We’re in the middle of the school year and school-age kids are spending more time at home these days as many are attending classes remotely or extra-curricular activities are still on hold. How can you keep cabin fever from setting in and avoid becoming stir crazy yourself with kids underfoot? Here are some ideas to keep them occupied and entertained, with social distancing in mind – many of which don’t involve staring at a computer screen. Some of these activities can be done alone, some with other members of the family, and others with friends who can join them online.
Create holiday crafts. With Halloween coming up, how about making decorations? Carving a pumpkin is a great way for the whole family to be creative. Many templates are available online. Paper cut-outs of Halloween-themed objects like bats, pumpkins, ghosts or black cats require minimal supplies (craft paper and scissors) and can adorn doors, windows and bedroom walls. Or honor lost relatives with the Mexican tradition of making sugar skulls to be placed in an alter or “ofrenda” for Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Find sugar skull molds here.
Make art on the floor. Roll out a long, wide section of art paper rolls on the floor and tape down the ends. Give the kiddos some markers, paint, or pastel chalk and let them “go to town.” Give them some ideas to get them going … like creating a mural, abstract designs, scenery, or a game of hopscotch.
Start a scrapbook. Take a craft project to the next level with a collection of personal and family history and other memorabilia. Let the kids find and assemble cards, pictures, flyers, stickers, and artwork that they can arrange in meaningful, creative ways. Give them some accessories to dress up pages: stamps, cutouts, colored inks, paper products, dried flowers, and dried foods from the pantry. For ideas and inspiration, see scrapbooks.com
Go on an indoor scavenger hunt. Let kids use their problem-solving skills and have fun too. Scavenger hunting can be organized for toddlers, young kids, and teens. It’s a great group activity that hones problem-solving skills and teamwork … and gives them some physical activity. Cleverly hide items or put them in plain sight. Make the hunt easy or difficult to give any age group a fun challenge that can keep them busy for hours.
Build a mansion, fort, or castle. You know those empty cardboard boxes you have stored in the garage that keep stacking up? They make great fort-building material. There’s no need to buy a kit … just pure kid-creative assembly. Or they can take blankets and pillows and create a fort with the living room furniture.
DIY-it. Get your kids to organize their rooms and let them have fun in the process. They can convert everyday items like plastic milk cartons into containers to store their toys, games, books, papers, dolls, crayons, etc. They’ll be involved in organizing and more likely to store their stuff instead of leaving them scattered around the house.
Bake a cake … or cookies or a pie. A constructive activity, baking teaches kids how to measure, follow directions, and come away with yummy food that they create with their own hands.
Carry out a science experiment. Help bring out the scientist in your kid. Let them make chemistry happen (under your supervision) with everyday household items. Pour vinegar over baking soda and watch a volcano erupt. Grow a carbon sugar snake by combining sugar, baking soda, and sand. Teach your kid the principle of hydrodynamics by creating a hovering object using a plastic bottle, bending straw, and a ping-pong ball. For 48 more easy science projects see www.weareteachers.com/easy-science-experiments/
Produce a video and share it with friends and family. They can do it easily through social sharing platforms that you approve like Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube. Encourage them to dress up, and star in their own movie; to choreograph, dance, create a script, sing, do stand-up comedy, add music. Involve other members of the family, including the family pet.
Teach the dog a new trick. Dogtime.com offers 10 top tricks your kids can use to teach the dog … like sit, stay, come, down, shake hands, retrieve. Teaching the dog new tricks builds confidence and deepens bonds between children and pets.
Grow a plant. Plant seeds in pots to start indoor or outdoor plants. Herbs and colorful flowers are fun and often easy to care for and fast-growing. Kids will enjoy the planting process and feel a sense of accomplishment as they see their seedlings grow.
Play games virtually. Give your kids some safe socializing time with their buddies. They can play charades, work a crossword puzzle, and compete remotely with friends in digital versions of classic games like bingo, trivia, Pictionary, Monopoly. The Jackbox Games web browser thought of a way kids can connect via Zoom or Google Hangouts. Your kids can hang out, share screens, and start playing their favorite games by themselves or with multiple players.
Listen to podcasts. Podcasts are for kids too. Kid-friendly podcasts in the form of short stories, books, news, and music offer lots of listening pleasure … from silly stuff to thought-provoking, to educational. Here’s a list to get them started.