Get youngsters physically and mentally active with some old-fashioned fun at home

Jasmine, 9, and Abigail, 7, enjoy the great outdoors and some exercise with a hula hoop and skipping rope. A little pop tennis is also on the cards.
Jasmine, 9, and Abigail, 7, enjoy the great outdoors and some exercise with a hula hoop and skipping rope. A little pop tennis is also on the cards.

"I'm bored." It is a term used by children that could soon become commonplace among families.

We are only two weeks away from the annual Easter school holidays. For some, the school break has already begun as parents make a choice to remove their children from the classroom sooner because of concern about the current global coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, many of the activities usually offered to young people to stave off boredom - sport and other group holiday programs - have also been cancelled, or simply not organised for the Easter break.

That means there will soon be a lot of young people at home potentially complaining about nothing to do.

While a family movie and electronic games may become an easy 'go to' for both children and parents there are many other options that could be more productive, engaging and healthy.

All you need to do is flash back a few years, to a time when Netflix, electronic games and even multiple television channels didn't exist. There were plenty of fun things to do that kept youngster mentally and physically active.

We have pulled together a few suggestions to help keep the kids entertained without the need to gather in large groups. And who knows, maybe the parents will have a little fun as well.

Get active

Skipping (jump rope) - This is a great form of exercise and fun that can be enjoyed by one or more people while getting some fresh air and Vitamin D. All you need is a little space in the front or back yard or a nearby park or reserve.

Regardless of whether you opt for a smaller rope for individuals or a longer rope for skipping fun with siblings, this is an easy and inexpensive activity.

If siblings want to try this a longer rope is a good idea and if you don't have enough people to turn both ends of the rope while another jumps then why not tie one end to a post or something similar.

If you have youngsters that don't know how to use a skipping rope then there is no better time that right now to learn.

Hula hoop - The first thing people tend to think of when using a hula hoop is that you spin it around your waist. But there is so much more you can do. try twirling it around your arms or legs, and you can even skip through it.

Add a little competition to the fun by challenging a sibling, or even a parent, to see who can twirl the longest without stopping.

Chances are you will all be exhausted after this workout but you will have had plenty of fun along the way.

Elastics - Now here is a blast from the past that could keep the young, and young at heart, occupied for hours. All you need is some elastic... and technically three people, at least, to play. (However, with a some creative adjustments this is an activity that could easily be enjoyed by one person. For example you could wrap the elastic around two chairs.)

The idea of the game is to have a two people (preferably) facing each other with the elastic stretched between them. A third jumps the outstretched elastic while chanting rhymes.

The child jumping will continue through stages where the elastic is moved higher (ankles, knees, hips, waist) and the steps become more challenging. The next child is then given the chance to jump through the stages.

Here is an example of youngsters playing elastics:

Hop scotch - Use chalk to draw a hopscotch pattern on the ground. (see picture). This should include eight numbered sections.

Each player has a shooter such as a stone, bottlecap or button.

The first player stands behind the starting line to toss their shooter in square one. They then hop over square one to square two and then continue hopping to square eight, turn around, and hop back again. They must pause in square two to pick up the shooter, then hop in to square one, and out. Then they throw the shooter to the second square and repeat the hopping process. Then they move to square three and so on.

All hopping is done on one foot unless the hopscotch design is such that two squares are side-by-side. In that instance two feet can be placed down with one in each square.

A player must always hop over any square where a shooter has been placed.

Getting out: A player is out if the marker fails to land in the proper square, the hopper steps on a line, the hopper loses balance when bending over to pick up the marker and puts a second hand or foot down, the hopper goes into a square where a marker is, or if a player puts two feet down in a single box.

Here is an example of how to play:

Handball - While you've got the chalk out for hopscotch, why not set up an area to play handball as well?

The only other things you will need is at least one opponent and a handball. There are balls specifically made for this game but a tennis ball will also work.

A typical handball court is a square divided into quarters but in these challenging times you might only have two people to play the game so let's be flexible with the set up and the rules.

You can consider this game a bit like tennis with the aim of putting your opponent's agility and flexibility to the test with a strategic pass that is hard to return. Unlike a game of tennis your serve requires that the ball bounces once only in your square first. The return to serve must also bounce in the players square before it bounces in an opponents square. The game continues until someone misses a return or hits the ball out. These rules are slightly modified for a situation with limited players but if you happen to have more opponents available you can check the details with an internet search of school handball.

Bicycle riding, walking or going for a run - While the current situation regarding the Coronavirus is a push towards social distancing there is no reason, at this stage, why you can't go for a walk run, or bike ride. Many communities are blessed with good cycle tracks so get on your bike... or pull on your sandshoes, and get moving. Just remember shaking hands or hugging people you might encounter en route are not advisable, but a wave and a hello will no doubt be welcomed by all. It is good to know we are not alone in this situation, even if social gatherings are restricted.

Quiet time fun

Jigsaw puzzles - This activity requires very little explanation. There are lots of shops where you can pick up a good jigsaw puzzle to suit varying ages and ability and they are inexpensive.

Puzzles and colouring in: something to do as a family or on your own.

Puzzles and colouring in: something to do as a family or on your own.

Get yourself a piece of board or a puzzle mat. This is so you can move it around if necessary. Be mindful some puzzles can take significant time to complete so setting up on the dining table without the ability to move things could be a nuisance.

The get puzzling. The is a great way for youngsters and parents alike, to develop an eye for detail with regard to colours and shapes. It can also be a great family activity.

Colouring - This is not just an activity for very young children. There are colouring in books to suit all ages. This is a great way to pass some time with creativity.

Crochet/knitting - There was a time when many young children learnt this craft from their grandmother. Unfortunately at the moment people are choosing to social distance from grandparents for the sake their health and well being of the elderly who are most vulnerable to Coronavirus. But that doesn't mean they aren't in our thoughts.

Learn some colourful creativity, just like grandma used to do.

Learn some colourful creativity, just like grandma used to do.

So why not do a search online to find out how to knit or crochet - or maybe one or both or parents already have the knowledge to pass onto their children.

Then set your self the task of making something special for those grandparents. A knee blanket in time for winter would be a great option.

Here are some online links for beginners.

Boardgames - This is a great way of having fun and there are so many options out there. You probably have some tucked away but you have forgotten about them. Well now is the time to pull them out and revisit a favourite past time.

Cards - The thing with boardgames is that you usually need at least one opponent. The same applies for cards - for the most part. However there are some games that can be played alone. A popular option, suitably titled is solitaire.

Check out this link to learn more:

Cooking - Whether you have a young up and coming gourmet in the family or not, cooking can be a great way to keep everyone busy. This is also a great way for youngsters to learn without even realising that it is happening.

Maybe you have some great recipes at home to teach your young ones but if you are looking for options here is a website link:

Books - Last, but certainly not least, read a book.

Here is a link to a list of some top children's books to read:

If you have another suggestion we would love to hear from you.

Do you have a suggestion of something fun to do from home? Please send them through this link.

This story Old-fashioned fun to stave off the boredom among children first appeared on Southern Highland News.