Ok, so Coronavirus seems to be just about everywhere and many people are already self-isolating - but how do you keep your children entertained if they are at home too? Well, here's mummy blogger Daisy Upton to the rescue with three fun games to play with your children. Taken from her new book, Five Minute Mum, the mum-of-two is a qualified teaching assistant who came up with tons of simple five-minute games to play at home with her children Ewan and Florence.
We love her inventive ideas which the whole family can enjoy – and they teach your kids valuable language, numeracy and writing skills too. Daisy suggests starting off a game by either playing yourself or leaving it for your children to find to ignite their curiosity, then make it fun so they want to join in. Her golden rule is: never force it.
Here, Daisy shares three of her five-minute games…
Daisy says: "Just before Ewan started reception we were invited to his school’s summer fair. I was so thrilled to discover that, in thirty years, absolutely nothing had changed! There were Morris dancers, raffles and bouncy castles. The headteacher was cheerily making jokes on a dodgy tannoy that sporadically cut out. It all felt so familiar and comforting. I was especially delighted when we chanced upon the tombola stall – my childhood favourite was still firmly in place. Then I suddenly had a thought . . ."
Daisy's son playing the tombola game
- A pen and some paper
- A small box, basket or bag
- 5, 10 or 20 small toys (to match the number set up)
TO SET UP:
- Write the numbers your child is learning (1–5, 1–10 or 1–20) on the paper, then cut out each number.
- Fold the numbers up, and put them into the box, basket or bag.
- Lay the small toys out in a line for your children to find.
- Shake the box of numbers and say, ‘ROLL UP! ROLL UP!’
- Ask children to choose a ticket and open it up. (Fiddly, but let them do it. Excellent fine motor skills!) Then ask them to say the number. (Help them if they’re struggling.)
- Once they know their number, count along the toy line together to find out which toy they’ve ‘won’.
- Remove the toy they’ve won, and replace it in the line with the number.
- Repeat until all the toys have been won. By this point, your kids will have counted several times over and will also have a lovely number line to count along!
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Daisy says: "When my grandma was cleaning out her house to move, the only thing my mum and dad requested was the family Shove Ha’penny board because they had played it over and over as teenage sweethearts. They still have that board now. Shove Ha’penny is a brilliant game, and my family has spent many an evening playing it together and winding each other up. To play, you shove a ha’penny across the board, trying to get it to land perfectly in the number lines. So I came up with this version. If my brother is reading this, I bagsy the board!"
A fun game of shove plate penny
- Masking tape
- Some chalk
- A pen and some paper
- A plastic plate or Frisbee for each player
TO SET UP
- Use the masking tape to make six horizontal lines on a smooth, hard floor. The lines should be far enough apart that the plate or Frisbee can sit between them with a few centimetres of space either side. These are your tramlines.
- Within each tramline on one side, write something in chalk that you would like your little one to learn – numbers, shapes, letters, words, spellings or whatever you wish. When I played with my two, I did numbers one to five for Flo and tricky words for Ewan. If chalk doesn’t work on your floor, just write on bits of paper instead.
- Write each child’s name on a bit of paper – this is their scorecard. If your little one can’t write yet, also write the things that are between their tramlines, so they can just circle them or tick them off.
- Explain to your little ones that each player has to shove their plate across the room so that it lands perfectly between the tramlines without touching them.
- When a player gets their plate to land within a set of tramlines, they get whatever is written there. They must then write down that thing on their scorecard (or tick it off, if they are too little to write it).
- The winner is the first player to get all five.
- Keep shoving until everyone has got all five, then rub out the chalk, write something new in the tramlines and play again!
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THE LETTER MONSTER
Daisy says: "This game is handy because there are so many different ways you could vary it! Below is the version I used with Ewan when he was four and a half and at school, but you could use this to introduce letters to younger ones or even to practise spelling with older ones. If you fancy, you can really go to town with your monster’s character. Unleash all those skills your school drama teacher imparted to you! Outta my way, kids!"
Why not use a tea box to make your monster?
- An egg box or a box with a hinged lid
- Some stick-on googly eyes (optional)
- 5 toys or household items
- A pen and some paper
TO SET UP
- Make your box monster by sticking eyes on the lid. If you don’t have googly eyes, make your own with paper or draw some on. Add a tongue too, if you like.
- Pop the toys or items you’ve chosen near the monster egg box. For example, when I did this with Ewan, I used a spoon, a book, a teddy, a car and a pencil.
- Write the letters for each item on paper, then cut them out. For example, I wrote S for spoon, B for book and so on.
- Then do the same with some other random letters you want your child to know. For example, I used Phase 2 phonics sounds.
- Lay out the letters next to the monster and the items, then leave it all for your child to find!
- Explain to your children that the monster wants to eat the letters of the items he has found. Ask, ‘Can you feed the letters to the monster?’
- Let your child name each item, then find the matching letter. When they get it right, open the monster’s mouth and pretend it’s chewing the letter up. Yum yum!
- After all the letters have been eaten, play around with the remaining letters to spell out a name for the monster. (Don’t worry if you can only use some of the letters to make a name. Ewan’s monster’s name was MADINGO.)
- Feed the monster its name. After that, the monster is so full it does a big burp and all the letters pop out over your kids’ heads!
- Play again! See if they can find more items for the other sounds. Can they make a different name for the monster?
GIVE ME FIVE by Daisy Upton aka Five Minute Mum is available to buy now and you can follow her on Instagram.