Quarantined with kids? Here's how to keep them busy
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, many people are finding themselves in quarantine in order to most effectively practice “social distancing.”
If you and your partner have found yourselves at home this work-week, stuck inside with kids who are also quarantined, bored, and coming down with cabin fever, it’s going to be a long week.
So, you might as well have a few quarantine-friendly tricks up your sleeve.
How can you keep kids entertained during the coronavirus crisis? Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or you’re living that WFH life right now, there are plenty of ways to keep the whole family from going stir-crazy.
In fact, here are a few ideas for kids to avoid cabin fever during the coronavirus pandemic.
Things to Do With Kids During Coronavirus Social Distancing or Quarantine
1. Make a cardboard fort
Time to put those empty Amazon boxes out in the garage to good use!
2. Set up a treasure hunt
Treasure hunts are pretty easy and depending on how many items there are, could last a while. Hide anywhere from 10 to 20 items around the house or outside to keep kids occupied for a few hours.
3. Watch the beluga whales at the Georgia Aquarium
There’s a beluga whale webcam set up at the Georgia Aquarium, so you can see what your whale friends are up to at anytime.
4. Read-at-home bingo
As your kids accomplish each reading task, they should cross off each bingo square.
5. E-visit the Louvre
Transport you and your family to Paris, France by taking a digital tour of one of the most famous international museums, the Louvre.
6. Bake together
Cookies, cakes, brownies. Anything! Baking is a great lesson in measuring, ingredients, and of course, making delicious goodies.
7. Watch the Cincinnati Zoo livestream
The Cincinnati Zoo will be live-streaming animals on their Facebook page daily at 3PM.
8. Have an indoor picnic
Grab a sheet, whatever food you have, and enjoy a living room picnic (without the ants). You can even play that memory game at the same time: “I’m going to a picnic and I’m bringing…” Each person takes turns remembering (in order) what everyone is bringing and then adds one thing each turn.
9. Train the dog
No, seriously, this could be a good one. If the family dog doesn’t know how to sit or stay, start there. If he’s ready to move onto more complex tricks, try focusing on training an hour a day. You can move onto down and roll-over.
10. Make elephant toothpaste
Making elephant toothpaste is a great science experiment. Using the laws of both chemistry and biology, this recipe will cause an enormous foaming reaction, fit for an elephant. Check Scientific American for a how-to.
11. Film TikToks
Quarantine? It’s perfect time to choreograph and film TikToks.
12. Take a virtual field trip to Yellowstone National Park
Virtually visit the Mud Volcano, Mammoth Hot Springs, and so much more with a digital field trip to Yellowstone.
13. Take a virtual field trip of the Boston Children’s Museum
Visit the Boston Children’s Museum without even leaving your living room.
14. Check out Mars
Explore the surface of Mars with this digital 360° camera.
15. Listen to Josh Gad’s story readings on Twitter
Josh Gad just gets it. (He’s a dad, after all.) To make it easier on all of us, the voice of Olaf has been broadcasting readings of different kids’ stories on Twitter.
16. Join a Facebook Live dance party with DJ Mel
DJ Mel in Austin, Texas, is hosting a weekly kid-friendly “Living Room Dance Party” on his Facebook page. Join the fun here! Thousands have been tuning in, so get ready for fun.
17. Enact a digital quarantine
Limiting screen time might be a good idea. In fact, some professionals recommend it. When school work, reading, and other educational tasks have been completed, then you can give back tablets and phones.
18. Make a space for learning
This won’t keep kids entertained, but it will make learning from home all the more easier. Set up a designated homework/schoolwork area. Whether it’s a desk or a specific place at the kitchen table, having a workspace can really help kids focus. Getting them an active chair for learning is a must, if you want them to be physically busy while focusing on learning. Learn more about the benefits active chairs can have on your kids.
19. Do give them recess
Setting a schedule and focusing on educational tasks is awesome, but you should take time to focus on recess, too. After a few educational tasks, make sure to focus on playtime, too.
20. Write a letter
Break out the envelopes, the stamps, the pens, and paper. No, we’re not talking e-mails; we’re talking old-fashion snail mail. Write a mail a letter to someone you love, like grandma and grandpa, or a family member who lives far away.
