Across the country, life has changed dramatically these past couple of weeks. My school district closed on Friday the 13th. One minute I was helping my students rush to pack up their belongings for unplanned school closure. Later that day I was home with my children, wondering how I was going to structure the days and possibly weeks ahead.
Being stuck at home for a day or two because of a snowstorm or illness is one thing, but finding ourselves unexpectedly home for an extended (and unknown) period of time is a completely different situation.
There are only so many times you can do the dishes in a day, and believe me, I’m pretty sure I’ve found the limit. My dishpan hands can attest to that! Beyond chores (funny how my kids kept hiding every time I called their name….) it seems helpful to have a grab-bag of kids activities to make the most of this unexpected time at home.
Using the internet to our advantage in these strange times is particularly helpful since most of our children tend to gravitate towards their devices. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em – and by offering some educational or active options, you can sneak in a little learning and exercise too! Check out these suggestions:
Virtual Field Trips – the whole family can enjoy a virtual trip to a National Park, a glacier in Iceland, or a famous tourist destination like the Eiffel Tower. Some of these sites feature 360 degree filming technology, allowing the viewer to rotate the screen to see a panoramic image.
- National Geographic – 47 videos and counting of destinations around the world
- Google Earth – visit literally any place on Earth. Has “voyages” as well, like “world’s largest lakes”
- Visit Mars – get inside a rover and explore another planet, courtesy of images from NASA
- Go to the Zoo – the San Diego Zoo is world-class and offers many live webcams
Free Online Art – many artists have taken to YouTube to provide free lessons for kids and adults.
- Renowned author Mo Willems (Knuffle Bunny and Elephant and Pig book series) is offering daily “Lunch Doodles.” These 30-minute videos are kid-friendly and engaging.
- Free Art Lessons for Kids and Adults takes you step-by-step through a variety of projects like a pop-art donut painting.
Yoga for Kids – YouTube is another great resource for getting your kids up and active. Yoga provides movement, requires little space, and relieves stress – all useful things right now!
- Cosmic Kids Yoga includes stories, colorful images and mindfulness techniques. Great for younger children.
- Yoga with Adriene has been one of my favorites for years (she’s the reason I started practicing yoga). Her calm demeanor and variety of videos for all ages and needs may inspire you to hit that “subscribe” button.
Old School Activities
When your kids need a break from the internet, think back to the types of things we did when we were young. Board games, roller skating, and climbing trees were my favorite pastimes. Getting offline is good for the soul, and creates opportunities for making memories together.
- Explore the kitchen and bake up a tasty treat with your kids. Some of my favorite food blogs are:
- Send them out to the yard with a container of bubbles, sidewalk chalk or a soccer ball.
- Check out this list of 35 things to do in your backyard from Sunny Day Family.
- No yard or yucky weather? Here’s a list of 25 ideas for indoor fun that require little to no supplies.
- Break out the board games you have stored away (mine were collecting dust until recently) or a deck of cards for games like “go fish” and “war”.
- The YouTube channel Gather Together Games has quick tutorials for many games you can make at home.
Whether you decide to bake a 3 layer cake from scratch or spend the day in your pj’s binge-watching Netflix, enjoy these moments with your family. Give yourself permission to have days where nothing is scheduled. The most important lesson you are teaching your kids is how to respond in a time of crisis. Applaud your efforts to maintain a sense of normalcy for your family, and don’t forget that you need time for yourself as well.
My School Dance is offering 50% off processing fees for schools still planning to host their dances this year.
Written by: Angela O’Brien