Travel = No Go

Well it looks like they were right. When the government said Corona would be around for an entire year we all thought: "No way - life will be back to normal in a few months!".

We held out during lockdown. We taught our kids from home, worked from home (generally simultaneously) and faced the supermarket in search of that elusive toilet paper, but sadly it looks like it will be around much longer than any of us care for. And now before you know it, when it seemed like we just sent the kids back to school - it is now school holidays again.

With the new developments unfolding over the past fortnight, many of us are kissing goodbye the travel plans that we had tentatively booked in. Families that were planning interstate catch ups or that quick trip up the coast in the caravan, are sadly no longer possible.

Sneaky learning?!

So, if you are anything like me, my daughter's home schooling was definitely NOT to the standard of her teacher during lockdown. As such, I have been attempting to make up for it where possible. STEM/STEAM science kits are a BRILLIANT way to teach your children and the best part is that they will not even realise it is happening. Winning!

What does STEM/STEAM mean?

S - Science

T - Technology

E - Engineering

A - Arts

M - Mathematics

Essentially it is an approach to learning that envelopes the above areas to develop children's core skills in this area. There has been a huge emphasis on the development of STEM learning at school level with a large focus on problem solving.

That is where science kits from brands like Kidz Lab, Green Science and National Geographic come into the picture. These kits are age appropriate, come with a project or experiment to complete and full instructions for your child to follow. They can start with something small and easy like excavating for gems or 'dinosaur bones' which is great for younger children who want to get involved in the fun. You can find a myriad of kits dedicated to solar powered objects, build your own circuit sets, volcano or tornado experiments and coding kits.

You can start with small projects and then work your way up to the more advanced options. A great advanced option is the LEGO Mindstorm Robot which is used throughout many schools within their science departments as a teaching aid for developing coding skills in their students.

Mum, Science is boring! Or is it?

Other ways one can extend on the science kits we mentioned above, is the range of simple, traditional and almost essential science equipment items like binoculars, compasses, bug catchers and magnifying glasses.

It is whale watching season so grab your compass and binoculars, get yourself to the coast and watch as the whales head north for the winter! Showing your children how to use the compass to find north and then gazing through the binoculars is a great way to show children exactly how those core skills are applied in life.

Using what you already have!

I don't know about you, but I for sure bought my local Casey's Toys out of all the puzzles, games and art kits they had back in March/April. Knowing my child the way I do, the memories of playing games and completing puzzles for weeks on end, just 7 weeks ago, have long passed. Great! Now I know that I have an existing solid catalogue of games including:

  1. Monopoly
  2. Battleship
  3. Chess
  4. Trouble
  5. UNO
  6. Guess Who
  7. Connect 4
  8. Mousetrap
  9. Toilet Trouble
  10. Banagrams
  11. Scrabble
  12. Deck of cards (retro) and just quietly - the Card Holders you can buy are totally worth every penny! It keeps the child's cards in order so there are no dropped cards, calls of "yeah but he saw my cards!", or waiting for the kids to sift through their hand individually ...

Playing a board game once a day as a family is not only a great way to spend time together, but if you play a fairly low key game it can be a great way to unwind before bed. For example: a slow game of chess = yes. Watching your family members being squirted with 'toilet water' and getting all worked up during Toilet Trouble = no.

Christmas Countdown is On!! Yes really!

Do not panic! We are not talking about racing around and starting your Christmas shopping now. However, it is the perfect time to take advantage of the cold, rainy days (and/or lockdown restrictions) and create your own Christmas wrapping paper, cards and Christmas decorations!

Wrapping paper is SO EASY to do and it is such a nice, personalised touch when you give your gifts at Christmas. You simply need a roll of butcher's paper (Kmart, Officeworks, Bunnings or your local art supply shop), paints (Crayola Washable Paints are ideal to avoid permanent stains) and whatever embellishments you choose to decorate with and off you go.

Hand prints always look great and you can always use glitter, pom poms and stamps for further decorative featuring.

Pinterest has some amazing ideas to get you inspired and if you are pedantic like me and love colour co-ordinated wrapping each year, simply choose your colour palette and the kids can create according to your theme.

Good luck!