Keeping kids entertained is no easy feat. And that’s never been truer than now, when schools and daycares across the country have transitioned to online learning and families stay put as we await the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. But being home doesn’t have to mean being bored. Here are our top tips to make the most of the extra family time while keeping kids engaged, educated and having fun.
With the magic of livestreams, you and your little ones can explore scenes far beyond your living room. Spot underwater creatures with the open sea cam of Monterey Bay Aquarium; check in on the wild residents of the San Diego Zoo live cams; journey to some of our country’s breathtaking national parks with Google Arts & Culture; or have an out-of-world experience with NASA’s ISS livestream of Earth from space. For an artsy adventure, consider virtual tours of the Van Gogh Museum; the iconic British Museum (which counts Egyptian mummies among its hundreds of artifacts); and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, one of South Korea’s most popular museums.
Delight your kids or grandkids by finding a viral recipe – such as delectable Japanese soufflé pancakes or a kid-friendly version of Dalgona coffee – and making it together. You can even use the experience as an interactive math lesson by calculating recipe measurements for different serving sizes.
Color your days with a bit of creativity by using poster boards to make new art with your kids. Once your masterpieces are finished, display them on your front door or windows to help gift your neighbors an impromptu art show. Encourage your kids to create new pieces each day with uplifting messages or thank-you’s to essential workers. And if your aspiring artists want to hone their skills ahead of time, have them watch doodle tutorials by Mo Willems, an award-winning illustrator of children’s books and artist-in-residence at The Kennedy Center.
Whether your kids are fans of the Wizarding World or simply intrigued by the wonder of magic, the internet is brimming with “Harry Potter” activities that are sure to amuse them. They can start by becoming official Hogwarts students with courses like the History of Magic, Potions and Herbology on Hogwarts Is Here, or develop their analytical skills with a digital Hogwarts escape room. For about $20, they can also partake in a professionally guided virtual tour of the “Harry Potter” filming sites, which includes a Hogwarts house sorting, reenactments and more. Another option is the online exhibition Harry Potter: A History of Magic, or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter at Home hub, featuring an e-book and audiobook of the first “Harry Potter,” articles for first-time “Harry Potter” readers, and a variety of other kid-friendly activities and resources.
The right tools can help turn a simple car ride or neighborhood walk into an exciting outing for your little ones. Start by writing a scavenger hunt-style list of items for your kids to spot on a drive, or create a series of clues that lead to one big prize at the end. (For at-home hunts, you can also hide a few treats to help keep kids motivated.) Turn the experience into a family event by having grandparents or other loved ones mail in scavenger hunt items, such as notecards listing things your kids are likely to see on your walks. Entire neighborhoods have even gotten in on the fun with massive scavenger hunts that consist of kids drawing rainbows and displaying them on their homes for other children to find.
Last but not least, you can also use this time to help kids understand the importance of financial literacy. One option is to open up a quarantine store, like one mom recently did, and have your kids buy items like gum, pieces of candy or fruit with play money they earn doing house chores. For a family game night, check out board games with built-in money lessons, such as Monopoly, Life and Pay Day. Additionally, you can find hundreds of free lessons on personal finance for grades K-12 on EconEdLink, or use BizWorld for age-appropriate teachings on business, savings, entrepreneurship and more.
Sources: nymag.com; travelandleisure.com; huffpost.com; forbes.com; edutopia.org
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