Being stuck inside got your kids climbing the walls? Run out of inspiration for activities that won’t leave your house looking like an obstacle course? We asked childhood activity expert Abeer Al Tamimi, the founder and owner of Dubai’s Kids HQ, for some indoors inspiration…
01. Board games with a twist
Pick a board game, depending on the age and concentration level of your child – I find Borders in Mall of the Emirates to offer the biggest variety – and pick a spacious spot in the house in which to play. Have the kids help with laying out the game on the floor and explain the instructions with one extra addition – every time it’s someone’s turn, they have to either run two rounds around the playing area or play their turn while holding a plank position. The point here is to keep the child engaged and add an element of fun (and the fact it adds a physical element to tire them out is an added bonus).
02. Have a fashion show for charity
This is a great way to make cleaning out the closets at home fun and is a a favourite activity of my daughter in particular. Children are fascinated with their mother’s clothes and shoes, so start with your own closet (though you’ll need to be vigilant!). Get boxes or large bags ready to fill up and make sure the children know that everything you clear out will be going to those less fortunate. Let the children try on the clothes, take pictures (we do Polaroids) and carry the bags to the car when full. Do one closet a day throughout the holidays, working your way up to a toys clearout, and have the children write on the boxes if they’re old enough. It’s a great way to give them ownership over a project and to introduce the idea of charitable giving.
03. Colour madness
My son recently won an award at school for achievement in art, and I am convinced it’s because of the endless hours we spend experimenting with canvas boards and lots of paint. I always buy everything in bulk from the two cheapest places I’ve found – Dubai Library Distribution, which has several convenient branches on Sheikh Zayed Road, in Satwa and in Al Barsha 2 near Kids HQ, and at Al Ansar Mall, which is a bit of a drive away on the edge of Sharjah after Al Mulla Plaza but worth the trip for a craft heaven where you can find canvases as cheap as Dhs21. Find a spot at home and ask the kids to help you prepare a painting space by taping down lots of newspaper to protect the floor. When the kids were younger we would do this in their diapers, in our garage, using water-based paint as an extra precaution! The trick here is to be calm and silent – just lay out the paints and let the kids do all the talking and mixing without guidance. Let their imaginations go wild.
04. Making homemade slime and playdough
Yes, it’s messy fun, but it’s also an excellent sensory exercise to do at home and the variety of recipes you can find online is endless. Pick one on your iPad and let the children join in the fun of pouring and mixing. Most of the ingredients you’ll need for this can be bought at your local supermarket, so the prep is minimal and it’ll keep them occupied for a good amount of time – especially if you make sure that, after the fun is over, the children are given a wet cloth to play ‘pretend’ clean up.
05. Let’s play camping
Dust off that tent you haven’t used since winter and put it up indoors for a great fun afternoon. Get the kids to put their favourite toys in the tent with them then give them flashlights, pillows and blankets and let them set up camp. Carrefour stocks a good range of camping equipment all year-round, and you could even prepare camping style food for dinner. We sometimes like to play shipwreck in a similar way too.
Kids HQ, Umm Suqeim Road, Al Barsha 2, Dubai, Sun to Wed 8.30am to 7pm, Thur and Sat 8.30am to 8pm, Fri 10am to 8pm. Tel: (04) 3794233. Taxi: Umm Suquim Road near Marina Home. kidshq.ae