Tag Archives: games

7 things to do in hospital when you’re 8 (& 3/4)

Two weeks in hospital is long enough to challenge the sanity of any adult, let alone that of an 8-year-old who is used to being on the go all the time.  As well as his daily visits to the hospital school, M was fortunate enough to have a number of other activities to take part in, which helped wile away the ever-lengthening hours.  I don’t know how many of these same opportunities, or others like them, are available at children’s hospitals across the country, but this is a selection of some of those M chose to do during his stay at GOSH:

Pets as Therapy20141209_131336We were lucky enough to have 3 separate visits from 2 of the amazing “Pets as Therapy” dogs, Molly and Woof.  These charming animals are specially chosen for their gentle manner and make regular visits into hospitals, care homes and special needs schools to bring a great deal of comfort and love to those in the greatest of need.  I wrote a blog post not so long ago about just how much calm and comfort M draws from our cats at home and I saw the same things happening as he was able to pet and cuddle both dogs in his own space in hospital.  G was lucky enough to also have the chance to meet and fuss Molly as she visited on both Saturdays whilst Mike and G were visiting, and both children were encouraged to offer her treats for her patient behaviour when she was with them.

 

ScoutsscoutsThe visit to the 17th Holborn Scouts and Guides at Great Ormond Street Hospital was one of the highlights of M’s last hospital stay in 2013 and since finding out he was due another admission, he had talked of little else.  His biggest disappointment was that he was admitted on a Wednesday as Scouts meet every Tuesday evening and he had to wait a whole week before he could go again. During the evening, they provide a range of different crafts and games which are tailored for the differing ages and needs of the children attending that week and even reward regular attendance, an important boost for those children who are there on long-term admissions.  Sadly, M only managed to make one meeting again this year, but is already asking when he can go to Scouts again!

 

Courtesy of gosh.nhs.uk

Courtesy of gosh.nhs.uk

Saturday Club – Every Saturday afternoon, the activity centre (located next door to the school) is opened to patients and their siblings and friends for a couple of hours of crafts, games and some much-needed time together, away from the constraints of the ward.  On our first Saturday in hospital, M wasn’t keen on venturing too far from his bed, but the arrival of 2 of the Saturday club play volunteers, who engaged him and G in some riotous games of “Extreme Uno” as well as giant snakes and ladders, convinced him to change his mind.  By week 2, both G and M were chomping at the bit to join in the fun and whilst the staff there helped my 2 celebrate G’s 11th birthday with some rather nifty face-painting, an elegant birthday crown and Christmas crafts galore, Mike and I were able to escape for a sneaky 45 minute catch-up over coffee and cake in the hospital restaurant.

 

Courtesy of scholastic.co.uk

Courtesy of scholastic.co.uk

ReadWell book trolley – This was a treat we almost missed during our first week as the trolley came round as we were enjoying the ballet at the Royal Opera House, but thanks to some near-perfect timing, we stepped out of the lift just as the trolley was about to leave the ward.  M was able to choose from the wide selection of books displayed on the trolley and took great pleasure in being able to spend some time before deciding on an author we had not come across before.  To his absolute delight, not only did he have a free choice of books, but he also got to keep the books he picked out and he has enjoyed reading them since we got back home.  M also had the chance to create his own story with one of the ReadWell workers, who came into the school and acted as scribe as he weaved his adventurous tale of aliens visiting earth.

 

20141214_105928Ward Playroom – Whilst this was not the biggest room in the world, it held a vast array of games and activities to entertain the most particular of children.  M played on the Wii, found new board games to master and was able to borrow a DVD player and DVDs to watch over the weekends.  We made Christmas decorations, painted pictures, experimented with creating circuits with a science kit and M even decorated a ceramic money-box as part of his Christmas present to G.  20141214_105916

 

Courtesy of magicfree,net

Courtesy of magicfree,net

Magic – As well as a fleeting hello to the Clown doctors as we passed them in the ward corridor, one afternoon was brightened by the promise of a visiting magician.  M sat enthralled with a small group of his new hospital friends as this talented gentleman performed one awe-inspiring illusion after another.  He invited both children and parents alike to participate in some of the tricks and wowed us with his skills.  He listened as the children asked him questions about what he was doing and even watched M perform a rope trick of his very own.  My Dynamo-wannabee loved every moment of the show and dissected the tricks at length afterwards, trying to work out the secret of how they’d be done.

