gardening projects, as well as playing card and board games, parents like Meryl Thomas, who has two boys aged 8 and 11, have gotten creative in offering diversions. Her sons not only assemble magnetic building sets, her elder one has really immersed himself in creating origami (Japanese art of folding paper into decorative shapes).

Just for you, we’ve rounded up appealing stay-home stuff to do with your little ones during this period. So, here’s to staying home, staying safe and having fun as a family!

For kids aged 3 and up

#1. Dance your heart out

Dancing is a great way for your child to stay active and express themselves. Photographer Joyce Chansingh, a mother of three kids aged 6, 8 and 17, gyrates with her kids to their fave Spotify music or YouTube dance tutorials.

She enthuses, “My kids have loved music and dancing from young. We pretty much do goofy dances because these aren’t just fun, it puts everyone in a good mood! 

Video-sharing service TikTok has plenty of short dances you can do together just take a look at the Masaka Kids of Africa’s awesome Toosie Slide Dance Challenge!

If your kids are older, egg your t(w)eens on to join you in the dance challenges. While they may already be familiar with many of these contests, taking part in a sesh is a great opportunity to bond with them.

“My kids have loved music and dancing from young. We pretty much do goofy dances because these aren’t just fun, it puts everyone in a good mood!”

The KIDZ BOP channel on YouTube has tons of entertaining dance videos that junior can follow as well as fun songs to dance along to. Or try Debbie Doo Kids TV, which features movement routines to simple songs perfect for boosting junior’s coordination and fitness!

Kids will also dig the The Kiboomers YouTube Channel, which boasts adorable animation-style dance videos that teach junior how to “wiggle” and do the “hokey pokey”.

#2. Get crafty

Doing art-and-craft projects is a fantastic way to nurture your little one’s creativity.

Why not make your own play dough and paint with junior with pantry staples like flour, salt and cooking oil? Other SmartParents DIY crafts you can take a stab at include origami bookmarks, a pebble cactus plant, a DIY guitar and tambourine bangles.

We especially love the new stay-home DIY BBCraft kits from BloomBack, an online preserved flower and gifts marketplace. Specially-created “Kids Edition” are safe and easy for your mini-me to assemble, ranging from creating their very own floral bucket to a floral frame and card, while you put together a glass flower terrarium.

#3. Play meaningful games

Engaging in fun developmental games at this age will aid your mini-me’s growth.

One option is indoor bowling, which boost fine and gross motor skills. All you need is a ball and a couple of items to double as bowling pins, such as empty disposable bottles or toilet paper tubes.

Or send your child on a fun scavenger hunt for things around the house. Give him instructions such as “look for something that’s black in colour” or “find something that starts with the letter M”. Of course, do monitor your child to make sure he doesn’t touch something he’s not supposed to.

Pictionary is another classic game in which you and your little one takes turns to draw pictures and guess what is being illustrated. Make the most of this activity and discuss what is being drawn. For instance, if it’s an animal, chat about things like where it’s commonly found and what kind of sound it makes.

#4. Engage them in sensory activities

Kids are tactile learners, so sensory play supports cognitive development and builds problem-solving skills.

Whilst it can get a little messy, you can still introduce sensory play at home. If you have an open space outside your home, like a balcony, why not get a small inflatable water tub, so your tyke can engage in water play using toys such as rubber animals, balls or plastic cups.

To keep things tidy, you may also want to set up a sensory bin, such as a plastic tub or container filled with sense-simulating objects such as slime, play dough, beads and kinetic sand. This should entertain your little one for hours don’t be surprised if you can’t tear them away for meals or baths!


For kids aged 5 and up

#5. Cook together

Whipping up a meal with junior in the kitchen is a great way to connect with your mini-me, and you can start by making simple dishes together. From easy local eats to complex Michelin-standard meals, the Internet is your go-to for recipes and inspiration. For step-by-steps on putting together your own local dishes, we like Miki Mak’s food blog and Spice N’ Pans’ videos.

Family-friendly SmartParents recipes to try include shakshuka, tasty Malay dishes, sugee cookies and watermelon cake pops.