21. FaceTime family members
FaceTime is another meaningful way to connect with family and friends while practicing “social distancing.” Use it to check in on family members and to socialize, even if over the phone.
22. Start a travel journey from your last trip
Reminisce on the last time you were allowed to travel by starting a travel journal. This is an awesome exercise for both kids and adults alike. If you want a resource, Teachers Pay Teachers has an interactive journal that’s inexpensive.
23. Make your own play dough
Need a recipe? Check out this one from I Heart Naptime. All you need are quart-sized bags, all-purpose flour, salt, cream of tartar, water, veggie or coconut oil, and food coloring.
24. Do some spring cleaning or organizing
We know cleaning isn’t exactly “fun,” but with everyone off from school and off from work, the house is bound to get messy, and pretty quickly at that. Carve out a few minutes, even if it’s just 15, each day to prioritize organization.
25. Play cards
Rummy, War, Go Fish, Solitatire, Uno, Old Maid… Any game you can think of!
26. Break out the board games
Scrabble, Monopoly, Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders…
27. Put a puzzle together
Break out the jigsaw puzzle!
28. Play checkers
Kids will love learning the ins and outs of checkers. And if they’re already pros? Challenge them to a checkers Olympics!
29. Teach your kids chess
Every kid could benefit from learning the strategies of chess.
30. Play charades
No talking. Just you and your fam acting something out. It’s a classic boredom-saver.
31. Take a virtual tour of Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park is a national park in California. With Google Maps, you can scroll over the different terrains, and click on places of interest.
32. Host a paint night
Grab some canvases, brushes, and paints, and do a paint night at home.
33. Make a pizza
It’s miscellaneous toppings night. Whatever you have laying around the house, that’s what’s going on your homemade pizza!
34. Set up indoor hopscotch
With painters tape!
35. Break out the flashcards
Got any old vocabulary or math flashcards laying around? If not, no worries. Make your own!
36. Practice opposites
Playing the opposites game is an educational exercise for toddlers. You say “in,” they say, “out.” You say, “on,” they say, “off.”
37. Set up gym class
Keep yourself and your kids healthy and schedule regular fun, physycal activities, like zumba, yoga or gymnastics!
38. Practice cutting with scissors
Another good occupational therapy exercise for toddlers is practicing scissors. If you have safety scissors at home, watch and help children learn how to cut up old scrap paper. They can even practice by trying to cut along a traced line.
39. Play dress-up
It never gets old.
40. Listen to an astronaut read from space
Storytime From Space is unlike any other kind of storytime; NASA astronauts read stories to kids while they float around in space.
41. Take a virtual tour of a farm
Learn about what it takes to run a farm, meet farm animals, and more by taking a virtual farm tour on Farm 360.
42. Create an animal fact sheet
Have your child pick an animal. Can they make a fact sheet, listing everything they know about that animal? Now, do some research. After learning a little bit more about that animal, have your child add new facts to the sheet about what they learned
43. Watch the Monterrey Bay Aquarium sea otter cam
Monterrey Bay Aquariam has a sea otter cam that allows you to watch what the sea otters are doing at any given time of day.
44. Explore Africa with African wildlife cam
Learn more about the wildlife of Africa by checking out this African wildlife cam situated by a busy watering hole.
45. Write opinion pieces
A great academic practice to get into, either after reading a book, doing research, or watching a movie, challenge your child to write an opinion piece about it. What they thought, what their opinions are, and if they’d recommend the book/movie/resource.
46. Listen to Story Pirates
Arg, matey. Pirates tell stories, too.
47. Watch Bill Nye the Science Guy
You can even do a science experiment along with him!
48. Watch the puppy play room
What’s better than a live stream of puppies playing all day long?
49. Listen to But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids
50. Listen to Stuff You Should Know
Stuff You Should Know is a podcast for kids. You know, stuff they should know.
51. Listen to KidNuz
52. Download all the work sheets!
In need of homeschool worksheets (or just education-related activities? Download this second grade learning packet.
53. Virtually tour the Great Wall of China
You don’t need to leave your home to explore some of the most historic monuments out there—the Great Wall of China included.
54.Take a virtual tour of the British Museum
Tour the British Museum online.
55. Watch Oxford Education’s Story Hour
They have lots of great stories!
