If you’re like me, you are caught up in the whirlwind of closures being announced and trying to make sure you have enough food in your house to last through a possible quarantine due to COVID-19. Schools in my area are closed for at least the next 2 weeks.
The thought of kids being home indefinitely is a bit daunting (especially considering summer is just around the corner). Working from home with a houseful of kids can be a big challenge so I have come up with a list of ideas to help keep my kids entertained without them being on electronics 24/7. Some of these ideas are things they can do on their own and some require a little adult supervision.
Our school will be doing an online curriculum, but we don’t have details so I haven’t come up with a specific schedule for the kids quite yet. However, I know there will be a lot of downtime after schoolwork is done. Here are productive ways to keep kids busy during the Covid-19 pandemic (in addition to their regular academic work).
Learning Activities for a Coronavirus Lockdown
1. Have a read-a-thon
Make reading even more fun by hosting a read-a-thon. Let the kids get their blankets and pillows and set up some snacks. Then either read to your kids or enjoy some quiet (hopefully) while they do some reading on their own. Read some new books or re-read old favorites (I have a feeling the “Harry Potter” series will be making it’s way off the shelf once again in our house).
2. Listen to an audio book
Libraries are closed in some areas and will likely close in other areas as well. See what books you can get on your (or your child’s device). One of the fun things about an audio book is you can listen to the story while you do some of these other activities.
3. Take a virtual tour of a museum
Wishing you could give your kids a bit of culture and history? You can now take a virtual tour of 12 of the world’s most famous museums.
4. Write a story
Story cubes have been fun for my kiddos for several years. They are dice with different pictures on each side. You roll one or more and use the pictures to help make up a story. You could do the same thing by writing ideas on slips of paper and drawing them out of a container. We have also used these story cubes for charades or skits.
5. Do science experiments
Science experiments are a great way to keep kids entertained while helping them learn. There are dozens of kids’ science experiments that can be done using everyday household items. You might want to supervise these activities to keep your kids from making a mess.
6. Plan your next vacation
While taking a vacation right now is probably not the best idea, you can get your entire family involved in brainstorming ideas for a future vacation. Look up possible locations online or on TV so you can decide where you might want to go and what to do when you get there.
7. Use educational websites
If you are looking for more ways to keep your child’s mind and academic skills sharp, several educational websites are offering free access during the coronavirus pandemic.
8. Play Minute to Win It games
Have some fun with your kids by doing some Minute to Win It games. There are dozens of exciting games that use household items and take little or no time to prepare. Whether it’s racing to blow a cotton ball across a table, stacking up plastic cups, or moving a cookie from your eye to your mouth without using hands, Minute to Win It games can provide hours of entertainment.
9. Have a dance party
Turn on some fun music and bust a move. Kids can record themselves dancing and play it back. Or kids can come up with a choreographed routine and have a competition to see whose moves are the best.
10. Go on a scavenger hunt
Have your kids set up a scavenger hunt for each other. Choose a theme of items for them to find or print out a pre-made list of scavenger hunt ideas.
11. Make a movie or put on a play
Pull out the dress up clothes or costumes and let the kids have some fun with their creativity. It can be fun for kids of all ages to produce their own play or film their own movie with a digital camera. For the more ambitious, try adding special effects or music.
12. Connect via video chat
Visiting with grandparents or other family members or friends face-to-face might not be the best option currently. However, having a video chat can be a fun way to stay connected without risking possible exposure. My kids love exploring the different options and fun features on FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, and Marco Polo. Teens love connecting with their friends via video chat.
13. Do makeovers
Manicures, pedicures, or makeovers can be fun for girls of all ages. Pull out the makeup and nail polish and let the kids have fun.
14. Make LEGO creations
In our house, LEGOs are a staple. My kids of all ages have a great time constructing LEGO creations. Have a competition with a theme that everyone has to use in their creations. Or see who can come up with the most creative construction. Use LEGOs in creating a story or filming a movie.
15. Do some crafts
You don’t have to go out and spend a lot of money for kids to make some fun crafts. Use what you have around the house and let kids use their creativity. Whether it’s buttons and glitter glue or construction paper and string, kids can make something out of almost anything. My kids love having contests to see who can make the best Perler bead creation.
16. Play board games, card games, or puzzles
At our house, board games, card games, and puzzles are a favorite. Some of the games we like best are Monopoly, Risk, Exploding Kittens, Uno, The Great Dalmutti (aka Scum), Sushi Go, and Cover Your Assets. We love putting together jigsaw puzzles on a board that we can put on the table or on the floor. That way we can move the board if needed.
