California's stay at home order remains in place, surviving a lockdown isn't easy. We're on week 6 of our family quarantine, and while we're at each other's throats at least once a day, we have summoned strength where we didn't know we had it.
Here Are 11 Ideas To Occupy Kids During This Crisis:
#1 Gimme Shelter Challenge Cost-FREE!
Host a construction competition that the entire family can participate in. Grab all the recyclable trash in your home (try not to use food items), throw them on a big table with some glue, tape, paint, crayons, markers, glitter etc.. You can rip out some pictures of homes and buildings from any period in history for inspiration, and start creating. Trash is a great open ended toy. It promotes creativity, problem solving skills, coping, socialization, saves the environment and it's free! I don't need to tell you how much we've spent on Lego's over the years. The garbage toys my son has created get about as much play as the Lego models he's created, and he seems more proud of turning garbage into something cool. Our last challenge I created a hi-rise apartment with a jacuzzi, and he created a house on a river from cardboard and natural clay.
#2 Storyline Online Stories Read By Professional Actors Cost-FREE!
Storyline Online, streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations. Readers include Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine, Kristen Bell, Rita Moreno, Viola Davis, Jaime Camil, Kevin Costner, Lily Tomlin, Sarah Silverman, Betty White, Wanda Sykes and dozens more.
#3 Create A Matisse Masterpiece With Your Kids At Home! Cost-FREE!
You don't have to be a professional artist to have fun with this craft. In his later years, Henri Matisse fell ill and was home convalescing. In an effort to bring the color of the outside world into his home, he began "Scissor Art," and created artwork from paper cut outs. Kids can have fun making their own creations in the style of Henri Matisse.
#4 Make A Flip Book! Cost-FREE!
A doodle flip-book is a small book with images on each page that change slightly, so that when you quickly flip through the pages of the book it gives the illusion of movement or animation. Making a flip-book with your child is easy, and can be made with materials you probably already have in your home:
-Pens, crayons or markers
#5 Create Stained Glass with Sidewalk Chalk Cost-FREE!
Start by adding tape to the ground in a fun geometric design. You can let the kids make it by giving each child a long strip of painters tape & letting them make the next line. Then, let each child color a square until you have a beautiful stained glass chalk design. For more fun ideas with chalk visit: https://activeforlife.com/8-active-chalk-games/
#6 I Spy Nature Walk Kids Can Create A Field Journal Cost-FREE!
We all need exercise for our physical and mental health. Use free apps like Merlin Bird ID App and iNaturalist which identifies and logs plants and birds in your location. Not a fan of tech, a simple I Spy game is good old fashion fun for kids, and heightens our awareness and appreciation of nature and the importance of conservation. Ask kids to sketch and document their findings. You can google information about animals and turn this experience into a mini lesson. I love Nat Geo Kids for facts: https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/. We have years of field journals that are entertaining to look back on. Kids love seeing how that have progressed in their art and writing skills loads of fun!
#7 Create Disney Cartoons Step by Step Instructions Cost-FREE!
We have fun every day creating some of these beloved characters while gaining some serious art skills. Not a fan of Disney, there are a million tutorials online with different characters.
#8 Encourage Kids To Write Thank You Posters, Letters, and Chalk Messages To Essential Workers Cost-FREE!
These are difficult times for everyone, and essential workers are risking their lives to save others, feed the population, and deliver our goods. This is a teachable moment for kids, a time to give thanks to those brave citizens. It takes a few minutes to leave a chalk message on the sidewalk of a medical professional or grocery workers home. Maybe when they finish their overnight shift, and are feeling down it's a pick me up! Kids learn that by giving they receive joy! Want to spread the word faster? Post these messages on social media!
#9 Create a Scrapbook With Your Kids Cost-FREE!
You don't have to spend money on online photo albums, just print pictures and glue them to construction paper. Staple pages together, and let kids decorate pages with stickers, glitter, stamps, markers etc.. You can even photocopy photos in black and white and let kids color each picture. Let their creativity take over! This is a great activity to get kids to open up and express their feelings. This generation is the most photographed generation in history, yet they never get to see their photos which are rarely printed and displayed. Change this bad habit and get creative! Also, you probably have some old photos at home that you never shared with your kids. Now is the time to organize your pictures!
#10 Create A Vision Board With Kids Cost-FREE!
Vision boards are wonderful tools for goal setting, but also for processing our current situation, and understanding our needs. To create a board you will need some old magazines, glue, scissors, and paper. Beware of children turning this craft into a glorified Christmas list, or a pity party for what they can't do now. This is about long term goals.
#11 Let Kids Camp Out in Their Living Room Cost-FREE!
I never let my child sleep on the floor overnight in front of the television, but I made an exception because he needed to lift his spirits. You can use real camping equipment, or build your own fort out of sheets just add pillows and a sleeping bag if you have one. You can read ghost stories, make smores (in microwave), and watch movies. This experience was really exciting for my nine year old. I gave him the option to return to his room if he didn't want to brave the night downstairs.
Your family will get through this crisis together. I never would have believed that my on the go family could stay indoors in a small living space for 6 weeks, but we have made it this far. These suggestions are just a part of what we do every day. Remember to practice social distancing, sanitize, and keep calm when kids test your nerves. For me, it was a wake-up call to see what my child gets away with at school, and an opportunity to crack down on some funky behavior. He helps with chores now, and we've had many heart-to-heart talks that might have never been...
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