 

20141219_184138Post – Last, but not least is an activity that had nothing to do with GOSH itself, but everything to do with the amazingly thoughtful family and friends who were determined to bring a little cheer to our dreary corner of the long-term gastro ward.  Messages came from around the world – Canada, Madeira and across the UK – and each was special in its own way.  M received get well cards, postcards, books, stickers, games and other gifts that were guaranteed to entertain him day or night.  We decorated his bed space with the cards and added a Christmasy feel with the decorations that we had made in the playroom.  Knowing that people were thinking of us, loving us and sending us get well wishes and prayers sustained us both during the most difficult moments of the admission and brought some much-needed sunshine on the darkest days.   From the Christmas card from M’s class at school, to 2 pages of messages from Mike’s cousin and her friends and colleagues in Calgary; from cards and presents from our friends at church, to a card from the lovely members of my choir; and the 2 extra-special gifts of Angry Birds Jenga from our fabulous FABED family and signed photos and scrubs for both G and M from Holby City, courtesy of Simon Harper, my man at the BBC; all the mail was gratefully received and enjoyed hugely by us both.

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Rainy days and Mondays

I suspect we must be like every other family when it comes to unexpected free time or the need to find rainy day activities.  We have lots of discussions about what we could do, followed by M complaining that “there’s nothing to do” or “I’m bored” or “you won’t let me do what I want anyway, so there’s no point in asking” and eventually finishing with a decision that at least 3 of the 4 of us agree on, sometimes, if we’re lucky.  This past weekend was no exception.  Amazingly, there was no football training or game for M, no parties for either child and no school events to contend with as it was the start of the May half-term.

20140428_130100Chalk Wall Snakes & Ladders – this was invented by M and Mike and has been the source of hours of fun for all the family.  One wall of M’s bedroom is painted with blue chalkboard paint and they decided to create a gigantic Snakes & Ladders board on the wall.  It featured some individual-looking snakes as well as ladders of varying lengths and can be changed and adapted as the fancy takes M.  Once designed, they played the game using a dice and coloured chalk to mark their progress on the board.

bananagramsBoard games – I doubt we’re the only family in the world to indulge in a board game or 2 on a weekend afternoon.  The kids have been obsessed with two games recently: the Game of Life: Fame edition, where you’re a fledgling celebrity trying to make it big; and Bananagrams, a game that’s similar to scrabble, but each player works individually to create a crossword grid from their tiles.  The latter has become a new and firm favourite in the household, although M struggles sometimes with the challenge of creating words from his letters.  Even though he won’t always play on his own, he is always more than happy to give suggestions to anyone else playing.

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Egg painting – this is an activity usually associated with Easter as the photos show, but I see no reason why you couldn’t do this at any time of the year.  M was fascinated in seeing how exactly you blew the eggs, whilst G quickly learnt just how delicate the resultant egg-shells were.  They were occupied for a good half an hour or so before they had had enough and had run out of eggs to decorate.  G decided to go for 3 unrelated designs for her eggs, whilst M themed his eggs around a Matador, bull and red cape – don’t ask me, I have no idea where he gets his ideas from, though I’m guessing it must be something to do with his father.  Mike identified the eggs from 3,300 miles away via Skype:  I can only assume he saw something I didn’t.

lightsabersLight Saber battles – nothing overly original, though G, M and Mike appear to have created their own battleground, almost Hunger Games style, called “Schwing Schwang”.  This involves each having their own Light Saber of different colours and indulging in a series of highly complex fight moves as well as striking what I can only describe as their best battle poses. This is all accompanied by hysterical giggling from G and ear-piercing shrieks from M.

spacehopperWashing Line volley ball – This offering is an alternative to regular volley ball.  It involves the use of the washing line strung up between the garage and house, a space-hopper and a sense of humour.  We played in teams, had 5 lives each and had to catch and throw the space-hopper from side to side without dropping it or letting it bounce out of the poorly indicated boundary lines. Challenging, but great fun for a sunny afternoon.

popcornFamily film night (or morning, or afternoon) – Finally, there’s sometimes nothing to beat sitting down as a family to watch a film together.  Our biggest problem was agreeing on which to film to watch, with M and G inevitably choosing the same 5 films over and over again, whilst any suggestion from Mike or me to watch something different usually ended in tears.  So, I came up with a rota system that keeps everyone happy and has seen the children enjoying some films that they never thought they’d like.  Now we take it turns to choose the film and no one film is allowed to be chosen again until we have worked through everybody’s turn twice.  I drew up a grid on a piece of paper that lives near the TV and faithfully record who has chosen the film and what it was.  So far we’ve enjoyed a mixture of Disney, Pixar and classic films and would be hard pressed to say which has been our favourite.