HELP! How to entertain and educate a 5 year old in Lockdown.
+ Are you running out of ideas to homeschool your child during coronavirus isolation?
+ Quarantined with kids – what activities will keep your children entertained and educated?
+ Struggling to run your own business and look after your children during the COVID-19 lockdown?
If you have found this blog post then you are probably trying to work out how on earth you can be good parent, a teacher and cope with your own problems – e.g. a business that has been severely impacted by the coronavirus.
Schools are shut, families are isolated and surviving in the world is now suddenly really hard for EVERYBODY.
Personally, my wife and I are struggling with working 10-12 hours a day trying to fight for the survival of our business (PianoDJ)…
…whilst at the same time juggling our new roles as educator and entertainer for our three children.
I live in Ibiza and we were all locked down on Monday 16th March, so a few weeks ahead of the UK.
In Ibiza you are not allowed to leave the house for any reason other than supermarket / pharmacy / hospital AND only 1 adult at a time can make these trips.
Children CANNOT leave the house!
We are super lucky that our two eldest children (school years 7 and 10) are currently getting online classes from their school and are following their normal timetable.
However, our youngest, Scarlett, is 5 years old and we are finding it super challenging to educate her and keep her entertained during lockdown.
This blog is to share our journey and to provide some ideas for other parents who might find them useful.
Just to let you know – although we both have backgrounds in teaching – we have not worked in this profession for many years.
Therefore the suggestions below (some free and some paid) are just things that are actually working for us.
Some of the activities are for Scarlett to do independently (so that we have time to work).
Other ideas are for things that we love doing together with Scarlett.
Also, we definitely aren’t the perfect rose tinted super parents.
To give you an idea, I almost called this blog:
How not to kill your kids during lockdown!
Right now (27th March), Scarlett is having to do a LOT without our input as we are in
to save our business.
However, as schools are going to be closed until September, we look forward to spending more one-to-one time with her as the weeks and months pass.
If you have and ideas and suggestions then please drop us a message.
Activities to keep a 5 year old entertained during lockdown.
Last updated: Fri 27th March – I only have time to add one or two activities a day, so keep checking back.
Updates to this page will be shared in the @pianodjuk Instagram story, so remember to follow.
Activities to keep children occupied and give you time to work.
Activities for you and your children to do together.
I’ll add some of the activities we are finding useful here tomorrow.
I only have a small amount of time a day to write this blog (late at night after I have collapsed into bed) and right now as I am falling asleep...
Activities to keep children occupied and give you time to work
Ask siblings to help you keep your younger child entertained.
UK Government announces that weddings are cancelled for 3 months.
“ping ping ping ping ping” – the sound of 150 couples emailing us to start talks about postponing their wedding.
This was our first reaction – how are we going to have the time to deal with this crisis and look after Scarlett?
To be completely honest, we just grabbed the nearest things to us, our two other children (aged 12 and 15) to help.
Initially, this was a knee jerk reaction.
We needed the help…and we were super lucky to have some other people in the house to ask to step in.
Probably, we leaned on them a bit too much…
…but it was either that or give up on the business.
Now that the super crisis moment has passed and we have been able to manage our time better, it has been an eye opening discovery to see how strong the bond between our children has come.
The older children are each spending at least an hour a day with Scarlett (time they might otherwise have spent on the xbox or watching Friends on TV).
They are sharing things they can remember enjoying from their younger years (movies, lego, learning to plait hair, twister, jenga, etc) and it is so sweet to see this relationship developing.
Hopefully this bond will continue past Lockdown.
Osmo Genius Kit (and add-ons).
Are you worried about your child having too much screen time during lockdown and not enough hands on play?
But at the same time, you know that screen time is probably one of the most effective ways of allowing you time to work?
Until we discovered Osmo Genius Kit.
This kit is absolutely AMAZING.
It is built around an app that you can get for an iPad.
The kit includes lots of hands on tactile pieces (shapes, numbers, dice, etc) and has a device that you put over the ipad camera so that the app can detect these pieces.
Then, your child follows instructions in the game and uses the physical pieces in the “real world” to solve games and puzzles that appear in the app.
This Kit is Literally AMAZING
There is a video on the Osmo Amazon page that will explain it a 1000 times better than me!!
We bought the Osmo genius starter kit about a year ago.
On the box we bought, it says ages 5-12 (although the box on Amazon seems to say 6-12).
From personal experience of using this kit with Scarlett (and our older children) it is definitely something that you will end up using for years to come – and not just for lockdown.
OK, I want to put something out there…
You will need to spend some time helping a 5 year old with this.
However, it has worked really well for us to set up Scarlett with the Osmo genius kit next to us on the same table that we are working from.
We are then on hand to give a bit of help every 10mins or so if required.
This feels like a good work / parent balance
There are 5 hands on learning games included with the app and we particularly rate three of the apps: words, tangram and numbers.
Scarlett genuinely doesn’t know that she is doing maths / english / verbal reasoning and thinks it is a super fun game.
She actually asks to play it – incredible!
Can you tell that we’re hooked?
Ok – so not sure if you can tell, but we are actually a big fan of this…
…and it is working for us.
So much, in fact, that when lockdown hit us in Ibiza we immediately ordered some of the expansion packs.
Why did we order more when we are tight on money?
One of the big down sides to being locked down is that Scarlett has nobody of her age to play with.
At school, she used to love playing shops with her friends.
We discovered this cool Osmo expansion pack called Pizza Co. and you should have seen how much she smiled when she played this for the first time!
Pizza Co. Expansion Pack is THE BEST
This game has two parts.
Part 1 – you get to make pizzas!
