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Curious Comets The Cozy Indoors

8 Experiences You Can Recreate for Cooped-Up Kids

I think we can all agree that things are (and have been for almost a year now) really weird. Who knew we’d miss things like a trip to the grocery store or even the daily commute to work? If we find ourselves missing the daily pleasures of pre-quarantine life, just imagine what it must be doing to the kids.

With online classes, no play dates with friends or outings with the family, things can get really dull really soon. Though there are certain things you can include in their daily routine to keep them occupied (like exercise, crafts, etc.), every once in a while, let them have a little reminder of certain events they used to love and now have to wait to experience again. Here is a list of favorite experiences you can recreate in the comfort and safety of your own home.

Bowling

One of the most fun indoor activities for kids, and most adults, is bowling. Set up a bowling lane in your living room and make some bowling pins with small plastic water bottles. You can fill them with clear or colored water. Set them up in a triangle and hand over any ball to your child to act as a bowling ball. This activity works great for younger children as it develops their motor skills. Older kids can count the pins they knock down.

Carnival

Agreed, going to a carnival has its own special charm but with the right materials, you can try to recreate some of it in your own home. Set up small games in different rooms or even beside each other and also serve up common carnival snacks like cotton candy or sweet corn. For the games you can have ring toss, darts, bottle pyramid, etc. Find ideas among these 20 carnival activities for kids. You can even have prizes for them to win and photo booth as well.

Movies

This is not just one of the best quarantine activities for kids, but something you can make a weekly or monthly event in your home. Print out or make a poster of the movie you plan to screen that week (after consulting with the kids of course). Make tickets and give them to the kids earlier in the day. If you’re wondering how to make a movie theatre at home – there’s really nothing to it. You just have to rearrange your furniture so that everyone can sit together comfortably, facing the screen. This can be on the sofa or even on a comfy blanket on the floor. If you have a projector, that would be amazing but your TV will work well too. For effect, you can queue up some trailers of other movies (preferably ones you plan to screen in the weeks to come) before the movie of the night. Turn down the lights, adjust the sound and let the fun begin. Serve up some movie theatre snacks like popcorn or nachos. If you plan the movie around meal time, you can use an ‘intermission’ to finish dinner and return to your seats.

Camping

Camping is fun but not always possible. That’s why we have indoor camping! If you set the scene right, include the right food and entertainment, the children will forget they’re in the same room they are every day and believe they are camping under the stars. If you have a tent, set that up. If not, build one with blankets and chairs. Throw in some fluffy pillows to make it cozy. You can play games like a scavenger hunt or “I spy with my little eye” or even dumb charades. If it’s night time, you can hand over flash lights to the children and tell them stories in the dark (not scary stories or they will be up all night and maybe for a few nights after).

Picnic

This is one of the easiest and best indoor activities for kids. Having an indoor picnic is great way change up your usual routine. Create a little empty space (maybe in the living room or even the kid’s bed room), lay out a mat or a waterproof tablecloth and prepare a picnic basket. The basket can have typical picnic snacks like sandwiches, fruits and juice boxes. Remember to include napkins and cutlery and maybe some board games.

Puppet show or play

If you already have some puppets then just come up with a story and perform it for your child, maybe from behind the sofa. If you don’t have puppets, here are some great ideas on how to make puppets with the children. You can all come up with a script together and each play a part and maybe perform it for grandparents or even just for yourselves.

Holiday

If you can’t go for a vacation, bring the vacation to you. Let the children choose a type of vacation, your options can be – having a beach side holiday, sightseeing a particular city, visiting a national park, going deep-sea diving – the possibilities are limitless. Look for an appropriate video or website. There are plenty of virtual tours of museums, national parks, safaris, monuments and more. You can visit the Great Wall of China or go on a tour of the International Space Station while sitting in your living room. There are plenty of virtual zoo and safari tours for children as well. Explore.org gives you access to wildlife webcams from across the world so you can watch real animals, live in their natural habitats.

