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     Volume 4 Issue 53 | July 8, 2005 |

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At-Home Activities for Children

Munize M. Khasru

Last week I wrote about a tactical "Survival Plan" for summer holidays with children under 6 years old. One of the points mentioned was downloading at-home activities from the Internet. As a follow-up, this week I present a shortlist of the tried and tested fun things my children and I have found so far:

Jigsaw mural: Divide a sheet of paper into jigsaw-piece-like sections, one for each child. Number each section so you can reassemble it, then cut out the pieces. Give a section to each artist and set out markers or crayons. The only rule is that everyone must draw on the same side of the paper, or the puzzle won't fit back together.

Eggshell mosaic: Create mosaics with food dye and broken eggshell (the best part will be smashing the eggs!). Here's how: Separate shell into piles. Fill bowls with a variety of food colourings. Dye each pile, let it dry, then put each colour into separate plastic bags. Let the children crush them using spoons or fists, and you've got the perfect material for a mosaic or collage.

Face Painting: Make some face paint crayons (see recipe below) or sacrifice some old make-up. Challenge your children to come up with the most colourful face decorations for each other.
Recipe for Face Paint
For each colour you will need:
1 teaspoon of water
1 teaspoon of moisturising cream
2 teaspoons of cornflour
a few drops of food colouring

Mix the cornflour with the water in an old yoghurt pot, then stir in the moisturizing cream. Add the food colouring a few drops at a time until you reach the desired colour.

Collages: Combining parts of different pictures can produce unusual and comical effects. How about a cat's head on a person's body? Cut out pictures from magazines and once the children have got the effect they want, let them glue images in place. If you want a more structured activity, ask them to make specific things such as a garden (with different flowers) or a monster (with different body parts).

Colouring Pages: Aside from the commonly available colouring books, you can print out their favourite cartoon characters from the Internet. For economy's sake, print on both sides of the paper and set your printer properties to "Draft" print quality and "grayscale" colouring. If you want your children to learn as they play, choose the printables with connecting dots, or colouring by Numbers/Letters. Check them out at: http://www.coloring.ws

Origami: Inexpensive books with origami paper are available at general bookstores. Alternatively, check them out http://www.tammyyee.com/origami.html. This will require supervision so be prepared to help out or have an older sibling handy.

"Playatta": Playdough is available in the market in wonderful, fun colours. But these tend to be expensive and make quite a mess. After a while, all those colours usually end up being mixed to a sickening grey and your stomach turns at how much money you wasted on this. So, instead, we have come up with "playatta". Just mix some flour/atta with water and let the good times roll. In addition to simple play, my older child sometimes makes snacks for us. She cuts out the shapes with her playdough cutters (under hygienic conditions of course) and then we bake them as 'nimkis' or fry them and dip in sugar syrup as 'mishti porathas'. But be warned these are a calorific nightmare!

Bubbles: Blowing bubbles is a great outdoor and indoors fun. Just keep in mind that bubbles can make hard surfaces slippery very quickly. An easy, nomess solution is to encourage your children to blow bubbles in your balcony or through the windows and watch them float away. If you are worried about the solution getting into their eyes, you can substitute the soap in these recipes with a baby shampoo for tear-free bubbles.

Best Bubble Solution
1 Cup Water
2 Tablespoons Glycerin (available at your pharmacy)
4 Tablespoons Dishwashing liquid (or Baby Shampoo)
Mix together and have fun!
Give a plastic straw to blow the bubbles.

Aluminum Can Crafts: Use coloured art paper/white printer paper to cover an empty and rinsed out Aluminum can (such as a coffee can, Pringles Chips or Foxes Candy). Please be sure the cans do not have any sharp edges! So only use those cans which have 'pop out' lids or plastic tops. Decorate with paint, glitter and glue, buttons, lace, or stickers. These make cute holders for clips, rubber bands, keys, jewelry, or other small items. You can also cut a hole in the plastic top of the can for the kids to deposit money. A great way to teach kids to save money! End of the summer holidays, they can spend it as they wish.

Worksheets: Encourage your child to associate 'fun' with 'work'. There are a lot of challenging workbooks for young children available in the market. Worksheets are a simple way to let your child practice his/her handwriting, reading or motor skills. You can also print out a variety of worksheets from http://tlsbooks.com/preschoolworksheets.htm. Endless fun while preparing for the upcoming school year.


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