Stuck at home? 10 activities for families to try to keep busy while out of school
With schools all around the country being canceled in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, it can be an overwhelming time for parents with young children to find activities to occupy the lost time.
Here are 10 activities you can do to fill up the extra time:
1. Go to a virtual zoo or aquarium
This is a great way to keep all ages of the family entertained, from toddlers to adults. Many zoos around the country offer live cams of their animals that can be watched any time throughout the day. The San Diego, Atlanta and Houston zoos, as well as the Monterey Bay and Georgia aquariums, have a variety of cameras that feature pandas, monkeys, lions, elephants, otters, sharks, whales and many other animals.
The San Diego zoo also offers a website dedicated to children that features videos, activities and games.
San Diego Zoo: https://zoo.sandiegozoo.org/live-cams
Atlanta Zoo: https://zooatlanta.org/panda-cam/
Monterey Bay Aquarium: https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams
Houston Zoo: https://www.houstonzoo.org/explore/webcams/
Georgia Aquarium: https://www.georgiaaquarium.org/webcam/beluga-whale-webcam/
San Diego Zoo for kids: https://kids.sandiegozoo.org/
2. Take a virtual tour
For people interested in tours and live cams outside the animal realm. There are a host of websites that take visitors on a virtual tour of places both domestically, abroad and even to another planet.
There are websites dedicated to letting guests tour Yellowstone National Park, Boston Children’s Museum, The Louvre, The Great Wall of China and the surface of Mars.
Boston Children’s Museum: https://www.bostonchildrensmuseum.org/museum-virtual-tour
The Louvre: https://www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne
The Great Wall of China: https://www.thechinaguide.com/destination/great-wall-of-china
3. Find online educational tools
Discovery Education has a multitude of different sites aimed at taking people on a virtual field trip aimed in many different areas including animals, social emotional skills, STEM fields and manufacturing.
Polar bears: https://www.discoveryeducation.com/learn/tundra-connections/
Social emotional skills: https://www.soarwithwings.com/videos/virtual-field-trip
STEM fields: https://www.boeingfutureu.com/
4. Try a new recipe
There are many different phone apps and websites that feature thousands of different recipes to choose from. Apps like Tasty allow users to follow a simple step-by-step instruction list while following along to a video making the same recipe.
Being in the kitchen can also be a stress reliever for many people, and it provides a fun activity for children to help out with.
5. Go outside and get some fresh air
It is still safe to go outside — just try and keep distance from gatherings of people or places where many people might have been recently. Go for a short walk around the block and keep track of all the wildlife you see. Keep a log and study it after a week to see what you saw most often and what were rarities in your area.
6. Break out a board game or puzzle
Board games and puzzles are a great way to keep young and mature minds active without making it seem like too much work. The added competition aspect of a game can also spice up what might otherwise be a boring night at home.
Players can opt for the classics like Uno, Phase 10, Skip-bo and Yahtzee or the more adventurous can look into games aimed toward an older audience with games like The Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride or Labyrinth.
YouTube videos are a great way to get familiar with a new game without having to read through all the instructions.
There are thousands of different board games and puzzles out there waiting to be played.
7. Watch a movie or start a new TV show
There are so many streaming services available now, and most of them have an abundance of children-friendly content. Sites like Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus and Youtube TV all require a monthly subscription. However, services such as Crackle and IMDb TV offer free streaming to their content at the price of sitting through ad breaks.
8. Read a book
Designate a time for reading. Whether it’s adults reading aloud to children, children reading aloud to adults or children reading silently, reading is a great way to keep the imagination active. Select books that might have a movie or TV show adapted from them and work together to see if you can spot the differences. Or choose something completely new to everyone and let your imaginations set the scene. Draw out what you think different parts of the book would look like.
9. Make a schedule and stick to it
Keeping children on a schedule while away from school can make it easier for them to transition back into the swing of things once school starts again.
Include things like designated times for meals, times to be outside getting fresh air, educational time, free time and quiet time.
Try letting them do some light household chores, including wiping kitchen tables and chairs, wiping door handles and light switches and cleaning up after themselves.
Separate each time into half hour or hour blocks to keep them accustomed to school schedules.
10. Put down the phone
Try not to overwhelm yourself with all the information out there. Lynn Bufka, the associate executive director for Research and Policy at the American Psychological Association said in a weekend article on CNN there are keys to taking mental breaks from all the information.
• Find a few sources you trust and stick with them.
Choose a national or international source and another local source to keep up to date with what’s going on in your community.
• Limit your frequency of updates and time on social media.
Turn off notifications to social media apps or uninstall them altogether. Limit time on the apps so it’s not a constant part of life.
• Know when to walk away.
Keep your phone in a completely separate room or on a charging station to make it less tempting to take it out and look at it.