Animal customers come into the shop and order pizza’s with different toppings and you have to make them to order.
The kit comes with a hands on pizza base and big pile of toppings and you have to put “4 mushrooms” on the pizza or 2 slices of pepperoni and 2 olives.
It is so much fun…and it helps with counting and numbers.
Part 2 – you get to be a cashier!
The kit comes with money and you get to take money from your customers and give them change.
Don’t worry. It is super guided for younger children so they are totally supported.
Just so you know, for older children you get a lot of customers at once and the change calculations get harder.
I actually really enjoy playing this game.
Don’t tell the kids that I have been playing it!
You might have guessed, but I am actually a bit geeky.
Clearly, I can write a blog post…
…I also design the website for PianoDJ and develop the apps that we use for wedding shows.
I love coding and looking to the future I personally believe that
Kids who learn to code will get amazing jobs.
The creators of Osmo are also coders and they have created a super fun game that is starting to be used by schools around the world to teach young children how to code.
Osmo Coding Game – for children who like eating strawberries!
Sound confusing? Sound Complicated? Worried that you can’t code?
The beauty of this game is that as a parent you don’t need any knowledge of coding at all!
Worried that a coding game might be super boring?
This game is literally genius!
Your job is to help a cute character called Awbie as he explores the land and eats strawberries.
The kit comes with tactile hands on coding pieces like arrows and numbers.
The camera on the ipad can detect how your child lines up the coding pieces and it communicates this to the app and makes Awbie move around the world.
Simple, delightfully fun and a brilliant way to learn coding.
“Can I play the Awbie game?”
This is now a daily phrase that we hear from Scarlett.
Check out the photos and info on the Amazon listing.
Ask Relatives to Help
I love my mum to bits and at the beginning of the lockdown she immediately knew how we wouldn’t be able to cope with the challenge of managing a business AND looking after Scarlett.
She called me up and offered 1 hour a day of remote childcare / teaching / homeschooling for Scarlett by Whatsapp video calling.
That’s 7 hours a week – a whole working day!!
My mum is retired, she is also in lockdown and she has has time spare to spend with Scarlett over a video call to help us.
At times like this, I think it is OK to ask from support from other family members.
It is a great way for your child to build up a strong relationship with their grandparents or other relatives and it can pass the burden of time onto somebody who has more than you to spare.
I was a bit unsure about how this would work
So, it turns out that my mum is literally a superstar.
She has come up with so many activities to do with Scarlett that even on days when Scarlett’s attention is super short she can keep swapping activities around and keep things interesting.
You can steal these ideas from my mum
Here are some of the things my mum is doing with Scarlett (not everything will work for every child):
+ reading Scarlett a story, showing her the pictures and then asking questions / discussing
+ creating a story together with Scarlett, doing a sentence or two a day. Scarlett has to draw the picture for the story and then we take a photo and WhatsApp it over to my mum. She then adds it into a Google Doc (free to use, google it and the link will come up) and Scarlett can see the story growing day by day.
+ helping Scarlett with handwriting practice. My mum has a little chalk board in her kitchen that she normally uses for a shopping list. Now, she is writing a letter on the chalkboard and Scarlett is copying her on a piece of paper. My mum can see Scarlett writing and talks her through each letter.
+ helping Scarlett with basic maths. Scarlett has some toy wooden soldiers (they used to be mine) and my mum is using these to help Scarlett understand basic numbers and adding soldiers and taking them away.
+ playing a hide and seek game. My mum has a tray with objects on it. She takes one of them away and Scarlett has to work out which one is missing. Scarlett then does the same with some objects here and my mum has to guess.
+ playing a treasure hunt game. My mum asks Scarlett to find an object that we have in our house (ie a pencil or a cup). Scarlett and my mum both have to go and hunt for it and bring it back – it always turns into a race and there is much laughter.
+ sharing her hobbies with Scarlett (flowers and birds), showing her photos and pictures, teaching her how to plant flowers in a pot / vegetables in the garden, identifying different birds, etc.
This definitely requires a supportive relative to help and we are super lucky to be in this situation.
However, if you are desperate for time to work and have somebody who can help in this way then it frees up an hour a day in which you can schedule important phone calls, etc that you need to do distraction free during working hours.
Something that we found super handy for supporting the mobile phone we use for the WhatsApp call is this iPad stand (we had one lying around as we use this to support our iPads when we play the piano at events).
Numberblocks on YouTube
At the risk of pissing off all of the super parents who would never dream of sitting their child in front of YouTube, I am telling you
This is a time of crisis and don’t you dare make me feel guilty!
Right now, for some people (including us), the priority is making sure that there is enough money coming in to pay the rent and pay for food.
We are certainly not model parents, but regardless of our parenting skills we need time to work RIGHT NOW in the short term.
I’m not going to talk about watching movies, series, etc in this blog post because that “leisure” time stuff is all pretty obvious.
This is about finding something that
keeps the attention of a 5 year old
and gives them some educational benefit.
Sure, it is not as good as school (but they are closed until September) and it is not as good as one on one parental home schooling (but we are currently preoccupied with survival).
If you are prepared to give this a go then it will
Save Your Ass!
I introduce to you, Numberblocks.
This is a YouTube channel that has managed to find the PERFECT way to deliver a learning program.
+ It keeps the attention of a 5 year old
+ It helps them with numbers
+ It gives you time to get your crisis work done so that you can survive
+ It is free
We love you Numberblocks!
Seriously, I can’t believe you are still reading this blog and haven’t already jumped up and tried this with your 5 year old right now…
…what are you waiting for?!!!
Come back tomorrow for more ideas.