Many of us are looking forward to some time off at the end of this year. But my fellow parents reading this know something else: We’re running a little low on tricks to keep our children occupied at home now that we’re nine months into the pandemic.
If you’re looking for some holiday spirit with a side of learning, you might check out the James Dyson Foundation’s newly released “festive engineering challenges” (PDF). Think of them as half-craft, half-science experiments, and a follow-up to a larger set that the nonprofit arm of Dyson released earlier this year.
Specifically, they invite you to make Frosty the Snowcan. You take a tin can, and with the chilling reaction of salt and ice, cause it to frost right before your eyes. And if you plan on building a gingerbread house, you might check out the design of Dyson’s Christmas Biscuit House, which features a cardboard foundation and low walls that make it resistant to quakes. (Though if I’ve just spent an hour building a gingerbread house with my children, I might decide not to shake the table at the end.)
The projects look fun! But if they still aren’t enough to keep your family occupied, try putting a pair of antlers and a red nose on that vacuum cleaner. Hand it to the children and have them go crazy “playing” with Rudolph on the rug, in their rooms, and definitely into those corners and under the couch. Santa doesn’t need to be stepping on Goldfish and LEGO bricks this Christmas.