Cooped Up With Kids During COVID-19

These are uncertain and unprecedented times. You’re doing your best to adhere to all the rules and regulations. You’re following all the safety and health precautions. You’re staying home and hunkering down. You’re also about to lose your mind. It’s only a few days into “homeschooling”; you’re out of (energy and) novel ideas, you’re ready to pull your hair out, and you have a sneaking suspicion that your kids are secretly plotting a mutiny.

We’re here to help. While we can’t take your children off your hands or speed up the search for a cure, we can offer you some activities to do with your kids to keep everyone from going absolutely bonkers while you’re isolating.

Here’s our current list of sanity-savers. We hope to add to it regularly to keep you and your family engaged and occupied.

Go Outside
Yes, really. As of now, doctors, health professionals, and the World Health Organization are still encouraging people to go outside for mental as well as physical health. Even if it’s just a walk around the block to break up the monotony of being stuck inside. It’s also okay to ride bikes, walk the dog, and go to the park. (Just remember to keep a safe distance from others.)

How about an outdoor scavenger hunt? Write down some objects to find and have your children check them off as they find them. Easy things to search for are
– a bird
– a mammal
– animal tracks
– a nest
– animal hole in the ground
– a pinecone
– litter
– a flower
– a pebble
– a feather
– a flying insect
– a person riding a bicycle
– a person wearing a hat
– a person walking a dog

Indoor Physical Activities
Bad weather? Try some of these physical activities that can be done inside.
Yoga: (Just search for “yoga videos for kids.”) Yoga is a great physical activity and stress reliever. There are also a ton of other videos with different workouts for kids. There are also yoga online classes out there but what kinds of yoga classes are available? Pick a new one for each day of the week!
Freeze dancing: Play music and have everyone dance, then stop it randomly. When the music stops, have children freeze in their pose and hold it until the music begins again.
Obstacle Courses: Half the fun is creating them! Help children make one and then time them as they go through. See if they can beat their best time!
Follow the leader: Pick someone to be the leader and then have everyone copy all their moves. Encourage lots of energetic movements such as jumping, stomping, bending, and squatting.
Building: Forts, domino mazes, block towers, a contraption for getting a ball from Point A to Point B.
Chores (Ugh, we know.) Designate a specific time for getting them done and then blast some fun music while everyone pitches in. Set a timer so kids know that this torture won’t last forever.

Check on Your Neighbors (from a safe distance)
Some neighbors might not be able to go to the store to pick up necessities. It’s a great time to offer to help shop for elderly neighbors, single parents, or immunocompromised folks. Drop the goods off on their doorstep so there’s no worry about transmitting anything. Have your children include handwritten notes of encouragement.

We all have to eat. Look up fun and easy recipes online that your kids can help make. There are some fun, gross ideas that are usually reserved for Halloween but might elicit some interest from even your most reluctant sous chef.

Science Experiments
Yes, this is the perfect time to study germs and all things disease-related. But it’s also a great time to engage in some hands-on STEM activities. Gather household materials and start a list of what to make next. Some popular online STEM searches:
– egg drop
– balloon car/rocket
– cloud in a jar
– catapult
– bridge building
– tower challenge
– marble maze
– simple machines (pulley, winch)

And of course, you can never go wrong with the good old baking soda and vinegar volcano.

Board Games
Get on your step stool and pull down those dusty board games from the top shelf of the closet. Need some buy-in from older kids? Create a tournament using a few different free bingo games and have prizes for the winners.

Online Time
Many children’s authors are live streaming the reading of their books. Check your favorite author’s website, or your library website for online activities.

Write a Letter To Grandparents
Elderly persons are at greater risk of getting sick, so many families are not able to currently spend time face-to-face with grandparents. While you may already have your children video conferencing with them, a good writing activity would be to have children write to people they are separated from.

Write in a Journal
These are historical times. Children writing about the current situation is a wonderful way to keep a record of this monumental time in their lives. Journaling can also help children express their feelings, some of which might be frightening right now. Writing down thoughts and emotions is a great exercise in stress relief.

Try having your children watch movies with a critical eye. Ask them to think about a certain theme or certain imagery that reoccurs throughout. You can also have them read the book beforehand and have the movie as a treat when they’re done!

School Activities/Skills Practice
When you need some structured “school” time, we have lots of free activities you can use to help your children keep up with their academic skills. Reading comprehension, sight words, and math skills by grade level are just a few of the things you’ll find to keep your kids’ academic abilities up to date.

We’re sure you have some ideas, too. Share them in the comments!

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