Restaurants

If it’s been a while since you dined out as a family, try this for Sunday breakfast. Just set the table as it would look in a restaurant – with place mats and cutlery all neatly placed. Make a menu of limited items that you plan to make that morning (pancake, dosa, idli, milkshakes, cold milk, etc.). Greet the children, seat them and let them make their choice. You can set the mood by playing the radio or café music. To have some fun, when the meal is over you can ask them for feedback and maybe hand them a bill for a hug.

Some of these indoor activities for kids can be done on a regular basis and some might need some planning and preparation so can happen once a month or on special occasions. The world outside might be a scary place now, so the children (and you) deserve a break every now and then. These activities are more than distractions from screens or ways to keep the kids busy, they’re chances for all of us to feel a sense of happiness and normalcy.

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Curious Comets Mindspace

9 Indoor Activities to Stimulate Your Child’s Imagination

During the first few weeks of the pandemic, it didn’t seem too hard to come up with (or search online for) indoor activities for kids. However, for most parents, that phase didn’t last long. Pretty soon the kids were spending most of their time in front of the TV or a tablet, with very few opportunities to let their creativity flow. 

Nurturing your little one’s creative side early on will reflect in other areas of his/her life as they grow. They will begin to think outside the box and come up with multiple solutions for any problem, thus making them more tolerant and with greater self-control. There are many more benefits of sparking creativity in children, but let’s find out ways we, as parents can do that, without having to leave the house. 

Art

Every child needs an art box. Stock it up with everything from crayons and paint to glue and beads. Before you throw anything away, think of ways you could use them to create art. Hang on to some cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, even empty coconut shells. DIY craft projects are great for encouraging creativity but also help in the development of motor skills.

Make Something for Your Nature Friends

Nothing beats sitting inside when it’s too wet, cold, hot, or just plain yucky outside. But imagine all the small animals outside who don’t have the same luxury and how a simple creation would make their lives that much easier. Let your kids’ imagination run wild while they make food containers or shelters for their outdoor friends.

Some great and simple ideas of nature activities for kids include a pinecone with peanut butter and seeds or even a birdbath made from an old painted planter filled with water and hung in the backyard. For a bigger challenge, have your child try their hands at a birdhouse made from some twine, glue, and popsicle sticks. Both your kids and the animals will appreciate this creative nature undertaking.

Grow Your Own Indoor Garden

There are a variety of plants—edible and decorative, that can be grown inside your own home by your child; they not only have many health benefits but can brighten up a room with their pleasing scents and visual appeal.

Let them keep track of watering and feeding their plants in a notebook so they can develop a better appreciation and love for all that nature provides us. They can grow plants using recycled items—egg cartons, eggshells, coconut shells, and even empty cans. Simply fill them up with some soil, plant the seeds then place them in sunlight. Remind your little nature lover to water them when the soil is dry to the touch.

Edible plants can be used in your cooking and your child will love to know that they are contributing to their meals in a wholesome way when they can begin to profit from their harvest. To take it a step further, your child may like to try sprouting dried legumes in a jar covered with cheesecloth or paper towel, just soak with water then drain, twice a day, and watch your healthy legume sprout. Store in the fridge until you are ready to eat.

Photography

Similar to painting, the art of photography is an easy indoor activity that any aspiring photographer can accomplish with the help of a cell phone. Have them snap photos of their favorite corners, people, their room, foods, or whatever interests them.

Let them print the photos; they can even enhance them beforehand using some easy photo editing apps. Then, let them hang the photos up in some nature-inspired frames around the house or place them in a photo album.

Plan Their Next Exploration Adventure

If your nature-loving kid loves to explore unknown places but simply can’t do that right now, how about having your child plan out their next exploration? Borrow some local, or even non-local, field guides and maps. Research far-off places online and jot down all the places they would love to see.

