Goodness me, it’s been a week. Can I get an amen? Let me be honest when I say that I’m on social media quite a bit. As a former social media analyst, current blogger, magazine writer, teacher, mom and friend, it’s a wonderful way to stay connected to companies, research, news, insightful lesson plans and just plain ol’ friends I haven’t heard from in awhile.
A couple of weeks ago, I would’ve never dreamed it would be one of my only ways to stay connected to those around me. With that being said, it’s just one way I’ve kept myself and this (sometimes crazy!) house of kiddos busy and engaged during this period of seclusion. But this moment of change includes so much more than just social media and screen time right now. If you’re looking for some more creative ideas on how to keep your kids occupied during your time stuck at home, I’ve compiled this handy list from both my own experiences and friends around me (because, yes! I’ve been making a special point to stay connected to people via afar.)
You can make things fun at home (after they’ve finished the day’s assigned schoolwork, of course!) by:
1. Using technology/social media. There are so many academic resources online that kids can learn from at home – it’s amazing! Some of my favorite Websites/apps are Epic, ABCmouse, How Stuff Works, PBS Kids, Smithsonian for Kids and Khan Academy.
Looking for a game? Have your kids learn business and economics and create their own virtual lemonade stand for 30 days. If your kids’ school has a reading program such as Lexia, it’s a great time to login and get in plenty of reading time — my kids absolutely love it. If you have multiple kids in the house, make it a competition and hand out prizes! Netflix also has an amazing line-up of educational shows. I found this great list here!
For younger kids, go to SaveWithStories on instagram to hear read aloud from your favorite celebrities. In partnership with Save the Children and No Kid Hungry, you can also donate to this program that is making sure children don’t go hungry and receive educational supplies during this vulnerable time. Plus, Reese Witherspoon in a hot pink cardigan reading about unicorns is sure to cheer up anyone!
2. Getting outside. After being trapped in the house for several days because of rain, yesterday I took my kids on a neighborhood walk. I noticed a friend went on a hike with her kids and made it into a scavenger hunt at the same time. It’s pretty awesome what a little nature can do, so break up the day by exploring, even if it’s only for a minute!
3. Moving! That brings me to “inside recess.” On Netflix, you can find the channel “GoNoodle,” which is what classrooms all over the country use to get kids moving. That’s a bonus because your kids will already have their favorites! It includes everything from relaxed breathing and yoga to full dance routines to popular music.
4. Listening to music. We’re music fanatics in this household, so anytime I’m making a sandwich, giving a bath, or just filling in some extra time, I turn on some music and hello, dance party and Taylor Swift. Did you know that music (especially singing and dancing) can release endorphins and make you feel better instantly? Try it! And with everything moving inside and online, I have seen some fantastic acoustic sessions on social media with all my favorite musicians. In my house, we’ve been playing the piano and figuring out instruments. With the app “Smule” you can sing karaoke with others across the country and all you need are a phone and earbuds! Such a fun and engaging way to bring us all together while learning.
5. Creating things. Art is such a fun way to keep things interesting, and it can be rather relaxing. Many times just pulling out some paper and markers and drawing a picture can calm the littles. It doesn’t even have to be fancy! My son likes to make different kinds of paper airplanes and have contests, or even create origami for fun. There are lots of resources online (like these cute designs) and all you need is paper and a marker! My daughter loves to grab interesting rocks from outside and paint creative designs on them. If you have yarn or thread and maybe a few beads lying around, making bracelets is another fun option!
6. Life skills. One of my friends is using this time to teach her kids special skills like cooking (find all the fun cut-outs or here are some easy recipes), sewing a button, writing a letter and addressing an envelope, and even gardening in those bits of non-rainy weather. While we haven’t exactly gardened at my house (insert my fake laugh here), my kids have planted a couple of new seeds to grow plants and every day we check on them! C’mon, sunshine.
7. Pets. It’s the purr-fect time to reconnect with pets, or even get a new one! Our furry friends are always there for a snuggle sesh and can be a fun way to take our minds off the ever-changing craziness on what’s happening all around. Several studies have shown that dog owners have lower blood pressure than non-owners because they can have such a calming effect. Go hug your pet right now, ok?
8. Setting a routine. Ok, I started out grrrrrreat on this one, and it’s been the hardest to implement. As a teacher though, I know kids thrive on some type of routine and knowing what’s next. So, each morning while we might sleep in, we still maintain our routine of morning work before play, and then we get to have the fun. So while it doesn’t have to be rigid, it can be as simple as schoolwork, then reading time, some movement, a little lunch and so on.
9. Relaxing and being together. It’s about quality time. Really, we’re all just doing the best we can. We don’t all have to have Pinterest-worthy crafts and healthy lunches made from scratch or one hour of vigorous activity every day. I’ve been using this extra time to catch up on some of the togetherness that perhaps I’ve missed sometime along the way. That might just mean lunches and dinners are at the table while having actual conversations with my kids. And I simply cannot think of anything more meaningful and engaging than that.