At-Home Activities for Your Wild Kids During COVID

[originally posted 4/26/20, updated 5/23/20]

ARTS & CRAFTS NO-SCREEN ACTIVITIES
COOKING & BAKING ONLINE LEARNING
COVID RESOURCES OTHER RESOURCES WE LIKE
DAILY RITUALS SCAVENGER HUNT
EXERCISE SCREEN FUN
MATH & SCIENCE STAYING CONNECTED

Truth be told, I made this list for myself. I got overwhelmed. When this pandemic started drawing stay-at-home mandates, I went through a nearly comical roller coaster of emotions and reactions (as I’m sure many of you have, as well). For the sake of simplicity, I’ll explain with emojis: 😱freak out 😐 reluctant acceptance 😀more family time😷germ-obsessive 😬society shutting down 😵homeschool?! 😌partially optimistic acceptance  Haha!

TOO MANY RESOURCES!

When schools started shutting down, there were a gazillion ideas/resources/curricula for homeschooling and at-home activities floating around online. And, as helpful as that information was, I got seriously overwhelmed. I had to pull back for a second and evaluate what works for us. Pick and choose what seemed appropriate for my kids, our lifestyle and most importantly, what was realistic. I know there is some hypocrisy in writing this post, as I realize I’m just contributing to enormous pile of suggestions. BUT, because I took the time to simplify and curate the information for myself, I thought ‘why not share?’ Plus, I am divorced and only have my kids half the time. So, I have the luxury of time, to sort through all the websites, videos, etc and compile what seems most useful. So, if you don’t have the time, just piggyback off of this.

REAL QUARANTINE

I began writing this post back in March when the country was still trying to figure out how long all this social distancing was going to last and how serious it was. [I mean, I guess the country is still confused!] In March I actually contracted COVID myself, at least that’s what the doctor thinks (due to my age and lack of severe symptoms, a test was not warranted). The COVID led to a bout of walking pneumonia, then a slight reprieve and guise of feeling better, followed by a second more serious bout of pneumonia. During the second phase, I had to isolate in my room for a week and a half. I was away from my kids for so long, and it was tough. However, the self-quarantine did give me more time to add to this list.

I suppose this is all a bit of a tangent, suffice it to say that since I began this list, virtual schooling went into motion. So, now these suggestions for your kids are intended to work around their schooling, and not supplement it.  Although, honestly, it could be argued that some of these at-home activities have greater educational value than some of the “school” that your kids have to do. That totally depends on where you live and what your ethos is surrounding education. Another topic entirely…

AT-HOME ACTIVITIES. LET’S DO THIS! 

Approaching summer and the end of virtual schooling, these at-home activities have even greater use-value. I mean, are summer camps even happening at this point?! Basically, I made this list for myself and will keep adding to it. I share it in hopes that maybe it will help some of you too. So far I feel good about how the kids and I have been spending our days. I’m not a teacher or an education professional, but I’ll be damned if I’m not by the time this is all through. Lol! Major cheers to all us parents doing all the things everyday at home! ❤️Julie❤️

NOTE: These suggestions are mostly geared towards younger kids, like preschool through early primary. But many work for older kids and many can definitely be modified/customized. This is going to be a living, breathing list! I will add to it as I find new resources. AND I would love to include any helpful suggestions you may have!

ARTS & CRAFTS

  1. Check out all of our Platein28 Crafts!
  2. Crafting with your fave characters on PBS.
  3. In the quarantine, online-shopping haze I’ve found myself in some days, I discovered this site called Cratejoy. It’s a site for subscription boxes of all kinds. [FYI, I’m not sponsored or anything. Just sharing a new discovery]. I ordered one for my kids: the Kids Create box. We got the first one this month and they love it. Worth checking out…so many at-home activities in each box!
  4. These inexpensive art apps, suggested by PDX Parent.
  5. Take a walk and make a list of things to look for (i.e. animals, plants). Come home and make art with those found objects!
  6. Drawing with Mo Willems!
  7. Drawing with Dav Pilkey!