Let them plan out the trip down to the date, the route they would take, the supplies they would need, and draw it out on a map so they are ready to go when you can get outside. Introduce them to topographic maps during their planning to help them better understand the terrain of where they want to explore (this will also help them be better prepared). The farther away and more exotic the place the longer it will take to plan; the sky’s the limit.

Embrace the Nighttime Sky

A telescope is a wonderful way to see what is hiding beyond the naked eye in the night sky. Grab a book on astronomy or print up some constellation charts from online and teach them to chart the stars they see.

Constellation viewers are a fun and creative way to track the stars and can be made from some recycled paper towel tubes, paper for the end of the tube, tape to hold the paper down, and a pencil to poke the holes of each constellation into the end. After they have charted the stars why not have them recreate the night sky on their bedroom ceiling with some glow-in-the-dark stickers?

Develop a Collection

Those who love nature tend to want to keep and hold onto the wonderful things they find in the great outdoors. Why not let your nature lover keep all their interesting treasures in a box or container that they help to design and decorate?

Recycled shoe boxes are great for collections and construction paper can be used to create dividers for all their finds. For the top and sides of the box, they can decorate it with paint, or they can cover it with leaves, flowers, seashells, or even rocks.

When their box becomes too full, they can recreate another one or they may choose to put some of their favorite finds on display or even make something special out of them, like a wind chime. Attach some shells, rocks, or even sticks onto a string and hang their decoration where the wind will make it dance.

Go on a Camping Trip

It doesn’t matter if you have backyard space or you pitch a tent in your living room, your nature-loving kid will love the idea of sleeping in a tent when you serve up this idea with a delicious side of oven-made smores and some hotdogs.

Maybe you are lucky enough to have a fire pit in your backyard or you can display a YouTube campfire on your tablet or T.V, either way, be sure to add this to your indoor adventure. Bring out the sleeping bags, put nature sounds on in the background, and settle in for a night of telling some great stories while stuffing yourselves with some delicious camping treats, and don’t forget the flashlights.

Nature Journaling

The idea behind nature journaling is drawing and describing your favorite aspects of nature in one spot, a personal journal. If your nature lover is fascinated by the outside world then this is an ideal way for them to do some research and draw the outdoor scenery, animals, and plants they have seen, and even have yet to see.

They can expand on their journal to include leaf, flower, or tree rubbings, a simple task of placing their nature finds under some paper and rub the paper with colorful crayons to bring out the textures. They can include poetry, inspiring nature quotes, animal tracks to look for, and wildlife characteristics.

Then, they can group their interesting finds into categories, such as flowers and the seeds they find within them. This nature activity truly allows them to be creative about one of their passions and is something they can work on for years to come.

No matter your child’s location, encouragement is key and what will inspire them to keep their love of nature alive, even when they can’t express their enthusiasm for nature outside. 

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Mindspace

How to Teach Gratitude to Tweens

Gratitude is powerful and can change perspectives. Here’s how to teach gratitude to tweens and instil this positive habit.

In the digital era, where choices are infinite and the imbalance between haves and wants continues to grow indefinitely, it can come across as a great dispute in teaching and showing kids (particularly pre-teens) the importance of practicing gratitude. But there are creative ways to teach gratitude to tweens.

Adolescence isn’t an age that appeals to many (particularly the ones experiencing it) and all those hormonal and physical changes tend to make tweens the opposite of calm and grateful.

However, no matter the road taken or the obstacles faced, the final destination is always worth it. This will be, too!

Evident Results or Research

According to the research conducted by the Journal of School Psychology and Psychological Assessment, “children practicing gratitude tend to follow a more optimistic approach to life, score better in academics, develop long-lasting relationships and are much more sociable than their apparently ungrateful counterparts.”

Moreover, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology declares gratitude as a better indicator of happiness and optimism than other relevant qualities like endurance, self-control, and forgiveness.

Seeing all that, the value of teaching, and having tweens practice gratitude until it gets twined in their lives can’t be stressed enough.

