To limit the spread of COVID-19 virus, schools and daycares across the nation have temporarily closed. In the hardest-hit areas, these closures have also extended to non-essential workplaces. In other words, life has changed drastically and rapidly. Kids’ lives often revolve around social gatherings, from trips to the local library to playgrounds, birthday parties, and organized sporting events. As a result, the changes that come with quarantine make for a difficult adjustment period for kids and parents alike.
Because of their boundless energy and love to play, the sudden lack of interaction that comes with social distancing is a recipe for cabin fever. These feelings get further exacerbated if you live in an area without ready access to outdoor spaces. No matter where you live, though, one thing’s for sure. You’ll need a variety of activities in your playbook so that your children stay entertained, active, and intellectually stimulated.
What are some activities to occupy children while maintaining their learning momentum during school closures? Here are eight fun activities to keep kids busy and learning.
Maintain a Schedule
Before we dive into the activities, let’s talk schedules for a moment. In light of recent events, it might feel tempting to spend the day on the couch in your PJs binge watching kid-friendly television shows together. But it’s critical to keep your children’s schedules as normal as possible. Why? Because this approach establishes a sense of security and regularity, which is key to preventing stress and anxiety.
Write out the day’s schedule for each of your children on a whiteboard or sheet of paper. Then, stick to it. If you’re working from home, this will also help you stay on task and remain more productive. Communicate clear expectations to your kids about how each day will unfold, including reading time, rest time, craft time, and playtime. You’ll all feel more focused and motivated despite the uncertainty of the current situation. With that said, let’s take a look at some activities your kids will love.
1. “Lunch Doodle” With Mo Willems
How would your kids like to learn the art of doodling from Mo Willems, Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence? Every day, he invites children into his studio for his “Lunch Doodle.” Learners from all around the world can practice their drawing skills while exploring new ways of writing by visiting Mo’s studio virtually.
New episodes get posted each weekday at 1:00 pm ET and then remain on-demand for streaming. Check out this link for more details and to download the daily activity page. Grab your pens, crayons, and pencils and get ready for plenty of creativity and fun! What’s more, you can share your masterpieces online via social media. Remember to use the hashtag #MoLunchDoodles.
2. Stay in Virtual Touch
More than likely, your children are already missing their friends. As more time passes, their desire to stay in touch with school friends will increase. Fortunately, technology is on our side in this situation. Explore remote options that’ll allow your kids to keep virtual play dates with their school pals despite social distancing.
Using video chat services such as Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, or Facebook’s Portal will also allow you to stay in touch with more vulnerable family members that you want to protect from COVID-19. Although you may have had to cancel your plans to visit Grandma and Grandpa over Spring Break, that doesn’t mean you can’t regularly touch bases online. It’ll help keep everyone’s spirits up, and it’s one of many fun things to do with kids stuck at home.
3. Reuse, Recycle, & Craft
Are you kicking yourself right now for not having more kid-friendly crafts on hand? First of all, stop it! Kids are the ultimate imaginative beings. It doesn’t take much to shift their creativity into high gear. Raid your recycling bins for items to repurpose and cut up. Dig into your closet for old cardboard boxes, paper bags, markers, extra printer paper, and magazines. Then, let your kids play fast and free with their creativity.
One of our favorite last-minute craft supplies? Leftover wrapping paper. Your kids can use it to make everything from origami to costumes, paper doll clothes to collages. Children can also utilize sheets as walls for forts. And once you get to the bottom of the roll? You’ve got swords your little knights can carry back to their fort! Or, pirate spyglasses, submarine periscopes, astronomer’s telescopes, you name it. By placing your children’s focus on wrapping paper, you also limit their use of more precious commodities such as paper towels and toilet paper.
4. Get Some Fresh Air
Depending on where you live (and the current state of your weather), if you have access to outdoor space, use it. Let your kids run around and burn up some cooped-up energy during the “recess times” that you’ve worked into their new homeschool schedule. Suggest games that avoid touching. Instead of tag, for instance, change it up with touchless hide-and-seek, flashlight tag, or laser tag (if you’ve got the right setup).
Other fantastic outdoor activities to keep kids busy and promote social distancing include long walks, hiking, bird watching, bike riding, and scavenger hunts. Scavenger hunt ideas include hiding things smaller than your hand in the backyard. For younger kids, using toys that make noises can keep their interest piqued. You can also recreate a pirate treasure hunt by concealing small objects in the backyard or sandbox and then drawing a map with clues to help kids find hidden “treasure.” And if you don’t have an outdoor space to use? Move the hunt indoors.
5. Start Your Own Lego Masters Contest
From indoor toddler trampolines to board games, puzzles, and toy cars, your kids likely have a variety of ways to keep themselves entertained. For school-aged kids, Legos also prove another favorite. Do your kids need a little inspiration to get going? Then, let them watch an episode or clip from Lego Masters. This fun game show features some of the most imaginative creations we’ve ever seen and takes contestants through the entire process from construction to destruction. It’ll thoroughly inspire your kids. You may even find yourself tempted to get in on the construction action, too!
6. Host a Dance Party
Another fantastic way to keep kids active? Host a dance party. This activity is an excellent substitute if the weather’s too cold where you live, or you lack a safe space for going outside. Take it to the next level by decorating for the dance party in advance with posters or streamers and changing up your indoor lighting. Your kids will LOVE this! You can even give your dance party an international flavor by checking out our multicultural playlist.
7. Have a Fitness War
Ready to turn the time-honored classic card game of War into a family exercise contest? All you’ll need is a deck of playing cards, a piece of paper, and some markers or crayons. Next, assign each of the four suits of the playing cards (hearts, spades, diamonds, clubs) with a specified exercise, including how many repetitions. Write these exercises down on a sheet of paper. Then, follow the rules for a game of War. But, in this case, the loser of each round must do the exercise and number of reps assigned to the suit of the card they hold. Find out more and get a sneak peek of the fun action by clicking here.
8. Enjoy Live-Streaming Yoga Classes
Children derive countless benefits from practicing yoga. These include enhanced flexibility, coordination, strength, and body awareness. Yoga also encourages a sense of relaxation and calm. So, why not start (or continue) this beneficial practice through live-streaming classes? Our lovely local studio, Born Yoga, is offering free live-streaming classes for kids and families.
Activities to Keep Kids Busy
If you’re like many parents across the United States, social distancing has had an immediate and drastic impact on your life. Suddenly, you may be juggling working from home and staying productive, all while wondering how to keep kids busy at home.
Although many schools have sent home packets of work for children to complete during the quarantine, finding activities to keep kids busy throughout the day can feel overwhelming. Especially once cabin fever sets in. Sure, it’s easy to fall into the trap of letting kids indulge in too much screen time. But the eight ideas listed above will keep your kids occupied, learning, and growing.
At Our Whole Village, we craft transformational trips for curious families who want to create lasting memories while making a difference. We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its people, and its cultures. Contact us today to learn more about the unforgettable journeys that we curate for adventure-seeking families just like yours.