COOKING & BAKING

  1. Click on the icon above for all our Platein28 Recipes!
  2. Cook with your fave characters on PBS
  3. This great NY Times list of things to cook with your kids.
  4. Some Cookbooks my kids like:
    1. Kids in the Kitchen by Amanda Grant
    2. My Little Pony Baking Book by Christ Johnstone
    3. Science Experiments You Can Eat by Vicki Cobb
    4. Kawaii Sweet World by Rachel Fong (this one is much higher level, but my 4 yo daughter LOVES flipping through it)
  5. Raddish is a subscription service that has always seemed pretty interesting to me, although I’ve never tried it. You receive boxes in the mail that are each a themed cooking lesson for kids.
  6. Create a recipe with your family. PBS has a nice template here.
  7. Make playdough, gak and slime!

COVID RESOURCES

 

  1. Yale’s Workbook to help kids navigate their feelings during COVID.
  2. Sesame Street’s Caring for Each Other Initiative for supporting kids during COVID quarantine.
  3. Right now The Calm App is offering free meditations for kids for kids (by age groups) to relax and de-stress.
  4. And Next Comes L is a site for kids with hyperlexia and autism, but a ton of these at-home activities and tips can be applied to all kids. Here are some great resources for dealing with child anxiety, which your kids may be experiencing as a result of this damn pandemic.
  5. World Health Organization has up-to-date stats and answers to questions about safe quarantine practices, social distancing, and health.
  6. Center for Disease Control & Prevention (same as above)
  7. Sesame Street’s Caring for Each Other Initiative

DAILY RITUALS

  1. Every morning my kids and I have been making a Daily List of what we want to do during the day, keeping in mind education and exercise. This has been really successful for us because (1) a tight schedule just isn’t very feasible right now, (2) the kids get to have some agency in this process and pick things they want to do too (they can even share some things they do at school), and (3) this allows us to keep things a little different every day (hence, less boring, lol). Taking into account virtual school, you can pick whatever kinds of things you like. Here are some examples of what we’ve been doing. It’s really an opportunity for everyone to be creative together.
  2. Gratitude Journal: this site is geared towards adults, but the concept is completely transferable to kiddos. Of all the at-home activities, this one carries personal growth significance far beyond these times.
  3. We started a new DinnerTime Ritual this month. One night, sans kids, my boyfriend and I had a few drinks on the porch and got creative. We wrote down like 30 questions for the kids. Then we cut them into strips and put them in a box. Now, when all five of us are together, at dinnertime we pass the box around and everyone gets a turn to reach in and grab a question. That person answers the question and then other people can too if they want. This has been so great for making conversation, and stimulating the kids’ minds a little while we eat. Collectively we have a 4 yo, 6 yo, and 12 yo. So, we wanted the questions to be doable for everyone. This can take on any form that you like, but here are some examples of the questions:
    1. What do you like best? Morning, afternoon, or nighttime?
    2. If I could build something, what would it be?
    3. What would my superpower be?
    4. I wish I knew more about ___________.
    5. Cheeseburger or hotdog?
    6. What have you missed doing most during the coronavirus?

EXERCISE

  1. GoNoodle (online videos)
  2. Kidz Bop (online videos)
  3. PE with Joe (online videos)
  4. Frozen Yoga and Yoga Ed. (online yoga videos)
  5. Stretching. My kids and I stood in a circle and took turns leading the circle in a stretch. The kids got very creative with the stretches…very strange poses emerged. Lol.
  6. Kitchen dance parties!
  7. “Freeze” Dance Parties: blast your kids favorite music, pause it periodically and have your kids be as still as statues!
  8. Create obstacle courses outside!
  9. 20 minute full-body workout for parents

MATH & SCIENCE

  1. Science experiments! We love this book, 50 Science Things to Make & Do. 
  2. We also love this book: Science Experiments You Can Eat by Vicki Cobb
  3. Education.com, PBS and Scholastic have lots of free resources, including worksheets (coloring, color-by numbers, addition, subtraction, word, letters, etc). These organizations have really stepped it up during this COVID quarantine, and I’m super impressed!
  4. ScienceFlix by Scholastic: A cool science archive of videos and articles by topic.
  5. Math problems & discussions on Math Before Bed
  6. A plethora of math games on MathGames.com
  7. PBS’ Play and Learn Engineering App

