As technology increasingly dominates kids’ lives, parents are looking for ways to minimize screen time and get kids back outside. But what about when the weather is bad and outdoor play isn’t an option? If you use them right, electronic devices can be a parent’s best friend when rainy days strike. Instead of sitting your kids down in front of the TV or video game console, get them engaged in one of these five activities that are as educational as they are fun. Keep in mind that these are also great activities to pass off to a babysitter (another resource you can find online through helpful sites like Care.com); this will help ensure he or she doesn’t rely on the Disney Channel to keep them occupied while you’re out!
1. Shake Out Energy with Dance Videos
Before you sit the kids down for an educational activity, turn to exercise to ease restlessness and improve focus. According to Dr. Blaise Nemeth in an interview with Chicago Parent, “As little as 15 minutes [of exercise] can have a big impact on kids’ behavior and school performance.” Dance-along videos are an easy and fun way to get kids moving when they can’t go outside. Start the day with a dance session, and take mini-breaks when your child’s focus begins to wane.
2. Start a Family Band
There are few activities as fun as having a jam session. A rainy day is the perfect time to get the whole family marching to the beat of the same drum, and if you already have a member who knows how to play an instrument, let them be the band leader! If your spouse has an old saxophone collecting dust, for example, order a new reed for it, give it a good cleaning, and then have them play a simple song your kids can follow the beat of using a keyboard (a tablet app works great!) or even a pot and wooden spoon. This is a great way to let your little ones dip their toes in the world of music to see if it peaks their interest.
3. Boost Math Skills with Online Games
Many otherwise excellent students struggle in math. According to Motherly, a big part of the problem is that kids don’t get enough practice in math. If you try to sit your kids down with math worksheets on a rainy weekend, you’re guaranteed to be met with resistance. But sit them at the computer to play online math games, and you’ll have enthusiastic learners on your hands. There are countless online resources for practicing math, but Jimmie’s Collage highlights some of the best.
4. Experiment with Hands-On Science
There’s no better way to foster an early love of science than to get kids engaged in hands-on science experiments. Science experiments don’t have to involve chemicals and beakers to be educational; kids can learn about science concepts using items you already have around the house. Try making your own glass of lava with a cup, food coloring, and oil, learn about Newton’s third law of motion with a rocket balloon car, or look online for other great science experiment ideas.
5. Calm Down with Kid-Friendly Yoga
Yoga might not seem like an educational activity, but it can be a powerful tool for teaching kids the skill of self-calming. When children know how to regulate their own behavior, they’re more confident and focused learners in the classroom. The internet is full of approachable yoga videos designed just for kids. Find one you enjoy, and move through the poses with your child as a fun wind-down activity after their day of learning.
Screen time isn’t all bad. As these suggestions demonstrate, the internet is full of great resources to get kids learning, moving, and having fun. However, there are also a lot of thinly-veiled advertisements and freemium content for parents to sift through. By turning to the resources provided here, parents can skip the junk and give their kids access to high-quality educational content.
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