Keeping Kids Busy While Practicing Social Distancing
Parenting During the Coronavirus Outbreak
However you choose to educate your kids, the isolation caused by the looming Covid-19 crisis will be tough with small kids in the home. Though I homeschool my three kids, we’re intentionally stepping back from activities that aren’t high priority. Within a week or two, I suspect that all activities we participate in outside of the home will be cancelled or postponed. Most of the school districts in our area are closing as well. I won’t lie. The idea of my kids unable to attend classes with homeschool friends, band classes, dance, tumbling, and occupational therapy kind of scares me.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. But they do best when they’re busy. We take classes with other homeschoolers two full days a week. They do so many activities it’s hard to keep them all straight. They thrive on activity. But as more and more schools close and events are cancelled, I know we will soon face a reality where we don’t have these options.
I want to be clear, public safety comes before boredom. I understand and appreciate the closings. As new recommendations come out for my area, I will follow them. Even if my own family should be fine, I don’t want to contribute to spreading the virus to someone who won’t be okay if they get Coronavirus.
All three of my kids love art. Art activities can keep them busy for hours, which is a good thing right now.
Artventure is a subscription-based service, but the prices are really reasonable. The business is based in Australia. A three month subscription comes out to about $20 USD. The lessons are aimed at elementary aged kids, but my middle schoolers enjoy the more complex lessons as well. They are meant to be child-driven and use common materials. They can also be done as basic drawings if you run out of basic art supplies like watercolor paints.
I love Art for Kids Hub! The lessons are usually done in Sharpie and colored pencil or crayon. There are tons of familiar, pop-culture or holiday related options, such as this adorable Baby Yoda and this super cute Easter Bunny. Most lessons are free, but there is a subscription option.
I’ve often written about my love of audiobooks. A lot of public libraries use apps like LIBBY to electronically lend audiobooks as well as e-books. This means you get all the benefits of the library without having to step inside a possibly germ-infested and possibly soon-to-be-closed building.
AUDIBLE is another great option. And one that will soon have Grace’s Ghosts as an option to download!
My kids are seven, ten, and twelve, but I can usually find a middle-grade audiobook all three will love. We often listen to them in the car, but also listen to them inside, gathered around the kitchen table while the kids doodle. They buy me hours and hours of peace while exposing my kids to some great literature. All three of my kiddos score high on vocabulary sections of standardized tests and I totally credit the audiobooks for this.
For real. It’s a great time to read. If your home library is lacking, take a run to your local indie bookstore or library before things get too crazy. Or Barnes and Noble. Did you know B&N offers its educator discount to homeschoolers?
If you need some ideas for great books for kids, check out Goodreads.
I know so many parents fear science, but I love it. Science projects can be fun, messy, and engaging. Exactly what you’ll need to distract your kids while they can’t see their friends during the Covid-19 outbreak.
HANDS ON AS WE GROW has a great list of science experiments you can do with supplies you probably have in your home.
STEVE SPANGLER SCIENCE is another amazing science resource. We’ve used it often over the years.
There are tons of great science-related shows on Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube. My kids are obsessed with MYTHBUSTERS and COYOTE PETERSON.
While we’re being cautioned not to gather in large groups, hiking and exploring your own backyard are still a great idea. Find a trail near you and escape to the great outdoors.
Fight world hunger while learning new vocabulary on FREE RICE. My oldest son loves this website. It’s free, and the better you do, the more rice gets donated to hungry people.
STARFALL is great for kids who are just learning to read. All of my kids learned to read on this platform. They have free and paid options.
SCRATCH and CODE.ORG are great for learning computer programming. All three of my kiddos love both websites.
Over 100 companies are offering FREE educational services during the Cornonavirus outbreak. Not all of the websites are available to individuals, but there are lots of amazing options.
Don’t hate me for this. But a little Minecraft or Fortnite isn’t going to wreck your kid and it might save your sanity. While video games aren’t my first choice to keep kids busy, they can save the day for cooped up kids. Both games have creative modes, so no fighting bad guys. And both have options for you to play without interacting with other players. Just turn off your headset for Fortnite and play on your own server for Minecraft.