NO-SCREEN ACTIVITIES

  1. Madlibs! We love these. You can get them through Amazon or support your local bookstore and order some, if they’re available. Major benefit: your kids will learn figures of speech. We ordered ours from Powell’s (a beloved, local Portland bookstore).
  2. Play “Store” with your kids. Ask kids to label several of their toys with a price tag that is less than $1.00 (we use sticky notes). Give each child a handful of change. Have them take turns being the customer or the salesperson. This activity is fun and gives kids an opportunity to practice counting money and change. You can make play food too!
  3. Audible has all these great audio books for kids right now!
  4. Make play dough from scratch.
  5. Take a walk and make a list of things to look for (i.e. animals, plants)
  6. Make art with those found objects
  7. Interview a family member (ask them 3-5 questions about their life)
  8. Memory game: put 5-10 things on a table, have your child look at them for 10 seconds, cover them with a blanket and then have your child write down or draw what (s)he remembers
  9. Puzzles! All the puzzles!
  10. Board games!
  11. Hide & Seek!
  12. Charades!
  13. This is the best podcast! I can’t recommend enough: The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian
  14. Find a picture from a book or print one from online. Ask your kids to write about the image: a story, poem, etc.
  15. Play ‘I Spy’ with letters and sounds. i.e. I spy something that starts with an ‘h’
  16. Make playdough, gak and slime!
  17. Legos legos legos!!!!
  18. Education.com, PBS and Scholastic have lots of free resources, including worksheets (coloring, color-by numbers, addition, subtraction, word, letters, etc). These organizations have really stepped it up during this COVID quarantine, and I’m super impressed!
  19. Outside play: drawing on street/driveway/sidewalk with chalk, walks, biking, running through sprinkler, backyard lunch picnics
  20. Go camping in your backyard. Set up an area with a tent, sleeping bags, flashlights, etc. You’ll feel like you actually travelled somewhere!
  21. Recycling challenge! ♻️ Set out a bunch of recyclables and 3 bins, labelled ‘paper’ ‘plastic’ and ‘glass.’ Have your kids put the recyclables in the corresponding bin. ♻️
  22. Make a home composter!
  23. One great thing about being at home with kids now is that very practical tasks count as learning and you can be an excellent guide for your kids. My daughter goes to a Montessori, and so much of her day is spent doing very practical things around the classroom. And that transfers very easily to ‘home schooling’. Here are some of the practical things I’m referring to:
    1. Arrange flowers
    2. Help plant something outside
    3. Set the table
    4. Learn to sew a button
    5. Clean and declutter
    6. Feed and help care for you family pet
    7. Prepare food
    8. Take out the trash
    9. Help wash dishes

ONLINE LEARNING

  1. Celebrities reading kids’ books
  2. Education.com has educational math games and stories.
  3. PBS Music Games
  4. Epic! is a huge online library for kids, including other learning tools. You can do a free 30-day trial.
  5. ABC Mouse (you can do a free trial for 30 days). We are HUGE fans of this program. My 4yo is learning letters and spelling big time through doing this everyday.
  6. Khan Academy. To be honest, we haven’t tried this yet, but I have several parent friends who swear by it!
  7. Brain Pop. All around schooling with cool graphics.
  8. I can’t stress PBS enough for online learning. They really have their act down.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

OTHER RESOURCES WE LIKE

  1. This awesome, creative list that’s gone viral, from Weareteachers.com
  2. Scholastic’s awesome list for at-home learning
  3. PBS site for games, crafts, coloring worksheets, shows, recipes, and experiments
  4. A classic book with tons of at-home activities & stories: Mouse Cookies & More
  5. Red Tricycle website for all things kids. I follow this site in non-pandemic times too.
  6. For new parents, Lucie’s List is a great site. It helps with things like parenting tips to product recommendations (i.e. stroller). Like most of these suggestions, this is a great resource in non-COVID times too, as I used it when each of my kids was born.
  7. This is a Portland, OR-based site, but there are things in it for all parents right now: PDX Parent
  8. Common Sense Media. The site helps parents navigate what’s appropriate for their kids to watch, with reviews you can trust.
  9. Holy Moly, this is a wealth of ideas! This site And Next Comes L, is actually geared towards children with hyperpelxia and autism, but these at-home activities can be for all kids. Soooo many great ideas!
  10. Monica J Sutton is a popular YouTuber and educator who does regular, pretty awesome Preschool Circle Time videos.

