As families continue the challenging work of balancing learning and living at home during COVID-19, UC Davis pediatrician Ellen McCleery recommends planning a few activities for children to help lend structure to the day.
“One of the most important things families can do is stick to a routine,” McCleery said. “Activities can easily be incorporated into a family routine to encourage learning and exploration while at home. I hope these activities and guidance will help families learn and explore while social distancing.”
Check out McCleery’s top recommendations for families.
- You can find guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics on at-home learning on their website.
- PBS Kids has a daily newsletter with programing and activities for families.
- Common Sense Media features a resource page of quality media for at-home learning, including Wide Open School, which highlights quality online learning and tips for teaching and learning at home. Many resources can be used offline. They also offer bilingual and English-language learner activities.
Arts and crafts
- Make a collage with your toddler or string art with your preschooler. Have your kids entertain you with a homemade puppet show. Here are some examples of ideas for sensory play and crafts for multiple age groups and ideas for arts and crafts projects by age group.
- With some yarn and cardboard, kids of all ages can weave on a loom.
- Many illustrators are leading activities online.
Reading and storytime
- Keep up your own reading routine at home! Many activities on this list can be combined with books about the same topic to enhance kids’ experiences.
- Have grandparents or other family members read stories to kids over video chat.
- Many libraries offer audiobooks or eBooks for check-out. Visit your local library website for more information.
- In our region, the Sacramento Public Library has Virtual Storytime for young children.
- The New York Public Library has also been putting out an online storytime.
- The National Emergency Library hosts a collection of books supporting emergency remote teaching. You can sign up for a free account to access thousands of resources for older children, teens and even adults.
- Audible is offering free audiobooks for kids on its website.
If your family can get outside safely while practicing social distancing, there are many materials online to help guide outdoor adventures.
- Try a nature walk scavenger hunt! Make a simple scorecard on paper and ask your child to find a leaf, a stick, flowers, a pinecone, something that flies, something that has fur, something that is rough, something smaller than your shoe, something that makes noise, etc.
- The Waldorf Education Site offers their 100 Days of Nature Walks for free.
There are also many options for virtually exploring the great outdoors:
- Virtually visit U.S. National Parks. Google Arts & Culture has compiled guided visits to Kenai Fjords, Hawai’i Volcanoes, Carlsbad Caverns, Bryce Canyon and Dry Tortugas National Parks. National park rangers bring you inside a volcano, through canyons and snorkeling with sea turtles.
- If your child is interested in space, explore Mars with NASA’s Curiosity Rover. Access Mars uses real data and images collected from the Curiosity Rover to create a 3D experience on the surface of Mars.
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has many live cams of different bird nests including Barred Owls, Red-tailed Hawks, Savannah Ospreys and birdfeeder watch. Talk with your child about birds you might see in your backyard or out on a walk and how they are similar or different than the birds you see in the Cornell birdfeeder watch.
- National Geographic Kids offers many ideas for home science experiments, information and videos about different animals, and “Passport to Space” with “Missions” to different planets in our solar system.
It can be hard to get your kids enough active time, especially when playgrounds are off-limits. Keeping active indoors can be more challenging, but here are a few ideas:
- The nature scavenger hunt outlined above can be adapted for indoors, too. Have your child find something that plays music, something that you use to build, something that keeps you warm, something that measures, etc.
- Build a homemade obstacle course with materials you can find around the house.
- Make numbers, letters or shapes on the floor with tape and have your child to run, hop or skip to the next destination. You can also make a “long jump” with tape or a path through the house to explore.
Explore music and art
There are many ways to explore art and music from all over the world online.
- Playtime Playlist has put together a calendar of live stream shows from various independent children’s musicians from all over the world. Many of the performances include activities and stories, and many are in English and Spanish.
- Virtually visit hundreds of museums from around the world using the Google Arts & Culture Collections. Some highlights:
- Also, The Louvre Museum in Paris offers virtual tours of many of its collections including Renaissance paintings, Egyptian antiques and the ancient moat surrounding the Louvre.