Here, we talk in detail about some of the most effective ways to teach tweens the significance of gratefulness.

Model Gratitude

Children get the first and most impactful schooling of their lives through imitating their parents. So, if the parents take a firm stand and represent themselves as role models for their troubled tweens, they can change the game completely.

This quote sums it up: “Children are great imitators. So, give them something great to imitate.”

There are dozens of ways you can present yourself as a role model for your kids. Some basic yet powerful ones are:

  • Saying ‘thank you’ at even the smallest kindness such as someone holding a door for you or serving you a meal. 
  • Saying ‘thank you’ at even the smallest kindness such as someone holding a door for you or serving you a meal. 
  • Saying ‘thank you’ at even the smallest kindness such as someone holding a door for you or serving you a meal. 

Teach the Art of Saying Thank You

Teaching gratitude does not have to be stressful. You can try to go for a much subtle approach and praise them whenever they say “thank you,” to anybody, for anything. 

Everybody likes being praised and adolescents are no different. When you compliment a good quality, it grows further and bears fruit. On the contrary, when you criticize a bad quality, the situation may worsen and makes room for hatred to grow.

Ask Gratitude Queries

Got your tween into the beneficial hit of saying thank you? Great.

Then, it’s time to dig further into the surface. Whenever you hear your child express gratitude towards a certain kindness, ask him/her the reason behind those words. According to the Raising Grateful Children Project at UNC Chapel Hill, there are four fundamental components that build up gratitude.

  • Recognition: Paying heed to the things deserving appreciation.
  • Conception: Guessing the reasons as to why that kindness was done upon you.
  • Analyzing: Paying conscious thought to the emotions you feel.
  • Reaction: The way you react or express gratitude.

Pre-teens become conscious about the conception and analysis when you ask them questions about the same in simple words. A fun way of doing this is making it into a playful discussion.

Commit Gracious and Kind Acts

Teach your kids the different ways they can appreciate the things their family, friends and neighbors do for them. For example, helping an old neighbor when they are watering plants and so on. 

Along with showing them the instances, you may do these yourself. Being the excellent imitators that the pre-teens are, they will pick these up themselves.

Here are  70 Simple Random Acts of Kindness You Can Do Everyday.

Gratitude Project for the Entire Family

A great way to practice mutual gratitude in the family is through creating projects. One of such engaging projects that can arouse enthusiasm among family members is by telling each member of the family to write down deeds they’re grateful for and dumping them in a jar.

After a month (or even a week later) you can extract all those gratitude slips and spend some quality time together while reading those. Sounds fun?

Looking for other Fun Family projects? Here’s a list of ten.

Daily Gratitude Rituals

Make it into a routine habit to express gratitude for everyday things and encourage your tween (and other family members) to do so as well.

Now, you may say that gratitude should be intuitive and natural instead of being researched everyday like a movie script. But believe it when I say, when practiced daily, noticing the acts of kindness and being grateful becomes second nature to them.

You can also encourage your tweens to maintain a gratitude journal and write 3 things they’re grateful for every day. 

Searching for the Silver Linings

Whenever anything bad or awful happens in your tween’s life, ask him or her whether there was any upside (bright spot) to the situation. This approach will stimulate your child’s brain to look for and emphasize the positive aspects and abandon the negative ones.

You may have discussions on articles like this and ask your pre-teen to try and add more points to it.

Closing Thoughts

Incorporating gratitude as a keystone habit into your kid’s life will affect not only him or her but everybody who comes into personal contact with them on a regular basis. The significance of gratitude makes it important to apply different tactics and strategies to make your kid cultivate the habit.

Tip:

If your tween ever acts out at a time or refuses to appear as grateful, don’t lose confidence. Give them the space to vent out their frustration or anger. On the bright side, you may use these occurrences as meaningful lessons and further improve your approach for the next time.

