We’re all facing new challenges right now as we navigate the “new normal” that COVID-19 has created. Remote work, canceled plans, online learning… we’ve had to adjust and adjust quickly. Parents, you’re not alone. Trying to tackle it all can feel overwhelming. But there are plenty of things that are not canceled and tons of ways to have fun with the kids while staying safe and social distancing. Here are a few simple ideas to help keep them entertained and active for months to come.
1. Good Habits Bingo
At any given time, a little bit of positive reinforcement (and borderline bribery) is a helpful tool for parents. But it’s especially helpful when practicing social distancing. Building a stable and healthy routine is important for the whole family, and a “Good Habits Bingo” board is a great way to encourage positive behavior.
Fill up a few bingo boards with positive accomplishments, like:
- Finished a chapter book
- Cleaned my room
- 20 mins of exercise/movement
- Wrote in my journal
- Walked the dog
Once they’ve got 4 in a row (or finish the board), they get a special treat!
2. Outdoor Art With Sidewalk Chalk
It’s a big year for sidewalk chalk. It’s no longer a thing of the past, (or just for little kids). If you have a driveway or a stretch of sidewalk, head outside, and start creating! Encourage your kids to draw a particular landscape or animal to help steer them in a focused direction.
We’ve seen a lot of local neighborhoods spreading positivity through sidewalk chalk art and cheerful messages. You can encourage them to draw inspiring messages and words of wisdom for the community.
Or, go the active-route, and draw hopscotch and four square to stay busy and work off some energy!
3. Jump On The Baking Bandwagon (The Water’s Fine!)
Why is everyone baking sourdough right now?
We haven’t all gone crazy. Baking is truly therapeutic and calming for a lot of people. I know the thought of adding kids to the mix might make it seem less relaxing, but baking can be a really valuable experience for both kids and parents.
Baking helps with a variety of cognitive developments, like following directions and sequences, counting and measuring, understanding cause and effect, as well as physical coordination skills from mixing and kneading.
So pick out a simple recipe, turn on some relaxing tunes, and enjoy some baking as a family!
4. Backyard Camping And/Or Nature Watching
Not venturing out to the great outdoors just yet? Bring the fun to your backyard and camp at home. Life can feel a little like Groundhog Day when you’re staying socially distant, so shaking things up with a little staycation will go a long way.
If you’re not up for the full camping experience, start with a little nature watching. Start a journal to keep track of the types of birds, insects, and other small critters that you see. This is the perfect time to spark some natural curiosity and encourage your little budding scientists!
5. Find A Pen Pal
Personal connection is more important than ever, especially with kids out of school and missing out on most physical interaction with other kids. Which is why it’s a great time to start a pen pal relationship.
Check out PenPal Schools, a website that connects kids from all over the world, helping them learn about other cultures and make lifelong friends.
6. Attend A Virtual Experience
If we’re thinking positively, it’s easy to be grateful for the level of virtual connection that’s possible these days.
We often focus so much on avoiding too much screen time and making sure our kids aren’t glued to the computer, but right now, there are a lot of incredible social distancing activities to explore.
- Tour a museum, zoo, or national park
- Watch a ballet or live concert
- Take drawing lessons
- Live stream sharks from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, or Lions from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo!
(Whatever you can think of, it probably exists!)
7. Host A Summer Reading Race
If your kids are already in school, they may have a summer reading list from their teacher, which you can use for the race. Else, try exploring the local library or bookstores to stock up.
If you have more than one child, the race can be between siblings – or you can reach out to friends and neighbors to have more kids involved! Each kid keeps a log of how many books they’ve read, and whoever had read the most at the end of the summer, get’s a prize.
(You may have to consider page length and difficulty if the kids are reading at different levels. For example: 1 fifth grade-level chapter book = 3 second-grade level books.)
8. Grow Some Herbs Or Flowers
Baking bread, growing herbs… some “quarantine” activities are popular for a reason. Starting your own little herb garden is (A) fun, (B) educational for kids, and (C) delicious/cost-effective for meals.
If you’re feeling ambitious and have the outdoor space, you might consider starting a raised-bed garden or a simple herb garden. The kids will love being out in the sun, digging in the dirt and getting their hands dirty.
For a simpler (less messy) activity, simply sprout and plant a few seeds for herbs and flowers, and watch them grow. They’ll love seeing the process from “seed to sprout,” and you’ll get to enjoy the herbs with your meals all summer!
9. Share Your Hobbies
As parents or caregivers, we often get caught up in finding separate activities for kids to engage with while we get our “grown-up” stuff done. But there is value in practicing more inclusive hobbies. Both in quality time together, and in your children gaining exposure to more advanced and cultured activities from a young age.
Enjoy gardening, cooking, writing? Include the kiddos.
Even in your simple daily tasks, there’s room for keeping the little ones entertained. Doing your makeup for the day? There are kits of kid-friendly makeup that looks and feels real. So they can paint their cheeks like mom without any of the mess.
10. FaceTime/Zoom With Family & Friends
With school and event cancellations and social distancing practices, your kids are missing some critical socializing.
Set up time for regular FaceTime or Zoom calls with family and friends. Cousins, grandparents, friends…rely on your tribe to help keep everyone sane.
Can’t do in-person sleepovers? Organize a Zoom playdate with another family and you can read stories and coordinate games to help the kids feel more connected.