So here we are. All locked up in our homes. WITH OUR CHILDREN!
No parks, zoo, play dates, or visiting family and friends. It will take about a day before the struggle begins.
The kids can’t have friends over, but here’s a fun way to keep them entertained for quite some time. You don’t even have to have a yard or go outside! And if your kids are older, you can easily modify this for them by creating themed rooms and/or challenge rooms in your home.
Desperate Times Call For A Tent Town!
Lots of people love to camp, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a few tents. Gather up tents from family, friends, and neighbors (disinfect the small areas touched by others within the last 3-5 days). Or grab your disinfectant wipes and visit your local Good Will or Second Hand shop. While you’re there, see if you can find some flashlights or battery operated lamps and batteries! You’ll probably want extra batteries around the house anyway!
If you can’t obtain a number of tents, then get creative and use tarps, chair backs and sheets! As I recall, the dining room table makes an amazing tent! This means a sturdy folding table would work too!
Outdoors in the backyard is the way to go!
You can still pull this off, even if it’s chilly outside. Build a town placing tents strategically throughout the yard. To keep kids from being tempted to leave the yard, face the openings toward the house. Consider taping off, or using string (with bright flags for visibility) and small stakes, to mark off a boundary 6 feet from your fence or property line. To give it a bit more interest, even if you’re working with a small area, use cardboard or old sheets and towels, you can indicate welcome mats, “roads”, or trails for the kids to use when going between tents.
When you’re ready to do more than monitoring, start a bonfire in the middle of your tent town (or create circle time indoors) for quick warm ups, a hot dog lunch, and of course make s’mores.
Each tent should have a theme, but don’t just make the signs yourself… THAT is another activity for the kids! Decorate signs (using paper plates, bags, or poster board) with topics, themes, and activities. Get as fancy as you have enough supplies for! Later you’ll pin or hang these signs on the opening of the appropriate tent.
Depending on their age, you can have each child choose the themes or assign them (pick a number out of a bucket, etc.). That then becomes their tent to care for (With your supervision of course). They can decorate, outfit with supplies, close down and tidy it up for the night, etc. Once a tent is set-up, nothing can be removed or added without your permission. Nothing. Except maybe pets.
The only true maintenance and involvement necessary from you is assistance planning and setting-up. Then when things start to get boring, just change out the signs for different tent uses. Sit down and draw out an elaborate (for kids anyway) floor plan. Build up your town with the kids, deciding on what kind of activity each tent should be for. Use their toys! Make one a play kitchen, and another a pretend general store. If you made a craft tent, maybe you can make a “craft show” tent where they can display and sell their creations to each other and to you!
- Decide what will serve as currency and how it can be earned. Decks of cards is a pretty easy option. And a made bed gets a card left on it as a reward. Some cards could be hidden throughout the day treasure hunt style, or after dinner, everyone who brings their plate to the sink can take a card, and so on.
- So that you don’t end up with a bunch of “crafts” that you have to keep because you bought them from your adorable artist, make a rule that purchases are only good for 24 hours and then they go back in the shop for re-sale or shop decor.
For tents that require a desk; If you don’t have a toy desk or tables that you can use, try to make some out of cardboard boxes or just lay cardboard down so that they have a firm surface to create on!
Tent Theme Ideas
- Math Tent
- Spelling Tent
- Library Tent
- Music Tent
- Tent Kitchen
- General Store
- Craft Tent
Now fill those tents up with things like games, counting and stacking toys, coloring books, crayons, worksheets, etc.
Dividing up even common activities this this will add interest and possibly some much needed separation. Of course the most important thing is that the kids are safe and they having fun.