Since schools are out for the rest of the academic year and many of us are trying to figure out how to work from home, keeping kids occupied when school is out can be a challenge. Indulging them with a little bit of screen time here or there shouldn’t worry you. When you are out of options though, here are a few ideas:
1. Get them outside. It doesn’t matter whether it’s shooting hoops, taking a bike ride, a run, skateboarding, digging in the garden, drawing with chalk or a photo scavenger hunt. The act of simply getting some fresh air (and burning off excess energy) is what’s important.
2. Motivate them to help out around the house. Appeal to younger kids’ pride that they’re “allowed” to sweep (and wash) the floor, dust, or fold laundry. Let them know chores are a way that they can help out so we all get through this together.
3. Crafty is always cool. Sure coloring is commonplace, but sometimes messy is what’s needed to hold a child’s attention. Paint, make a collage, cut out paper garlands, or create colorful masks. For older kids, encourage them to make embroidery floss friendship bracelets, draw comics, cover their bedroom walls with their favorite photos, or make necklaces or earrings. Check out some of our craft projects on Virtual Y!
4. Drag out those collections. We’re talking theirs and yours. They have their seashells, action figures, Pokemon cards, etc. But do you still have YOUR 80’s collection, stamp collection, crystal/mineral samples, or coin collection? You might be surprised how fascinated kids might be with what you were fascinated with.
5. Build a fort. Yeah, you might not be able to walk through the living room, but it will keep kids occupied with the engineering of building it plus the creative imagination of what happens inside it.
6. Build anything. Now’s the time to drag out the Legos, Magna-tiles, model airplanes, construction sets, etc. It’s great STEM fun to build things. Check out other STEM activities and videos on Virtual Y!
7. Play puzzles or board games. Jigsaw puzzles are great for all ages when piece sizes and counts are appropriate. Think beyond the traditional games but try to moderate any competitiveness among siblings.
8. Look at photo albums. Nostalgia reigns, even among the young. Break out the baby books and your childhood family photos. Make Throwback Thursday any day of the week.
9. Get cooking. Younger kids love to assist in the kitchen and older kids can scour cookbooks selecting a recipe or two that strikes their fancy. Cooking is a wonderful demonstration of measurement and math as well as the science of baking.
10. Read and write. Use downtime away from the classroom as an opportunity to have them order a title or two from an online bookstore that they can really get lost in. Or ask them to write a letter to a favorite aunt or grandparent or a friend they’re missing. Or get them hooked on journaling.
11. Listen to a podcast. They’re not screen time, but equally as entertaining. There are so many amazing podcasts for kids that can either enthrall them in stories or educate them.
12. Play with what they already have. Remember all those toys they played with a couple of times before they moved on the next thing? There’s a high probability that there are toys and projects in the house that they just haven’t used for a while or that just need finished. Dust them off, and get to it.
Source: RallyHealth.com; Ann Milanowski, March 16, 2020.