Says Jassmin Peter-Berntzen, whose 6-year-old son is helping daddy to turn out wholemeal, raisin and nut bread with their new bread maker, “It’s a male-bonding activity. Besides, cooking is a very useful life skill junior should acquire, boys included!”

Don’t know where to start? Check out Asia’s first online baking course, The School of Perfect Bakes. Founder William Seow has created 50 video courses (including six complimentary baking lessons like the much-loved pandan chiffon cake). Each features detailed instructions on local bakes such as gula melaka coconut buns.

#6. Work out as a family

You might feel compelled to burn off those calories after indulging in all those savoury and sweet treats. Though going to the park isn’t advised during the CB period, you and the rugrats can still work up a sweat at home. YouTube has plenty of apartment-friendly indoor workouts!

Mum Chen Shufen, who used to climb the stairs with her three kids, aged 5 to 9, before the restrictions, now busts the moves to Cosmic Kids Yoga, a mix of yoga, mindfulness and relaxation for kids aged 3 and above.

“It’s pretty cool because it’s both a yoga workout and an adventure ― their favourite is Pokemon. We try to do these exercises at 6pm daily as it adds some kind of routine and structure to their day.”

For more inspiration, explore Fitness Blender’s first workout video for kids. The 26-minute routine includes three workout-style games aimed at increasing bone density, balance, endurance and strength. Another one is Aaptiv’s 24-minute partner workout for parents and their mini-dynamos.

Do remind your child to pace themselves during such exercises, because kids should find fitness fun for kids, not tiresome and injury-inducing!

#7. Travel/Enjoy cultural experiences from your armchair

Flights may be grounded, but your little one can still explore the world from the comfort of home!

Global travel company Skyscanner has created free, downloadable play packs, so families can share travel experiences, discover other cultures and learn about various countries. Each play pack consists of destination discovery quizzes, travel-inspired colouring exercises and continent-themed word searches.

It’s pretty cool because it’s both a yoga workout and an adventure ― their favourite is Pokemon. We try to do these exercises at 6pm daily as it adds some kind of routine and structure to their day.”

Numerous world-renowned museums have also created virtual tours. Kids can visit the fascinating Louvre galleries in Paris (a virtual reality experience of Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic Mona Lisa painting, anyone?), or get a glimpse of the Egyptian mummy treasures at the British Museum in London. Closer to home, the National Museum of Singapore’s An Old New World digital exhibition features Singapore’s history from the 1600s to 1819.

Since COVID-19 has limited everybody’s movements, the National Arts Council has just launched #SGCultureAnywhere on A-List.Sg. Those eager to embrace digital arts and culture offerings will enjoy livestream performances and recordings, virtual tours of exhibitions, art workshops, and fun family arts activities!

#8. Read together

Since everyone is housebound, seize this chance to foster a love for reading in your captive audience because we all know that reading offers lifelong benefits!

The good news is that the National Library Board (NLB) has just uploaded some 8,000 more e-books on its mobile app, and checkouts are unlimited. Lots of great kid’s titles, including popular ones like Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, are available in both e-book and audiobook formats. We also recommend Horrid Henry's Joke Book, Why is Milk White and Women Who Dared.

What’s more, to fire up your offspring’s interest in the written word, NLB is also scheduling weekly storytelling sessions in the four official languages English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil. Hosted by librarians, volunteers and local writers, each 5- to 15-minute-long sessions is pre-recorded and available on the relevant FaceBook pages.

The National Heritage Board has also launched Heritage Tales, a digital storytelling initiative on Facebook and Instagram. Local artiste Benjamin Kheng kicks off the programme when he narrates Attack of the Swordfish, which details how Redhill, or Bukit Merah, got its name.

#9. Watch kid-friendly shows

Sometimes, all we want to do is flop on the couch in front of the TV…and our kids are no different!

Netflix has loads of family-friendly movies and TV shows junior will enjoy. Our current favorite is Carmen Sandiego, an action-adventure series that teaches kids about geography and history.

We’re also enjoying Archibald's Next Big Thing, the misadventures of a chicken who always makes his way back home. Kids will definitely love the hilarious situations Archibald finds himself and i quirky sense of humour.

For movies, we recommend Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, as it has positive themes of heroism and friendship, and oldie but goodies like Space Jam and Spy Kids.

Photos: iStock

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