We still in the early days of "social distancing" and the resulting homeschooling of our children. It's Day 4, so I'm trying not to get too excited or cocky about how well my kids are adjusting--because, let's face it: they're going to have their highs and lows and so am I. Still, if I've been reminded of one thing this past week, it's that my kids (and I) respond really well to a routine and a schedule. (Why did it take a pandemic to remind me of this simple fact?!) 

Related: PBS Kids resources for parents to get through Covid19

Every day, I add a few more activities to the rotation--opportunities for thinking and learning and playing and, you know, avoiding cabin fever. I try to make them as educational as possible--since they count as part of our "school" curriculum. 

I'll be adding to this list daily--as I get new ideas, discover things that work (and don't), and get new pitches into my inbox. Bookmark this page and check back for inspiration.

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Create a Vacation in a Box

We can't leave our houses right now, but that doesn't mean we can't take a mental vacation. Find a small cardboard box, and encourage your kids to "create a vacation in a box." They can draw an ocean scene, a ski cabin, or maybe even create a cardboard yacht. This activity will encourage your kids to flex their "creativity muscles" and think outside the box. Literally. You can even have them set up dolls and use small toys as props.

Thoughtful questions to ask: Where is your dream vacation? What activities would you do on this vacation? What's the weather like there?

Nature Hunt

Good thing the weather is warming up. I mean, there's never a convenient time for a viral pandemic, but the fact that we can send the kids outside to play in the front and backyard during this time of "quarantining" is at least a little bit helpful. Build nature time into your day by creating a scavenger hunt for the kiddos. You can find lots of lists online to print or make your ow using outdoor elements specific to your area.

Thoughtful question to ask: How were the birds/animals interacting with nature? How is nature changing with spring approaching? 

Free (or structured) building

Call it STEM class! Grab lots of different materials--paper plates, plastic cups, straws, traditional blocks and other household items--and challenge the kids to make something. Anything! It can be a defined structure like a robot or skyscraper or an abstract creation. This activity will help them tap their inner creativity while working those critical problem solving skills. Little engineers won’t even realize they’re learning about shapes, sizes, gravity, and more.

Thoughtful questions to ask: What problems did you encounter in building this structure? What materials were the easiest to build with? The hardest? Was it easier to build a specific item or to free build? What would you do differently next time?

Play with bath toys

Yes, bath time can be educational! Find several water-safe objects such plastic measuring cups, spoons, plastic bowls and other water-safe items and toss them in the tub. Kids can explore, observe, and predict what floats and sinks.

Thoughtful questions to ask: Why do some things float and some sink? What do you notice about the shape, weight, and feel of the objects when they’re in the water? How does that change when you take them out?

Bake together

Get your kid sous chef and show them how to make their favorite treat. This kitchen science adventure is a great lesson in measuring, ingredients, creativity, problem-solving, and chemistry. If your child is old enough to read, have them review share the recipe aloud while you supervise.

Thoughtful questions to ask: What do we predict will happen when dry ingredients are mixed in with the wet ingredients? What makes the batter change color? What do you think might happen when we bake the batter? What makes the batter go from wet to baked and delicious?

Storytime with flashlight shadows

Grab your flashlight and small objects, like a favorite stuffed animal, toys, or a spoon and see how many different ways you can make shadows move and play across the room. Place the objects or your hand in front of the light and observe how shadows change and move. It’s a fun twist on story time using the object’s shadow.

Thoughtful questions to ask: How do you make the shadows dance? How can we make the object look bigger or smaller? How many different ways can you make a shadow disappear and reappear in a different place?

Shadow theater

To build a shadow theater, you’ll need shoe boxes or pieces of cardboard, tape, white or waxed paper, flashlight, variety of objects to cast shadows. Cut off the top and bottom of the boxes. Help the children tape paper across one of the openings. Spark their creativity and critical thinking and see what else could be used to attach the paper?

Place different objects in the box and light them from behind. Allow the children to select objects and have others guess what each object is while viewing from the other side. Encourage the children to experiment with moving the object and the light.

Thoughtful questions to ask: Can you make the object look bigger? What else could we use to let the light shine through? Do we need a frame?

Want more from Momtrends?

  1. Fun Cereal Art Projects and Cereal Dessert Recipes
  2. 7 Ways to Keep the Kids Learning and Healthy During School Closings
  3. Toddler Puzzles and Sorting Games

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Need more ideas on what to do with the kids? Be sure to follow our Activities to Do with the Kids board on Pinterest here.

A Growing List of Engaging Activities to Do at Home

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