Year-end school holidays: Ideas to entertain your kids at home

Year-end school holidays: Ideas to entertain your kids at home

SINGAPORE – Looking to entertain your kids at home during the school holidays? Experts and parents share four tried-and tested activities.

Let’s cook

The best family meals are the ones in which kids get involved in the process. It brings food and playtime together, says Mr Irvin Tan, 39, a father to two boys aged four and six as well as a one-year-old girl. “This usually means they’ll polish off their plates. And that makes us happy too.”

He and his wife Chen Shiqin, 35, are founders of HaruPlate, an online food business targeting parents with kids aged nine months to six years.

They do not add salt, refined sugar and artificial preservatives in their home-cooked meals, or the range of Asian sauces and jams they have come up with. They use herbs, spices and vegetables of naturally sweet profiles instead.

Before they step into the kitchen, the family heads to supermarkets, wet markets and local farms to shop for healthy ingredients together.

Here, the couple share a chicken barley pot pie recipe that parents can cook and bake with their kids.

Chicken barley pot pie

Year-end school holidays: Ideas to entertain your kids at home

ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Ingredients

2 Tbs olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

½ onion, chopped

Sprinkle of turmeric powder

Sprinkle of coriander powder

150g chicken meat, diced

200ml low-sodium chicken stock

400ml fresh coconut juice or water

200g potatoes, diced

100g carrots, diced

50g barley

Frozen puff pastry sheets (enough to cover baking dishes)

Method

Year-end school holidays: Ideas to entertain your kids at home

ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

1. Heat oil in a pot on low heat. Lightly brown the garlic and onion before adding the turmeric and coriander powder.

2. Once the aroma is evident, add the chicken and turn up the heat to medium.

3. When the chicken is browned, add chicken stock and coconut juice or water.

4. Add the potatoes, carrots and barley. Simmer the mixture with the lid on for about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how soft you like the vegetables to be.

5. When the chicken stew is ready, divide into four baking dishes. Layer the puff pastry over the top. Gently trim along the edges of the dishes.

6. Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg C.

7. Gather the remaining puff pastry for your kids to decorate their pies. They can make shapes, faces and spaceships.

Year-end school holidays: Ideas to entertain your kids at home

Ms Chen Shiqin (left) and husband Irvin Tan (right) baking chicken barley pot pies with their sons, Oliver and Lucius. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

8. When everyone is satisfied with his or her designs, transfer the dishes into the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

9. Set the table, give the little ones a hug for their efforts and enjoy the meal ahead. Season to taste, if desired, for adults’ portions.

Serves two adults and two kids


Let’s hunt

Scavenger hunt is an entertaining game that gets children moving around without them realising it. As they go about searching for objects, they are actively thinking and discussing, and not being passive participants.

This is a game actress Selma Alkaff plays a lot with kids. The 25-year-old, who founded The Virtual Babysitter last year, offering remote babysitting services to families, says: “It never fails to bring joy and fun.”

Year-end school holidays: Ideas to entertain your kids at home

Scavenger hunt is an entertaining game that gets children moving around without them realising it. ST PHOTO: YONG LI XUAN

Parents can easily plan for a few rounds. She suggests creating an open-ended scavenger hunt list. For instance, find three things at home that start with a particular letter, make a “ch” sound, are soft, are blue and so on.

Alternatively, parents can print or draw a picture and cut it into seven pieces. Hide these in different locations.

Give a clue – perhaps in the form of a riddle – for each hiding place. To make it more challenging, make the children work for the clue. For instance, sing a song, do a silly dance move or tell a joke.

The roles of “game masters” and the “finders” can be reversed too. Kids can hide the objects and parents have to find them.

It is always interesting to see how children come up with riddles or clues, such as “in mummy’s favourite book”, “inside daddy’s new shoe” or “sister’s special sock”. The family can bond and learn new things about one another.

Ms Alkaff says: “While we cannot explore the outside world as much during the pandemic, we can find joy when looking inwards while exploring the intimate space of our home.


Let’s keep fit

Make space for a fun activity corner in your living room, so your kids can engage in physical games.

Decathlon Singapore’s city sport leader for running, Mr Tan Ping Yong, 38, says this helps distract them from the television and other screens. It also encourages the whole family to get up and move with them instead of binge-watching TV series on the sofa.

Year-end school holidays: Ideas to entertain your kids at home

Spend time to stretch with your child on the yoga mat to release tension in muscles. PHOTO: DECATHLON SINGAPORE

Line up household items such as stools, chairs and towels to set up an obstacle course for your little ones, suggests Mr Tan, who has a son, aged three, and daughter, one. Or challenge them to see who can toss the most number of foam balls into the laundry basket.

You can give them skipping ropes, which are cheap and easy to get from sports stores.

Skipping is a great cardio exercise that helps improve fitness and coordination. It is a fun way to work out as a family – try doing doubles, time challenges or even jump rope dances. Check out YouTube videos for tricks and tutorials.

Finally, do not forget to stretch. He says: “We spend all day sitting, including our children, often neglecting our posture.

“Spending some time on the yoga mat for easy stretches will release tension in your muscles.”


Let’s create

Toilet rolls, cardboard boxes and plastic egg cartons – one family’s trash is another family’s craft supplies. Explore what you have at home with your kids and encourage them to give these materials a second life.

Year-end school holidays: Ideas to entertain your kids at home

“Trash” like toilet rolls, cardboard boxes and plastic egg cartons are perfect as craft supplies. PHOTO: PLAYEUM

Instead of teaching them what to make step by step, let them play around with the craft supplies available and pick their project, suggests Ms Nur Hafizah Nur Hamidy.

The 26-year-old is an operations executive at charity organisation Playeum, where she leads a team of freelancers and volunteers in providing open-ended experiences to deepen children’s creativity and learning.

If your kids seem undecided, Ms Hafizah suggests asking: “What kind of materials would be good for…?” or “Do you want to draw what you are thinking of first?”

When putting the ideas together, they may make mistakes and feel discouraged.

Do not take over the crafting from them, but guide them with questions such as “Shall we see what happens when you join these sticks together?” or “We have some tape and rubber bands. Which do you want to use?”

Offer them encouragement too, such as “You’re nearly there – I like the way you are doing this. I can learn something from you.”

Year-end school holidays: Ideas to entertain your kids at home

Explore what you have at home with your kids and encourage them to give these materials a second life. PHOTO: PLAYEUM

When your children show you the final work, Ms Hafizah reminds you to “highlight the way it has been put together or conceived, rather than how it looks at the end”.

With this approach, kids can become confident and imaginative learners.

She says: “We want to cultivate the enthusiasm and willingness in children to try new things and to not be afraid of failure.”

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