With the spread of the Coronavirus across the U.S, our extended time at home is proving to be stressful at times for families. As you juggle working at home and keeping your kids occupied and learning, Dan Pegram, children’s author of Pop-Pop Airplane, How Do You Fly?, has shared a great list of quarantine activities that will bring the whole family together and keep everyone sane at the same time.
1. Make Some Noise
If you play a musical instrument or sing, this would be a great time to explore your children’s interest in music. If you don’t sing, impromptu singing with a wooden spoon for a microphone can entertain kids for a good 20 to 30 min. And it can give you a much needed break from sitting in front of your laptop. YouTube has an endless assortment of lessons for any instrument including vocals. Just have fun with it!
2. Look at Old Photos
Drag out the old photo albums and travel down memory lane. Show them their baby pictures and different holiday and milestone birthday pics. Children are very interested in what life was like back when we were children. They also enjoy learning about grandparents, aunts and uncles and places you’ve traveled to. It is so much fun laughing at the old photos, the retro clothing and hairstyles and reliving fun times.
3. Read Books
Reading is a skill that opens the world to youngsters. It’s also a skill that needs continuous practice. During this time away from school, introduce your children to some of your old favorite books and discovering some new titles. My new book, Pop-Pop Airplane, How Do You Fly? teaches children, ages 3 -7, how airplanes fly and is a great book for stimulating inquisitive young minds. For the more advanced readers, chapter books like Elephant & Piggie by Mo Willems are quite popular. There are also a couple of apps used by schools called EPIC! and Raz-Kids that offer unlimited access to 35,000 of the best children’s books and learning videos so your child can read and learn anytime.
As an author I’ve been asked many times, “How do you start writing a book?” My answer is simple, “It’s just like having a conversation with someone and you’re telling them a story or relating some event in your life.” If your children aren’t familiar with journaling, this might be a great time to introduce them to this wonderful writing exercise. Journals don’t have to be formal. Any small notebook is a great place to start. Google search “journaling” for some useful ideas and benefits. Another wonderful resources is Teachers Pay Teachers, which contains printables and worksheets to help youngsters with simple writing projects.
5. Go Outside
Even though we’re quarantined at home, you can plan activities outside your house and show your children how we used to entertain ourselves before the internet and social media. Go for hikes in your neighborhood or on local trails and look for birds and other wildlife. Look up bird species in your area and then see how many you can spot. This could be the perfect excuse to skip a Zoom meeting and turn into a lifelong hobby.
6. Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts are perfect for promoting creativity and learning new skills. There are numerous sites online for arts and crafts projects. YouTube art classes are great and age appropriate. Pick a few and get started. It’s a great way to spend time together and be creative. Putting puzzles together is also a great way to pass the time. Make this butterfly feeder!
Continue your children’s assigned schoolwork and supplement the best you can. Just like the classroom environment, make this time structured and devoted to accomplishing their daily assignments. Also, create a workspace equipped with a chair, lamp, pencil holder, crayons, etc.
8. Engage Without Electronics
Monitor time in front of the television, video games, computers and iPad type devices. Assign your kids chores to do so they can earn time on their favorite devices. Set boundaries to create more balance and good practices online. And you have to put your phone down too sometimes! Spending more time engaged with your children during this uncertain period is comforting and lets them know how much you care.
9. Cook Something Together
Being stuck at home is a great time to teach your kids how to cook. And it’s a great teachable moment! So, dust off your cookbooks, pick a couple of simple recipes and let the magic begin. Your children will learn about ingredients and through measuring will learn a little about fractions. Plan your meals together and let them do some of the simple things like adding the ingredients, greasing a pan or setting the table. Spending time together at the dinner table talking about the days events, discussing this quarantine situation at their level and planning for the next day will help you communicate in new ways and learn something about how your kids think too!
10. Stay Calm
This is an unprecedented time for all of us. Remain calm, stay informed and educate your children as to why we are practicing social distancing and staying at home. Emphasize to them how important good hygiene habits are and why most everything we used to do has been curtailed (including play dates). Ensure your children these life-changing times will be over soon and things will go back to near normal. With the exception of being quarantined, try to make each day routine and spend as much quality time together as possible. Hopefully these quarantine activities will help you and your kids get through the next few weeks and come together as a stronger family.
Author Dan Pegram is a retired United States Air Force lieutenant colonel and command pilot, and a proud grandad!