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Curious Comets The Cozy Indoors

Bring Nature Home: 8 Indoor Activities for Nature-Loving Kids

My pre-schooler loved going to the park every day. Not for the slides and swings. Not necessarily to play and interact with other kids. He loved picking up fallen flowers, talking to (and unintentionally startling) the pigeons, and looking at the different colors in the evening sky.

When the mandatory lockdown started, it was easy to keep him occupied at home but it got me thinking – do I really want him to lose that ability to find happiness in nature? And lose that connection he has with it? Of course not.

There’s a reason why children (and even adults) are drawn to natural environments – the sights, sounds, scents, and textures of the outdoors are the perfect gateway for boundless exploration while promoting creativity, and increasing attention span while reduces stress. This high level of curiosity doesn’t last forever – so if we don’t let our kids experience nature while they are young, it might just become an invisible backdrop.

With the pandemic, letting children play outside is risky for them and scary for you. So here are some indoor activities for kids at a time when we have to be careful about the time we spend outdoors.

Indoor Gardening

Help your child create a kitchen garden or grow some microgreens. Just grab a handful of any of seeds from your kitchen (fenugreek, mustard, coriander), soak them and sow them in a container. Let your child sprinkle water every day and watch its progress. There’s something magical about watching a seed grow into a plant and it’s even more magical seeing your child’s face light up when they experience it.

Make Nature Faces

Thinking of outdoor activities for children is easier than coming up with engaging indoor activities, but you can blend the two with this one. If you do take the kids out for a walk – have them collect twigs, leaves, pebbles, etc., and use them later to make faces, animals, and other drawings on the floor at home.

Match the Rock

Trace the outlines of a few rocks and pebbles on paper and have your child match the rock to its outline. Once you start with this activity, you can encourage your child to pick up a different rock during every outing, and soon you’ll have your very own rock collection.

Scent Jars

This is one of my favorites, and it’s a great sensory activity for children. Have them close their eyes (or you can blindfold them) and let them guess what spices and herbs you present before them – one by one. I usually include basil leaves, a stick of cinnamon, some pods of cardamom, a few cloves, and even a slice of lime. You can talk about each after they smell it and tell them the names of the spices in different languages and how they’re used.

Paint with Nature

Remember those flowers, leaves, and twigs we collected earlier? Here’s another use for them. Tie some of these leaves and flowers to the ends of strong twigs and let your child use them as paintbrushes.

Leaf Threading

Tie a piece of twine to a thin twig and have your child thread some leaves with it. It’s a great gross motor skill activity and the outcome looks very pretty!

Stone Balancing

Lay out stones of different shapes and sizes and see how many they can carefully stack up before they all come tumbling down. This activity helps improve concentration and focus, hand-eye coordination, patience, and creative processing.

Bonus Benefit – it will also help them become champion lagori (or seven stones) players!

Float or Sink – Water Sensory Bin

Yes, this one involves water, which means there probably will be a little mess, but it’s definitely going to be a lot of fun. Just fill a little tub with water and leave some light and heavy items out for them to experiment with. You can include leaves, dried orange or lemon slices, pebbles, shells, etc. Have them feel the object and guess beforehand if it will float or sink and then let them find out for themselves.

A Few Tips

Nature stories: Pick storybooks books about animals, nature, and the great outdoors

Relive experiences: Keep talking about certain trips or experiences like the last visit to the zoo or the beach

Nature on TV: Instead of just cartoons, let TV time include some nature and animal documentaries

Get a pet: Having a pet is always great for a child to develop non-verbal communication, compassion, and empathy. Give that it’s a lot of responsibility, you can consider something small to begin with – like a fish or a hamster

These tips will come in handy (even in the years to come) when it’s not always possible to take the children outside or let them participate in outdoor activities. If your child is already an outdoor-enthusiast, these fun nature activities will help nurture that connection, and if your child isn’t particularly fond of the outdoors yet, hopefully, some of these suggestions will help foster a love for nature!