By Tracey Dowdy
No matter how laid back your parenting style or how independent your child, weeks of self-quarantine and observing the stay-at-home-order can make even the introverted-est introvert a little stir crazy.
Hopefully, this list of ideas can help stave off the madness a little longer.
- Set up a treasure hunt. Hide ten or fifteen things around the house and play “Hot and Cold” as they walk around looking for the items.
- Turn the treasure hunt into a tidying up game. Give your kids a basket or a bag, and whoever comes back with the most toys at the end of a minute wins. Keep “playing” until all the toys are gathered up, then work together – or send them on their own – to put them away.
- Get moving together. These dance and exercise videos are a great way to work out some of the sillies. They’re easy enough for everyone and an excellent way to connect as a family.
- Make Elephant Toothpaste. A fun activity that doubles as a science experiment? Yes, please.
- Watch an animal webcam. Zoos and aquariums around the world have set up webcams on their animals, so even if they can’t see them in person, kids can virtually visit their favorite animals.
- “Visit” a museum. Many of us had to cancel Spring Break and vacation plans this year, still some of the world’s most beautiful museums, including the Louvre, the Guggenheim, the Smithsonian, and the British Museum are offering virtual tours.
- Visit a National Park. The U.S. National Park Service has webcams set up throughout its parks, so it’s easy to take your kids on a field trip or family adventure.
- Visit Mars. While you’re exploring, why not head to outer space and explore Mars with through NASA’s Curiosity Rover.
- Make a craft together. Cincinnati’s McHarper Manor is offering a free arts and crafts lesson on Facebook Live every day at 1 PM EST. Each day they post what you’ll need for the next day’s craft project on their Facebook page.
- Bake together. Even if you don’t have a lot of ingredients on hand, there are plenty of things you can bake, including one of my family’s favorites, Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies that only needs peanut butter, sugar, and one egg. (Easily substitute other nut butter if there’s a peanut allergy in the house).
- Master a meal. As long as you’re in the kitchen, teach your kids to cook a favorite meal like tacos or mac and cheese. They’ll be proud of their accomplishment, and you’ll be grateful for another go-to meal and a second pair of hands in the kitchen.
- Chat with a princess. Have a Disney princess obsessed little one? They can FaceTime with their favorites via Video Call or a recorded video message.
- Make slime together. There are lots of recipes out there, but this one doesn’t use Borax, making it even more kid-friendly.
- Work on those fine motor skills. If your little one is accustomed to Occupational Therapy services through school, Mama OT has excellent suggestions for working on motor skills with everyday objects around your house.
- Plant a herb garden or create a terrarium. PBS Kids has a fun tutorial on Growing Seedlings in Egg Cartons, and NASA has instructions on how to create a mini terrarium garden.
- Make hand soap. At a time when washing your hands is more important than ever, making their own soap can be a great motivator to make sure they’re scrubbing away all those germs.
- “Explore” America on a glider. The Smithsonian Science Education Center has an app that allows you to “soar above five real-world terrains in the United States while learning about different types of land and water features. Kids can test their knowledge of land and water features after every flight through an in-game assessment.
- Listen to a podcast. There are heaps of family-friendly podcasts directed at kids. Some are silly, some are educational, but all of these are interesting a provide a break from screen time.
- Hang with Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Kids can even do a home science experiment with him!
- Learn to Code with Grasshopper. Google’ Grasshopper, its tool for teaching kids how to code, is now available on the desktop through a web-based app as part of its Grow with Google initiative. MommyPoppins also has resources for kids just getting into the ins and outs of coding.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.