I am winding down my Certified Translation activities for the year, and putting on my “Mom” hat for 2 weeks. If you are like me, you are looking forward to the holidays, but also slightly dreading the idea of spending 2 whole weeks cooped up inside with the kids! With health and government authorities strongly urging us to minimize the spread of the Coronavirus by limiting out-of-home activities, many of the usual outdoor Christmas events around the city have been cancelled and the pickings are slim in terms of family activities. Not to mention that family gatherings are not recommended, so no reprieve for parents even to momentarily pass the kids off on the grandparents!
If hearing your child whine the words “I’m bored” makes you cringe, try some of the following activities. The key is to plan ahead and make sure you have all the supplies you need. Use curbside pick up options from your favourite stores to order early and stock up on holiday joy!
Below is a list of 5 activities to do with your kids while staying home over the holidays.
- Arts and Crafts
Gather up all the markers, crayons, colouring books, scissors, construction paper, glitter, stickers, beads and glue that seem to be spread all around the house. (Oops – is that just my house?) Make mosaics, collages, cards, ornaments and other crafty creations, then hang them on the walls for all to admire! Have a contest to see who can make the most unique piece!
My kids love tempera paint sticks, and so do I, since they are easy to use, don’t require a precarious water cup, and there’s no mess involved. I highly recommend investing in a box or two of these, as it is something the kids can use independently.
I find if I sit down with them and get things started, they become more involved in the craft activity and once they are engaged in creating their masterpieces, I can sneak away for a few moments to work on some household chores!
For more craft ideas, see this link:
2. Make your own Play Dough:
My youngest son absolutely LOVES play dough fruit. My eldest says he’s too old for it, but then will sit down and start forming all kinds of doughy delights!
I used to spend a lot of money on play dough, mainly because my kids never put the dough back in the containers or, on the rare occasions they did, they did not put the lids back on! It dries out very quickly.
Then I realized you can make it very easily and for a fraction of the cost! Have your kids join in the cooking process, so they can truly enjoy the fruits of their labour!
Here is the recipe I use for play dough:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup salt
- 4 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (coconut oil works too)
OPTIONAL: FOOD COLOURING
- Stir together the flour, salt and cream of tartar in a large pot. Next add the water and oil. If you’re only making one colour, stir in the colour now.
- Cook over medium-heat, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the dough has thickened and begins to form into a ball. Remove from heat and then place inside a bowl, gallon sized bag or onto wax paper.
- Allow to cool slightly and then knead until smooth. If you’re adding colours after, divide the dough into balls (for how many colours you want) and then add the dough into the quart sized bags. Start with about 5 drops of colour and add more to brighten it. Knead the dough, while inside the bag so it doesn’t stain your hands. Once it’s all mixed together, you’re ready to PLAY.
- Store the play dough inside the bags to keep soft. If stored properly it will keep soft for up to 3 months.
3. Bake Cookies
If your kids enjoyed making play dough, why not scale up to something edible?
At our house, my kids like to help – especially when it comes time to licking the bowls and the beaters!
Here is a super-easy recipe for delicious Christmas sugar cookies – always a hit with Santa and any elves you might live with.
Easy Sugar Cookies Recipe
- cup unsalted butter softened at room temperature
- cup granulated sugar
- egg (large)
- tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (measured correctly)
- Preheat oven to 350 °F with a rack in the center. Whisk together flour with baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.
- Using a stand-up or handheld mixer, beat the butter together with sugar. To the mixture add vanilla extract and egg and beat to combine.
- To the butter mixture, add flour in 3 parts until fully incorporated.
- Divide the dough into two equal parts. On a lightly floured surface, roll into ¼-inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out your favorite shapes.
- Bake cookies on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet at 350˚F for 10 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden.
- Let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Looking for a way to burn of all those sugar-cookie-calories? The City of Toronto has opened over 54 outdoor artificial ice rinks. You can reserve a 45 minute session at Recreation Reservations – City of Toronto.
- Time slots seem to be filling up quickly, so be sure to book well in advance!
- Be sure to arrive 10 minutes early to your reservation time.
- There is a 25-person limit for outdoor ice rinks and under current provincial lockdown measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, change rooms at outdoor rinks are closed and lockers are unavailable so consider bringing a backpack or a crossbody bag large enough to store you shoes and other items.
- Washrooms are available.
While the city “strongly recommends” wearing a mask or face covering on and off the ice, they won’t be mandatory. However, while waiting in line for your turn on the ice, you must wear a mask. Physical distance must be maintained on the ice at all times, except for between members of the same household.
For more information about skating in Toronto this year, see this article:
5. Screen time: Watch a Movie, Do Yoga or Dance
At our house, we try to limit screen time so it doesn’t take over our minds. However, we do enjoy watching Christmas movies. So far this year, we have watched “The Grinch” and we are planning on watching “A Trash Truck Christmas,” as well as “Super Monsters.” There are many Christmas movies available on Netflix, the Disney Channel and Amazon Prime.
If you are looking for a more vigorous family activity, I can highly recommend “Cosmic Kids Yoga” on YouTube. Here is a link to a Christmas session: Christmas Special | A Cosmic Kids Yoga Adventure! – YouTube which I have done with my 3-year old, who finds it quite fun. I find it to be quite a challenging yoga workout due to the fast pace!
You can also find all kinds of dancing songs and activities on YouTube, which the kids love, especially if you take part.
I hope this list helps give you some ideas for family fun. While I do love traditional Christmases and getting together with family, I must confess that the pressures of gift buying and food preparation can be overwhelming. So I am looking forward to a “quiet” holiday this year with my immediate family. I hope that whatever you, dear reader, end up doing will be safe and joyful! I wish you a safe and Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to all!
©Loretta Murphy, Loretta Murphy Translations. All Rights Reserved. 2020.