Keeping sick kids happy? Is such a thing even possible? Or did you just dream that?
It is possible with a bit of ingenuity. And kids do get sick from time to time, much as we might wish they wouldn’t. Childhood illnesses help build the immune system, so parents can unfortunately expect to spend at least several days a year with a sick child at home.
Since this is the case, it can’t hurt to have some simple activities on hand that children can play with, without too much exertion. Strenuous activities aren’t suitable because a sick child needs plenty of rest, especially where there is fever. For this reason, we chose to include many activities that can be played directly from the child’s sick bed.
It’s normal for sick children to be uncomfortable and to complain. That’s why you want to ensure you have some really special activities on hand, novel activities that can’t fail to enchant a child. We recommend you reserve the following activities for illness, to prevent them from becoming overly familiar to your child and as a consequence, boring.
Julia M. Kepler over at Serendipity from Jewels had the ingenious and inexpensive idea to create her Once Upon A Time Bag. She bought a string bag for $1 and wrote “Once Upon A Time” on the exterior. Then she filled the bag with small items she found, around 15 of them.
When her children are sick, they take turns drawing items from the bag (without peeking) and creating stories, all of them beginning with (naturally), Once Upon A Time. We believe Julia when she says her kids could play this game for hours.
What kid doesn’t like cupcakes? Especially fancy cupcakes with lots of sprinkles and colorful decorations. Check out this no-mess, no-stress way to build dreamy felt cupcakes. from Rachel Meeks at Alpha Mom. No sick kids in the kitchen with this terrific activity! Instead, buy felt in pinks, browns, white, black, and blue and use the free, downloadable template and a scissors to cut out the icing, cupcakes, and liners. Next cut out hearts and sprinkles as desired. Then comes the fun part! Building the cupcakes.
No need to glue the pieces on. In fact, don’t do that. This way your child can always reuse the pieces to build more cupcakes, whenever the urge strikes.
Next up: NEVER, EVER throw out a nice sturdy box. A decent-sized box can keep a fractious child happy for hours as Jessie Stansberry of Berry Sweet Baby discovered when her toddler was having a cranky day. She simply plunked her kid into the box with a few large washable crayons and let him work out his frustrations. Check out Jessie’s awesome photo gallery of how her amazing brainstorm played out in real life.
So let’s say you didn’t take our advice and didn’t prepare ahead of a child’s illness by setting up a store of activities. Have no fear: if you’ve got a plastic dishpan, some all-purpose flour, and some baby oil, you’re good to go. You’ve got everything you need to make Cloud Dough. It looks like so much fun we had to stop ourselves from making some on the spot. Akane Everitt, at Juggling with Kids says the stuff feels like flour but is mold-able, too, making it a terrific sensory activity.
Another sensory activity that looks like fantastic fun is the squishy bag, described at Play at Home Mom LLC, a blog co-owned by Ashley Kagan and Rosie Lamphere. The squishy bag is great for teaching pre-writing skills and it’s brilliant! All you need is a gallon Ziploc bag, food coloring, and a bottle of inexpensive hair gel. Glitter is fun but optional and there are other ideas there, too, such as how to use the bag with a light panel.
Do you have a special activity your child enjoys during illness?
Editor’s note: This post was originally published June 19, 2014, and has been completely revised and updated for accuracy and scope.
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