17. Make music
Kids love making music, and they can use just about anything to do it. A pot or pan and a wooden spoon make a great drum. Put a piece of wax paper over a hair comb and you have a kazoo. My kids take music lessons so we will be doing a lot of instrument practicing in the next few weeks.
18. Build a fort
Fort building has been a favorite for kids for generations. It can be as easy as draping blankets over furniture or as complicated as building a wood tree house.
19. Make slime
Kids seem to love making and playing with slime. Just make sure they have adult supervision so they don’t make a big mess.
Physical Activities and Outside Play
Playing outside is a great form of entertainment for kids during the coronavirus pandemic. Kids can play a sport outdoors or make up a game of their own. My 8-year-old boy made up a game he calls “Swing Ball”. It’s similar to kickball, but the kicker swings on a swing while the pitcher pitches the ball. After the ball is kicked, the kicker gets off the swing and runs around the bases. Here are some other good ways to get kids moving.
As a mom to 3 boys, I know they can get out of control if they don’t get their bodies moving. And with all their sports practices and games canceled, we are going to have to do some serious exercising to keep our sanity! Check out free options on YouTube and help your kids find some new ways of exercising that they haven’t tried before.
21. Go for a walk
If you feel comfortable letting your kids outside for a walk, do it! You could even go with them. It’s amazing how some fresh air can improve moods and help kids get along better. Depending on where you live, maybe you could go on a hike or a bike ride.
22. Have a Nerf gun war
This is a favorite activity with my kids and their friends. Get out some Nerf guns and they will chase each other around for hours.
23. Indoor or outdoor hopscotch
Put masking tape or duct tape on the floor to make a hopscotch board (or draw it outside with sidewalk chalk). Then use a plastic lid or coin as a hoppy taw. Most kids have never played hopscotch so now’s a great time for them to learn to play.
24. Draw with sidewalk chalk (or water)
This is a good creative activity for outside. Kids love using sidewalk chalk to create all sorts of pictures and games. If you don’t have sidewalk chalk, you can easily have the same type of activity by using a bucket of water and either a paint brush or a sponge. Using water is a lot less messy, and kids like watching the pictures appear and then disappear when the water dries.
25. Ride bikes, roller blades, or scooters
Let kids get some good exercise outside by riding a bike, scooter, or roller blades. If your kids are older, maybe they can go for a ride without an adult. For younger kids, you can either go with them or have them ride in the driveway.
26. Play basketball, baseball, kickball, etc.
If you are comfortable inviting friends over, kids could play a big game of basketball, baseball, kickball, or another favorite sport. Otherwise, they can be creative in adapting the games to play with their siblings.
27. Play hide and seek, kick the can, cops and robbers, tag, etc.
Lots of kids have never learned to play these old school games. Now is a great time for them to learn games they can play together outside.
28. Learn how to do chores
Even young children can learn to do basic chores like helping with laundry, dishes, and vacuuming. This could be a good time to teach basic skills or more advanced ones like sewing on a button, ironing, or mopping.
29. Clean and sanitize toys
There’s no better time to get toys sanitized. Let the kids help make their toys germ-free. Some toys can be put in the dishwasher. You could use hot soapy water or disinfecting wipes. I like to wash my kids’ stuffed animals in my washing machine on hot and then let them air dry.
30. Sort toys and prepare to donate unwanted items
Kids can help choose which toys they want to keep and which they are willing to donate. Even if you can’t drop off your donation right away, you can box up unwanted toys and have them ready to donate.
This could be a great time for kids to learn some basic cooking skills (or more advanced ones if they already have the basics down). Foods such as grilled cheese sandwiches, eggs, or even peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are good choices for beginners. More advanced skills could include baking or making dinner for the family. Getting kids comfortable in the kitchen is a great life skill.
32. Food storage cooking challenge
If you are trying not to leave home, let your kids help think up something to make with what you have at home. Some of our favorites are “Freezer Soup” (whatever frozen veggies are in the freezer plus some chicken and seasonings) and homemade chili (canned beans, browned ground beef, onion, canned tomatoes, and a green pepper if we have it). You can come up with some good meals if you get creative.
33. Sort seasonal clothing
34. Work outside
I don’t know about your yard, but after a long winter, my yard is in need of some serious TLC. My flower beds need prep work done and my vegetable garden is ready for a lot of attention. Since my kids are excited to spend time outside, I am going to put them to work! And while we can’t physically visit with our elderly neighbors, we could spend time helping clean up our neighbors’ yard without risk of exposure for anyone!