56. Take a virtual glider around the world
The Smithsonian Science Education Center has more resources, too, including a virtual glider that makes you feel like you’re flying around the world, exploring.
57. Launch ABCmouse Learning Academy
ABCMouse Learning Academy is a great educational resources with tons of lessons that kids can benefit from.
58. Craft your own hand soap
There’s never been a more relevant DIY project than making your own hand soap.
59. Take a virtual tour of Arches National Park
Arches National Park is a national park located in Utah. With Google Maps, you can scroll over the different terrains, and click on places of interest.
60. Learn with Osmo
Osmo is an online learning resource that interacts with the real objects you have in front of you. Osmo interacts with the physical items in front of you for engaging play.
61. Discover BrainPop
BrainPop is an educational resource that provides lesson plans for all kinds of subjects—even health, arts and music, and engineering and technology.
62. Create pasta jewlery
Paint it, thread it, and then wear it!
63.Take a virtual tour of Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park is a national park located in South Dakota. With Google Maps, you can scroll over the different terrains, and click on places of interest.
64. Explore homeschool lessons with NearPod
NearPod has homeschooling lesson plans for grades K-12: ELA, social studies, math, science, and more.
65. Check out Scholastic
Scholastic, an educational resource, has enough learning programming for 15 full days of homeschooling.
66. Take a virtual tour of Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is a national park located in Montana. With Google Maps, you can scroll over the different terrains, and click on places of interest..
67. (Virtually) visit Alaska
Take a family trip to Alaska… virtually, of course. Visit Denali National Park a la Google Maps and learn about the wildlife, environment, terrain, and more.
68. Check out Mystery Science
Mystery Science has lesson plans for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade. Their lesson plans cover everything from: How does hand sanitizer kill germs? to What causes things to glow-in-the-dark?
69. Make play dough with Kool-Aid
Making play dough is fun, but making play dough with Kool-Aid smells really, really juicy.
70. Watch an online music lesson
Music to Your Home provides online, guided music lessons.
71. Practice another language
Listen to audio recordings of other languages (like Spanish, for example) on slow. Repeat to practice pronunciation.
72. Start an indoor herb garden or terrarium
You can start an indoor herb garden by using eggshells as planters or make a terrarium out of mason jars. Check out Food52 for a terrarium tutorial.
73. Make a vision board
Print out pictures from Pinterest or Google and adhere them to a poster board or computer paper. Fill it with images of what you want this year to be, then hang it on the fridge or somewhere where everyone in the family will see it often.
74. Try sensory sorting
This is an activity best for younger kids who are learning colors and shapes. You can use almost anything for sensory sorting. By grouping different colors or shapes together, challenge your toddler to group all the reds together, all the blues together, and so on. If you’re doing it with shapes, try different items. Can you separate the sort the straws from the magnets?
75. Set up an Easter egg hunt
It’s time-relevant and you can even make it educational by hiding letters inside the eggs instead of candy. Hide the plastic eggs around the house and see if your child can find the entire alphabet!
76. Play tic-tac-toe
It’s a classic game most of us remember from our own childhoods, but how often do you play with your kids now? If they know the game well, have a tic-tac-toe-off; if they’re newbies, teach them the ins and outs.
77. Take a virtual tour of Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is a national park located in Florida. With Google Maps, you can scroll over the different terrains, explore local vegetation, and click on places of interest.
78. FaceTime a princess
Live from the castle, your child’s favorite princesses are available via FaceTime or Skype! You can decide what to chat about during the 15-minute call; princesses can even read your little one a goodnight story.
79. Solve a maze
This one incorporates everyone. Parents or older siblings can draw a maze on construction paper; the younger ones can try to solve it by drawing along the maze with a crayon.
80. Learn how to knit or crochet.
Need help yourself? Ravelry is a free resource for knitters, no matter your skill level.
81. Take a virtual tour of Zion National Park
Zion National Park is a national park located in Utah. With Google Maps, you can scroll over the different terrains, and click on places of interest.
82. Don’t forget about Disney+!
When all else fails and you crack on the screentime rules, don’t forget Frozen 2 is now streaming on Disney+.
Staying indoors at this moment might look challenging, but with a positive attitude and a lot of imagination, you can make the most of this time together with your family. Stay safe, sane and have fun!