SCAVENGER HUNTS

  1. Indoor Scavenger Hunt: This was super fun, and it graced me with 20 minutes of alone time. Lol! I made a list of items in the house with pictures (so that my pre-reading 4 yo could participate). Then I told the kids they had to take photos of each thing and there would be a prize at the end. The kids had a blast doing this. The kids created roles for themselves: the 6yo would read aloud the item, they’d find it together, and the 4 yo would take the photo. At the end I double-checked the photos and then gave them a money prize. I said they could save the money to use after the pandemic or they could chose something to buy online, with the amount of the prize. I’m actually excited to do this again!
  2. Outdoor Scavenger Hunt: I made this scavenger hunt pretty simple. Just made a small list of natural things to find outside. I gave each of the kids a basket and set them off into the backyard. You could also do this hunt on a walk. The kids had fun and especially liked laying out all their findings and comparing them at the end. My daughter’s Montessori guide shared this activity with the class, which is similar but more open-ended: 🌿 Nature Scavenger Hunt 🌿 This is a fabulous list to print out and take on a walk with your kids. Or let them loose with the list in the backyard.
  3. BIRDS BIRDS BIRDS! Okay, this isn’t exactly a scavenger hunt, but we found a ton of resources for bird watching and identifying. Ever since we put a bird feeder on our back porch, it’s been a favorite activity. Check these out:
    1. Molly of Denali’s Field Guide for Birds
    2. Allaboutbirds.org
    3. Backyard Bird Shop (a long-standing bird store in Portland metro area that has great bird info on their website)
    4. Make a Bird Feeder with a milk carton

SCREEN FUN

  1. First of all, Common Sense Media is a great site that helps parents navigate what’s appropriate for their kids to watch, with reviews you can trust.
  2. Check out all our Platein28 Educational TV and online program reviews and suggestions!
  3. Disney’s Be Our Chef. This is a family cooking competition show. Requires Disney+ subscription.
  4. Lego Masters. A Lego-building competition show. Fox channel on cable.
  5. Celebrity-studded Disney Singalong. Requires Disney+ subscription.
  6. I haven’t tried it yet but with this Seek App by iNaturalist, you can capture images of things in nature and the app identifies them. Insects, flowers, trees, etc.
  7. Hooplakidz: nursery rhyme videos for preschoolers
  8. A couple shows came out this past year that I felt comfortable watching with my kids (pre-COVID actually), and I enjoyed the shows as much as them. (Netflix subscription required for all).
    1. Raising Dion: a cute, but suspenseful show about a child who develops superpowers.
    2. Lost in Space: a reboot of the 1960s series about the Robinson family trying to recolonize in space in the future.
    3. Lemony Snickets’ A Series of Unfortunate Events: based on the beloved children’s books, a story of the journey of three children who lost their parents and are trying to escape the wretched Lemony Snicket.

STAYING CONNECTED

  1. Write letters to family and friends. So old-fashioned and so lovely. Your kids can draw pictures or write stories and send to family members. During this pandemic, it means even more to get mail from loved ones! ❤️
  2. Start a Marco Polo with people you miss! This is an awesome app where you record videos to send back and forth with whomever. It’s a great way to connect without having to engage in a whole live thang. You can watch and send videos on your own time. ❤️
  3. For live virtual connecting, use Facetime, Google Meet, Uber Conference, House Party, and Zoom. All of these are great apps for live conversations. ❤️

SEND US YOUR IDEAS!

Thanks for reading, everyone! Please send us your at-home activities and ideas. You can email us at info@platein28.com We’d love for this to be an ongoing, growing list. Now is the time we can really help each other. Lots of love!!! ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

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