Keeping bubbly preschoolers entertained in an early years setting is no easy task when you have social distancing to consider. With many of the children’s familiar soft toys and messy-play stations no longer in play, it can be a whole new challenge to come up with activity ideas that are safe, entertaining and suitable to play as a group.
We’ve compiled a list of socially distanced activities that are easy, mess-free and practical for groups. From old-time classics to some interesting new variants, here are some of our favourite no-contact activities you might want to add to your stock.
Late for School
This is a great activity to boost co-ordination and holds plenty of scope for some exciting twists and tweaks. It’s perfect for trying outdoors or in the classroom.
How to go about it:
Ask the children to copy your actions without moving away from their spots. Pretend you are fast asleep and jump awake to realise you are late for school. Do everything you’d do in a hurry, standing where you are.
Brush your teeth, wash your face, put your clothes on, comb your hair, rush to the kitchen to eat breakfast (Oops! You spilt your cereal), mop it up quickly, grab your bag (and oh! how could you forget your lunch?), run back to the kitchen, pick your lunch and, yes, your water bottle too, open front door, slam it shut, run all the way. Get to the school gates puffing and panting – only to find the gates closed! Silly old you! It’s Sunday!!
Well, you get the drift.
Keep the commentary going as you act out the routine. And, of course, spice it up with some misadventures and detours along the way.
Mr Man Game
Call out the name of a Mr Man character and get the children to move like them:
Mr Tall – Stretch up and move
Mr Short – Crouch and move
Mr Jelly – Shake your whole body
Mr Rush – Move in a hurry
Mr Slow – Move slowly
Mr Grumpy – Make a grumpy face
You can, of course, add your own characters to the lot too. Mr Giggles, Mrs Brave, Miss Growl – the possibilities are endless!
Variations of I Spy
This road trip classic never fails to come to the rescue when you are at your wits’ end with the unending ‘are we there yet’ and ‘I am bored’! It’s just as useful as a no-contact activity option for a class of chirpy preschoolers.
The standard version – ‘something beginning with an alphabet’ is of course, ideal for older kids. But here are a few other variations that are better suited for the younger ones:
- Colours ( I spy with my little eyes something yellow)
- Letters ( I spy with my eyes the letter d)
- Numbers ( I spy with my little eyes five little something)
- Shapes ( I spy with my little eyes something round)
Depending on the concept you choose, get a player to look around for a colour/letter/shape/number and say ‘I spy with my little eye something…’. Let the children take turns to guess the answer.
Dumb Charades for Preschoolers
This is the perfect time to dust up the old party favourite and adapt it to the age group of your class. Take one child to another room, tell him/her a word to act out to the rest of the group. You can go for the names of popular characters (Peppa pig, Elsa, Mickey Mouse) or just about any word they can act out easily like ‘car’, ‘doctor’, ‘tea’ etc.
This is another balance and co-ordination activity you can get the kids to do without moving from their spot. Tell them they are space boys/girls who have been sent on a mission to the moon. Once they get to the moon, they can’t move fast as they are in their spacesuits. You can make up a story of the things they would do on the moon, act it out with slow and exaggerated movements and get them to copy your moves. You can sneak in some stretches and even hand them imaginary baskets to jump up and pluck the highest stars from the sky.
This is one of the fun outdoor games that can be easily adapted for the classroom. You can set up a course of hula hoops across the room/garden and get the children to kick a ball into the target. Keep tabs of how many kicks it takes for each child to get around the course. You could use a tennis ball for the older children and stick with a large ball or a football for the younger ones.
Freeze punk or musical statue is another party game you can adapt for the classroom. Get the children to stand two meters apart. Play some music and get them to dance on the spot. When the music stops, everyone freezes in their pose. Any player who’s caught moving will be out of the game. And make sure you hand out some brownie points for the crazy, wild moves.