The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed our lives in so many ways, and that’s especially true for families with young children. In many parts of the country, children have been out of school and staying home since March.
Even as stay-at-home orders begin to be lifted, it’s likely that many families will limit how much time they spend away from home. With distance learning wrapping up until the next school year starts, what can parents do to keep their kids happily occupied and engaged at home? Here’s a roundup of at-home activities that will appeal to kids of different ages.
1. Nurture Their Green Thumbs with Gardening
Interest in backyard gardening, and especially vegetables, has boomed since the pandemic, as families look for new activities to do at home and want to try growing some of their own food. Gardening is the perfect summertime activity for kids of all ages. Even very young children can help plant seeds, pull weeds and water the garden. If you have little or no backyard space, you can grow herbs in containers. The Sierra Club and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden have more gardening activity ideas for children of different ages.
2. Expand Your Family Game Night Options
Old-fashioned board games like Monopoly, Risk and Clue are great, but by this point in the lockdown, your kids may be all Monopolied out. You can find lots more game ideas online, many of which can be played with objects you have in your house. A fun game for parents and older kids is The Dictionary Game. Find more ideas here. You can also invite friends and family members to play virtually on a video call.
3. Encourage a New Hobby
No matter what new skill or hobby your child has an interest in learning, there are plenty of how-to videos and instructions online to walk them through the steps. For example, check out these how-to videos for knitting, juggling, sign language and coding. You can even find a tutorial to make the Lonely Goatherd marionettes from The Sound of Music.
4. Keep Them Moving
When kids are home most of the time, it can be hard to find ways to keep them physically active. But there are lots of online fitness classes that are tailored to children. Check out the YMCA’s free yoga classes for kids, GoNoodle, a website with movement, yoga and mindfulness videos for children, and NHF’s yoga, tai chi and dance videos, which are appropriate for adults and older kids. As always, check with your child’s healthcare provider before beginning a new type of exercise.
5. Plan Family Movie Nights
If Frozen 2 has been on repeat at your house for weeks on end, why not mix things up and plan one night of the week to watch a movie as a family. Pick something you loved as a kid, or find a new one that everyone in the family will enjoy. For ideas, check out these lists compiled by Parents magazine and PureWow.
6. Listen to Podcasts
Podcasts are more popular than ever, and there are plenty of kid-friendly offerings that are perfect for times when you’re looking for a screen-free “quiet time” activity. They’re often educational, to boot. Looking for suggestions? Check out But Why? A Podcast for Curious Kids, Story Time, Eleanor Amplified and Good Stuff Sports.
7. Up Your Fort Game
Every kid knows that couches and other furniture plus pillows and blankets are the essential building blocks of awesome indoor forts. But sometimes, it helps to have some outside design inspiration. Ikea has created detailed instructions for six different furniture fort designs.