My oldest has started to incorporate his homeschool lessons into his games. He’s build historical sites and scientific models, like a plant cell. Fun and educational!
While I know this time of social distancing won’t be easy, I am trying my best to relax and embrace the time together. I’m sure we will all be glad when it’s over, but for now, we’ll just make the best of it.
What are you and your kids doing to stay sane during this Coronavirus outbreak? Let me know in the comments!
10 Ways to Keep Little Brains Active All Summer
Most kids want to spend their summer playing in the sunshine and having fun. I can’t blame them! When the weather is beautiful, I want to play outside too! I know that many parents worry about too much TV and video game time over the summer and about trying keep kids’ brains active so that when school or homeschool starts up again, their kids haven’t forgotten what they spent all school year learning.
I’ve assembled this list of fun activities to engage kids over the summer. I hope you are able to use it and that you and your little ones have fun learning together this summer.
Oh, how I love science experiments. And my kids love them, too! There are so many fun experiments available online. I especially love Steve Spanger Science. There’s enough on that site alone to keep you and your kids busy all summer! If you want to take it a step further, you can download these free lab sheets and have your kiddos document their findings.
2. Art Projects
I know, I know. Art is messy, but so is life. And your kids will learn so much while creating. There are so many wonderful resources online and at your local library for art. I love The Artful Parent. I also love The Usborne Art Treasury. It’s a great resource to learn about some amazing artists while making a mess. I mean art.
Whether you sign your kiddos up for piano lessons for the summer, try free lessons online, pick up a recorder and a tambourine, introduce them to Mozart and Beethoven, or let them dance around the house to They Might Be Giants, music is an amazing way to help promote brain development and happy kids.
Check out your local library! Our local library system has so many amazing summer programs. From magic shows to story time to animal presentations, there’s something exciting going on every week. A lot of libraries have great summer reading programs with incentives to keep your kiddos reading all summer.
My kids love documentaries. If they are going to watch TV, at least they can learn something. Netflix has a lot of great options for kids. Here’s a great list of nature documentaries by Raising Lifelong Learners.
6. Museum Trips
This is a great way to learn and get your kids out of the house at the same time. I don’t know about your kids, but mine are great at turning a clean house into a giant disaster area in mere seconds, so sometimes it’s nice to kick them out of the house for the day and learn somewhere new. I am blessed to live in an area with several free museums and we take advantage of them frequently.
7. Day Trips
Maybe the idea of getting the kids out of the house was really appealing to you. I don’t blame you. It’s good for moms and kids alike to get a change in scenery from time to time. Where can you drive within an hour or so from your house? The beach? The mountains? A state park? Maybe a battlefield or other historic site? Take advantage of your surroundings. If you head into the wild, take nature journals and let your kids draw and write about their experiences. If you find something historic, do some research on it before you go and discuss it with your kids before, during, and after the trip. This is another great time for the kids to journal. Depending on the significance of the historic site, you may be able to find books or movies to expand upon what you learned. I’ve lived with kids in three states in three very different parts of the USA and I’ve never had trouble finding places like these nearby.
8. Math Games
You can make math fun and help your kids stay sharp. There are lots of games online for free. Depending on their age and ability, there are also some really fun board games out there. My kids love any kind of learning games.
I love audiobooks. Your local library probably has a ton. Best of all, they can keep your kids happy on long road trips! Driving six hours to see Grandma? Get an audiobook! Heading to the beach for a week away? Get an audiobook! I love audiobooks because it’s a wonderful way to introduce kids to literature they can appreciate but maybe not quite read on their own yet.
10 . Creative Writing
Check out these writing prompts I wrote. Or write a story together. Take turns and create a silly story. Another great idea is to get a blank book and let your child illustrate it as he or she writes. Try buying your child a cool notebook and asking them to write a little every day. Just keep them writing because it will serve them well their whole lives.
I hope these ideas helped! Let me know what you do to keep your kiddos engaged in the summer in the comments.