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!
Halloween Science Roundup
My kids love Halloween. The only thing they love more than Halloween is science. Combining the two always makes for great fun. I’ve collected an assortment of fun, Halloween-themed science experiments from around the web. Check them out!
Halloween Science Experiments and Activities from Little Bins for Little Hands
19 Spooky STEM Projects For Kiddos This Halloween from BuzzFeed
Ghost Rockets for Kids from Growing a Jeweled Rose
Dancing Frankenworms from Playdough to Plato
Boo Bubbles from Steve Spangler Science
Halloween Science Experiments from Creekside Learning
31 Days of Halloween STEM Activities and Projects from STEAM Powered Family
20 Halloween STEM Activities from The Homeschool Resource Room
I had fun finding all of these fun Halloween science activities. I can’t wait to do some of them with my kids! I hope you and the kids in your life enjoy them!
STEM-Inspiring Gifts Under $20 for your Little Valentine
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, why not skip all the candy and stuffed animals and foster a love of science in your little Valentine? I’ve included a list of products under $20 as I know most parents are always looking to save a bit of money.
This post include affiliate links.
Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit
All three of my kids love Snap Circuits. They are a great way to encourage STEM play and enjoyed by a wide age range.
Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit
Lego and STEM- need I say more? My oldest got this for Christmas and we’ve been LOVING it.
Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Set
Why not give them science tools made for their little hands?
Extract DNA from fruit! Build a double Helix! Help your kids to learn the basics of molecular biology in a fun, easy to understand way.
I love eco-friendly toys! The kit can make up to seven different toys, including a race car, a gravity-powered walking robot and a tornado inside a bottle. All for under $10!
Ok, you knew I had to throw it in the mix, right? If you don’t know about my book yet, here’s the premise:
Nellie appears to be a normal nine year old girl. But Nellie is not normal. Nellie is an amazingly gifted scientist who lives in a family of amazingly gifted scientists. One day, her brother, Niles, who is eleven, teases her (as all respectable big brothers do). This time, however, Niles goes too far when he tells Nellie that girls are silly and no woman has ever changed the world. This sets off a spark of an idea in Nellie’s most amazing mind and sends her down the path to create a time machine and meet wonderful women who made a mark on the world. First stop, Amelia Earhart! With a few bumps along the way and a government agency out to steal her technology, Nellie and Niles are in for an incredible adventure!
If you don’t have a copy yet, it is a great way to encourage kids, especially girls, to love science.
STEAM: Preschool Activities for STEM Enrichment
This book looks great for the five and under crowd!
This looks great for little engineers over the age of seven!
Supporting a Love of Science
It’s no secret that I want to be sure that my kids have lots of exposure to science. It’s part of why we homeschool. I want to be sure they have lots of chance for exploration.
My kids love science. I think it’s because it’s been integrated into our everyday lives. We spend as much time in nature as possible. Exposure to nature has sparked many new interests in the past. From bird watching to digging for fossils, many trips in nature have inspired further exploration at home. The more time my kids spend in nature, the more they want to know about it.
We also try and take as many trips as we can to science museums and exhibits. Seeing things in person that you never would see otherwise can really ignite a passion. We have made it a point to take advantage of the many science centers we’ve lived near. So often, these places offer many chances for hands-on learning.
I find experiments and hands on projects to be especially helpful. While we love reading about science, I think that creating and experimenting make science come alive.
I am so happy that I have been able to bring science to life for my kiddos.
How do you encourage your kids to love science?