Continuing our series of preschool adventures – well, this is a bit of a before and after blog post. I hadn’t anticipated at the beginning of March that by the end of it we’d be in lockdown with everything closed! So you’ll notice quite a contrast between the earlier part of this and the later. We were delighted to hear in April that LO had got into our first choice of primary school, although obviously it’s all completely unknown when nurseries and schools will be reopening.
Early in March we spent a morning at Trackplay, which is basically a hired hall full of train track and small children getting trains to go up and down it. With random dinosaurs scattered around too. It was really good value – adults bring along their own mug and get free tea and coffee provided. LO adored it, and got her train going all the way round the room. She liked the spiral mountain tunnels best. I imagine this will be one of the companies hard hit by Coronovirus closures, and I really hope they can keep going afterwards as we had a really fun morning.
I had a meeting (remember actual meetings?!) with someone from church so we arranged to meet at a garden centre (remember them?) with a soft play (never thought I’d say that I miss soft play, but, well, I do!) so LO could play and we could talk. And the garden centre also had an aquarium. It was a good way of getting a meeting done whilst LO played.
And then, two weeks after that, we were suddenly at home the whole time. We’re still doing stuff, but it isn’t at all what we had in mind for LO’s preschool year. And it’s sad as there are some things we probably won’t get to do at all now.
We’ve built an obstacle course in the garden a few times, using plant pots we had lying around. For added fun you have to do the circuit with a toy wheelbarrow. We’ve been doing a lot of gardening, which LO sometimes even agrees to help with. She quite enjoyed mulching (“playing with mud”.
The weather was pretty good for April, so we were able to be in the garden a lot. LO had some books and drawing to do on the picnic blanket. She was delighted with some vine weevil larvae we found and liked hunting them out to put on the bird feeder. And she keeps announcing she’s going to “clean” the garden and then sweeps up a few bits before wandering off to do something else.
A friend set up a co-op to order Baker Ross (who do cheap bulk packs aimed at schools, cubs/brownies and Sunday Schools) craft supplies and then split them up between families. We got a lovely assortment of things to do, including some Easter crafts. Our church asked us to decorate a cross template for Easter with flowers, so we used some of my old gardening magazines. These were then emailed to church, where the vicar printed them out and decorated the wall behind him in his study (from where he’s broadcasting services) with lots of artwork! LO really enjoyed the garden magazine collage so she made some more to decorate the walls in her bedroom. Just before lockdown I’d been to the library and, amongst other things, got out a children’s book about Easter. We’ve been working our way through the activities, including making a flower garden model using an egg box, lolly sticks, milk bottle tops and paper. I drew some flower shapes for LO the night before, and was rather alarmed the next day to discover that she’d made all of the rest of it on her own whilst I was in the shower!
LO was given a child-safe magnifying glass and bug pot so we’ve been taking that out in the garden and park to look more closely at insects and plants. It’s helped to keep her interested as she really isn’t keen on the idea of just going for a walk without a destination in mind! We’ve done a snail race in the garden, splashed in puddles on one of the few days of rain, and found a swan on a local lake to imitate.
Inside we’ve built dens using the airer and some blankets, and done a lot of real and imaginary cooking. LO is excited about starting school and thinks she’ll be taking a packed lunch so has borrowed my work lunchbox to play with. It’s not like I’m using it at the moment…
We’ve also done a themed week almost every week, as we’ve found it worked quite well. We normally put everything away on a Saturday night (so that OH can clean the whole house on Sunday), and then the next theme comes out on Sunday evening. We managed to do five weeks before starting to repeat ourselves, which seemed quite good! Train week was our first one, and the only one that’s been done twice now. That was fun as we’ve had different layouts both times. Another week was road week, where we set out the giant town road jigsaw, which LO loves zooming her cars around. These then give her something to come back to each week whilst OH and I are both working.
I’m not going to lie and say it’s all been easy. It hasn’t. There have been moments when we’ve all been very fed up, especially as we have no idea how long this will go on for. It has been very challenging working from home whilst looking after a four year old and we’re pretty tired! What have you been doing to entertain yourselves during lockdown?